Replacing your siding can have a dramatic impact on your home’s curb appeal and resale value. Modern innovations have created siding options that can realistically mimic any natural building material — with textures, colors and versatility for any style of home. With the dizzying array of options, it might be difficult to narrow down your choices. By getting a handle on what the siding needs to do for your home (protect it from the elements, add aesthetics and value, increase its energy efficiency), you can evaluate the various types of siding on the market today to make the best choice.
Which Siding is Right for Your Home?
Before shopping for siding, you’ll need to think about your specific needs. Besides factoring in your budget and tastes, you also need to consider the typical weather in your region. Will you need a siding that is resistant to water and dampness? Do you have drastic temperature shifts from one season to another? Is your area prone to termites or heavy winds? Termites cause more than $2 billion in damage to buildings in America each year, according to the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center. They can cause severe structural damage to wood structures — damage that is NOT covered by any homeowner’s insurance. Alternately, wind damage accounts for more than $4 billion in damage across the U.S. each year. Consulting a home builder, contractor or architect can help narrow your choices.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Various Siding Products
From vinyl to wood to stucco, there are siding options to suit every taste and budget. All have their pros and cons, and it’s up to you to figure out which siding is best for your home, your climate, your budget and your aesthetics.
Vinyl siding is still the most popular choice for homeowners. According to the Vinyl Siding Institute, statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show that since 1995, more homeowners side their homes with vinyl than any other material. And, it’s no wonder why vinyl siding is chosen more often. It costs much less than other home cladding options and is easy to install. Modern manufacturing techniques have given it the ability to retain its color longer, too. But vinyl siding doesn’t protect as well against water, hail stones or wind. Extreme weather or temperatures can cause dents, cracks and bending.
Wood is easy to work with, but it can be expensive, depending on the grade of wood you choose. Naturally beautiful, wood can last generations with dedicated maintenance. This maintenance takes time and money. For example, clear finishes should be reapplied every two years; semi-transparent stains every three years; and paints every five years. And, because wood attracts termites, you’ll need to be sure to consider the cost of an annual pest-control contract as well.
Fiber Cement (HardiePlank)
Fiber cement such as HardiePlank is engineered with specific performance attributes specific to the climate where its used. With a reputation for stability and low maintenance, fiber cement is from a mix of wood pulp, cement, clay and sand. HardiePlank is easy to paint and is available in a variety of looks and textures to look like wood, stucco or stone. Fiber cement siding offers many benefits, as it resists expanding and contracting with changes in humidity and temperature. Plus, it’s fire-resistant, wind proof, termite-proof and it won’t rot. Most manufacturers offer a 30-year warranty. Because HardiePlank is a heavier siding, its installation requires special techniques and tools. You need to be sure to use a remodeling contractor with certification and experience in installing fiber cement.
Stucco offers a distinct look and can blend with other siding. It will last a lifetime if maintained properly. Resistant to fire and insects, stucco can be formulated with organic colors that sink all the way through the material, so that it doesn’t need to be repainted. The drawback is that stucco installation requires a lot of prep work and needs to be installed by an experienced professional, who can be difficult to find.
Fire and insect resistant, synthetic stone is often used as an accent on the bottom portions of walls or chimneys. Made in molds from a mixture of cement, sand and aggregate, it can look like all sorts of stone types and shapes, including granite and limestone, dry stacked and round river rock. Synthetic stone is not heavy, so installing it doesn’t require you to reinforce your home’s foundation. Even though synthetic stone is less expensive than using real stone, it can still cost more than other types of siding, and does not always look genuine.
There’s a lot to consider when shopping for siding. You want to make a decision that makes sense economically and that will make you happy for a long time. Consulting a qualified contractor can help narrow your choices and give you guidance on what will truly work best for your home.