July 9, 2015
Meditations on Siding

Sit down, my studies. Let’s talk about siding.

Choosing siding is an important process for a homeowner. Siding choice doesn’t just affect the aesthetics of a home; it affects the performance of the home, too. It can affect the cost or pace of your build. And ultimately, it can affect the value of your home at selling time.

Today, let’s take a look at several types of siding on the market and weigh the pros and cons of each.

Materials

There are a number of materials you could opt for. Make sure you consider the following before you buy:

  • Cost
  • Durability
  • Maintenance requirements
  • Ease of installation and customization
  • Aesthetics
  • Energy efficiency

Vinyl for example, is cheap, easy to install and fairly durable. Insulated vinyl is particularly energy-efficient. But vinyl is light and highly susceptible to wind or hail damage. If you live in a region that frequently experiences strong storms, you might want to go with something a little heavier.

Many homeowners find wood to be particularly beautiful. It’s versatile, too — the siding can be cut to fit together in a number of customized ways that can add nuance to the look of a home. But wood siding requires regular maintenance (like sanding, water-sealing and painting or re-staining), and especially frequently in a wet climate. In temperate or extreme climes, warping or splitting can present a challenge. And, wood is vulnerable to insect damage and rot.

Aluminum siding is moderately-priced, durable and light, but is susceptible to denting and tends to be noisy in moderate to high winds. It also inhibits detailed trim work.

Cement fiber siding is easy to install, versatile and low on maintenance. It can approximate the look of wood or stucco panels. But it can be cost-prohibitive.

Slate or stone siding is extremely durable, but not very energy efficient. You’ll need to insulate well. It’s sturdy in heavy weather, but can be expensive to install. As a trade-off, though, stone often enhances curb appeal and, thus, the value of a home.

Layouts

Are you looking for strong shadow lines and versatility? Clapboard might be your answer. With its clean, horizontal layout, clapboard can be a beautiful enhancement for a small to mid-size home.

Some people like the look of shingle siding, also known as “shake.” This is an especially popular choice for Queen Anne, Victorian and other turn-of-the-century home styles. Wood shake comes with the same maintenance concerns as wooden clapboard, but there are vinyl, flagstone and even energy-efficient recycled rubber shake variants out there that can reduce your maintenance load.

Brick or stone veneer is nice, in that it can be used to approximate the look and feel (without incurring the full cost and lengthy build) of various styles of real masonry. It is often manufactured in panels, which can speed up your installation time. But it is more costly than vinyl or wood siding.

If you live in a Tudor or Southwestern-style home, stucco paneling is a popular option. It looks natural and can improve the heat retention of a home in a cold climate. But it is really heavy, making installation difficult. It’s not the most water-resistant material, either, and has a high upfront cost, so consider carefully before you buy.