Last updated on 09/03/2021
When you decide to replace your home’s exterior siding, it will improve its appearance, increase its resale value, and protect your home from the elements. While it is a major investment, it is one of the top five home improvement projects in 2020, and offers up to a 78% return at the time of resale. So, before you begin remodeling your home exterior, let’s review the variety of home improvement siding options, their costs, benefits and aesthetic appeal.
HOME IMPROVEMENT SIDING OPTIONS – FACTORS TO CONSIDER
Before you open your wallet to replace your home’s exterior siding, you’ll need to consider the costs (materials and installation), durability, energy efficiency and aesthetic fit in your locale. Since your budget and planned length of stay may be your overriding considerations, let’s review the various home improvement siding options and their pros and cons.
1 – Brick Siding
Brick siding is one of the home improvement siding options that is truly a traditional timeless design. Especially versatile, it is available in many sizes, colors, and textures and will last the lifetime of the house structure.
Brick siding is highly durable over wide temperature ranges, helping to keep your house cool in hot weather. Also, brick siding keeps its appearance and won’t require maintenance for the first 25 years. Afterwards you will need to periodically patch mortar joints as the masonry deteriorates.
Brick siding’s primary drawback is its high installation cost ($10-$15 FT2) due to material weight and labor.
2 – Stucco Siding
Stucco finish is one of the home improvement siding options that has existed for centuries. Basically stucco is a cement-type mixture of sand, Portland cement, lime, and water. Because stucco can be applied equally well over masonry and wood-sheathed homes it offers great versatility. Since the outermost layer can be textured and tinted to add color, this eliminates the need for any painting maintenance.
Stucco finish requires up to three layers and provides a tight seal against the elements. Since it is highly breathable, it allows moisture to evaporate quickly. Consequently stucco finish is ideal for climates with normal precipitation (e.g. US Southwest). But stucco is poorly suited to rainy areas.
Stucco material costs are relatively inexpensive but has high labor costs due to the number of layers needed to build a solid base. Conversely, stucco finish can last up to 50 years with proper maintenance, but it can be easily damaged and repair is not easy.
In view of its many benefits, its primary drawback is the perception by many homeowners and potential buyers as being lower in quality than alternative siding options.
3 – Natural Stone Siding
Natural stone is one of the home improvement siding options that has existed for centuries. Unlike brick, it’s a more natural option for a house and can create a unique exterior pattern.
It is extremely durable, resistant to rot, pests, fire, and the elements and will last the lifetime of the house structure. Similarly to brick siding, natural stone is highly durable over wide temperature ranges. Consequently this helps to keep your house cool in hot weather.
Natural stone keeps its appearance and won’t require maintenance for the first 25 years. Afterwards you will need to periodically patch mortar as the masonry deteriorates.
Natural stone’s primary drawback is its extremely high installation cost ($15-$30 FT2) because of its weight. Also, due to the pressure on the house structure, you will need to have it evaluated to ensure it can handle the weight.
4 – Manufactured Stone Veneer Siding
Manufactured stone veneer is one of the top home improvement siding options for investment return at home resale. Basically these manufacture stones are composed of Portland cement, aggregates, and iron oxides. When installed on the exterior of a home, they add solidity, rich texture and beauty of natural stone to any house.
The breath of stone veneer textures and colors allows wide variety of style, climate and neighborhood fit. Additionally, as part of the installation process, you can add insulation underneath to help reduce heat loss in winter and cooling in summer.
New stone veneer materials offer greater protection from water damage to interior walls. Also, they offer an additional benefit from potential high wind damage. Finally both materials and installation are less expensive than natural stone.
In view of its many benefits and installation cost of ($10-$20 FT2) , its primary drawback is it is less durable and looks less natural than traditional natural stone.
5 – Vinyl Siding
Vinyl siding is the most popular home improvement siding option due to its durability and low material and installation cost. Because vinyl is a durable plastic material (PVC), it is weather and insect-proof, fade-resistant and can be installed over most existing surfaces.
The range of vinyl siding colors, designs and wood grain and stone patterns allows wide variety of style, climate and neighborhood fit. Also, you can add insulation underneath, or select the more expensive insulated vinyl siding, to help reduce heat loss in winter and cooling in summer.
Vinyl siding can be damaged due to extreme weather conditions plus it cracks, fades, and grows dingy over time. Also, similar to most siding materials it does require some maintenance due to mold and grime that can accumulate.
In view of its low cost benefits ($6-$8 FT2), its primary drawback is it is less durable and has a shorter lifespan versus other exterior siding materials.
6 – Fiber Cement Siding
Fiber cement siding is one of the home improvement siding options for the budget minded homeowner. Basically consisting of Portland cement, sand and cellulose fibers, its popularity reflects its durability, low cost and range of textures. Additionally fiber cement siding is fireproof, termite-proof, and weather resistant.
The range of fiber cement siding is extensive in both colors and textures. For example, wood grain, stone and brick as well as, plank, vertical, shake, curved shake, and various geometric patterns. Consequently this allows the homeowner a wide variety of style, climate and neighborhood fit options.
Fiber cement siding fits any climate and has up to 50 years life warranty, subject to recommended refinishing every 15 years. Additionally you can add insulation underneath, to help reduce heat loss in winter and cooling in summer. Also, similar to most siding materials, it does require some minimal maintenance due to mold and grime that can accumulate.
In view of its lower installation cost benefits ($6-$10 FT2), it has few drawbacks. But it is less durable and has a shorter lifespan than more expensive natural stone or brick siding.
7 – Natural Wood Siding
One of the home improvement siding options that is a classic traditional look is natural wood. Generally natural wood (usually cedar, pine, spruce and redwood) comes in a variety of forms including clapboard, lap siding, shakes, or shingles. While there are many synthetic versions, with proper maintenance, natural wood can last up to 30 years or more.
Natural wood is less popular with homeowners due to its regular maintenance and needed treatments to prevent insect and fire damage. Additionally there is the regular painting or staining needed to preserve the wood. Also, the selection of type of wood, paint and stain will need to take into consideration the house location and climate.
Damaged wood siding panels are typically easy to repair. However it is important to replace them before rot damage has the opportunity to spread. Consequently a homeowner will need to balance a more expensive wood type like cedar and redwood versus the benefits of longer life and greater decay resistance.
In addition to the natural wood material costs (which will vary by type), the cost of installation ranges ($6-$8 FT2). So, natural wood will be more expensive than most synthetic siding alternatives and will require higher maintenance costs. Obviously natural beauty and elegance for your home come at a significant price.
8 – Engineered Wood Siding
Engineered wood is one of the home improvement siding options that provides homeowners an alternative to vinyl and aluminum siding. Basically, composite wood is made from wood products and other materials. Since it is available in 4x8FT sheets, it is easy to cut, handle and inexpensive to install.
Engineered wood panels can be molded to look like traditional clapboards. Because the textured grain is uniform, it does not look exactly like natural wood. But the appearance is more natural than vinyl or aluminum siding alternatives.
A professional contractor and homeowner can install engineered wood siding over any type of house surface. Additionally you can add insulation underneath to help reduce heat loss in winter and cooling in summer.
Engineered wood stands up well to the elements but it is prone to moisture with cuts and edges quickly decaying. Also, while it will last up to 20-30 years, it does require painting maintenance every 5-10 years.
Engineering wood siding material costs are very low ($1.5-$3FT2) and installation inexpensive. Alternatively, its primary drawback is moisture damage versus other inexpensive siding materials such as vinyl and aluminum.
9 – Aluminum Siding
In the 1950’s aluminum siding was THE home improvement siding option due to lack of synthetic siding alternatives. Because of its durability, low material and installation costs it continues to be a popular siding material. Also, aluminum is a recyclable material and more eco-friendly versus PVC vinyl siding.
A professional contractor and homeowner can install aluminum siding over any type of house surface. Additionally, you can add insulation underneath or select the more expensive insulated aluminum siding, to help reduce heat loss in winter and cooling in summer.
Aluminum siding stands up well to the elements and corrosion (hence popular in coastal areas). However, it dents easily and scratches but doesn’t crack like vinyl. Also, while it will last up to 30 years, it does require some maintenance, such as painting and power washing.
Aluminum siding material costs are low ($3-$6 FT2) and installation inexpensive. Consequently, its its primary drawback is that does not offer the variety of textures versus synthetic exterior siding materials.
HOME IMPROVEMENT SIDING OPTIONS CONCLUSION
We reviewed the various home improvement siding options and their pros and cons. Accordingly, you’ll need to consider the costs (materials and installation), durability, energy efficiency and aesthetic fit in your locale. Also, we encourage you to do your research, ask questions and consult with a professional service contractor before moving forward.
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