Many Sides of Siding

When seeing a house for the first time, how many people are able to resist forming an opinion of the home until they have seen the inside? Homes, like people, often are given only one opportunity to make a first impression. Whether looking to sell, remodel or build, siding choices play a role in making a positive initial feeling.

“When a consumer is looking to remodel or build a new home, probably what’s most important in their mind is the overall aesthetic,” says Jerry Blais, vice president of marketing for the Siding Group, Ply Gem in Kansas City, Mo. “What the home is going to look like with siding plays a role, so [the consumer] really starts to get into design considerations as well as performance considerations.”

Design considerations may vary based on personal preferences, the home’s architectural style and geographic region, among others. But Justin Elick, repair and remodel segment manager, Northern division, James Hardie in Mission Viejo, Calif., says there are several attributes all homeowners seem to be looking for when it comes to siding. “When you talk about curb appeal, customers are looking to make their home unique and special, so it’s clearly a trend — that everybody wants to make the outside of the house look and appear better.”


Mixing and Matching

A bevy of siding options exists in the market today, so consumers have more than just curb appeal to consider. Jery Huntley, president and CEO of the Vinyl Siding Institute in Washington, D.C., says there are several qualities consumers are looking for from a siding product. “Homeowners want durability, they want beauty, and they want low maintenance,” she says. “That low-maintenance aspect, which ties to geography and the demographics in the U.S. — in terms of who the homeowners are — is something very important for a remodeling contractor to talk about.”

Homeowners appear unafraid to break from tradition when it comes to the look they want to achieve with siding. “Homes have a lot more texture and more diversity than what they’ve had in the past, where you had more of a cookie-cutter approach,” Blais says. Consumers are choosing to combine horizontal and vertical types of siding, and adding stone, shake or shingles to give the home texture and create various aesthetics.

Huntley indicates she also sees consumers combining the traditional and creative panels more frequently, which can “really make a home pop.”

Despite this diversity in material choices, consumers still want to remain true to the architectural style of their homes. Huntley explains a diverse selection of profiles, accessories, trim and shapes of panels are intended to fit all kinds of architectural styles.

Color also plays into architectural style, and Blais indicates he sees earth tones as a dominant trend. “Consumers are looking for rich, warm, comfortable colors that evoke stability and tradition,” he says.

Both Huntley and Elick noted they are seeing consumers playing a bit more with colors. Huntley observes homeowners choosing different shades of whites, deep reds, blues and greens, as well as much in between. Elick says consumers are playing with all colors or mixing and matching the colors to create a custom design.

“You have the customers who know exactly what they want, and then you have the customers who really don’t know what they want. You get two sides of the spectrum,” Elick says. Therefore, consumers and remodelers must focus on making educated choices.


Visualizing with Apps

While the Internet provides plenty of educational opportunities for consumers and remodelers when it comes to siding, it can be difficult to sort through all the information and know what’s accurate or helpful. Blais notes home design shows on television, social media and websites like are making information more readily available to the consumer, but some decisions are still a challenge despite being more informed.

“One of the most difficult things for a homeowner and/or trade professional to do is select colors and put them together, so we work with architects and color advisors to make it easier for the consumer to make those choices through our Color Advisor App,” Blais says. The Color Advisor App is available for the iPad and walks consumers through a series of questions that provide a color palette for their project. Similarly, the Designed Exteriors Studio on the Ply Gem website allows visitors to select an existing home within the program or to upload a photo of their home to see what changes, such as siding color, texture, profiles and more, and what it could look like after a remodel.

Visualizing the end result when trying to achieve or maintain a certain architectural style can be a challenge as well. The Vinyl Siding Institute offers remodelers Designing Style, a free resource that can be downloaded onto iPads or computers. “It shows nine traditional American architectural styles and shows very specifically which pieces of vinyl siding, trim and accessories you can use and what’s the traditional color palette for that house and how you can make a house in that traditional, American architectural style from vinyl siding,” Huntley explains.