Siding Educational Content
TYPES OF SIDING
Vinyl siding is durable, cost effective, and resistant to pests, rot, and UV damage. It is also virtually maintenance-free. In most cases, it just needs an annual rinse with water and an all-purpose 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. It is also available as insulated planks for better energy efficiency. Because the pigment of vinyl siding is baked into the product during manufacturing, the color won’t fade with time. And because the siding is colorfast, you won’t need to have the house repainted every few years. On average, vinyl siding has a lifespan of approximately 30 years. Companies offer a variety of warranties depending on the specific product.
Fiber cement siding is durable, noncombustible, and withstands weather extremes. It isn’t susceptible to rot or pest damage. Maintenance requirements are very low. Manufacturers recommend a yearly light scrubbing and rinse with water to remove normal accumulation of dirt and debris. Fiber cement siding is made from sand, cement, and cellulose fibers. It comes in a range of prepainted colors. It is also sold in primed, unpainted planks or shakes that are painted after installation. Fiber cement siding comes in lots of textures and architectural styles. Plan to have it repainted approximately every 15 years. Fiber cement siding is a relatively new product, but it’s made from durable materials. When it’s installed and maintained well, fiber cement siding should last for decades. Warranties range from 30 years to limited lifetime, depending on the product and manufacturer.
Wood siding is known for its natural beauty. Pine, oak, redwood, and red cedar are the traditional materials used for wood siding. Because modern synthetic and engineered siding materials are so durable and low maintenance, wood siding isn’t as common today as it used to be. 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 lasts 20 to 40 years. In most cases, warranties on wood siding are around five years. They usually cover only the coating applied to the wood. Rotting or deteriorating areas of wood siding need to be replaced as promptly as possible.
Engineered wood siding withstands weather extremes and resists rot and insect damage. Compared to regular wood siding, it is very low maintenance. Engineered wood siding just needs an annual rinse to remove dirt. Engineered wood siding is made of a mixture of wood fibers and resins. This process creates a durable siding product that closely resembles real wood. Like vinyl and fiber cement siding, engineered wood siding is available in prefinished planks. It 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 withstand extreme weather and can last centuries when maintained. The key to their long lifespan is proper installation. Good masonry work requires knowledge and a lot of skill. Poorly installed brick or stone will be prone to cracking or spalling. Any cracks in a masonry exterior need to be repaired promptly. If the cracks grow, the structure will deteriorate. Durable, low-maintenance masonry veneers are a great way to get the look of solid brick or stone without the added cost. Brick and stone veneer products are installed as panels, very much like conventional siding. Keep an eye out for cracking on masonry veneers, too. Those cracks can let moisture get behind the siding, which causes problems.
Stucco is a classic choice for homes built with a Mediterranean or southwestern architectural style. Proper installation and maintenance are key to a stucco exterior that lasts for decades. EIFS, or Exterior Insulation and Finishing System, achieves a similar look to that of stucco. The main difference is that EIFS is lower maintenance and lighter in weight than traditional stucco. 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. Most metal siding products are made of recycled content. They 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 siding isn’t damaged, consider having the house repainted to bring it back to life. Have damaged siding 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. Watch for interior signs of siding damage, too. Old or damaged siding can lead to higher energy costs. 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
Get quotes from several contractors, but keep in mind that only comparing prices is an easy way to overpay. Hiring an experienced, reliable contractor is important. Siding can be installed year round, as long as the contractor uses the right installation techniques. Installation is usually easier in temperate seasons. Hot weather can cause vinyl and wood siding to expand. When the siding contracts in the winter, it can crack. Scheduling siding work for the fall or spring ensures that your home is ready to face the coming season. Schedule other exterior projects at the same time to save time and money.
Siding replacement takes approximately one to two weeks to complete. Exterior painting, if needed, typically takes two to four days. The installation will involve hammering and nailing. Remove interior wall art and shift furniture away from the wall. The installers should do a basic cleanup at the end of every day and a more thorough cleanup at the end of the job. They should also reinstall outdoor lighting fixtures. It is good practice for the installers to leave 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.