We all know good siding work when we see it — just as we can recognize bad work. So do customers — and potential customers. Both kinds of work stand out, but like the squeaky wheel, the ugly siding job often gets the most attention. Lumpy, faded vinyl screams; cheap and slapped-on trim chops up what should be graceful lines. For siding that stands out, adjustments to your sales calls and materials selections can show the quality you want in every project.

BASICS FOR A GREAT LOOK Robert Pilder, operations manager of Hansons Home Services, in Columbus, Ohio, says well-tuned projects begin with the basics. “We start with a flat surface,” he says, “then we use a product that won't fade and that prevents swaying.” Pilder says he sees virgin vinyl performing better than recycled, and suggests looking for vinyl containing titanium oxide.

Richard Kasunic, vice president of operations for Regency Windows and Siding, in Twinsburg, Ohio, uses different colors to help make his siding projects visually pop. Using two colors — say, one for the fascia, rake, corners, and other trims, and another color for the sidewall — gives Regency Windows' siding projects curb appeal. (A third color might be used for the garage.) These effects cost no extra but go a long way toward making the project look special. For a different look, Kasunic might use “fish-tail” shingles or shakes for a low-cost but high-effect “feature area.”

MIX IT UP For higher-end projects, Mike Sheridan, general manager of Owens Construction, in Columbus, Ohio, employs various siding types as well, most recently board and batten mixed with angled lap. “It fit with what was previously on the house,” Sheridan says, while a reverse bend in the windows' aluminum coil stock precluded using J-channel. With the project complete, “it looks almost too good,” he's proud to say. Sheridan might also dovetail other products, such as a ½ -round gutter system, into a project “for a colorful, maintenance-free exterior.” And Pilder finds that mitered corners in J-channel, soffits, and window metal are key to achieving a great look.

Kasunic notes that before heading to a sales call, reps should have a sense of what the houses in the neighborhood look like, to better assist the customer in tailoring a package that's right for their home and budget.

So whether it's accessories, a feature area, or sound but subtle installations, your work is your calling card. You might as well have it call out something memorable.