Siding has been used to clad all kinds of structures for centuries. Early American settlers installed siding on their homes, for example. Throughout the years, technological developments and modern materials have exponentially increased the performance and durability of siding systems. Still, with myriad siding options available today, very often building professionals try to echo the look of the siding used by those first settlers.
“The gold standard in appearance is cedar siding. Whether you start with vinyl, cement or aspen wood, we’re all basically trying to replicate the look of authentic cedar,” says Ben Skoog, business marketing manager at Nashville, Tenn.-based LP Building Products, a manufacturer of treated engineered wood siding. “Many homeowners want that wood-grain aesthetic.”
Although homeowners may want their exterior walls to mimic the appearance of those homes from generations gone by, they also want them to perform like the modern 21st century structures they are. The technology built into today’s siding solutions allows for that balance between the classic and the modern. Synthetic and engineered natural materials offer a wide array of looks, along with the kind of durability and low maintenance desired by contractors and consumers.
Got the Look
Aesthetics have always been major drivers for homeowners, builders and remodelers when choosing siding or cladding systems, and nothing indicates that trend will change anytime soon. Siding provides the first visual impression of a home and, in a tough market where sellers have to compete harder than ever to catch the eyes of a limited pool of buyers, selecting the right siding can mean the difference between a home selling or languishing on the market.
“[Siding] is what the homeowner looks at first, whether for resale or initial sale,” says Jery Y. Huntley, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Vinyl Siding Institute. “If it doesn’t look good, buyers are not even going to go into the house these days. We know vinyl siding can provide the necessary curb appeal.”
As with anything, whether it’s clothing, hairstyles or home designs, fashions evolve and change. With siding, there are several aesthetic trends that seem to be prevalent at the moment. “We’re seeing the increased trend of mixing and matching materials to create a unique exterior, as well as a demand for dark colors,” says Jerry Blais, vice president of marketing for Ply Gem Siding Group, Kansas City, Mo. “It’s difficult to predict what the industry will be like in the future, but we anticipate a continued interest in vinyl and polymer siding products due to versatility and low maintenance, plus a continued interest in mixing and matching materials like siding and stone veneer.”
Charlie Graves, owner of Graves Brothers Home Improvement Co., Rochester, N.Y., also sees this trend toward darker colors among his customers. “I’ve been seeing an increased demand for injection-molded products … as well as dark-colored siding. Over the years, I’ve seen trending colors go from pastels to Earth tones and now even deeper.”
A variety of materials and systems provides looks to fit just about any aesthetic taste. Vinyl siding has been a dominant market force for several years, but other types of siding, such as pretreated engineered wood siding, fiber cement siding, stucco and others have taken their share of the pie. Regional and personal tastes can vary wildly and with so many options, siding offers something to please everyone’s tastes.
“We see a trend toward combining different types of siding,” Huntley says. “For example, a home might have vinyl siding and then shakes around the gable for an accent. Or there might be vinyl siding with brick on a house or with stucco, stone or another material.”