Product Trends: Siding, Compartmentalized Cladding

With unlimited access to inspiration, homeowners are confidently experimenting with darker siding colors and mixed materials.

January 29, 2014

Fiber cement continues to grow its role in the siding market, and James Hardie has seen homeowners striving toward a mixture of products and dimensions, including standout trim. Using a different material in the gables compartmentalizes the look and feel of the home no matter the size.

Homeowners are now willing to experiment with different options for greater aesthetic appeal.

“The digital space has certainly made the ability to find information easier,” says Jerry Blais, vice president of marketing for the siding group at Ply Gem. “Digital tools and applications out there are making it much easier for consumers to put combinations together as well as get confirmation from their friends and family that it’s a good choice.”

Some online tools allow customers to alter an actual photograph of their home, complete with changing the siding, windows, roofing and doors.

Experimenting with different styles and colors on a computer screen may lessen the risk of transferring these bold designs to the exterior of the home.

“The ease of mind is out there because a lot more tools today help you envision what your home is going to look like versus in the past you had to kind of guess what it was going to look like,” says Brian Kirn, marketing manager at CertainTeed. “Once you put a $20,000 investment into your home, you want to be pretty certain of the finished goods.”

Increasing curb appeal is just one component of what Blais calls accessible design.

“This term really refers to the overall beauty, and not giving up the fact people want low maintenance and they want a siding product that is very durable,” he says. Durability today includes making sure siding stands up to weather.

Exploring new color palettes

The Internet allows homeowners to be exposed to more color variation on the exterior, so it only makes sense that siding manufacturers are seeing color requests shift more rapidly.

“We know more and more homeowners are becoming more daring when it comes to color selection,” says John Dybsky, senior marketing manager at James Hardie. “They’re looking for a greater variety, but they’re also looking for bolder colors and greater contrast such as dark with white.”

Some of the darker colors that have been popular recently are the barn reds, the dark greens, and even some darker blues that are quite distinctive, according to Jery Y. Huntley, president and CEO of the Vinyl Siding Institute.

“Gone are the days of the all-pastel home,” she says. “Trends are in deeper, richer colors.”


Gentek Building Products
James Hardie
LP Building Products
Nichiha USA
Ply Gem
Royal Building Products
The Tapco Group
Vinyl Siding Institute

New technologies in materials across the board make darker colors a more viable option than in the past.

“If you looked at vinyl siding 15 years ago or even 10 years ago, there were limitations on how dark you could go because it would fade or at least have a higher chance of fade,” Kirn says. “Now that there’s so many advancements in raw materials, we can actually get very dark in vinyl siding and that risk of fading is eliminated.”

There are numerous ways manufacturers today make sure their siding products hold color.

“Longevity is key,” says Jonathan Wierengo, vice president of marketing for Tapco Group. “We use a proprietary cap stock that keeps color vibrant and protects against UV weathering.”

Expanded color catalogs, however, are no replacement for what some homeowners really want: a way to differentiate their siding from everyone else’s home.

“The flexibility and the versatility available now within siding materials to have custom colors that reflect the architectural design, the region, or locale is really important to customers,” says Jennifer Jenkins, segment marketing manager for LP Building Products. “Having custom color flexibility to really make the curb appeal pop is what they’re really interested in.”

Breaking up the façade

Accent materials are another way of eliminating the monochromatic and unembellished exteriors of the past.

“Consumers are able to use beefier, more robust trim boards to help carve out different spaces on their home,” Jenkins says.

Ply Gem, for example, recently launched its line of PVC trim and mouldings, which allow consumers to choose either a smooth or authentic wood-grain finish that has the low-maintenance advantage.

In addition to using trim boards more as a focal point, homeowners are changing the direction or the style of the siding to add visual interest.

“As opposed to the standard 7-¼-inch lap product, we’re seeing more shingle with lap and board-and-batten with lap,” Dybsky says. “We’re even seeing a mixture of lap exposures, so you’ll see a narrower width exposure on the second story and a wider exposure on the lower level.”

This variation may also include vertical siding on the upper level with horizontal siding lower, or a stucco finish or other fresh element up in a gable area.

Many manufacturers have seen the way homeowners are choosing to mix materials is with stone, shake, or shingle focal points that complement traditional lap siding on the rest of the home.

Accenting with natural-looking materials

The stone category is growing fast because it provides easier installation while replicating the high-end look of real stone.

“Stone veneer is a product that, in general, is going through the roof,” Blais says. “Stone is now really accessible to anyone and stone veneer allows it to go on a home that doesn’t need any special framing for it.”

In 2013, Ply Gem launched its Durata Mortarless Stone, which uses an interlock system to simplify the installation process. The molds are made using real stone to give the finished product more of an authentic look.

Tapco’s Foundry Stacked Stone siding also aims for realistic, rugged stone profiles but can be easily cut with snips and hung like traditional vinyl panels for easier installation.

Shake and shingle options have also become popular and can be used in a whole-house application or just in a gable to differentiate parts of the façade.

“One area that continues to grow and penetrate is the shake and shingle market,” Blais says. “The use of a 7-inch perfection shingle or 9-inch shake type of panel again adds that additional texture to a home.”

CertainTeed has seen a large uptick in its Cedar Impressions line, which aims to give the natural, rustic look of cedar without the additional maintenance or high cost of the actual wood.

Elevating durability

Every cladding material has its advantages when it comes to sturdiness over time, but today the durability discussion centers on the ability of siding to withstand harsh weather conditions.

“We’re continuing to see increasing response to our engineered-for-climate performance formulations,” Dybsky says. “We have specially formulated products for the north and south.”

These formulations take into account eight different meteorological factors such as temperature range, humidity, and precipitation.

“What’s important to people is that it’s going to stand up to all the elements and whatever market you’re in,” Jenkins says. “The one thing that seems to be most important these days is impact resistance because things get thrown, tossed, and hit the side of the home.”

Sturdiness also means energy efficiency.

“When people started writing about energy-efficient building products they started writing about things inside the house,” Huntley says. “But now those trends in energy efficiency are progressing outward.”

Insulated siding does increase the energy efficiency of a home, but Kirn cautions that it may not be as much as people expect.

“Typically the R-values for insulated siding range between 2 and 3, which when you add that to your home it’s nice to have,” Kirn says.

CedarMAX Insulated Siding by ProVia, for example, has an R-value between 2.3 and 2.8 depending on the profile, but it also offers up to five times greater impact resistance than regular siding, according to the company.

Kirn says the real benefit of insulated siding comes with this added durability and, most importantly, the aesthetics.

“It allows you to get wider profiles and the face of the profile is straighter versus standard vinyl siding,” Kirn says.

Just as with insulated siding, durability and aesthetics are closely tied together with all cladding options. As people try to differentiate their homes from their neighbors’ homes, they want to experiment with color and materials without sacrificing longevity.

Digital tools may make taking risks less overwhelming when it comes to the exterior of the home, but homeowners must learn to sift through all the available knowledge that comes with the Internet.

“Within the entire context of the exterior, it is about colors, it is about styles, it is about a variety of textures, and it is about the use of various materials,” Blais says. “The digital space and social media have made all that accessible.” PR

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