COMPARING SIDING MATERIALS
You have several choices when it comes to siding your home, from traditional wood siding to more advanced and high performance materials like fiber cement. The decision on which is best for your home depends on many factors, including how long you plan to remain in your home, weather conditions, desire for insulation properties, budget and maintenance issues. Here are summaries of the most popular siding materials.
Introduced to the market in the early 1960s, vinyl siding has grown in popularity because of its durability, versatility and ease of maintenance. Manufactured with polyvinyl chloride, vinyl siding is impact resistant, rigid and strong.
Vinyl siding is available in a broad palate of colors, as well as a limited range of patterns. Vinyl siding also is available in many profiles, including horizontal and vertical panels, shakes, scallops, shingles, fish scales, traditional lap, Dutch lap and beaded designs in various widths.
With the ability to withstand high winds (certified up to 110 mph or higher) and a composition that resists heat, cold and moisture, vinyl siding retains its looks over time. The only maintenance it requires is a simple wash with a soft cloth and garden hose.
One of the biggest problems of using low-grade vinyl siding is its lack of insulation value. Newer styles of vinyl siding are now being manufactured with greatly enhanced insulation backing that provide an effective layer of protection for your home.
Fiber Cement Siding
The fastest growing siding material in the country, fiber cement siding is composed of cement, sand and cellulose fiber that has been cured with pressurized steam to increase its strength and dimensional stability. The fiber reinforces the product and prevents cracking. This siding product will protect your home from rot, fire, wind and insects.
Fiber cement siding can have and embossed wood grained texture, stucco or smooth finish. These products are combined with various types of vinyl trim to block the weather. Ventilation accessories may also be utilized and painted as desired.
Fiber cement siding comes in a variety of colors which are “through and through” the material, or may be painted using water-based acrylic paint, which grips these products very well and doesn’t peel because the products do not expand and contract like wood. Stains may also be applied to fiber cement.
Wood is a traditional siding material, either in shakes (shingles) or clapboard form. While it isn’t as common in recent years, wood siding was used on houses for hundreds of years. Wood siding used to be made of raw hardwood such as yellow poplar, red oak, hickory, beech, sycamore and soft maple, but are now more often made from common softwoods like cedar and redwood.
While nice to look at, wood siding generally comes without a warranty, requires frequent scraping and painting, and regular maintenance, particularly in regions with extremes of moisture and temperature. Other issues associated with wood include warping, chipping, termites, wood rot, moisture damage, flammability, and limited insulation value.
Aluminum and Steel Siding
Once the most common replacement siding, aluminum/steel siding rapidly lost ground to more modern materials. Although we are starting to see it make a come back. Though it can dent and even fade, it won’t crack. Aluminum/Steel siding is fireproof, and comes in a variety of styles and colors.
Aluminum/steel siding doesn’t rot, offers low maintenance, and it’s relatively easy to keep clean. It’s ideal for wet climates. One of the greatest disadvantages is the difficulty of replacing damaged sections should your siding receive a major dent. It provides very little to no insulating properties so it is best to be used in conjunction with some type of insulation.
Engineered Wood Siding
A great alternative to the labor intensive wood siding with the same appearance. Engineer wood siding boards are made to look like real wood, but they are way more durable than their older ancestors. You won't have to deal with wood rot or termites with engineered wood. The siding is more cost effective and lighter than wood too. Engineered wood siding is available from many manufacturers and you can get it bare, prime, or pre-finished with an unlimited amount of colors and finish options. If maintenance free is what your after, then a factory finished product is the answer to keep your engineered wood siding looking beautiful for decades!