Types of Siding
Vinyl siding is durable, cost effective, and resistant to pests, rot, and UV damage. It is also virtually maintenance-free, aside from an annual rinse with water and a household cleaner. Vinyl siding resists all but the most extreme levels of temperature and moisture, and it withstands high winds.
High-end vinyl siding comes in a variety of textures, architectural styles, and colors, and it is also available as insulated planks for better energy efficiency. Vinyl siding should not be painted.
On average, vinyl siding has a lifespan of approximately 30 years, and companies offer a variety of warranties, including transferable limited lifetime options, depending on the specific siding product.
Fiber cement siding is durable, noncombustible, withstands high winds, resists damage in extreme weather, and is not susceptible to rot or pest damage. Maintenance requirements are very low; manufacturers recommend an annual rinse with water to remove debris.
Fiber cement siding is composed of sand, cement, and cellulose fibers and comes in a range of prepainted colors. It is also sold in unpainted sheets that are factory primed and then painted at installation. Fiber cement siding is available in a wide range of textures and architectural styles and might need to be repainted at approximately 15-year intervals.
Fiber cement siding is a relatively new product, but the materials should support a longer life span. Warranties range from 30 years to limited lifetime, depending on the specific product and manufacturer.
Wood siding is known for its natural beauty and unique aesthetic appeal. Pine, oak, redwood, and red cedar are the traditional materials used for wood siding. Because modern synthetic siding materials are more durable and require less maintenance, wood siding is a relatively rare find in most newly constructed homes. Wood siding is available as planks or shakes, and it can be painted or stained any color.
Consistent maintenance is key to keeping wood siding in good shape. With regular care, including painting or staining and sealing every 2 to 5 years, wood siding has a lifespan of 20 to 40 years. In most cases, warranties on wood siding are short—approximately five years—and cover only the coating applied to the wood.
Engineered wood siding withstands weather extremes and is not susceptible to rot or insect damage. Compared to regular wood siding, it is very low maintenance, requiring only a yearly rinse to remove dirt.
Engineered wood siding is made of a mixture of wood fibers and strong resins. This process creates a durable siding product that closely resembles real wood. Similar to vinyl and fiber cement siding, engineered wood siding is available in prefinished planks that don’t require painting, but the planks can also be purchased primed and ready to paint.
Since engineered wood siding is relatively new to the market, its exact lifespan isn’t yet known. Depending on the manufacturer, warranties typically last 30 years.
Other siding options. Brick and stone are known for their ability to withstand extreme weather and can last centuries when consistently maintained. Any cracks in a masonry exterior should be addressed as quickly as possible to prevent deterioration of the structure. Durable, low-maintenance masonry veneers are an excellent way to get the look of solid brick or stone without the added cost.
Stucco is a classic choice for homes built with a Mediterranean or southwestern architectural style. Proper installation and periodic maintenance are essential to a stucco exterior that lasts for decades. EIFS, or Exterior Insulation and Finishing System, achieves a similar look to that of stucco, but it is lighter in weight than traditional stucco and requires less maintenance.
Aluminum and steel siding are green alternatives to vinyl siding. Metal siding is low maintenance, fireproof, and available in a wide range of textures and colors. Insects aren’t interested in metal siding, and most metal siding products are made of recycled content and are completely recyclable at the end of their life cycle.
When to Replace Siding
With proper installation and consistent maintenance, most siding products will last decades; some materials, such as brick or stone, can last the life of the structure. If your home’s siding has not deteriorated or been damaged, consider repainting the house to bring life back to the siding and protect it from wear.
Damaged siding should be replaced as promptly as possible. Look for holes, rotten areas, and warped planks. Areas of bubbling and spots of persistent mold or mildew growth can indicate trapped moisture under the siding and should be addressed immediately. Watch for interior signs of siding damage, too. Old or damaged siding can lead to higher energy costs, so if your utility bills have risen, your siding may be partly to blame. Peeling paint and wallpaper that begins to loosen are indicators that the siding is no longer keeping out moisture.
What to Expect
Gather quotes from multiple contractors, but keep in mind that comparing prices alone is an easy way to overpay. The longevity of your home’s siding depends on proper installation, so hiring an experienced, quality contractor is important.
Siding can be installed year round, with the right installation techniques. However, installation is easier in temperate seasons. High summer temperatures can cause vinyl and wood siding to expand; when the siding contracts in the winter, it cracks. Scheduling siding work for the fall or spring ensures that your home is ready to face the coming season. Consider scheduling other exterior projects simultaneously to save time and money.
Siding replacement takes approximately one to two weeks to complete. Exterior painting, if required, typically takes two to four days. The installation will involve hammering and nailing, so remove interior wall art and shift furniture away from the wall. If possible, move landscaping and plants away from the work area.
The installers should do a basic cleanup at the end of every day; a more thorough cleanup at the end of the job; remove all trash, tools, and supplies; and reinstall outdoor lighting fixtures. It is good practice for the installers to leave a small supply of extra material in case of future repairs. Try to be home on the last day of the job so that you can do a walk-around with the crew foreman. Point out anything you’re not completely satisfied with so the installers can address it.