Visitors arriving at this year’s Northwest Natural Parade of Homes in Felida are likely to notice an exceptionally wide range of exterior finishes on the new lineup of houses. Three of the seven houses in the lineup are partially or fully outfitted with Hardie Textured Panels, a new exterior finish product from siding supplier James Hardie.
James Hardie is a big brand name in the home construction industry – every house in the parade includes the company’s cladding products on the exterior, noted Russell Mistich, new product commercialization manager at James Hardie – but the textured panels represent a new approach for the company, which has traditionally focused on wood-look finishes.
“This is kind of bigger and different than what we’ve done in the past,” said Mike Goodman, senior manager of new product commercialization at James Hardie.
The panels are made of fiber cement, just like some of James Hardie’s existing lineup of wood-style siding, but their surface texture is closer to a stucco-style finish. The panels come in three types, the first two of which are on display at the parade: Smooth Sand and Multi-groove. The third type, Knockdown, is not available in the Pacific Northwest.
The panels have been in development for about three years, Mistich said, and the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t alter the rollout time line. The company launched the new panels in West Coast markets in May, with a national rollout scheduled next year. The limited launch has been a success for new housing, Goodman said, and it’s also been in demand for remodel projects.
The panels are intended as a new product category rather than a direct replacement for other cladding options like wood, stone or stucco, Mistich said. The goal is to provide homebuyers with a new option that caters to two current design trends: modern-looking exteriors with clean lines and multi-material exteriors that incorporate a mix of elements.
“It’s all about creating a new category,” Goodman said.
The panels are all 4 feet wide, creating a grid of lines on the outside of the house, but the alignment of the grid can be tailored to match and complement the design of the house, such as by aligning vertical grid lines with the middle of windows.
The panels are intended to be comparable to other James Hardie cladding materials in terms of cost and ease of use, although Mistich said there could be situations where they could be advantageous to builders.
Stucco, for example, has to be mixed on-site directly before application, making the process partially weather-dependent, whereas the panels are manufactured ahead of time in a controlled factory environment. The generally high moisture level in the Pacific Northwest also makes stucco a less common choice of exterior finish.
Still, Mistich added, the panels were designed as a product to join the lineup of existing cladding options without displacing anything.
“This is not a product that we intend to focus on as a like-for-like replacement for stucco,” he said.
This story has been updated to correct the name of Mike Goodman.