One of the first things homeowners carefully consider when building a new home or remodeling an existing one is the type of siding that is appropriate for their property. Aside from it being key to the appearance of a home, siding is so important because it is one of the best ways to protect a home from the wear that the elements can exert on the house itself. Therefore, choosing the right one is a must. Siding will also take up a large percent of the construction budget, which is another reason to pick wisely.
The problem begins when people realize that the variety of sidings from which they can choose is not vast, but enormous. At this point, the whole issue can get a bit confusing, which can result in costly mistakes if proper care is not taken. Siding comes in a large selection of materials and price ranges and can be manufactured from vinyl, brick, fiber cement, cellular PVC, different kinds of wood, stone, stone veneer, regular and manufactured stucco, aluminum, stainless steel, tile, and much more.
The siding that you eventually choose for your home will depend on a number of factors, and it is recommended to consult carefully with your contractor in order to select the one that best suits your needs, your budget, and your home’s style. Because of the number of options available, it is always a good idea to choose based on several factors, including durability, ease of installation, resistance to water, the final look that you want your home to have, and whether you would like to add a combination of materials to its appearance, such as melding vinyl with a brick finish for the front entrance.
Which One Should I Choose?
Given the sheer variety, it may seem like a daunting task to select one type of siding right off the bat. Let’s take a look at the different options available and mention a few of the pros and cons of each.
Vinyl is one of the most durable and most popular types of siding, and it has been one of the most frequently used over the last 20 years. Vinyl siding has been the preferred finish for approximately 76 percent of new homes in the northern states thanks to its affordability and durability.
Vinyl siding offers a nice selection of accessories and is easy to install, which can bring construction costs down and reduce building times. Vinyl is also a good alternative because it does not require much maintenance and lasts for a very long time, which means homeowners will not have to spend much money in keeping their homes looking good.
On the other hand, after years of being number one in the public eye, vinyl siding has evolved and is now available in a wider selection of colors as well as degrees of UV protection, which helps it last longer and prevents sun damage. As if that were not enough, some variations are also available in an insulated form, which can cut down on energy bills while making your home more energy efficient. Because of its versatility, manufacturers produce a large selection of decorative enhancements for vinyl siding, making it one of the fastest growing trends in modern home decor.
Considering all of the above, it could be said that vinyl is the most popular type of siding throughout the country – but this is not completely true. Even with all of its advantages and most recent enhancements, vinyl siding has yet to take over the southern portion of the country, where brick (due to historical and climate reasons) rules the market.
Brick has been in use for about 5,000 years and is one of the sturdiest, most durable building materials in the world. Brick is resistant to everything from parasites to the effects of extreme weather. It does not tear or ever need new paint, and it provides resistance to moisture and events such as earthquakes and the onslaught of debris during a tornado or wind storm. Brick does not fade and can last for centuries, if not longer. It is energy efficient, reduces the effect of external noises, requires little maintenance, and increases the resale value of any building on which it is used.
These are only a few reasons why brick is considered to be the second most popular type of siding on the market today. As if that were not enough, brick siding is one of the best construction materials available in the country and is manufactured with natural resources. It is sustainable and long-lasting.
At this point, you are probably asking yourself why, if brick is so wonderful, is it not the most popular type of siding in the country? The answer is its cost. Because of the process and resources involved in its manufacture, brick can be a more expensive type of material than other options, such as vinyl or fiber cement. It is also more difficult to install and takes longer to do so, increasing the cost of labor. Even so, brick is a superb option to consider when you live in an area where the weather can be too hot or humid, given its insulating and moisture-resistant qualities, and is a worthy investment when you consider the increase in your home’s value.
Stucco, or Portland cement plaster, is the third most popular type of siding in the country, although it is more visible in the Western portion of the nation due to its versatility and resistance to humid weather. There are two types of stucco: The traditional material (manufactured by pouring a mixture of Portland cement, sand, lime, and water over lath in three different coats) and synthetic stucco (which is created by placing a polymer-based coating on a rigid insulation board that has been placed on an exterior wall).
Between the two options, traditional stucco has held up best against the passage of time and is still one of the least expensive options on the market, only behind vinyl siding and fiber cement. Two of the greatest benefits of stucco are energy efficiency and the elimination of thermal bridging while reducing the normal penetration of air or moisture. This makes it one of the best options to consider in areas with high humidity.
Although stucco is one of the most popular options, it does have some issues. While the cost of installation may not be as high as that of brick, for example, it does require periodic maintenance due to cracking and other signs of wear over time. Stucco is also not as durable as other materials, such as vinyl, and can become degraded by moisture if not applied correctly. This can damage the structural elements of the house, necessitating costly repairs.
Even so, stucco works quite well in mild climates with well-defined seasons that lean toward a dry environment, such as California and Arizona. Stucco offers a high degree of insulation against the heat as a result of its thermal resistance.
Although it has been available for about 25 years, fiber cement has been slowly gaining ground on other players in the siding market. Crafted with a mixture of cement, sand, and cellulose, fiber cement is available in two different presentations, traditional boards or planks and panels or shingles, that can be used in place of wood without losing the appearance and feel of regular wood siding.
One of the great benefits of fiber cement siding is that even though it resembles wood in its final placement, it is much more resistant and has an expected lifespan of approximately 50 years, making it one of the most durable options on the market today. Fiber cement siding is also resistant to termites and other pests, such as woodpeckers, as well as water and fire. It is approximately 30 percent cheaper that traditional wood, with its price only behind that of vinyl siding.
Fiber cement siding is a good option when you are looking for a sleeker and more modern finish to your home that is environmentally conscious. Fiber cement is manufactured with materials that do not release toxins into the environment. It is also low maintenance, which will save money in the long run while providing your home a beautiful, durable finish.
Most of the problems related to fiber cement siding stem from faulty installation, which is why it is always best to find an expert with enough experience to get it right from the start. This can save you thousands of dollars down the road.
Although the use of natural wood siding has been declining with the advent of newer and more durable materials, it is the preferred siding in urban areas where a certain high-end aesthetic is sought, such as in Cape Cod. There are several reasons why wood is no longer the favored siding, ranging from its expensive price to its constant need for maintenance, which entails the wood being scraped and repainted every 3 to 5 years.
Because of this, the industry has come up with newer and more resistant wood-based siding products, eliminating the need for constant maintenance and some of the most troublesome aspects of wood, such as vulnerability to termites, moisture, and fire, while adding stability and resistance to rot. This makes these products more durable and more efficient than ever before.
One of the great issues still remains, however: pricing. The new wood-based types of siding are still costlier than the rest due to their production process, which often includes shipping the wood overseas for processing. This is why they are mostly used for custom projects.
Nothing projects a rustic look better than stone, but natural stone adds some weight to the structural elements of a home (which can result in a costlier project). Because of this, stone veneer has become a viable and interesting option to achieve the perfect rustic finish for your home.
Stone veneer is lighter and easier to install than real stone, so it can be placed almost anywhere. It is also fireproof, environmentally friendly (as it does not require quarrying), and durable. As if this were not enough, it is also essentially maintenance free; it just needs an occasional rinse with the hose. It will never require painting or scraping of any sort.
As for pricing, stone veneer is a mid-range option. It is more expensive than vinyl but not as costly as brick. This makes it a good choice for specific projects that require a rustic yet elegant finish.
Always Consult the Experts
In most cases, the type of siding people choose is directly related to the other homes in the vicinity. They will usually follow the area design trends, building the homogeneity of a particular neighborhood. Even so, your specific project might require something different in appearance or cost, so make sure to shop around before deciding on a particular one.
Remember not only the look of the siding, but also its specific features, such as durability, cost, resistance to the elements and pests, flammability, eco-friendliness, and the amount of money that you will invest in maintenance over the long term – a factor that is almost as important as the initial purchase.
Regardless of the type of siding that you prefer, consult with the contractor in charge of building your home. He or she will have suggestions regarding aesthetics, durability, and the cost-effectiveness of the type of siding that you want to install. Your contractor can also recommend an expert installer to avoid the risk of a botched installation. Do not be afraid to ask for a side-by-side comparison of the features of each siding option, and remember that not all brands are created equal. Some are certainly better than others.