Longer warranties, mixing of materials lead exterior siding trends

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Homeowners are opting to remodel the home's exterior as they look for the biggest bang for their buck

May 31, 2011


The home’s exterior continues to be a popular target for homeowners to remodel as they look to make the biggest impact for a smaller dollar amount.

Manufacturers are looking to take advantage of that trend with new offerings that feature longer warranties, more vibrant colors and more creative designs.

Siding choices

As a home ages, the existing siding may seem dated, so homeowners replace it to get a fresher look, notes Jonathan Wierengo, Vice President of Marketing for The Tapco Group.

“Mixing siding types remains a popular trend,” he says. “We’re seeing growth with all of our siding segments – stone, shape, shake and shingle.”

When fiber cement siding is used as the main product, he sees people using stone siding for the first few feet at the bottom of a house, with shapes in the gables.

“Often the new siding complements the original architecture of the house,” says Prashant Panchal, head of marketing for James Hardie Building Products. “We are seeing homeowners add dimension with trim, bead board and different shapes and sizes of siding.”

Accent siding also works for gables and other prominent areas like entryways.

“We often see a blend of stone and brick, with the brick used as accents around windows or doors,” says Brent Spann, VP of Marketing for Eldorado Stone. “Other typical areas include wainscoting, with the stone used to ‘anchor’ the home to the ground and its natural surroundings. We also see stone used as an accent for columns, chimneys, around garage doors and for retaining walls.”

Hot choices in colors and textures

Color popularity varies regionally. For manufactured stone siding, Spann says there is a growing interest in lighter, more contemporary stone profiles that tie-in to the natural stone found in each region.

In the Pacific Northwest, Wierengo says hearty, rich coastal colors like dark cocoa brown or barn red are favored for vinyl siding, while middle America’s homeowners are moving from neutrals like taupes and tans to soft light greens and blues with more flair.

Technological advances enable vinyl siding manufacturers to meet customer demand for dark colored siding, explains Jerry Blais, Ply Gem’s Vice President, Marketing.

Panchal sees more homes using a third, bolder color to highlight special details like gables, porches or part of the second floor. “Right now grayish ‘neutral’ colors Monterey Taupe and Cobble Stone are reaching the same popularity levels of our Khaki Brown and Navajo Beige,” he notes.

Texture trends that had been regional are going national. Tapco’s Foundry Siding Weathered Collection combines new technology with an authentic historical weathered look while being maintenance-free.

“We’re seeing remodelers in particular using shake in areas where shake was historically used only for the roof,” Wierengo says. “In the Northeast, shake is being used more for sidewall applications. There’s always been a strong shake market in the Northeast and upper Midwest, but now we’re seeing it across the country, in the Southeast and even the Southwest” which have not been strong markets for vinyl siding.

HardiePlank Select Cedarmill remains the top seller within the fiber cement plank options, while HardieShingle has been updated to include modified shingle widths and a re-engineered texture to give subtle color variations often associated with traditional cedar shingles, Panchal  points out. Their Beaded Porch Panel in Arctic White and Sky Blue appeals to the Southern market.

The Designed Exterior Collection Ply Gem Showcase online toolkit helps guide conversations between contractors and homeowners. It includes inspirational home styles with visuals and guidelines to help both groups understand architectural style elements with the shared vocabulary needed for successful communication. It provides an overview of each style’s defining features, tried and true color palettes and suggested Ply Gem product combinations.

Special conditions, special products

Beyond aesthetics, James Hardie considers climate needs. Its HZ10 products are engineered to resist cracking, splitting, rotting and swelling for areas with hurricane-force winds, salty coastal sea air, and brutal, humid heat. HZ5 products are for climates with freezing temperatures, extreme seasonal temperature variations, snow and ice.

Designed to withstand high winds, Variform by Ply Gem Vortex Extreme Premium Vinyl Siding was specifically engineered for remodelers with the Reverse Roll-Over Nail Hem and Triple Bow Locking System. Ply Gem has also seen an increased demand for longer length siding with several types in 25’6” and 16’8” lengths which reduce the appearance of seams.

Trim – the added touch

Although trim was formerly painted to match a house’s color, now many homeowners choose bolder contrast colors. Maintenance free cellular PVC trim like Tapco’s IQm Trim Boards has grown as a wood trim alternative.

“This becomes very important to contractors as they’re making a miter cut around a window or door because they know that even if the cut is slightly off or if the house experiences contraction or expansion due to seasonal climates, that same color will be there,” Wierengo says. He expects a continuing trend of classic trim designs with clean corners and angles, but with more focus on color.

By adding Fascia Board, 5/4” x 2 Trim and Brick Mold with J-channel, trim gives contractors the potential to upsell a job from a traditional vinyl J- channel around a door or window to brick mold instead, making doorframe or window kits a high-end option. 

From an architectural standpoint, Aaron Sims, Trim Product Manager for AZEK Building Products, is seeing “more Craftsman style with tapered, more decorative columns, windows with more detail in the mouldings and even gingerbread detail with more brackets and ornate features.

The trim detail puts the exclamation point on the house’s style.” AZEK’s moulding line with 21 profiles complements their trim because even unpainted it looks like matte finished primed wood. Their smooth and textured products include Frontier Board which has a rough sawn look with long vertical grain that shows through even when painted.

New AZEK products integrate into siding systems. The Universal Skirt Board has skirt board, starter strip and drip edge combined in one piece, making it easy for installers to start the siding application. Integrated Drip Edge is a trim board and drip edge combination used for window and door headers, assisting with water management while eliminating the need for another profile.

“Finish Grade Trim is a two-piece system that lets you create window or door surrounds with hidden fastening so there are no screw or nail holes to fill in, which means faster construction with less labor time,” Sims comments.  “As with all AZEK products, it does not require painting.”

Siding is green

The long life of PVC and other siding materials means most remain in use for their original purpose. Long lasting siding reduces landfill contributions, Panchal notes. It can also be eligible for LEED credit.

“James Hardie manufactures its fiber cement siding, trim, soffit and accessories using natural ingredients that are low in toxicity,” he adds. “Qualifying for the LEED rating system for the use of regional material, James Hardie’s fiber cement products are made from wood pulp, sand, cement and water, typically sourced and processed near each
manufacturing facility.” Insulated siding improves energy efficiency. 

Tapco’s siding can be reused or recycled. Eldorado Stone uses reclaimed water in its manufacturing plants, has added fly ash, a byproduct of coal burning, to the mix and offers custom profiles where a variety of pre- and post-industrial plastics, wood and glass are added to the mix.

Talking to homeowners

Homeowners don’t always know what they really want.

“It’s the contractor’s job to extract that true desire from the customer and say ‘Here’s what you came to me with, but here are some other options,’” Wierengo points out. “Some of our contractor customers simply take the homeowner out to the driveway and ask them about homes within view that they like or dislike.”

Contractors can use what they learn to provide alternate siding and trim proposals that will look nicer than the original homeowner request and put more money in their own pockets.

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