Back in 2015, Grayne (part of The Tapco Group) launched a 5″ white cedar profile. Due to that product’s success in the Midwest and Northeast, and because that color palette and exposure only matched the architecture of one region of the country, Grayne has now introduced a 7.5″ Red Cedar profile to provide a complementary solution for the broader market.
Ply Gem’s steel siding is manufactured from galvanized steel and carries a Class A/Class 1 fire rating. According to Ply Gem, the colors are fused to the steel in such a way that they can offer a 35-year chalk and fade warranty, and the siding also comes with a 50-year hail warranty.
Boral is introducing this year its TruExterior® 8″ and 10″ Bevel Siding. According to the company, this new profile offers a true taper and deep shadow lines that mimic the look of wood. As part of the TruExterior line of siding, it is made with a proprietary blend of polymers and fly ash for reduced expansion and contraction, and durability for resistance to warping, cracking, and splitting.
Allura has announced two enhancements to its of Plycem fiber cement trim line—the addition of an 8/4 product and the extension of Plycem’s warranty to 50 years. Plycem fiber cement trim is available in 22 colors and six stains, pre-primed and sealed for painting after installation. It’s available in 12′ lengths and in widths from 2″ to 12″.
Beach House Shake™ from Tando features an authentic five-inch reveal and real world crisp keyways. It is available in a natural cedar color called Sandcastle (shown here), and is designed to be indistinguishable from real cedar.
LP’s SmartSide® engineered wood siding is available in a variety of sizes and styles and is offered with both a smooth and textured finish. According to the company, SmartSide is manufactured to withstand extreme temperatures, high humidity, and extensive freeze-thaw cycles, as well as to resist fungal decay and termites.
Holmes Manufacturing’s nominal .019 aluminum soffits are available in a variety of colors and sizes and are made from H28 grade aluminum, which is harder than most. According to the manufacturer, this in turn makes the soffit panel stronger and more user-friendly.
RoyOMartin’s products (such as the plywood siding sheet shown here) are manufactured from logs that come from the Martin family’s timber base of approximately 570,000 acres. The company manufactures all of its environmentally friendly wood products in the U.S, with locally sourced raw materials, and all of its panels are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and rated by APA – The Engineered Wood Association.
Textures and Mixed Materials Drive Style
A trend towards natural textures has driven product development, with patterns such as circular sawn marks, vertical band sawn patterns and cedar-like wood grain now being offered. These textures, when blended with multiple claddings, feed the growing consumer desire for uniqueness and individuality.
“With material and design, we are seeing a trend toward the modern farmhouse with an increased use of board and batten products as the main siding or as an accent in the gable ends,” says LP’s Daley. “Along with this look we are seeing a bit of a resurgence of the mid-century modern ranch home exterior with a mix of horizontal patterns and panels.”
Ralph Bruno, President of Tando, sees mixed materials as a driving factor for exterior aesthetics. “A common example of this is a stone knee wall on the base of the home, a lap siding as the main siding, and a stained shake in the gables and dormers.”
ProVia’s Mickle agrees. “Material and design choices continue to expand,” he says. “A continuing trend is to use multiple claddings and/or textures on a home’s exterior. Multiple textures originally offered a way to break an expanse of a single cladding—think suburban tract housing— but it has evolved to a way for homeowners to express their style and individuality.”
Adds Mike Maurer, Project and Product Marketing Manager for The Tapco Group, “Siding is shifting towards multi-texture and multi-color appearances (typically darker colors). Typically, large 4″ or 6″ trim complements the siding around doors, windows and corners. Natural shingle is often being used to accent stone, brick or painted lap siding.”
Colors Continue to Evolve
The increased use of textures and mixed materials is only part of the aesthetic equation. As mentioned earlier, the homeowner is trending towards color choices on the darker, bolder end of the spectrum as a way to differentiate their home from that of their neighbors. Boral’s Zimmerman explains, “We’re seeing some shifts in color; neutrals still dominate, but builders looking to differentiate are incorporating some color, including blues and grays. Bolder colors are also popping up as accents.”
ProVia’s Mickle agrees. “Warmer, richer colors continue to be introduced as homeowners look for a way to stand out,” he says. “There is a move towards using lighter trim colors to enhance the primary siding and create a distinctive character relative to neighboring homes. A complement to this trend is to use neutral colors as the base siding and have trim colors use the bolder hues. Using a neutral base also allows the homeowner to create additional ‘pop’ by adding accent colors on shutters, lineals and doors—colors that might be overpowering if used as a predominate feature.”
The internet is a significant driving factor to the expansion of color—especially the use of darker, bolder tones. Says Laura Ahrens Brown, Marketing Manager of Building Products for Jeld- Wen and its MiraTEC line of products, “With popular websites like Zillow, Forbes, Sherwin Williams and Pinterest all sharing tips on choosing color, consumers are more likely than ever to select a bold, dark color for their exterior trim to create a strong framing effect.”
While it is true that siding colors are often driven by the trending colors from the paint industry, technology advancements have had just as much to do with today’s product offerings. For example, not that long ago the use of dark, bold colors in the vinyl siding segment would have been extremely difficult (if not impossible). In the past, deeper colors were limited to thinner profiles due to issues related to heat deformation. Thanks to new additives, modifiers and films, however, manufacturers have been able to extend their full pallet of colors to wider panels. Says Royal’s Booz, “The technology of being able to introduce dark colors to vinyl siding in particular has been a game changer.”
To meet customer demand for these bolder colors, manufacturers are continually releasing new colors in their product lineup. For example, Ply Gem introduced new designer-inspired colors for its vinyl products in deep red, blue, gray, brown and green hues, and it has introduced steel siding that’s available in darker grays, blues and greens. Royal has introduced 10 new colors across two of its siding lines, while CertainTeed has introduced this year a new patented manufacturing technology for its Cedar Impressions siding line that incorporates the color during the mold process so that it is solid through the panel.
Performance Critical in Product Choice
While aesthetics drive product choice, so too does a siding product’s performance during installation and over its service life, and being able to offer products that deliver the expected performance is key to distributors’ success. As LP’s Brian Daley explains, “Both the contractor and homeowner are demanding products that are easy to install and deliver a relatively hassle- free ownership experience along with high curb appeal. The contractor is looking for products that install easily with standard tools and standard building practices to help control their labor costs and reduce callbacks, all while delivering a high-impact exterior. The homeowner is seeking a cost-effective siding product that will deliver them years of durability, good looks and minimal maintenance during their ownership.”
Brian Kirn, Senior Marketing Manager for CertainTeed Siding, shares the belief that performance is key. “There are many cladding options to choose from,” he says. “Homeowners favor the initial aesthetics without consideration of the long-term performance of the siding. Nevertheless, it’s vital that a siding material performs correctly and drains water properly.”
“We are seeing changes in materials,” adds Tony Ellis, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Allura. “For example, Allura boasts a ‘one formulation’ siding that is warranted from Alaska to Florida. It is impact, fire and rot resistant and included a 50-year warranty.”
To achieve the best performance from a siding product, it is vital that both distributor and contractor are thoroughly up-to-date on product specifications, installation practices and code requirements. “For contractors and homeowners both, it’s important that they understand that how the product is installed is in direct correlation to longevity on house,” explains Boral’s Zimmerman. “Some products, though they offer high levels of durability, can face performance issues if not installed precisely and properly.”
For example, there have been energy code changes that impact the installation processes for vinyl siding. The 2012 International Energy Conservation Code requires continuous insulation per ASHRAE 90.1. “A standard method to achieve this is to attach several inches of foam insulation around the exterior prior to cladding,” explains ProVia’s Mickle. “Since vinyl siding needs to be able to expand and contract, it cannot be fastened tightly to the wall. Therefore, a longer fastener needs to be used to offer this flexibility. The same holds true for trim accessories.
“The new codes also require stricter moisture management solutions within the wall, resulting in a more complex wall system. Again, this requires establishing a thorough set of installation instructions and a staff that is well trained on guiding the contractor through the new rules.”
LP’s Daily agrees with staying at the forefront of product knowledge to be the most successful. “We are seeing an increased use of high-performance weather barriers and rain screens to help moisture control, which has led to changes in the installation of the products,” he says. “Most of these changes are behind the siding and have little to no effect on the visual appearance of the products installed, but the benefits are that these changes create a better performing siding system.”
Hand in hand with product knowledge is the reputation and quality of the siding product itself, and for distributors to tout that quality. As Todd Kandel, Owner of Holmes Manufacturing, explains, “Reputation of quality and service are the key factors we consider when offering a product to the dealer/contractor. If we are stocking and promoting a product, we must have the confidence that we will be able to deliver as promised to the customer. Holmes Manufacturing is more interested in building a long-term relationship with our customer. This will only happen if we are more interested in meeting the customer’s need and not focusing on the lowest price.”
In regards to product knowledge, it becomes more and more imperative that manufacturers provide to the dealers as much product information and educational tools as possible to ensure both contractor and homeowner satisfaction. Says Ply Gem’s Blais, “We always encourage our dealers to highlight the durability, quality and beauty of our siding products…. We offer training and education certification programs in a variety of categories. We also offer accelerated delivery programs with lead times counted in days instead of weeks.”
In the case of Boral, it offers its dealers an array of support and education materials ranging from point-of-purchase and collateral materials to content marketing support in the form of editorial articles, social media, and newsletters. Says Boral’s Zimmerman, “We make a concerted effort to understand when a dealer considers their products a success and to make sure that our nationwide sales team is working with them to achieve those goals.”
Brian Kirn, Senior Marketing Manager for CertainTeed Siding says, “We provide different levels of training for our credentialed installers. We start with Master Craftsman; this certifies that the installer has read our material and passed a test that we provided. The elite level is a 5-Star contractor who has completed the Master Craftsman test, completed an advanced training program plus several other key areas.”