Home In Depth In Depth: Siding

In Depth: Siding

In Depth: Siding
Ply Gem’s new SolarDefense Reflective Technology provides protection from harmful UV rays with the help of a three-layer composition which prevents color fading and heat distortion.
ProVia introduced Nightfall, a deep, pure gray, this year for its HeartTech siding line.

Vibrant colors, low maintenance options key to siding market growth.

The siding market continues to look strong for 2019 and 2020—especially in remodeling and replacement—opening up ample opportunities for dealers to capitalize on that growth. Overall siding demand is expected to grow by more than 3% annually over the next three years, according to research from The Freedonia Group. And companies that supply and produce siding products are also expecting solid growth.

“We still feel confident about the housing and siding market,” says Sean Gadd, chief marketing officer for James Hardie. “Repair and remodel is a very big segment for us, and it looks to be continuously growing. We feel good about that. We’re counting on something like 2% overall growth in single-family new, and about 3-5% in single-family repair and remodel.”

CertainTeed is also expecting growth in the remodeling market this year to keep siding demand strong.

“Experts are forecasting that the housing market is going to slow down in the coming years, but they’re seeing an uptick in renovations,” says Brian Kirn, product manager, Polymer Shakes and Shingles. “When mortgage rates go up, residents tend to lean toward renovating their current homes rather than moving and paying a higher rate on an expensive new home. With the unemployment rate at a record low, home equity is at a record high, and homeowners are willing to invest a little more into remodeling.”

Vinyl siding in particular is poised to take advantage of both rising demand for siding and the need for more affordable housing, says Steve Booz, vice president, marketing and product development at Royal Building Products. “Vinyl siding remains the most cost-effective product and, according to a recent study released by the Vinyl Siding Institute, the most sustainable product a builder can use,” Booz says. “So the opportunities for vinyl siding are tremendous in new homes as builders look at smaller footprints and more affordable options. Remodeling activity is predicted to remain fairly stable with mid-single digit growth which also bodes well for the dealers who focus on siding projects.”

Composite sidings, such as Royal Building Product’s Celect Cellular Composite PVC, continue to gain popularity for builders and remodelers, combining low maintenance and the look of wood.

Vinyl options grow
While there are plenty of material options for siding, vinyl is still No. 1 in market share in North America, representing about a quarter of all siding sold.

Consumers are looking for vinyl products that offer more design and color options, says ProVia’s Product Manager for Siding, Kevin Mickle.

“There’s been a real drive on multiple claddings on a house, and one of the things we’ve seen a huge surge in is vertical siding, the board and batten,” Mickle says. “What we’ve done is come up with every color in every family we have, we now offer in board and batten because people are using it so prevalently on homes.”

That’s part of a trend of vinyl products that go above and beyond the traditional look. Rustic looks that mimic wood and other materials are also growing in popularity, as homeowners look to mix styles.

“Families want to personalize their homes so they’re not just comfortable, but also have great curb appeal,” says Kara Radcliffe, director, Vinyl Siding Product Management for CertainTeed. “They are looking for a high-end, designer aesthetic. Many new builds and remodels today feature a variety of colors, textures and profiles, rather than one color, one style and done.”

Seagrass is one of five new solid colors for CertainTeed’s individual 5″ Sawmill shingles, which are designed to replicate the look of natural cedar without the required maintenance.

An important part of that is the continued emphasis on bolder, more vibrant colors.

“Rich, dark colors are still in great demand,” says Ron Herrin, vice president of product management for BlueLinx, which distributes Georgia-Pacific vinyl siding. “Dark grays, browns and especially blues are really driving the market, with consumers willing to pay for higher-end siding to achieve these hues.”

Grays, browns and blues are the colors of G-P Vinyl Siding that are driving sales for BlueLinx.

ProVia this year introduced a new gray color, Nightfall, in response to consumer demand.“We looked at a lot of competitors and then we usually work a lot with paint companies as well, and we found what was just again a pure gray—no blues, no browns, no greens,” Mickle says. “It’s really playing off this whole drive for the grays. It gives a great palette for people to put as a backdrop to their house.”

Royal has introduced several new colors across its vinyl and cellular lines, reflecting that desire for darker tints for not only accents but for the exterior as a whole.

“The new colors we have introduced meet these needs with shades of blues, grays and browns—colors that have enjoyed such popularity in recent years they are now considered the new neutrals,” Booz says. “These colors echo the natural environment surrounding the buildings, such as an ocean or a mountain skyline, and are also versatile, working well with other soft neutrals and bright accent colors.” With those dark colors comes the need for formulations that can protect those colors and keep them fresh and vibrant.

Ply Gem recently introduced Mastic SolarDefense Reflective Technology, which provides protection from harmful UV rays, with a three-layer composition which prevents color fading and heat distortion. This shield is made possible through a proprietary formulation that improves overall color and panel stability, says Dave Johnston, director of product marketing for Ply Gem Siding.

Ply Gem’s new SolarDefense Reflective Technology provides protection from harmful UV rays with the help of a three-layer composition which prevents color fading and heat distortion.

The new Mastic Western Extreme Siding was created to combat the high altitude, intense sunlight, and drastic temperature changes of the mountain region of the U.S. that can affect the longevity of dark vinyl siding.

“This siding utilizes a proprietary combination of advanced polymers, pigments and special purpose additives,” Johnston says. “Combining these materials helps reflect high levels of infrared energy while also improving resistance to heat-related damage from the sun. These materials are also incorporated into high-strength panel designs, boosting thickness and providing extra strength and durability against harsh weather and environmental conditions.”

Western Extreme is available in 20 colors, while SolarDefense is available in 10 red, grey, green, tan and blue hues. SolarDefense is also backed by the Ply Gem “No Fade, No Distortion Promise” and accompanying limited lifetime warranty.

Composite sidings, such as Celect Cellular Composite PVC, also continue to gain popularity for builders and remodelers, Booz says.

“Celect was born with innovation being the foremost aspect of the line,” he says. “No other siding has the interlocking joints to avoid seams and future maintenance. Combined with the product makeup and Kynar Aquatec color protection, Celect is a great fit for new construction and remodeling projects.”

Alternatives gain market share

For those homeowners and builders looking for alternatives to vinyl siding, there’s plenty of innovation in other siding materials as well.

James Hardie has expanded its Aspyre Collection—introduced on the West Coast two years ago—to the entire country as of May 1. Aspyre is designed to serve the top-end of the market with a wide assortment of textures and profiles in fiber cement.

Artisan Shingle, coming soon from James Hardie, captures the natural look of cedar shingles while delivering the performance of fiber cement.

“When you go to the top of the market … you’ve got to look exactly like they want to have it look,” Gadd says. “So that to me is the thicker sidings, flat wall look, multiple profiles, real-looking shingle, a reveal panel that’s thick … just a variety of looks to deliver being very traditional with the heritage look, but also being able to go to the modern look that the high end customer’s looking for.”

A new addition to the Aspyre Collection is the Artisan Shingle, coming soon from James Hardie, which mimics the look of natural cedar shingles with the performance of fiber cement.

Like in vinyl, new color choices are a big change for James Hardie this year. As of April, the company has reorganized its colors into two groups, a Statement Collection and a Dream Collection.

“The Statement Collection is a collection of approximately 15 colors that we have done all our research on, to say what are the top 15 colors in every market,” Gadd says. “Those are priced at a competitive number, because we’re able to run those on our scale manufacturing lines. And then we’ve got the Dream Collection which is … roughly 700 colors, in which if somebody wants something very specific we can offer them that.”

Demand for the board and batten and reverse board and batten continues to grow as well.

“I think this twist between traditional and modern is an interesting  one, and certainly we look to ensure that our products that we have currently, and new products we deliver, enable that type of design,” Gadd says. “We’re consistently looking at, as the market gets tighter and tighter with labor, more factory built and what does that mean, and what kind of products do we have to deliver to enable factory built, if that’s where the market ends up going.”

With the Boral Building Products Virtual Remodeler online design tool, dealers, contractors, and homeowners can upload a photo of the home or choose from a gallery of pre-loaded houses, and then make product selections from Boral’s family of siding, trim, and shutter brands. Once final products are selected, the system can produce a materials list for the dealer.

Combining an authentic wood look with lower maintenance is also a driving force behind many of the new products from Boral this year. “We continue to expand our line of TruExterior Siding; made with a proprietary blend of polymers and fly ash, TruExterior Siding provides a high level of dimensional stability for reduced expansion and contraction, and durability for resistance to warping, cracking, and splitting,” says Product Manager Matt Michalski.

In its Versetta Stone line, Boral is adding Northern Ash, a new color that blends dark gray hues and will be available in its Ledgestone and Tight-Cut stone profiles. Boral also now offers Grayne Accessories, including paintable cellular PVC trim as well as color-coordinated J-channel, Mid-America mounting blocks, and utility vents for its Grayne engineered composite siding.

A new player in the siding market is DaVinci Roofscapes, recently acquired by Royal. The company is taking its roofing expertise to create a siding offering, says Michael Cobb, president and chief marketing officer.

DaVinci’s new maintenance- free composite shake siding is made with color throughout each piece and requires no painting. The tiles are recyclable and serve as an environmentally friendly alternative to real wood shakes and plastic siding.

“Our low-maintenance composite shake siding resists impact, fire, mold, algae, insects, salt air and high winds,” Cobb says. “And, while as attractive as real cedar, the siding will not curl, cup or split like real cedar.”

Made of virgin resins, UV and thermal stabilizers, plus a highly specialized fire retardant, the siding is resistant to expansion and contraction that can happen with fluctuating weather conditions and temperatures, Cobb says.

There are several new innovations in engineered wood siding products as well, with those manufacturers seeing more demand for smooth siding and lower-maintenance options.

LP has introduced LP SmartSide Smooth Trim & Siding to its portfolio, with engineered wood strand technology and a smooth-texture finish.

LP Building Solutions recently introduced LP SmartSide Smooth Trim & Siding with a smooth-texture finish. “Because builder demand for smooth-texture siding has grown exponentially over the years as homeowners are increasingly gravitating toward the smooth aesthetic look due to its design versatility, we introduced LP SmartSide Smooth Trim & Siding with engineered  strand  technology to help meet that demand,” says Amy Pierce, LP Building Solutions’ market development manager. “In addition to its ability to accentuate a wide variety of architectural styles (whether that be traditional, historical or modern), LP SmartSide Smooth Trim & Siding offers the same qualities our customers have come to appreciate about our products,” including LP’s manufacturing process and warranty.

Universal Forest Products, which produces UFP-Edge siding, has seen an increase in interest in prefinished siding and trim because of their better performance and extended warranties, says Brett Collins, UFPI product and market manager.

UFP-Edge prefinished boards, smooth siding and trim are engineered to offer better performance and extended warranties.

With its offerings of UFP-Edge True, Premium Primed and SPF, Universal Forest Products now offers a good/ better/best offering that addresses aesthetic and performance needs, Collins says.

Marketing prefinished siding can be an easy way for dealers to boost sales, says Mike Pidlisecky, Woodtone’s vice president, sales & marketing.

“Someone is painting siding in the field; the dealers can capture that revenue by marketing prefinished siding,” Pidlisecky says. “Weather delays are no longer an issue for the builder when using prefinished siding.”

Woodtone has introduced a new coating technology for solid coat system for use on engineered wood and fiber cement, with a 30-year, no-fade warranty in partnership with Sherwin Williams.

In response to demand for better long-term performance in high altitude and sun exposure areas, Woodtone has introduced a new coating technology for use on engineered wood and fiber cement, back by a 30-year no- fade warranty.

“We are seeing builders and architects searching for better longterm exposure performance in high altitude and sun exposure areas,” Pidlisecky says. There is a “continued focus on exterior performance and ‘low maintenance’ solutions. We are also seeing a direction toward customized color solutions as architects continue to create unique projects designed to showcase their capabilities, mixing multiple substrates on large scale projects.”

That trend of mixing materials is a perfect fit for the Tando brand, says Derby Building Products CEO Ralph Bruno.

“Our shakes and stone products complement any siding,” Bruno says. “In many cases, TandoStone is on the bottom and TandoShake goes on top, which is why we say we are the ‘hats’ and ‘shoes’ of a mixed material exterior.” New products for 2019 include TandoShake Cape Cod Perfection and TandoStone with TruGrit technology. Cape Cod Perfection is a resquared and rebutted profile with crisp, square edges and resistance to extreme weather. It can be used for ground contact and roofline applications. TruGrit technology offers a texture that gives each panel a natural masonry appearance and the rough, gritty feel of real stone.

TandoStone with TruGrit technology offers a unique texture that gives each panel a natural masonry appearance and the rough, gritty feel of real stone.

The company’s Beach House Shake has also been listed by Miami-Dade County as compliant and capable of withstanding the severe weather conditions experienced throughout Florida, including its High Velocity Hurricane Zone.

Ease of installation
Regardless of the material, manufacturers are aiming to meet the demand for siding products that are easier to install. The continued labor shortage makes it increasingly important that products can be installed by fewer workers or less experienced teams.

Engineering product features that make life easier on the jobsite is an important responsibility for manufacturers, ProVia’s Mickle says.

“For example, our siding is very consistent, so it always holds its lock,” he says. “When I go to put a piece of siding on the house. I turn my back, pick my nails up, turn around, and the siding’s not on the ground. It’s still locked in place.”

ProVia also sends its people out to the jobsite to evaluate installation problems and see how they can be avoided in the future. For example, after finding that a window-door surround was frequently being improperly installed, the company reengineered it to make it easier to fit.

“Then what we do is we come back and talk to our distributor, explain what the contractor did wrong,” Mickle says. “We’ll sit with the contractor and talk to them about that.”

CertainTeed has put a strong focus on ease of installation for contractors, with proprietary features, such as STUDfinder to ensure panels are properly and easily installed and Hammer-Tapper to enable lateral adjustment during installation. In addition, CertainTeed’s Cedar Impressions panels feature a Panel Thermometer that displays panel temperature to ensure precise installation.

“The easy-to-use temperature gauge increases installation accuracy by ensuring the correct distance between panels to allow for heat and freeze cycles and expansion and contraction,” Radcliffe says.

Most companies also offer on-site training clinics at dealerships and other locations. Those installation clinics can also help dealers sell more by bringing contractors into the store. By combining that training with a job fair, it can also serve contractors by helping them identify potential employees. Dealers can also learn from these events, growing their product knowledge.

“We’ve seen great success by implementing specialized training and education events for dealers so they feel equipped to convey to their customers how LP SmartSide siding products differentiate from competitors,” Pierce says. “For example, we host training events called the LP ‘House Party’ across the country year-round to offer onsite training. This includes a mobile truck that showcases the LP Smart- Side product portfolio with installation demonstrations to provide personalized education.”

It’s important for dealers to be the go-to experts on the products they carry, DaVinci’s Cobb says.

“Dealers need to stay on top of changing product offerings,” he says. “Gone are the days when a dealer can lock into just one or two products and make those recommendations to their customers. New, innovative products are coming out all the time in the marketplace. Dealers who are open to those newer products, with innovative features and benefits, will best serve their customers.”

BlueLinx’s Herrin agreed, noting that education is key.

“They have to know all the options out there and be able to talk to different kinds of siding and know the benefits and downfalls of each material,” he says. “It is not just about selling a standard lap siding anymore, you have to know all the design options so customers have choices. Consumers are savvier than ever before and will have done a lot more research before making the decision to redo the siding on their home.”

On the other hand, with those increased choices, it can be more difficult for homeowners to make a decision. Interactive design tools can make it easier for customers to visualize products on a home and choose the right product. Many manufacturers now offer those solutions.

“Another great way to do this is by using interactive kiosks,” CertainTeed’s Kirn says. “Located in dealer’s stores, the kiosks house information on all products, as well as digital design tools that create mock-ups of the product on the homeowner’s house. Kiosks like our Digital Design Centers allow customers to interact with the digital tools alongside a trained professional as well as experience the products in person.”

But beyond aesthetics, it’s the responsibility of the dealer and contractor to make sure homeowners consider performance as well. Features such as weather resistance, warranties and maintenance costs also need to be considered, James Hardies’ Gadd says. According to a recent national survey of builders and remodelers conducted by Ply Gem, the three most important features to dealers’ customers are product maintenance, performance and warranty.

“Dealers should focus on highlighting these features among siding products to help customers understand the product capabilities needed for jobs,” Ply Gem’s Johnston says. “For example, Ply Gem insulated vinyl siding is a premium cladding option designed for all homes, and particularly those in states with colder weather conditions. The specialized Mastic Structure Home Insulation System is backed with 1-1/4″ thick polystyrene foam insulation that wraps the home’s exterior envelope, increasing the wall system’s R-value and boosting the thermal performance of exterior walls. This helps minimize air leakage, especially over wall studs that cannot be covered with traditional wall insulation.”

It’s important to understand that customers may have changing requirements, Boral’s Michalski says. “A high-end builder may occasionally need a lower-priced siding; a market-rate builder may transition to custom,” he says. “Understand their needs from project to project. And make sure you have that product for them. Being able to service them with the right product for the right project and being able to talk to them will make sure they come back to you and they have confidence they’re always going to get the right product for each project.”