Research Exterior Siding Options

Nothing will impact the appearance of your home more dramatically than the exterior siding you choose. As you shop for exterior siding, choose a siding material that will enhance the style of your home. You should also take into account the climate you live in. Listed here are the most popular materials used for exterior siding.

1. Vinyl Siding
Vinyl is made from a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic. Unlike wood or cedar, it won't rot or flake, nor will it ever need painting. Vinyl is usually less expensive to purchase and install than most other siding materials. Unlike many other siding materials, vinyl is impervious to rain, cold, salt and snow. Vinyl should be rinsed once a year with soap-and-water to remove dirt and maintain the look of freshly painted wood. Although Vinyl is extremely durable it can crack, fade, or grow dingy over a long period of time.

2. Vinyl Coating Siding
If you don't like the look of vinyl panels, but you like the idea of vinyl, another option is to have a professional spray on a liquid PVC coating. Made from polymers and resins, the paint-like coating is about as thick as a credit card when it dries. Liquid PVC became widely available only a few years ago, and reviews are mixed. The drawback is PVC coating are hard to apply correctly and damage caused by poor application can be devastating.

3. Wood Composit Siding
Engineered wood, or composite wood, is made with wood products and other materials. Oriented strand board (OSB), hardboard, and veneered plywood are examples of engineered wood products. Engineered wood usually comes in panels that are easy and inexpensive to install. The panels may be molded to create the look of traditional clapboards. Because the textured grain is uniform, engineered wood does not look exactly like real wood. Although the appearance is more natural than vinyl, engineered wood requires more maintenance.

4. Cedar Shake Siding
Homes sided in cedar shingles (also called "shakes") blend beautifully with wooded landscapes. Made of natural cedar, the shingles are usually stained in browns, grays, or other earth tones. Shakes offer the natural look of real wood, but usually require less maintenance than wood clapboard. By using stain rather than paint, you can minimize peeling. To reduce moisture absorption when high humidity is a concern, try using pre pressure-impregnated preservative treated shakes and shingles.

5. Wood Clapboard Siding
Although more expensive than synthetic wood-look products, solid wood siding (usually cedar, pine, spruce, redwood, cypress, or Douglas fir) remains a favorite choice for finer homes. With periodic care, wood siding can outlast vinyl and other pretenders. As with cedar shingle siding, wood clapboards can be stained rather than painted to minimize peeling.

6. Cement Fiber Siding (HardiPlank®)
Fiber cement siding can have the appearance of wood, stucco, or masonry. This durable, natural-looking material is often called by the brand names HardiPlank® and HardiPanel®. If you want the look of authentic wood with a bit less maintenance, cement fiber is a good option. Fiber cement siding is fireproof, termite-proof, and may have a warranty up to fifty years.

7. Brick and Brick Veneers
Made of fired clay, brick comes in a wide variety of earthy, eye-pleasing colors. Although it is expensive, brick is desirable because it can last centuries and probably won't need any patching or repairs for the first twenty-five years. Quality brick veneers are also attractive and durable, although they don't have the longevity of solid brick.

8. Stone and Pre-cast Stone Veneers
If you think of ancient monuments and temples, you know that stone is the most durable of all building materials. Granite, limestone, slate, and other types of stone are beautiful and nearly impervious to the weather. Unfortunately, they are also extremely expensive. Pre-cast stone veneers and facings look and feel like real stone, but the prices are more affordable. Cultured Stone® from Owens Corning is one popular brand of pre-cast stone veneers.

9. Stucco Siding
Traditional stucco is cement combined with water and inert materials such as sand and lime. Walls made of genuine stucco are hard, solid, and moisture resistant. Many homes built after the 1950s use a variety of synthetic materials that resemble stucco. Synthetic stucco will look authentic, but may not offer the same durability. Some synthetic stucco materials can absorb moisture in wet climates which can cause rot.

10. Aluminum Siding
Aluminum siding is a mostly out-dated option, but some builders still offer it as an alternative to vinyl. Both materials are easy to maintain and fairly durable. Aluminum can dent and fade, but it won't crack the way vinyl can.
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