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Modern Exterior Materials to Consider for Your Home

If you are building a custom modern home, you already know that there are many factors to be considered. What will your home’s floor plan look like? How will you best take advantage of your lot and space? How might you maximize the natural light your home receives? What materials will you use to actually construct your home?

This last point—your home’s material palette—is often not addressed until the final stages of a design process. And yet, it can be argued that you should have a sense of the materials that you’d like to leverage in your home as early as possible. After all, the materials that you use will have a large impact on your budget. If you go through the entire design process without considering the cost of materials, you may find yourself facing one of two options: Pay up for the materials that you want, even if it means going over your budget, or compromise by selecting different materials in order to maintain your budget.

But by knowing the types of materials you would like to leverage early in the process, your architect can take this into account alongside your budget when creating the design so that you don’t need to compromise.

With this in mind, here are some tips to get you thinking about your home’s exterior material palette, including a look at four materials that can be leveraged exquisitely in modern homes.

Modern Exterior Materials to Consider

1. Glass

Many modern homes leverage glass extensively in their design, for a number of reasons. On the one hand, it serves a utilitarian purpose, allowing in an abundance of natural light and helping the occupants enjoy their natural surroundings with ease. On the other, it is simply a modern material, as manufacturing processes have advanced to the point that it is possible to make larger and larger panes of glass relatively easily. This is one reason why you will often see floor-to-ceiling windows featured in many modern homes.


The Leonard Residence, for example, leverages floor-to-ceiling glass windows and sliding glass doors along it’s east side, allowing the owners an easy access and view of their beautiful backyard.

2. Metal

Metal is another material that can be leveraged in interesting and surprising ways. In the exterior of the home, for example, it can be leveraged as siding in order to form the facade of the structure itself.


As just one example, the Amoroso Studio is clad in multiple colors of zinc shingle siding, which are arranged in order to create an interesting pattern that attracts the eye and mirrors the home’s unique roofline. The material is also an excellent insulator, which was an important consideration in this instance.

3. Concrete/Cement

While many think of concrete and cement as being a material to be leveraged in industrial applications, it can also be used extremely effectively in residential projects. It has the unique ability to be at once both understated in its appearance, which allows it to recede into its surroundings, as well as visually appealing in its own right. The material itself can also be extremely versatile, especially when poured in place to create interesting and unexpected shapes.


Choosing Your Exterior Palette

In selecting the materials that will make up both your home’s material palette, it’s important to consider those materials in the context of the rest of your project. Cost of materials, durability, energy efficiency, and sustainability, for example, should all be considered.

Additionally, you should consider the relationship you want between the exterior of your home and the interior, as well as between your home and the land it sits on.

In modern homes, it is very common for the same materials to be leveraged inside and outside the home, in order to help the whole structure feel cohesive and to blur the boundaries between what is “inside” versus what is “outside.” Similarly, many modern homes will be constructed with materials which blend in with or echo the home’s site, in order to make the home feel as though it contextually belongs where it is.

If you are working with an architect, it’s important to let them know what you want out of the home. For example, do you want something that has a timeless quality to it, or something that is contemporary and quintessentially “new”? Additionally, how much time, energy, and effort do you want to spend on maintenance? Both of these questions should impact the final material palette.