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, fishscales, 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.
An alternative to vinyl, aluminum and wood, fiberglass siding gives your home the look of freshly painted wood without the hassle of scraping and painting, and is virtually maintenance free. Available in a variety of color options and produced in continuous lengths, fiberglass siding features clean, crisp lines with seams that butt tightly together instead of overlapping.
Fiberglass siding can be applied any time of the year without worry of buckles or splitting, even in the most dramatic temperature changes. It is resistant to oxidation, rust and the corrosive effects of harsh environments making it an good choice for homes in any climate.
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.
Once the most common replacement siding, aluminum has rapidly lost ground to more modern materials. Though it can dent and even fade, it won’t crack. Aluminum siding is fireproof, and comes in a variety of styles and colors.
Aluminum siding doesn’t rot, offers low maintenance, and it’s relatively easy to keep clean. It’s ideal for wet climates. However, aluminum siding tends to chalk, fade and dent. 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, can be a bit noisy, and aluminum lacks the ability for detailed trim work.
Because of the variety of ways to apply it and formulate it, stucco siding has been utilized for hundreds of years. Typically seen in Mission or Spanish-style architecture, stucco can be smooth or course, raked or swirled. It can contain sand, lime or pebbles. Depending upon the climate and the desired texture, different types of cement are used in the stucco mix.
Advantages of natural stucco include fire resistance, a high degree of energy efficiency and low maintenance. It also expands and contracts with the weather, which minimizes cracking. Stucco can last up to 50 years before it needs to be replaced. Synthetic stucco has been developed to overcome the moisture issues. However, stucco can crack and stain and offers little or no insulating value.