The siding you choose to clad your home with is arguably one of the most important decisions you’ll make in homeownership. Siding is your home’s first defense against the elements, helping to protect it from rain, snow, sun, and heat. It also helps keep out moisture and is the first step to creating that critical tight building envelope that can help you keep energy costs down.
Siding also makes up a large part of your home’s curb appeal or that first impression that people get when they first see your home from the street. So, your siding not only has to perform well, but it also needs to look great and enhance the way that your home appears.
There are also several different brands and materials for siding on the market to choose from. Each one has several colors and styles to consider, and each one has its positive and negative attributes that you’ll need to remain aware of. It’s a fact that some siding types are going to perform better than others, just like some styles will enhance your architecture better as well.
Exterior Siding Options for Your Home
Get to know the various siding materials and what they’re capable of so you can choose the best one out there for your home.
Wood is one of the oldest and most well-known types of siding on the market. Many of the first homes were built of wood logs, with the logs themselves making up both the interior and exterior of the home’s appearance
From there, milled lumber began making appearances as an option for covering the house’s frame. This lumber was found to be incredibly versatile, allowing installation in many different styles including what we think of as the traditional siding – horizontal or Dutch lap – as well as shiplap, vertical board and batten, and many styles of shingles.
It’s this versatility and history that has made wood one of the most beloved materials for siding a home. This is combined with wood’s ability to be painted or stained in a multitude of colors, allowing homeowners a greater level of control over their home’s exterior appearance.
Wood has a lot of drawbacks to it as well. The material is susceptible to moisture and insect problems. It can easily ignite and burn if exposed to heat or sparks, and the paint or stain used to give it a finished appearance can easily peel, chip, or flake off.
When the paint begins to peel, the wood below is now exposed to the elements and can begin to deteriorate. So not only will your home look shabby every few years, it needs to be scraped and painted regularly not only to keep up its appearance but also to prevent serious deterioration and the need for repair.
Brick siding is another older way of cladding homes that was frequently seen as a better alternative to wood. When Colorado wildfires destroyed large cities, ordinances required new homes and buildings to be clad in brick for safety. Brick is also incredibly durable, not being impacted by moisture, insects, or heat the way that some other sidings are.
Brick is limited in its appearance. It comes in only a few colors, and it can really only be installed in a few different patterns or styles. For some architectural styles, this can be a bonus, but for others, it can be a drawback.
Brick is also very expensive, costing significantly more than other siding materials. It requires a specialist to install, and while it is longer lasting than wood, it does need some upkeep. The mortar between the bricks may occasionally crumble or age, requiring it to be removed and reinstalled at great expense.
Stucco siding is one of the most popular siding styles for a variety of architectures and in many areas of the country. It’s durable, attractive, and can be painted in a range of colors. It’s not susceptible to insect activity and it isn’t likely to ignite and burn. It is, however, susceptible to moisture if that moisture is able to absorb into the stucco through the top finish.
Stucco is made up of many different layers applied to a lath, so it requires an installer who really knows what they’re doing. It can also be very expensive to install and maintain. Because the texture doesn’t vary tremendously, it’s also difficult to use it to emphasize a lot of architectural elements on the home; what you see is what you get, which is why it really only works on a set number of architectural styles.
When vinyl siding was first introduced, it was seen as a better alternative to wood siding. And in several regards, it is. Vinyl doesn’t need paint or stain, as the color goes right through the material. This makes it much lower in maintenance than wood siding. It’s also very easy to install, which can help keep costs down.
Vinyl is widely available in traditional horizontal lap siding, and it’s also available in a shingle, and in some cases a board-and-batten style as well. This gives you more choices than either brick or stucco. Because the material isn’t impacted by rain or moisture, it can be its own rainscreen in high rainfall areas, as well.
Vinyl does have its drawbacks as well. First, it’s only available in a set number of colors, and it can’t be painted, so if you don’t see a color you like, you don’t have a lot of options. It’s also highly susceptible to melting when exposed to heat, which can cause the material to warp in hot climates or to combust when exposed to a fire. It can also become brittle in very cold climates, which can cause it to crack if it’s impacted in some way.
Aluminum siding was another material first introduced as a better, lower maintenance option to wood. And in some ways, like vinyl, it is superior. Aluminum is not affected by moisture or insect activity, and the color doesn’t peel, chip, or flake away so your home stays looking better for longer.
The material does have many drawbacks. It can dent very easily, and while small dents can sometimes be repaired quickly, large ones can be an expensive problem. While the color doesn’t chip or peel, it can fade, becoming chalky and rubbing off on clothes that brush by. It’s also fairly limited in terms of style, and some older types have a very flat appearance that is devoid of the character that wood, brick, stucco, and even vinyl can bring to the home.
There are also fewer options for trim than other materials as well, so you can’t complement as many architectural styles with it. The material can also melt in the heat of a fire, so while a metal clad home may seem like a good choice for wildfire prone areas, aluminum is not the answer.
Fiber Cement Siding
Fiber cement is a unique material made up of a blend of cellulose fibers, sand, silica, and Portland cement. This mixture makes for a very heavy, dense siding that can be made inside a mold to take on the texture and appearance of wood. It’s available in many different styles including lap siding, board-and-batten, shingles, and architectural panels. It also has several trim options available, and can come in a range of pre-painted colors or you can paint it your choice of color. Because it’s impervious to moisture, insect activity, and is fire resistant, it’s often seen as a low maintenance option to both wood and vinyl.
The material isn’t perfect however. The silica in its content can become airborne when it’s cut, making it hazardous to those nearby. The cement content makes it heavy and difficult to cut as well as to work with, often necessitating more manpower and labor for installation, which can get very expensive. While the color lasts longer than wood, it doesn’t last forever. After several years it can chip, and the material may also break on impact due to the poor tensile strength of the cement.
Stone Veneer Siding
Stone s a relative newcomer to the siding game. Despite its name, it’s actually a blend of Portland cement and iron oxides that give it the look of stone. Used either as an accent or to cover the entirety of a home, it can give your home the look of fieldstone. It has a moderate amount of variation in size, texture, and color, and truly looks like actual stone.
Stone veneer does have some serious issues. If it’s installed too close to the ground, it will begin to deteriorate over time, wicking up water and moisture. While there are newer varieties that are supposed to be more durable, they haven’t been around long enough to truly tell if they will actually live up to their claims.
Steel siding is a more durable and attractive alternative to aluminum. Like aluminum, it doesn’t have any issues with insects or moisture, but unlike aluminum it’s more durable, holding up better to heat, fire, and impact. It doesn’t dent like aluminum, and it’s available in a lot more options that can give your home a variety of different appearances.
Steel siding can come in log-look styles that can make your home resemble a log cabin. It’s also available in standard lap siding, as well as board-and-batten style siding. The color lasts for years without needing to be repainted, only eventually fading slightly and not peeling or chipping off like wood. It has a lot more texture and a more natural looking appearance than aluminum or vinyl as well, so your home won’t look “off” when viewed either from the curb or up close.
Steel is a great choice for homeowners looking for a siding that’s versatile, durable, and long-lasting without a lot of regular maintenance or need for repair.
Choose the Right Siding for Your House
Most types of siding on the market are going to help protect your home from moisture and the elements. But some types are going to be costly while others are going to have a lot of maintenance involved. Steel siding is a good option for anyone that’s looking for a siding that’s durable and attractive, as well as long-lasting. Give steel siding a look when it’s time to re-side your home to see what options may work for you.