During a question and answer session at a recent industry conference, a home builder asked Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi for his thoughts about the labor
A new siding for custom home builders
Microposite created a lap siding with remarkable insulating properties — and it’s lightweight, too
Not much has happened in the siding market since James Hardie introduced its Fiber Cement siding almost 20 years ago. Sure, new products, finishes, textures and formulations have improved existing product lines. But there hasn't been an entirely new category until Microposite's lap siding came along.
Made of what the company calls "microspheres," the Microposite lap siding is made of a lightweight core material commonly used in building products. What exactly the material is made
of is a company secret and guarded like the formula for Coca-Cola. The material is combined with proprietary resins as a binding agent, which forms a closed-cell-type siding.
Users first report, according to Microposite, how remarkably light it is — half the weight of fiber cement without any of the harmful dust and particulates released when cut. Because of its closed-cell construction, the siding offers complete water and mold resistance, as it provides no surface or food source for decay and rot-causing bugaboos. In addition, Microposite has rated the siding with an R-Value 3½ times greater than fiber cement.
The company partnered with distributor BlueLinx to find a core group of builders willing to give the product a shot. Dean A. Franchi, CGB and director of purchasing and estimating for Southeastern Michigan home builders The Windmill Group, was on the short list. "Microposite was working with BlueLinx, who I had a close relationship with even when I moved to Windmill Homes from Centex," says Franchi.
Microposite's Chairman Keith Krach and Marc Carlson, president and CEO, say the company would recruit builders and use them as an advisory board.
"They wanted to know everything: how I used it, when I used it, how it worked, what I liked, what I didn't like. They'd come to my doorstep with some changes and ask me what I thought, and then they'd come back and ask what I felt," says Franchi.
The company wanted critical feedback, too. "They came to the table with a great product," Franchi says, "but I felt at first, for example, that there wasn't enough texture in the wood grain." The company addressed the problems Franchi and others brought up by creating 7/16-inch boards to create deeper shadow lines, with a no-repeat grain pattern that looks like real wood. The boards are reversible and have both smooth and grain patterns in four widths.
Franchi and his crews were taken aback by the siding. "The first thing out of their mouths is 'Oh my gosh, it's lighter.' That's the greatest thing," says Franchi. "Carpenters don't have to worry so much about how close they are to the edge when it comes to nailing. You don't have to worry about chunks popping off of it. And you don't need a sky track, either. You can climb up a ladder and replace a whole section."
According to the company, the siding targets custom and semi-custom new home developments and remodels for the initial rollout. The siding will be available first in the Northeast through BlueLinx.
|Wood||Aluminum||Vinyl wood||Engineered cement||Fiber||Microposite|
|Supply available||Low maintenance||Low cost||Looks like wood||Duable||Lightweight|
|Easy to install||Rot-proof||Low upkeep||Low maintenance vesus wood||Looks like wood||High insulation properties|
|High maintnance||Dents easily||Cracks and bubbles||Rots and decays||Heavy||Too early to judge|
|Rots and decays||Paint chalking||Special tools required|