Siding Types

There aren’t too many other things you can do to elevate the curb appeal, general aesthetics and value of your house like buying new siding will.  However, before you invest in such an expensive and permanent project you should be absolutely aware of exactly what you are getting into and what your many options are.

There aren’t as many siding choices as you might think, plenty have been eliminated or lost popularity over time, but there are some that have managed to hang on, together with a newcomer that gets featured every now and then.

Here’s a better look at the various types of siding so you can decide which material meets your needs the best:

Wood Siding

wood siding

This is an old favorite and fits in best where you want a natural wood appearance.

You can have wood siding as lap siding planks or shakes and shingles.  This is a traditional siding material and for a very long time was the main option in the siding industry in places where stone or brick was not viable.  Despite its long history, to this day it is still one of the most elegant and stylish home siding selections.

Some of the more common sorts of wood siding are wood planks, shingles and boards or panels.  Wood clapboard lap siding has been around for hundreds of years and is one of the oldest kinds of house siding.  Its magnificent grandeur can be viewed in many historic homes.  The biggest disadvantages of using wood siding are the fact that it is very expensive and has fairly high upkeep requirements.

Wood clapboard is also referred to as beveled lap siding and is horizontal with joints that overlap and thus make a good way for it to rid itself of water.  This is good as this type of siding has a tendency to have wood damage.  Wood plank or board siding is vertical and is available in board-on-board, board and batten, and channel-groove or what is called tongue-and-groove versions.  Board siding further has a plywood type which is frequently called T1-11, and is used to imitate a classic board-and-batten design consisting basically of exterior plywood with an array of face treatments and groove patterns available.

Putting wood siding in place is a relatively complicated process, whereby an application of a layer of insulated sheathing and a weatherproofing layer are used.  Afterwards, there comes the painstaking and exacting nailing on of the planks or shakes to the framework of the home.  Now that’s not to say that this is a particularly difficult or convoluted process — all it really necessitates is the abilities of any experienced framing carpenter to accomplish — however, it does take a considerable amount of time and patience.

The cost of obtaining wood siding can range from moderate to extremely high.  The amount varies greatly due to the kind of wood used and the design of the siding and the exterior finish.  T1-11 is the least costly type.

Metal Siding: Steel and Aluminum

metal siding

Metal siding was one of the first substitute siding materials created, achieving the height of its popularity back in the 1950s.  It was considered an excellent replacement for the high upkeep requirements and rapidly diminishing supplies of high quality wood appropriate for siding.  Even today, both steel and aluminum are often used to create both an array of shingle/shake and lap siding planks of siding types.

Out of these alternate options, aluminum siding was the first to be tried out and it has developed over time into an extremely low-maintenance and favored siding option for new homes in particular.  It wasn’t until low-cost steel became obtainable from overseas that steel siding came into vogue.

The way that horizontal steel and aluminum siding is created is in horizontal strips that closely look like wood lap siding, and come with a mounting flange at the top for the purpose of nailing, and an interlocking edge that graces the bottom in order to seal it for protection against the elements of the weather.

It can actually be very difficult to tell metal siding from wood, particularly from afar.  This type of siding normally comes with a finish that is applied at the factory to create the ultimate in corrosion resistance.  When it comes to plain, unfinished steel panels, these are ordinarily galvanized for corrosion resistance.  Certain of the new products now come with plastic or vinyl coatings that give extra resistance to the forces of weathering and fading.

Metal is frequently used as what is called “retrofit” siding, and it can be placed right over wood siding when the need for low maintenance overpowers the concern about attractiveness or in cases where the wood siding has been badly damaged.

Whenever metal siding is retrofit to pre-existing buildings there is usually a layer of fiber panels which is put underneath the planks to provide insulation to the walls.

Another reason people like aluminum and steel siding is because they are pretty reasonably priced.  Vinyl or plastic-coated aluminum is a great deal more costly.

Vinyl Siding

vinyl siding

The desire for low-maintenance, inexpensive siding has never abated and likely never will.  So after steel and aluminum siding came vinyl siding.  As fairly recently as the late 1960s, vinyl siding became easy to obtain, and nowadays, it is estimated that one-third of all homes in the U.S. have some type of vinyl siding — such as shake/shingle or horizontal lap siding planks.

Vinyl siding comes in a vast selection of styles, comprising horizontal and vertical panels, and a vast array of textures and colors.

Usually considered a type of retrofit siding, vinyl is frequently placed over old wood siding.  In cases where this sort of siding is retrofit to pre-exisiting buildings, there is normally a layer of fiber panels put beneath the planks to give the walls greater insulation.

Correctly installing this siding is essential or it will warp or buckle in an unsightly manner.  Just like aluminum siding, vinyl siding comes in strips with edges that interlock.  A zip tool, a special tool for this purpose is used to separate and join the strips of siding.

People are attracted to vinyl siding because it is unquestionably the most affordable of the siding options available today.

Fiber Cement Siding

One siding option that is growing in popularity is fiber cement, an almost maintenance-free item that is created using Portland cement and types of natural cellulose wood fibers.  Since it is created from recyclable materials, it is considered resource-efficient, which is an added bonus to home owners.  This type of siding cuts and is installed just like wood siding.

Fiber cement siding is actually the nearest you can come to imitating a natural wood grain and is practically identical in appearance to wood siding.  It can be purchased with a basic prime coat that you can paint any color you desire, or as completely finished pieces.  Furthermore, complementary millwork and trim pieces can also be obtained to give your home design detail.  It comes in shingles or shakes, beveled lap siding planks, or stucco-panel styles.

This type of siding is installed nearly in the same manner as standard wood siding — meaning that it can be cut using regular carpentry tools and nailed to framing over insulation and house wrap.  While installation of this siding does take considerably more time than it does to install vinyl siding, the work is relatively easy and any framing carpenter who has worked with wood siding before should have no problem installing fiber cement siding.

Fiber cement is a fairly expensive siding choice, more so than vinyl or metal.  But you need to keep in mind that this type of siding is extremely durable, and, if luck is with you, you may never have to replace it during your ownership of the home.

Selecting The Best Siding Type

The four siding material options mentioned above can be used on practically any home.  That makes picking out the one that is right for you is made considerably easier, becoming mainly focused on your budget, and your willingness and ability to do proper upkeep on the siding.

If you are seeking a genuine appearance for your home, then natural wood siding is an excellent choice.  Remember that other siding materials were created specifically to replace wood, so if a woodsy appearance is what you desire, then real wood makes perfect sense.

You may especially want to use natural wood if you are working on restoring a house to its historical accuracy.  However, good intentions aside, natural wood does necessitate a large amount of maintenance; you will have to repaint or reseal at least every five years, and you will have to watch closely for any water damage that occurs.

Now fiber cement is an excellent option providing you have the money for it.  It has the additional benefit of being difficult to tell apart from real wood, but it will resist heat and fire damage and will need much less upkeep than natural wood siding.  You probably will have to repaint it every 10 or 15 years, but that’s essentially all you’ll need to do.

If your budget is feeling a bit pinched, there are vinyl or metal siding choices that are easily obtainable, and both have excellent durability.  While vinyl is the most inexpensive option, metal siding probably should be your choice if you are located in an area where there is the potential danger of wildfires.

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