You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but you should always be able to rely on that cover to keep the book intact. The same goes for houses and their siding; the siding of a house should not only complement the style of the home, but also keep the home sealed safely away from weather and other home invaders.
Climate and geographical location are major factors to consider when choosing a type of siding for your home. If you live near the ocean where humidity is a factor, you probably wouldn’t want a siding that would easily be penetrated by water and prone to rotting.
Types of Siding
Four of the currently most popular siding materials are:
- Fiber Cement (Composite)
- Engineered Wood
Vinyl siding originated in the early 1960s and is the most commonly used in new, single family homes. It comes in many colors and requires very little maintenance. It is widely available, durable, and probably the least expensive siding option.
Early incarnations of tended to warp in extreme climates, and could fade with prolonged exposure to the elements, however newer technology has much improved these defects. In fact, vinyl siding can now even have the look of many different types of architectural accents such as wood, stone and slate. Maintenance includes pressure washing on an annual basis.
The disadvantages include the fact that if you have a spot that needs repaired, you will have to replace an entire section, not just one slat at a time. The variety of styles and colors available are not as numerous as other types of siding and is flammable, and it releases toxins if burned.
Insulated siding is basically vinyl siding with insulation added to the backing. There are two types: one where the insulation is glued to the inside, the other leaves the extra insulation as its own separate piece. The most common insulation material used is expanded polystyrene (EPS). This type of siding was first used in the late 1990s.
Insulated siding provides more energy efficiency due to its ability to counteract the “thermal bridging” effect in homes. Thermal bridging occurs where the interior and exterior of a home are connected by a poorly insulating material, and using insulated siding helps build a barrier to prevent heat loss or gain.
While this type costs more than the standard vinyl siding, you will likely see reduced costs in heating and cooling, perhaps balancing out the price difference. The insulation also reduces outside noise, and lays flatter than conventional siding. Pressure washing is not optimal, but an annual washing with soap and water is encouraged.
Fiber Cement Siding, also known as composite siding, mixes sand, cement and wood fibers into a stable material that does not expand and contract at the same rate as wood and vinyl. This type can be painted, and it holds the paint color longer than wood siding does, making fiber cement siding a low-maintenance option. Re-painting is recommended about every 15-20 years.
Fiber cement siding is a somewhat “green” product; in that most brands contain roughly 10 to 20% recycled materials. It is highly water-resistant and not susceptible to termites.
The disadvantages include the fact that installation is more complicated because of the heavy weight to this product; and this is more expensive than most types.
A relatively new product, engineered wood siding is comprised of wood by-products (such as sawdust and shavings) and bonding agents. This looks like real wood; however it’s stronger and can be factory-painted, giving it a longer life expectancy. This will need painted every 5-10 years to maintain its integrity. A lighter-weight product, engineered wood siding is an easy installation, and takes less lumber to create than traditional wood siding. However, if you don’t properly maintain it, it is more susceptible to weather-related issues.
Other Types of Exteriors
More traditional types include brick exteriors, stucco, aluminum, wood, log and stone.
- Stone siding is the most expensive, and most time-consuming to install. However, you can get natural-looking artificial stone faces that are lighter and easier to install.
- Log siding can turn your home into a log cabin without having to rebuild. Choices include different wood types (pine or cedar are common), different textures and different finishes.
- Aluminum and vinyl are very similar, however aluminum can fade, is easily dented, and expands and contracts with the weather. This siding can be painted, preferably with oil-based paint.
- Stucco is most effective when applied with a hand trowel. It must be water-tight and can be varying textures. This type of finish is popular in desert and dry areas of the country.
- Bricks can last a long time because it’s not susceptible to rot. However, it is not the best insulated siding, and can leak heat in the winter and let in heat during the summer.
When choosing your siding, take into account details such as original cost, cost of upkeep, amount of maintenance likely needed, and probably energy savings.