Would you like to give your home a fresh new look? One way to dramatically change and improve the appearance of your home is to replace the siding. Depending on your budget, preferences, and personal aesthetics, there is a wide range of siding options to choose from. Siding materials vary in terms of their durability, maintenance and resistance to the natural elements. It is important to research the specific properties of each siding material before making your purchase.
Summary of Siding Materials Options
Over the years, vinyl siding has improved tremendously and today it is the most commonly used siding material. Over 90% of prefinished siding installed on houses across the US is vinyl. Vinyl siding is made from a PVC (polyvinyl chloride )plastic and looks like horizontal wood siding. It is available in a wide range of colors, different clapboard widths, horizontal and vertical styles and different textures, from smooth to wood grain. Such flexibility in vinyl style choices allows you to achieve the perfect look for your home.
Vinyl siding offers the attractive look of freshly painted wood, without requiring a lot of maintenance. You will never need to paint vinyl siding, because its color goes all the way through the material. This means that it will not peel, flake or show scratches like painted surfaces. As a result, having vinyl siding can save you hundreds of dollars on professional painting or spare you the time and energy of doing the job yourself. Moreover, vinyl siding will not dent like aluminum siding, and it will not warp, rot, chip, or attract termites like wood siding. A great advantage is that vinyl siding is less expensive to purchase and install than most other siding materials.
Vinyl siding is very durable and can retain its qualities for over 40 years. It is also highly resistant to rain, sun, wind, air pollution, and humidity. Moreover, it does not conduct electricity. Vinyl siding has excellent insulator properties and will protect your home from extreme temperatures, helping you save money on your heating and cooling costs throughout the year.
After a few years vinyl siding has the tendency to become brittle and crack. With time, it also starts to look dull.
Another disadvantage is that it is not an eco-friendly material. Vinyl produces hazardous byproducts and will release toxic chemicals when burned.
Cedar Shingle Siding
To many people, wood is still the most beautiful choice for siding, which is why manufacturers of synthetic siding like vinyl still try to imitate wood. If you want to create a rustic, elegant look for your home, then Cedar shingles, or “shakes,” siding is a good option to consider. The shingles are made of natural cedar and are usually stained brown, gray or other earthen colors. While they offer the natural look of real wood, they actually require less maintenance than wood clapboard.
Cedar shingles are durable and can last up to 30 years. This material also will not buckle or curl. Cedar shingles also stand up well to inclement weather as well as impact.
Cedar shingle siding is about 25% more expensive that synthetic materials. They are also very difficult and time consuming to install, usually requiring a professional contractor. This factor also drives up the amount of initial investment into cedar shingle siding. It is also quite difficult and labor intensive to paint or stain the shingles, which is something you need to keep in mind if you like to do your house maintenance by yourself. Cedar shingle siding needs to be washed about once a year and repainted or refinished every couple years. The material needs treatment about every five years to prevent rot or mildew. Moreover, cedar shingle siding is vulnerable to fire and insects such as termites, and may not be a wise choice if you live in an area prone to forest fires.
While not as popular as other siding materials, aluminum siding is still a viable option. It was first developed during WWII as a practical substitute for wood siding. Aluminum siding comes smooth, or embossed with wood grain. Its surface finish is a highly durable, baked enamel paint.
One of the biggest advantages of aluminum siding is that it is resistant to temperature extremes, and a lot more so than vinyl siding, making it a great choice for people who live in regions with extreme climate variations. Aluminum siding will not rust, rot or be damaged by termites. While its original color can fade overtime, aluminum siding can easily be painted again. It is highly energy efficient, adding more insulation to your home than vinyl siding. This can save you a significant amount of money in heating and cooling costs.
One major issue with aluminum siding is that it is prone to being dented and damaged by impact. If your home is in an area that gets a lot of hail storms, aluminum siding may not be the best option. It can also be dented by a rock or baseball striking it, or a ladder pressing against it. In case this happens, damage is very visible on aluminum siding and needs to be repaired. Moreover, finding the pattern that matches your damaged panels and then replacing them can be a difficult chore.
Fiber Cement Siding
If you like the look of authentic wood, but don’t want to deal with high cost and high maintenance, cement fiber siding may be a good option. Fiber cement siding is a natural looking material that can have the appearance of wood, stucco, or masonry. Fiber cement is often called by the brand names HardiPlank® and HardiPanel®. It is made from portland cement mixed with ground sand, cellulose fiber, and other additives.
Fiber cement siding is a durable, lower-cost alternative to wood siding, costing up to 50% less than wood. It is a fire proof and termite-proof material that is not subject to rotting or mold. Resistance to fire can be particularly important and advantageous for people who live in a dry climate that is conducive to forest fires. Fiber cement siding is also long lasting, and can have a warranty of up to 50 years.
One major disadvantage of fiber cement siding is that it needs to be painted for maintenance (every 10-15 years), which can be a tricky job to do yourself and may require the assistance of a professional contractor. Another disadvantage is that fiber cement siding takes longer to install than vinyl siding. While its cheaper than wood siding, fiber siding is about double the cost of vinyl siding. Another issue with fiber cement siding is that it can potentially hold moisture if it has not been painted correctly. Lastly, it is a very heavy material that needs significant structural support.
Wood Clapboard Siding
Wood is one of the oldest types of siding, and you can spot its elegant look on many historic homes. Although homeowners now have access to many synthetic wood products, solid woods remain top house siding choices for fine homes. There are several options available for wood clapboard, including cedar, spruce, redwood, cypress, and pine. With periodic staining or painting, wood siding can outlast most other siding materials. The cost of wood siding depends on which type of wood is used. For example, redwood and cedar tend to be more expensive than pine and spruce.
One of the greatest advantages of wood is that it is a green siding material. Wood is a renewable resource, and it also helps prevent global warming, since trees absorb polluting carbon dioxide. Moreover, it is a biodegradable material, if it has not been treated. Clapboard siding offers a wide variety of styles, textures, finishes, and can be painted any color. Wood clapboard siding will complement a wide range of architectural styles, adding charm and curb appeal to your home.
One of the biggest disadvantages of wood clapboard siding is that it is very high maintenance. It needs to be repainted every seven years or so, as well as power-washed, stained, and sealed on a regular basis. Also, wood siding requires caulking to prevent water damage. This material can also be susceptible to rot and termites. While this issue can be mitigated with special treatment, this will make wood clapboard siding no longer biodegradable. Keep in mind that paints and stains used to preserve and protect wood can be toxic. Also, wood siding is vulnerable to warping and splitting. Finally, wood is not the best insulator, so if you live in areas with extreme temperature fluctuations, you will end up paying more money for heating and cooling costs.