“From a remodeler’s standpoint, if they haven’t installed fiber cement before, they just need to know that the installation is a little bit different and they’ll have to take time to get used to it,” explains Santerian. “We have directions online or available from their distributor, that they really need to take a moment and read and understand because there are some nuances about installing fiber cement.”
Santerian indicated that if someone is used to putting up vinyl siding, the first house that they install fiber cement on is going to go more slowly because the product is heavier and it’s just a different animal from vinyl. Once the learning curve is over and a remodeler understands fiber cement siding and how to handle it, it becomes as simple as just nailing it up.
Because of fiber cement’s maintenance-free qualities and with warrantees usually around 50 years, the only thing homeowners might have to think about is painting their siding, every 12 to 15 years. As compared to a wood product, especially cedar, fiber cement’s price range is about half of the cost.
One of the fastest growing and strongest markets is manufactured stone veneer. Owens Corning Cultured Stone has enjoyed in the last 15 years, and particularly the last five years, a growth rate that has been in the double digits and seems to be continuing on that pattern. Overall these products come with 50-year warrantees and come in at about half the cost of natural stone.
“I think we’re still in the infancy stage,” says Heath. “I think a lot of that is because we’ve been responsive to design textures and shapes and particularly color. We created our market by replicating colors quarries were running out of. In the last five or six years, we’ve started creating designer products in response to the building community needing materials that will go with certain type sof architecture and color palette. You won’t find our top three most popular colors in a quarry.”
A study released by Owens Corning revealed that respondents were as much as 50 percent more likely to consider purchasing a new home featuring a Cultured Stone veneer exterior and judged a home with an entryway enhanced with stone veneer to be $9,300 more valuable than the same home without the enhancement. The added value was double the average cost of such an enhancement and equated to a 3 percent increase in the perceived value of the home.
“Remodelers should remember there is a wide variety of profiles, color blends and accessories to select from, so they are not limited by just a few options,” says Spann. “Walls and surfaces need to be properly prepared before installing the stone. There is a helpful installation video available on our Web site should they require assistance. It’s also a good idea to consult with a professional mason to have the stone installed properly.”
Not all stones are preferred in all areas however. Owens Corning has some stones that are very popular right across the country, but then it has some products that become regionalized. For example, the Midwest preferences will be much different from Southern California or Florida. Oftentimes people will select a stone that is similar to what they’re used to seeing in their own area or take that look with them as they move to a different region of the United States.
“There is some wall preparation required before installing Eldorado stone or brick,” says Spann. “However, the process is pretty straightforward and masons who regularly work with Eldorado Stone tell us that because it is lighter weight and has a flat back surface, they are able to install a manufactured stone twice as fast as they would natural stone.”
Crane Performance Siding has found a way to simplify installation with its BellaStone product. BellaStone offers the hard chiseled look of real quarried stone, but installs in sections rather than one stone at a time. At only 20 percent the weight of manufactured stone, it is easy to handle and can be installed without any concern for structural reinforcement.
“One of the trends that is popular is the use of masonry materials and natural looking type materials in conjunction with other materials,” says Heath. “Often our product gets used in remodeling projects as a major design element; in other words, someone designs stone as a major element on the exterior of the home or the use of stone and brick as kind of an accent material to add some curb appeal and to add some contrast to the exterior.”