As materials improve, the race is on for market dominance.
When it comes to trim and siding, homeowners and production builders share a common desire: They want a material that’s durable and aesthetically pleasing and requires little maintenance. But when price enters the picture, the two groups split: Homeowners can accept higher prices for higher quality, while builders prefer to keep costs at a minimum.
This quality-versus-price tug-of-war is nothing new for the construction industry, but what is new is how emerging technologies can shift the balance one way or the other. With trim, the common trend from our Product Monitor last year was that PVC was gaining ground in a category still largely dominated by wood, as it provided the best durability and least maintenance, albeit with a higher price tag. Now, however, it looks as though PVC isn’t as hot as previously thought. “PVC is a high-end product, and builders want to maximize their bottom lines,” says Casey Olson, an industry analyst at Principia Consulting. “If durability and maintenance are comparable, builders, especially volume builders, will choose the cheaper product.”
Though PVC still wins outright on durability, especially in areas with moisture, Olson and others say warranties on treated wood are starting to become competitive. “Treated-wood products now offer an almost comparable warranty to PVC. And people like wood,” Olson says.
Polymer Siding: Aesthetic Approach
Many consumers want the look of real wood on the exterior of their homes but not the continual upkeep associated with actual wood. Vinyl siding requires little-to-no maintenance yet often fails to produce the aesthetic that homeowners seek today. Polymer-based products, on the other hand, offer the appearance of real wood and provide superior moisture management to prevent damage.
The decking industry encountered a similar obstacle years ago, when people became fed up with splinters and called for alternative options. Cellular PVC and composite products filled that void and continue to gain market share today. Although polymer shakes and shingles represent only 2 percent of the siding market, according to Principia, the category is growing at roughly 5 percent annually.
The more exposure that remodelers as well as homeowners have with polymer siding, the more comfortable they will become with specifying and installing these materials. The following products give contractors an opportunity to educate their clients and recommend an appropriate siding solution.
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