There are several different types of siding. Some are more suited to one climate over another. First, let’s look at the different types
- Composite Wood (Engineeered)
- Faux Stone
- Fiber Cement
- Asbestos Cement
Vinyl is by far the least expensive and most popular. It comes in every color, tint, and shade you can imagine, making it an attractive choice for many. It comes in the horizontal variety, resembling wooden clapboard, vertical panels, fish scales, shakes, or shingles. This provides a lot of versatility and suits most climates. It is quite durable, often installed with a 40 year warranty, and is proof against decay and termites. It even provides insulation value, from as little as 0.8 up to an “R” value of 5.5.
It keeps its color for many years, doesn’t require painting, but can warp or distort in extreme heat conditions, and crack under extreme cold. Don’t let you kids use it for batting practice or for shooting hockey pucks as there will be dents!
Metal siding also comes in horizontal, vertical, and textures to resemble wooden logs. From a few steps away it looks just like real wood.
Metal is insect proof, and rot proof. Both steel and aluminum are low maintenance products, and while aluminum siding will fade over time, steel doesn’t fade, and, very important in dry climates, both are quite fire resistant and tough.
Aluminum is preferred in damp areas or areas prone to water to resist corrosion, and steel where toughness is desired. Improper installation can lead to rust with steel, so make sure you have a good contractor who is experienced with the material.
Wood can come in shingles, shakes, logs (round), timbers (square), or clapboard. The aesthetic appeal of wood is terrific because it is “warm and homey”. It can be stained or painted and color you wish so you have almost endless choices. It is also a very “green” material, beating all others in that respect.
If it becomes damaged, it is easy to replace in small sections making it economical to repair. Its R-value is approximately 0.8 which is a bonus, and because it is not a heavy material, installation fast and cost-effective (less labor = less cost).
Of course it isn’t fire or insect-resistant, and you have to re-stain it every three years, or repaint it every five years, but if you’re up to the challenge, it has a stunning look that is hard to beat.
And, you can get log siding in thin cuts, which install quickly, cost less than whole logs, and make it easy to fix damage.
Composite Wood (Engineered)
Composites are less susceptible to termite damage and rot than cedar (natural wood siding) and offer similar looks to natural wood but can cost significantly less.
Depending on the manufacturing process, composites vary in their resistance to moisture damage. Maintaining the finishes of the siding and protecting it from standing or persistant water is still necessary though. This product is usually factory primed and coated so there is some resistance to water. However, when edges are exposed due to field cuts or to damage, manufacturers often recommend a protective coating.
Like wood, if it becomes damaged, it is easy to replace in small sections making it economical to repair. Its R-value is similar to wood and because it is not a heavy material, installation fast and cost-effective (less labor = less cost).
Brick siding (whole brick) or brick veneer, give a house a feeling of substance. It looks solid and reliable, which can enhance the price when selling. It comes in designs, looking like brand new brick, all the way to artificially aged “used brick” to lend a classical style. It is fireproof, of course, and tough enough to withstand a few random baseballs or whatever your kids come up with.
In time the mortar will deteriorate, where upon it will have to be “repointed”. Of course that is generally decades down the road, so not a major concern for most people.
This comes in two varieties, the 3-layer traditional, and the modern synthetic stucco EIF System. Either offers good insular properties, but the EIFS incorporates Styrofoam blended into the top layer, over top of the foam-board and fiberglass base, giving it even more thermal resistance. It takes paint badly, but there is no need if you choose your color ahead of time and mix it into the material.
It also lends itself to design-carving or inlaying mosaics before it dries to create a completely unique style. It has a durability stretching for 50-100 years, maintenance is low (if you don’t try to paint it), and repairs are easy and inexpensive. It is also resistant to insects and rot. It is probably not a good choice for areas of heavy rainfall but endures well in average rainfall areas.
Very much the same as brick, stone can last centuries. It comes in every size, color, shape, and style you can imagine, from lava rock to smooth river stone. Field stone is also popular, with stark square-ish shapes separated by contrasting mortar.
It is the most costly form of siding because it is so labour intensive both in obtaining the original stone, and then the remarkable amount of work required to install it. Of course it has been with us for centuries precisely because it is so durable. It is definitely a consideration.
Very similar in appearance (from a distance) to brick and natural stone and like stone it comes in a wide variety of sizes, colors, shapes, and styles. It is generally less costly than natural stone finishes because it is mass produced but it can still labor intensive too to install.
The second most popular siding after vinyl is this one. Fiber Cement in made of sand, cement and wood fibers. It can look like classy wood siding, but is proof against insects, has much lower maintenance, and is less expensive.
A big plus is the fact that it is highly fire-resistant. Like aluminum siding it resists salt air, so it is often used in coastal areas. It doesn’t fade or chip and comes in enough colors and textures (such as brick or stone) to keep anyone happy. You can probably go 15 years before it needs to be repainted, which is why the guarantee is also generally 15 years long.
Asbestos Cement wasn’t mentioned because it is now illegal in most areas. If you have it, there are ways for it to be removed safely. Invented in 1876, it was commonly used in the 1900-1950 period. People thought a lot about fire prevention when whole cities went up in flames because all the structures were made of wood. Some of the more popular shape are available, though, in non-asbestos containing cement composite materials for patching.
We have terrific modern materials that handle that task just as well or better, but without the health risks. Call us if you think it is time for a change—if it is time to make the Old look New again—because we’re on your side, with quality products, expertise, and professional installation.