Siding Basics: Explore Your Options

They say there’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint to freshen up a house, but that’s not true — paint does the trick for aesthetics, but siding a house not only provides flexibility with the new look, but also ensures bringing up to speed the house’s protection against the elements.

There are a number of things to consider when looking into redoing the siding of a house, and the first is to identify whether the job you’re planning requires a simple replacement of some siding that may be damaged, or whether it’s time to redo the entire house. Siding can also be added to draw attention to certain architectural features on a home, improving the curb value.

What is siding?

Unless your house is solid concrete or built entirely out of bricks or logs, the exterior that you can see when looking at the house is siding. It’s engineered to give a house a pleasing look, and protects the insulation and external walls from the elements.

Different options for siding

The materials chosen to side a house can vary greatly, and homeowners have many options. The only constraints to consider are budget, aesthetics and regional requirements — depending on what part of the country you’re in, certain siding materials may not be appropriate for the elements, weather and seasonality. The following seven are the most popular types of siding:

 

  • Vinyl: The most common type of siding found on American homes today, vinyl siding is relatively inexpensive and long lasting, low-maintenance and available in a number of colors. On the other hand, it is susceptible to fading, and can not be painted easily.
  • Wood: Most frequently used to achieve a rustic look, wood siding is commonly found on cabins, bungalows and Cape Cod style houses. Its natural look and long life make it an attractive choice, and there are many styles and cuts of wood, but it is more expensive than vinyl and requires painting and maintenance.
  • Stucco: Essentially a form of cement applied to a mesh surface surrounding the house’s interior frame, stucco is long-lasting and durable, requires minimal maintenance and is also resistant to insect infestation and fire. On the other hand, stucco is susceptible to cracking as it ages, and is will show any imperfections in the foundational construction of a house.
  • Stone and Stone Veneer: This siding style offers significant drama and an impressive curb appeal, and can be extremely long-lasting — the entire lifetime of a house, if maintained correctly. However, it is heavy and must have an appropriate foundation to hold it, and can come with a significant expense.
  • Brick: Genuine brick is made from fired clay, and generally found on Colonial, Tudor and cottage-style homes. The look is classic, and offers the illusion of a home constructed entirely of brick — in today’s market, a proposition both prohibitively expensive and unsound in terms of energy efficiency. Brick should last a lifetime, but can be particularly expensive, not just because of the material costs but also the labor that goes into proper bricklaying.
  • Metal: Siding a house in metal is infrequent, but becoming more common with modern design and industrial-chic decor. Steel and aluminum are the most common metals used, some in designs that replicate the look of wood. Metal siding is durable and fireproof, and can offer a seamless look, but can dent if struck and is difficult to paint.
  • Fiber Cement: Made from a mix of sand, cement and wood fibers, fiber cement can mimic traditional wood siding styles, is durable and rot-proof, and also resistant to insects and other pests. Drawbacks, though, include elevated cost and weight.

What does the siding process involve?

Of course, different siding projects and materials must be treated differently and all have their own nuances, but a general step-by-step involves the following milestones:

  • Old siding removal
  • Cleaning or installation of wood or sheathing
  • Cutting siding to fit
  • Attaching and securing siding
  • Old siding and scrap disposal
  • Painting, if desired

Can I do a siding job myself?

Doing a siding project without the help of a professional is absolutely possible for a homeowner. But it’s the sort of project that should be undertaken only by an experienced DIYer, and involves a significant commitment in terms of time, energy and skill. An amateur DIYer will likely become frustrated during the siding process, and without the proper tools and experience, potentially expose the interior of the house to further damage.

Advantages of Hiring a Siding Professional

As siding an entire house is an important task, lLook for workers who have the following qualities:

Will provide written estimate: This is important to understand the scope of the job, and to protect your investment.

Licenses: Different states and cities have different regulations; check with your local government or Better Business Bureau.

Insurance: You’ll want a roofing professional who carries both General Liability Insurance and Workman’s Comp Insurance. The former is important because it protects against damage to your property, while the latter protects against injuries to those working on your property. Hiring a contractor without insurance exposes a homeowner to significant risk in the case of accidents.

Warrantied: When purchasing siding services, ask for details on the warranty of the siding. Different materials will have different predicted lifespans, and different warranty conditions.

Contingency plans for inclement weather: The fact of the matter is that no one can control or even predict the weather. A sider should know exactly how to act if bad weather approaches, and be prepared with tarps and plastic guards to protect your home’s interior.

Disposal plans: Depending on the materials your previous siding is made out of, they may need to be disposed of in different ways. A professional not only knows the ins and outs of what goes where, but they should also provide a plan for the removal of all the waste following the siding process, leaving your house looking like new.

Related Articles

Exterior Siding Buying Guide

What are the benefits of real wood siding?

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