It’s well known in the remodeling industry that trends are slow to adopt and slow to leave. Just by the nature of the beast, a lot of different moving parts and elements go into creating a noticeable trend, with everyone from early adopters to the late majority joining in to popularize a movement.
When it comes to siding, there are only so many traditional permutations of color and design homeowners have to work with if they’re looking to update the exterior of their home. However, as homeowners look to individualize the face of their homes, they’re working with their contractors on creative solutions, mixing and matching colors and profiles to suit their desires.
There’s also been a growing interest in sustainability and eco-friendly options as well, pushing homeowners and remodelers alike toward solutions that fit their needs and the needs of the planet.
Mixing It Up
The use of mixed materials on the home is nothing new. Drive through any subdivision, and you’re likely to see brick or stone facades on the front of many homes with vinyl lap cladding along the sides and back.
Therefore, it comes as little surprise that the next adaptation of this trend would be more creative uses of different materials and colors. “Cladding in general is a very mature space,” explains Chase Creighton, business director of vinyl and composite cladding for Alside. “It becomes, ‘Okay, what’s the next evolution aesthetically?’ and I think that’s where things have gone and, by all accounts, it looks like that trend is going to continue for a while.”
As homeowners seek to express their own unique styles, moving away from cookie-cutter exteriors that closely mimic their neighbors, they’ve begun experimenting with mixing and matching more than just lap and brick. “On just one home, you might have board-and-batten on one part, lap on another, and even shakes mixed in with gables and such,” says Cameron Bailey, senior corporate brand manager for LP Building Solutions.
The modern farmhouse look has lasted an unexpectedly extended period of time and continues to be popular among homeowners, primarily featuring bright white board-and-batten siding, mixed with black framing accents. Now, homeowners may add accents of brick or stone veneer for added interest.
Moving away from the very traditional white and black exteriors, homeowners are choosing bolder, darker colors and, in some cases, the darker the better. “The blues are getting darker, the grays are getting darker, the charcoals, the mochas, they’re getting darker,” says Mike Igo, vice president of Klauer Manufacturing. “The dark movement continues to grow.”
He attributes this rise in more colorful, or just darker, colors to availability in the market and improving technology.
“We’re offering up more options, and so are other manufacturers. The darker colors are a direct result of vast improvements and siliconized polyester paint systems and kynar paint systems. Fifteen years ago, if you put that dark of a color on your house, it faded right away. Those paint systems have improved immensely, which then allows us to offer those options.”
Converse to the darker, bolder colors many are choosing, there’s also an increase in homeowners choosing more natural tones, a departure from the stark black, white and gray of the mid-2010s. “We’re seeing a trend toward palettes which convey a sense of calm and serenity with warmer, earth-tone colors,” says Chris Johnson, director of product and marketing siding division for Westlake Royal Building Products, citing sage green and dark brown among popular new colors.
“The best part of using these natural colors is that they are easy to mix and match, which is another aesthetic trend we see often. This also allows for accents that include wood and stone. Earth tones also tend to work well with the natural scenery of your landscaping and surrounding property.”
“People want their homes to look organic,” says Caleb Standafer, general manager of vinyl siding for Cornerstone Building Brands. “They want something that’s warm, that’s inviting and lends itself to natural materials.” The problem with natural materials is they decay over time, he says. “So, they want materials that can mimic the look of natural materials but have longevity.”
There are a number of factors that drive material popularity in one direction or another, with everything from durability and maintenance considerations to energy efficiency and sustainability.
“We believe extreme weather events are accelerating the movement toward more durable materials like fiber cement siding, which also has grown in popularity due to the noncombustible nature of the product,” says Chad Fredericksen, vice president of the professional channel for James Hardie.
While fire season was once considered a summer-only event in North America, climate change and the destruction of ecosystems have led to fire season becoming a year-long occurrence, making fire-resistant materials of tantamount importance to many affected homeowners. In addition to fiber cement, steel and aluminum siding are also nonflammable. “Materials that are beautiful, help provide protection, and are long-lasting with low maintenance are what many homeowners seek out today,” Fredericksen says.
James Hardie offers a wide array of fiber cement product options, from vertical siding and shingle siding to soffit panels and trim boards. “Another benefit to homeowners is that the proprietary nature of our fiber cement products holds no appeal for pests and helps protect from some of the harshest weather conditions today,” Fredericksen says.
LP SmartSide, LP Building Products’ flagship exterior cladding product, is engineered wood and comes in a wide variety of profiles and colors. “It’s very similar, aesthetically, to fiber cement,” Bailey says. “It gives that durability on the home, due to a higher impact resistance versus fiber cement.” Additionally, when compared to a prominent competitor in a controlled environment, LP SmartSide is installed 30 percent faster, likely due to its lighter weight and ease of custom cutting.
Cottage Wood, a steel siding shingle from Klauer, is another such product that doesn’t pull heavy-duty punches when it comes to being low-maintenance, fire-resistant, insect-resistant and backed by a limited lifetime warranty, as well as being 100 percent recyclable. “Typically, if the homeowner is planning to be in their home for the next 7 to 10 years, they’re not replacing with vinyl,” Igo says. “They’re stepping up; they’re investing in their home. They’re thinking about the environment, maintenance, and how long that product’s going to last.”
Capable of being put up in all climates, steel siding is especially popular in the upper Midwest and Plains regions, where materials such as vinyl will crack and not survive the harsh freeze/thaw cycles. With a higher upfront price point, steel isn’t accessible to everyone, but the long lifespan and low maintenance aspects do make it popular in certain communities.
Cedar Renditions from Westlake Royal Building Products is a sleek and modern aluminum accent siding that provides exceptional curb appeal without the maintenance or flammability issues of wood. “Aluminum siding, which mimics the look of wood, is also gaining popularity for more modern and industrial aesthetics,” Johnson explains. “As modern design and multifamily homes continue to gain popularity in dense urban areas, we are expecting an increase in demand for our Cedar Renditions products.”
Creighton points out the trend of mixing and matching materials is an interesting one not just for homeowners, but for manufacturers and remodelers as well. “Now, you’re potentially sourcing from different options, kind of putting together a different material list. We’re cognizant of that and what that means for our business.”
Alside offers a wide variety of options, from vinyl lap siding to specialty scallop and shake cladding. “How we’re approaching that is really through our ASCEND composite siding line. We’re keeping an eye on trending colors and will make changes as needed, but in terms of wholesale additions and updates to our offerings, we’re looking to fill a white space,” Creighton says. “Vinyl siding at its core is very mature, and there’s only so many new things you can innovate; so, it becomes, ‘Okay, what isn’t there between vinyl siding offerings and the very, very high end cladding materials? How can we set ourselves apart and grow market share?’”
None of this is to say that vinyl is going anywhere soon. “Vinyl siding has been a popular choice for years due to its affordability, variety of colors and styles, and long-term benefits,” Johnson says. “It’s easy to install and requires little-to-no maintenance from the homeowner.”
“People think about aesthetics as, ‘What’s the look you’re going for?’” Standafer says. “And that’s certainly part of it, but a big part of aesthetics is does it look the same as I intended it to look six months from now?” When it comes to wanting to use bolder and darker colors, this is especially a concern as many materials and paints fade over time due to UV exposure. This is what gets Standafer excited about vinyl. “Vinyl siding offers an unparalleled answer to that for the cost. It looks the same years from now, as when you hang it on your house.”
Mastic Siding & Accessories by Ply Gem, a brand within the Cornerstone portfolio, recently introduced a new EverPlank Luxury Vinyl Siding collection, which combines a true-to-wood look with the performance and durability of vinyl. EverPlank vinyl siding’s realistic wood grain and lack of overlapping seams provide the appearance of real wood siding.
When asked if there were any complications installing products of different materials or styles, the resounding answer was: not really. “It kind of depends—if you’re using all engineered wood, for example, there are strong similarities in how they install,” Bailey says. “Obviously, the product itself is going to be a little bit different if I’m putting up a shake versus a lap. I would imagine it probably creates some slowing of the jobsite but nothing significant.” What’s important, especially when choosing multiple different substrates, is choosing materials that have similar warranties and lifespans, so you’re not having to replace half of the siding at one time and half at another time.
A Greener Future
With some millennials finally able to break into the housing market, sustainability is becoming more and more important when they’re picking out products they want to use in and on their homes. Choices such as steel or aluminum siding, which are 100 percent recyclable, may become more popular. “We choose to source steel from a mill that utilizes an electric arc furnace, and it’s mostly recycled steel that’s fed into the mill,” Igo says. This process has a much lower environmental and climate impact when compared to traditional steelmaking technology.
LP Building Solutions offers a primed siding product, unpainted, that is carbon negative; other LP products’ carbon status are currently being tested. “It’s really important to us to be able to say that you can purchase a product that you’re not trading off quality or paying a super-high premium price to be able to get, and it’s still a carbon negative product,” Bailey says. “The story I like to tell is with our product, you don’t have to make that trade-off, and you can go with something that’s better for the environment.”
A perhaps unintended, although still sustainable side effect, of rising interest rates is homeowners are choosing to stay in their homes longer rather than move or build their dream home. “Economic fundamentals remain strong, and interest rates are not near historic highs,” Fredericksen says. “Homeowners are used to low interest rates, so it could give people pause as they contemplate selling and acquiring a new home.” Instead, homeowners are updating their exteriors to give their homes new life.
Standafer predicts codes will become more cognizant of fire, especially in California and other western states. It’s hard to say at the moment what will become universal standard, as building codes differ from state to state and even municipality to municipality.
Often, it’s homeowners who end up being ahead of the legal codes when it comes to their homes as they push for safer, longer-lasting products and vote with their dollar.
“I think what’s going to matter most is focusing the lens on the customer,” Creighton says. “I think the ones who are going to enjoy the most success and growth are going to be those that focus on customer needs, understanding them and reacting to them.” QR