Digital Tools vs Real Samples

Chad Esslinger of Chad Esslinger Design answers homeowners’ questions about how to enhance their home’s exterior design and curb appeal when getting a new roof.

Making Roof & Home Exterior Design Decisions Based on Digital Tools vs Real Samples

Homeowner Question: What is the right balance between using digital tools and real samples when trying to pull together an exterior design plan?

Chad’s Answer: Online shopping is so easy and convenient, it is tempting to want to decorate, furnish, and remodel your home without ever leaving your favorite recliner. Although you can easily order many items online for your home, sometimes you must leave the digital world and go analog.

Digital Tools vs Real Samples

When it comes to interior and exterior design, I tell my clients that we can easily source things like lighting, pillows, and small decorative accent pieces with online shopping with easy return policies.

But when it comes to larger investments, such as sofas and window treatments (inside the home), or siding and roofing (outside the home), you really need to see, touch, and feel the physical product before committing. These items are a little more difficult to return—if at all in the case of a new roof or siding or stone.  

Before COVID-19, I would bring clients to showrooms to sit on sectionals for an in-person review of materials, but we can’t do that right now. So, the next best thing is to send swatches of material to them. Look for retailers or suppliers that can quickly ship free physical samples.

For larger, more permanent products like siding, stone, and roofing, your contractor or building materials supplier will typically have physical samples they can give or send to you.  

During the selection phase, you may be able to use digital tools to virtually “try on” the product and help you narrow down your choices, and then you could plan to pull together physical samples of siding, stone or brick, roofing, and pavers for your patio.

Various companies have these digital tools available, usually on their websites or as an app, for visualizing paint colors, flooring, and even roofs. The Design EyeQ® visualization resource from Owens Corning allows you to upload a picture of your home and apply various roof shingle styles and colors. It’s a great way to quickly see the impact of roof color on your home’s overall look and curb appeal. 

While I would not recommend basing your purchase decision entirely on digital representation, it’s certainly a great way to figure out what you don’t want and narrow down your selection before you ask for the physical samples. 

After you’ve narrowed down your initial selections and received your roofing samples, I still recommend asking for a list of addresses where you can see the shingles installed on a house.  Your roofing contractor can provide you with a list of installations they’ve done in your area with the shingle products and colors you like. 

But remember, depending on the color of the house you are looking at, different granule colors on the roof shingles can appear more prominent because of the house color.  The colors on a shingle are actually created by using highly saturated color-coated rock granules laid down on the shingle in a way that combines individual colors into an eye-pleasing blend. 

Many times the granule color can complement a wide range of exterior palettes. For example, looking at Owens Corning Summer Harvest on a yellow house will bring out the golden tones in the shingle versus seeing it on a blue house which will make the blue tabs more prominent. 

TruDefinition Duration Designer Shingles in the color Summer Harvest
TruDefinition® Duration® Designer Shingles in the color Summer Harvest

If this all still feels a bit daunting, then bringing in a designer who can offer their professional suggestions and help guide you through the home exterior design process may give you more confidence to go all in on the products and colors you love. 



More from Chad Esslinger

Chad answers homeowners’ questions about their roofs and home exterior design.

Roof Color Q&A with Chad Esslinger, Designer
Preview of Chad's Aged Copper Style Board
Chad shares his thoughts and style board for our 2021 Shingle Color of the Year, Aged Copper

Design Inspiration from Owens Corning

Looking for design inspiration? Explore the many tools and content Owens Corning has to offer:

2021 Shingle Color of the Year - Aged Copper
Learn more about our 2021 Shingle Color of the Year, Aged Copper
Not sure what color shingle will work with your roof? Explore our Style Boards
Upload a picture of your home and “try on” shingles with Design EyeQ®
Explore the many shingle color options from Owens Corning with Pick Your Shingles

About Chad Esslinger Design

Chad Esslinger
Chad Esslinger Design logo

Chad Esslinger Design is a full-service design company focusing on residential interior design, decorating and remodeling. Chad loves partnering with homeowners to create beautiful and functional living spaces.

Chad Esslinger Design is committed to beautiful and creative design as well as unparalleled service. Chad believes that great design is contemporary but timeless, simple but elegant. The goal of any project is to create breathtaking beauty, innovative functionality, and a truly enjoyable design process. Learn more about Chad.