Many of us spend so much time working on the interior of our homes that we forget about the exterior. Siding doesn’t just insulate your home and protect it from the elements; it is also a key component of your curb appeal and can directly impact the value of your home. Whether you’re constructing a new home or renovating the one you have, it’s important to consider all the pros, cons and possibilities of the siding you choose.
Vinyl is probably one of the most well-known siding materials available. It’s durable, inexpensive and comes in a wide variety of colours. It’s solid colour all the way through which means that scratches won’t show and it won’t need to be painted. It’s also relatively easy to install which makes it a popular choice for do-it-yourselfers. Vinyl also expands and contracts with temperature changes which makes it a great choice for the Canadian climate.
Aluminum is another popular siding choice. Like vinyl, it is durable and easy to install and it can offer better energy efficiency than vinyl. It won’t crack or break but scratches can show since the colour is applied to the surface instead of embedded in the siding material.
Wood siding offers traditional style and natural beauty for a wide range of homes. It’s available in a variety of styles, can be painted or stained to suit virtually any taste and requires some regular maintenance to keep it looking its best.
Fibre Cement is a relatively new material in the world of home improvement and is highly durable material with high impact resistance. It can offer the look of wood without the expense of installation and a reduced risk of rot or fire. In terms of cost, it falls in the middle of the road; it’s more than vinyl but it typically isn’t as expensive as stone or brick. It can require painting from time to time and it’s not as easy to install as vinyl if you’re planning to do it yourself. It requires a specialized saw blade and you will need to work outside with a dust mask since the dust is hazardous to breathe in.
Stucco is a popular choice for warm, dry climates. It offers a smooth, neat look, it’s fire resistant, it insulates and it reduces sound penetration into your home. It may require some maintenance but it’s relatively easy to patch if cracks appear. However, the original application and cleanup can be messy so it’s generally not a popular choice if you’re planning to do it yourself.
Stone is durable, beautiful and offers enduring appeal. It also acts as an insulator and cuts down on noise penetration. This product can be expensive and it requires professional installation. If you want the look of stone without the hefty price tag, another possibility is a fake stone veneer.
Brick offers many of the same pros and cons as stone siding. It is durable, attractive and insulating but can be expensive to install.
Steel siding is not the least expensive option on the market but it provides an excellent return on your investment. It is highly durable and resistant to fire, water and weather damage, it requires very little maintenance, other than the occasional cleaning, and it comes in a wide range of colours and styles.
Now that you have an overview of the siding materials that are available, you need to ask yourself a few questions.
What’s my style?
Siding comes in so many different styles and colours that it might be tempting to simply go with the first one that strikes your fancy. But the style of your siding is not a decision that should be rushed. You want to complement the look of your home but you should also make sure it “fits” with the neighbourhood. There may also be neighbourhood ordinances or building codes which limit your choices for your home’s exterior. And of course, you’ll want to take your own taste into consideration since you will have to live with the appearance of your home for many years to come.
How’s the weather out there?
Siding takes a lot of abuse from the elements to protect your home. Therefore, a large part of your choice will depend on the climate in your area. Some siding materials fare better in warm, dry climates, some hold up well to wind, rain, snow or hail and still others can tolerate extreme temperatures.
Will it burn?
Fire resistance is important for any home but if you live in an area that’s prone to wildfires, you may need to forgo the wood and invest in fibre cement, stucco or another material with high fire resistance. You may also want to consider high fire resistance if you live in an area where homes are close together and fire could spread easily from one building to the next.
Will it fade?
If your home receives a lot of direct sunlight over the course of a year then fading may be a problem. If you don’t want to be repainting on a regular basis, choose a siding material with high UV resistance that will stay fresh looking even after prolonged exposure to the sun.
What’s my budget?
If you have unlimited finances, cost may not be an issue but for most of us, the budget is the bottom line. When you look at the price tag don’t just take initial cost into consideration. Take a close look at the cost of maintenance, especially if you’re planning to be in your home for the long haul.
Is it easy to maintain?
Actually the better question is, “How much time or money do I have to put into maintenance?” If you don’t have a lot of extra time on your hands, it’s a good idea to invest in a low-maintenance material, such as vinyl. If you don’t mind a little patching and painting from time to time, then stucco or fibre cement may be more to your liking. Wood, which can warp, rot, mildew and peel, needs regular maintenance to keep it looking fresh. Also keep in mind that some materials, such as stone, will last a long time, but you will need to hire a professional if you ever need repairs for any reason.