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What Are the Different Types of Siding and Which Is Best for a Home?

July 17, 2020

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New exterior siding or cladding is an excellent choice for improving your home’s curb appeal and insulating properties. Today’s siding materials are also tougher than ever, resisting dents, dings, and other such damage, while also being easy to clean and maintain.

The five major types of siding include:

  1. Metal (aluminum or steel)
  2. Vinyl
  3. Fiber cement
  4. Brick
  5. Wood

Each siding material has its own pros and cons and each varies in durability and affordability, ensuring that you can easily find the right siding type for your home and budget!

If your home’s exterior needs a bit of sprucing up or its interior feels cold and drafty during wintertime and hot and stuffy in summer months, it’s time for new siding! You might also consider new roofing to go with those exterior walls, for maximum energy efficiency and an improved appearance.

siding in Rhode Island

To ensure you make the best decision when it comes to your home’s appearance and condition, note some pros and cons of each cladding material option, as well as some indications that it’s time for new exterior walls on your home. Discuss your choices and concerns with a home improvement contractor near you, so you choose the best option and are happy with your decision for many years to come.

Some Added Details About Your Exterior Siding Materials and Choices

Before you start shopping for new siding, it helps to know some added details about your choices. You can then narrow down those choices and know which ones to discuss with your home improvement contractor.

  • Vinyl is a popular siding material; vinyl is durable, typically lasting some 30 to 40 years before needing replacement, and very affordable. Vinyl is also easy to clean, usually just requiring the occasional power washing, and comes in a wide range of colors and textural finishes.
  • One downside of vinyl is that it’s not waterproof, only water-resistant. Excessive exposure to water, such as in stormy areas or too much power washing, can result in damage.
  • Another downside to vinyl is that the material does not hold paint or other coatings. Once you choose a color, you are stuck with it!
  • Extreme weather conditions, including excessive heat and bitter cold, can affect vinyl, causing it to bend or otherwise warp.
  • While vinyl is known for its durability, it can also bend, chip, or dent when struck forcefully, such as by a falling tree branch, a thrown baseball, and the like.
  • Fiber cement siding consists of a mixture of wood, sand, and cement; the finished product resembles real wood but needs far less maintenance and is not as susceptible to insects, rot, and other damage as wood.
  • Fiber cement siding has a very high fire rating meaning it’s not likely to feed a fire or suffer damage during a house fire. The material also resists rot and decay even when exposed to salt air, making it an excellent choice in coastal areas.
  • One drawback of fiber cement siding is the cost! Most fiber cement options run 2 to 3 times the cost of vinyl.
  • While fiber cement siding is paintable, allowing you to change its color, it also needs a fresh coat of paint every 10 to 15 years.
  • It’s also vital to note that color does not go all the way through fiber cement. If your siding suffers chips or dings, you’ll need to schedule repairs or live with unsightly blotches along your home’s exterior walls!
  • Brick walls are actually considered siding and new brick can be installed over existing materials, or you might remove existing siding and install exterior brick.
  • One popular reason for choosing brick is its appearance. The natural reddish tones and texture of brick offer a natural aesthetic that works well with any outdoor feature, whether you have a modern pool next to the home or an English country garden!
  • Brick is also very durable and can last several decades if not even a century or more.
  • While brick does weather and fade over time, you can touch up the reddish tones with paint and apply fresh mortar as well.
  • One caution about brick siding is that some homeowners decide to paint the brick white, ash gray, or other colors, only to find that it’s very difficult to restore that red tone and color.
  • Metal siding, including aluminum and steel are both very durable and resist chips, dents, and dings. Metal siding also resists rot and has a very high fire rating, making it an excellent choice for homes located in tropical areas and those prone to brushfires.
  • If you’re looking for an eco-friendly choice, consider metal! Metal siding is cut to precise measurements, creating little waste. Metal is also relatively easy to recycle and reuse, so you can rest assured that your siding isn’t likely to end up in a landfill if you should ever replace it.
  • Wood siding offers lots of charm and aesthetic appeal but needs quite a bit of maintenance over the years. Wood cladding requires regular sealing and inspections for rot, termites, and other such damage.
  • The upside of wood cladding is that you can paint it whatever color you choose! If you like to change the look of your home regularly, consider wood siding.

Tips for Choosing Between Different Types of Siding

With so many options from which to choose, how do you decide the best siding for your home? One vital tip is to consider maintenance costs as well as the price of installation! Choosing inexpensive vinyl might save you some money now but if you have mature trees on your property or kids who play ball outside, note if you might end up with more maintenance and repair costs down the road.

siding rhode island

Never overlook the importance of appearance when choosing outside cladding as well. Vinyl might be affordable but consider if you really enjoy its look or texture. Brick is very warm and traditional, but do you personally find brick walls a bit busy? They might look especially cluttered if your home doesn’t have many windows to break up those long walls. Invest in siding that enhances your home’s appearance and creates a look you love, and you’ll appreciate it for many years to come.

You might also note if you’re the type who likes to change up the look of your home regularly. If so, you might avoid brick and vinyl! Vinyl especially cannot be painted, as said, and it’s difficult to change brick color more than once. Opt for fiber cement or metal siding if you know you’re the type who likes to repaint your home’s exterior often throughout the years.

When Does a Home Need New Siding?

A quick inspection of your home’s exterior might tell you that it’s time for new outside cladding! Crumbling brick requiring extensive repairs, vinyl pulling away from connectors, rusted metal panels and other damaged materials indicate the need for new exterior walls.

You might also note if your home’s outside walls are getting difficult to clean even with regular power washing, as this is a common sign of extensive damage including dents, dings, and chips. Once those walls are so dented and dinged that they cannot come clean, it’s time for new siding.

Your home’s outside cladding also plays a major role in its interior insulation. Chips, dents, and other gaps allow out your heated and cooled air while allowing in heat, cold, and excess humidity. If you notice your home’s interior suddenly becoming uncomfortable during summer and winter months, or you notice a sudden spike in your utility bills, consider new siding, a new roof installation, and insulation, for a more comfortable interior and lower energy costs.

providence roof repair contractors on job site

Why Avoid DIY Siding Installation

As with many home improvement projects, siding installation often looks easier than it is! Online tutorial videos also make this project seem simple when, in reality, it’s often best left to a home improvement pro. One reason for this is that siding must be measured precisely, as improper measurements can mean gaps that allow in moisture, cold, and heat, leading to interior water damage and poor insulation.

Corners of siding also need proper sealing and pieces need to be cut around roof eaves, fascias, trim, windows, and other such pieces. Long pieces of siding are also cumbersome to manage on your own or even with just one helper! These small details all make DIY siding installation challenging and cumbersome and tougher than many homeowners realize.

Related Questions

Should you remove old cladding before adding new?

Whether or not a homeowner needs to remove old cladding before installing new depends on the current siding condition. If that siding needs extensive repairs, is pulling away from the home, or otherwise provides a poor base or foundation, it needs removal. Local building codes might also indicate if your contractor can add new siding over existing cladding.

Should you put foam board under new vinyl siding?

Foam board provides an added layer of insulation for a home but it’s best to apply it right to a home’s framework and not over existing siding. If you’ll be adding new siding over existing cladding, forego the foam board and consider new insulation as needed instead.

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