Exterior home trends are experiencing a gradual shift.
Story by Tracy Dickinson
Featured in Winter 2024
In the home design and decor fields, trends tend to move at a slower pace than in other fields. That’s even more true when it comes to exterior home trends. We’ve seen some changing styles across the metro over the past year. So we asked some local professionals for advice.
Although vinyl siding remains a standard product for entry-level and multifamily construction projects, most of the homes in central Iowa feature either wood composite or cement board siding.
“The vast majority of builders we work with use one or the other of these products,” says Leachman’s Curt Kahler. “The pros and cons are pretty equal. The choice usually comes down to which one the builder has the most experience with.”
Both composite and cement products are long-lasting and come with excellent warranties. The choice of product frequently comes down to homeowner preference or the builder’s relationship with the product and the manufacturer.
“We sell both products and recommend both highly,” says Matt Thompson of Gilcrest/Jewett. “Some builders will have a preference for one type of product over the other, but both are ideal for our market.”
Beisser’s Ben Richter says, “Depending on the installation design, one product might be more suitable than the other, especially if the siding is going to be vertical. Cement board siding typically only comes in 10-foot lengths, so vertical installation requires more seams. The LP Building Products composite siding is available in 16-foot lengths, which can eliminate unwanted seams.”
As with most innovative products, when cement board and wood composite siding were first introduced, product quality was a frequent concern. That’s no longer the case.
“Both types of products have evolved since those early years,” Richter says. “Manufacturers offer excellent warranties to support that.”
Thompson says, “HardiePlank® siding has a comprehensive 30-year warranty, and LP has a 50-year warranty. Both are prorated warranties, but the companies really stand behind their products, whichever one you choose.”
One way that cement board manufacturers have improved their products is to develop zone-specific formulas. “The lower half of the U.S. doesn’t experience the dramatic heat and cold shifts throughout the year, so manufacturers have developed products specifically for northern climates where that can be an issue,” Richter says.
Thompson says installation is also a key factor. “Cement products shrink with temperature fluctuations. Composite products expand. Installing each one correctly to account for that is important. That also plays into which product a builder will recommend because builders are more experienced with one or the other.”
Both types of siding are designed to imitate wood in appearance, so product selection doesn’t affect a homeowner’s options when it comes to other exterior accents.
“The ‘barndominium’ style is a trend right now,” Kahler says. “That’s driving the popularity of vertical or board and batten siding installations. It’s slightly more expensive to go that route because it usually requires more material. But most homes only do the vertical on the front or incorporate some brick to break up the vertical design.”
Thompson says, “We used to see a lot of cedar shingle accents, but that’s sort of faded out. The vertical board and batten siding is definitely trending, but it’s not standard. It fits with a certain style of home.”
Kahler says, “A lot of the accent choices are restricted by development covenants, so mixed materials on the front of the home are still very common. But we’re seeing a slight decline in the percentage of stone on the home. Some homeowners are opting for brick so it can be painted to blend in more with the rest of the home.”
Both cement board and wood composite are available prefinished. Local experts say the majority of their customers opt for primed products so they can choose their own paint. And paint colors are definitely a changing trend right now.
“It’s not the dominant color in the market, but dark gray paint is a popular trend,” Kahler says. “It seems like everything is gray or black or chosen to work with the black trim that’s so popular.”
Richter says, “A home’s color palette is often selected to work with the window color, and manufacturers are responding to that. Everything from gutters to soffits is available in black, and that makes it easier to design around that color scheme.”
“We do sell more of the prefinished siding during the winter because this allows builders to finish a home during the cold months, when painters can’t always do exterior work,” Thompson says.
Whether paint is applied to cement board or composite wood, the paint’s durability remains the same and is dependent more on the paint itself and its proper application. “Most homes need to be repainted every 7 to 10 years,” says Kahler. “With darker colors in Iowa, that time frame is probably shorter because the summer sun is likely to cause more noticeable fading.”
Dressing your home follows the same principle as enhancing the appearance of any other fashion: Start with a good foundational piece and change the accessories to suit the trends. With your home, choosing a quality siding product and facade means you can update the color as the styles change. That way, your home will always be in fashion. •
- Ben Richter Beisser
- Matt Thompson Gilcrest/Jewett
- Curt Kahler Leachman