IN DEPTH: Siding

Warranties Play a Role
Warranties can help support a product’s performance statement, provided they’re clearly explained. “Each company’s performance and warranty is different,” says Royal’s Booz. “And what they warrant is important, as homeowners are paying more attention and comparing options.”

But warranties don’t often seal the deal. “Consumers look at warranties, but warranties don’t always come first in the decision,” says LP’s Maddern. “Consumers are very wary of warranties. They aren’t sure what they mean down the road when a problem arises. But warranties are beneficial, to provide consumers with peace of mind, and they assure dealers and remodelers that manufacturers stand behind the products.”

Warranties are playing a larger role for wood products, says Woodtone’s Pidlisecky. “We’re seeing more desire to have extended warranties available from both developers and architects. Customers are seeing that it’s the best way to protect their investment for a 30-year period. That leads them most often to prefinished products that can provide that long warranty.”

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Insulated products also are growing in some regions and with some substrates. “We’re definitely seeing more interest in insulation options,” says Tapco’s Wierengo. “Homeowners are asking questions and wanting to understand the options available and which best fit them. They don’t always follow through and add it, so it’s a smaller percentage of the overall market. But it’s growing, and we expect that will continue.”

Adds Provia’s Tybor, “Insulation products are getting much more attention from the consumer. Homeowners are doing whatever they can to create energy efficiency for their homes.

“Insulated siding helps with energy efficiency, but it also helps eliminate noise and allows the siding to have nice sight lines. It can really perfect the job and provide additional benefits,” Tybor explains. “We have expanded our insulated products into new siding products and accessories due to its popularity.”

Remodeling projects with vinyl siding are the key market for insulation. “Insulation is not a popular product with fibercement siding,” says Allura’s Frazeur. “Most of the use of insulation is done to provide stability and support for vinyl siding, to make it feel ‘solid.’ That isn’t a problem for fiber-cement siding.” Novik’s Bruno agrees. “Siding doesn’t impact the type or the way that insulation is installed very much. Builders typically manage the building envelope as a separate decision from the siding choice.”

Contractors need to satisfy their customers’ preferences, but they often want more. “We ask ourselves all the time how we can make it easier for contractors to install our products and retain the traditional look they want,” says Novik’s Bruno. “Homeowners and contractors both are looking at two costs. They look at the life-cycle costs and how long the product will last, and they look at the installed cost of what they will have to spend to put it up today.”

Availability often is an overlooked factor, stresses Allura’s Frazeur. “Availability is a key factor for a contractor. Builders and installers aren’t always great planners. There’s no real shortage of product, but there are last-minute needs that must be filled easily. Manufacturers and dealers both need to be aware of those needs and be able to fill them when they arise.”

It’s important for dealers to fill these needs and stay on top of new products to help guide the purchase and act as a resource as options expand. “There’s a tremendous thirst for knowledge among contractors as the market returns,” says WRCLA’s Mackie. “They want to know what’s current and what new products they can be offering as demand picks up.”

Dealers play a key role in that process. “Most often, homeowners are going to turn to a professional remodeler for help in choosing products,” says LP’s Maddern. “I’d love to say they look to us as manufacturers, but they’re going to look to a remodeler to sort out which features really matter and what they mean to them. That’s why LP does dealer-education programs to give dealers product knowledge so they can help remodelers.”