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Credit: Case Design/Remodeling

By varying colors, textures, and materials, a re-siding job (this one by Case Design/Remodeling) can completely transform the look of the house and really boost curb appeal.
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Many homeowners, and the contractors they hire, elect to play it safe and replace existing siding with a similar material. “They're doing it because they have to, not because they want to,” says John Temmel, a one-time home builder in Alpharetta, Ga., who now specializes in exteriors.

But thanks to online visualization tools, homeowners who do their homework can quickly find out that there are many ways to draw the eye by varying color, texture, and materials. Recently, for instance, siding manufacturer Ply Gem added a downloadable PDF to its website offering 22 generic house styles (ranch, split level, etc.) with cladding and trim that show a broad range of design options. Stepped-up design, says John Stevenson, Ply Gem's vice president of marketing, appeals to the homeowner who has decided to stay in the house for the duration. “When they know they can do it, they love it.”

SEEING IS BELIEVING

Just how far that can go was recently demonstrated by Maryland remodeling company Case Design/Remodeling. Case entered a contest for contractors sponsored by Ply Gem, won, and decided to donate the prize — $50,000 worth of materials — along with labor and design services to a worthy local homeowner. Though the budget was more than most homeowners would spend, the results show what looks like a totally different building. “Different textures create a different feel,” says Case Design/Remodeling president Bruce Case, and the idea is to “break up the monotony of the horizontally lined house.”

AFFORDABILITY

Not every homeowner can afford a portico or alterations to the roofline (see the before/after photos on page 10), but they can often afford a mixed design that will invigorate the home's exterior if they know it's feasible, and affordable. Cris Keeter, president of All States Windows & Siding, in Wichita, Kan., says that his company explains to homeowners that it “can do more than just fix the [siding] problem. We can take it to the next level. We can change and enhance the exterior, get some curb appeal out of it.”

That enhancement might not involve installing stone — fast growing in popularity — so much as shakes on gable ends, or shutters at the windows. Temmel says that replacement jobs combining stone and fiber cement are still fairly few, the reason being cost, with stone almost three times the square-foot cost of fiber cement. So he tries to give homeowners options that aren't extremely expensive. Shutters can work wonders for a siding design. A few hundred dollars “makes the house really pop,” Temmel says.