Now that the ball has dropped and the New Year has arrived, it’s time for contractors to put their marketing machines into high gear. Here’s a look at five contracting trends experts say are sure-fire winners in 2016:

1.  Low-maintenance products. Experts agree, everyone wants homes that are low- and preferably no-maintenance — and contractors who supply these products will be in high demand. “Whether it’s millennials or Gen Xers or Boomers, you’re looking for more free time, so you’re looking for maintenance free,” said Michael Menn, principal and architect of Michael Menn Ltd. For example, he said cement fiber siding is the option of choice because of its long life and low maintenance. Custom Home Designs LLC owner John G. Guillory said the same is true of fiberglass doors and windows, which are more durable than their vinyl counterparts.

2. Universal design. From zero-threshold walkways to near-stepless entrances, universal design is more popular than ever — and it’s not just for the elderly. “Even young people understand that grandma won’t come to the house unless it’s comfortable for grandma to come over,” Guillory said. Universal design and low maintenance go hand in hand. For example, cable rails on decks instead of traditional spindles because they maintain site lines and offer easier upkeep.

3. Transom windows.
Window replacement contractors looking to add a luxury touch for their customers can do so easily with transom windows. These smaller windows above the regular window add style, but more importantly, they add a commodity homeowners are increasingly demanding: more light. “They really add value to the home because they add architectural style,” said Jennifer Dreher, architectural designer at Exovations. “They can take on any kind of lite pattern, which compliments the home’s style.”

4. Sustainable materials.
As more and more people tune into environmental concerns, they want their homes to reflect those values. So sustainable materials are a growing design trend that experts expect to continue in the New Year. Think windows, gutters and siding all made from composite sustainable or recycled materials, Menn said. “People believe in sustainability and that’s a driving force,” he said. “And there are more of those kinds of people every day.”

5. Stone and brick.
The sustainability trend dovetails with the move toward stone and brick siding. For the higher end look, the key is to use natural materials, Dreher said. Stone and brick can be mixed together, or used to create a wainscoting effect. But increasingly, she said all stone homes are becoming more popular. Along with giving a lux look, stone and brick siding offers low-maintenance. Contractors also can provide the look of stone for less using one of the growing variety of faux stone facades.