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From roofing and siding to windows and doors, more and more of the products used in your home are not what they appear, and that may be a good thing. We examine a number of products made from synthetic materials that often perform better and cost less than the natural materials they replace.


Realistic looking faux slate and cedar shake roofing materials from DaVinci Roofscapes are made from a specially engineered polymer that is impact and wind resistant, has a Class A fire rating, and comes with a 50-year limited warranty.

In our tests, DaVinci roofing held up to blows from a baseball bat at below freezing temperatures, as well as heat from a torch.

Vinyl Siding and Fencing

JELD-WEN Fiberglass door

Vinyl siding, such as the Exterior Portfolio line from Crane, and vinyl fencing by ActiveYards are durable building materials for your home that require little maintenance and keep their appearance for years to come.

Entry Doors

While wood entry doors look great when new, exposure to the elements can degrade the finish in just a few years.

Fiberglass doors, like those from JELD-WEN Windows & Doors, look like the real thing while holding up much better than natural wood.

A wood core in the door provides a solid feel and increased insulation. The core wood is treated with the preservative AuraLast to protect it from moisture, rot, and termites.

Urethane porch balusters manufactured by Fypon.

Spindles and Moldings

Balusters on porch railings are also subject to abuse from the weather. Spindles made from high-density urethane, such as those from Fypon, can be cut, sanded, and finished like wood while resisting decay, peeling, and termites.

Urethane and PVC products from Fypon are also available in a wide selection of ceiling medallions and moldings, including easy to install crown molding that employ premade corner blocks to eliminate the need for mitering.

Window Blocks

Glass blocks have been popular for years to let in natural light while ensuring privacy. Acrylic blocks, such as those from US Block Windows, provide advantages over traditional glass blocks, including:

    • Lightweight: Acrylic blocks are 70% lighter than glass blocks, requiring less support than glass.
    • Insulation: Acrylic blocks provide better insulation than glass, resulting in reduced heat loss.
  • Breakage: Acrylic blocks are more impact resistant than glass blocks.

Read also: Comprehensive Guide to Glass Blocks

Formica 180fx simulated granite plastic laminate is hard to tell from natural stone.

Plastic Laminate Countertops

Plastic laminate countertops come in a wide range of patterns and colors that resemble other surfaces at a much lower cost. Recent advances, such as Formica 180fx, have taken the process to the next level, making an exceptionally realistic faux stone product that it difficult to tell from the real thing.


Faux finishing techniques have been used for hundreds of years to give bland, painted surfaces the look of natural wood or stone.

Using a sponging technique, Carol Vonesh and Debra Liles apply multiple colors and layers of paint and glaze to give a plain painted column the look of “fantasy” marble.

Fantasy marble differs from traditional marbleizing in that it doesn’t reproduce the veins found in natural marble.


Using special tools and techniques, decorative painter David Walton grained this painted mantel to match the pine cabinet in the background.

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Other Tips from This Episode

Homemade Spray Paint Shield

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Homemade Spray Paint Shield

To prevent overspray when spray painting metal flashing under a roof, cut a cardboard box into strips, and slip the pieces between the flashing and roofing to act as a shield. Cardboard shields work well for other spray painting applications as well. Unlike store bought metal paint shields, cardboard shields are easy to cut to any size and are free. (Watch This Video)

Belkin Conserve Surge Protector

Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Belkin Conserve Surge Protector

The Belkin Conserve eight-plug surge protector not only protects electronic devices from power surges, but it comes with a remote control to allow you to easily turn off the power to TVs and other electronic devices when not in use. Two of the eight plugs remain on at all times to power devices with timers, such as DVRs. The Belkin Conserve is available at The Home Depot.
(Watch This Video)

Avoid Products that Greenwash

Thinking Green with Danny Lipford:
Avoid Greenwashing

When purchasing products that are billed as energy efficient or eco-friendly, it’s a good idea to research both the product and the company that makes it to be sure they’re really green. Websites such as Rate It Green and The Green Guide provide information and reviews on a wide range of products.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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