Different Siding Types Respond Differently to the Freeze and Thaw Cycle

cabin siding photo
Photo by Nicklas Lundqvist

The continuous cycle of freezing and thawing impacts all surfaces. Everything from roads to building material can sustain damage due to the freeze and thaw cycle.
This includes the sidings of your home. Regardless of the material the siding is made of, home sidings are not impervious to water’s freezing and thawing process.

Why is the Freeze and Thaw Cycle so Damaging to Home Sidings?

It all comes down to elementary science. When water freezes it expands by nearly 10%. So if water gets trapped inside the siding material, once the temperature drops down to below 32° F, it freezes and the solid ice forms. This solid ice starts to exert extreme pressure on the siding material.

Across the US, some areas only face a few days of freezing and thawing through the year. However, there are other places such as Northern Michigan where the freeze and thaw cycle extends to almost 100+ days. Because it is a cyclical process, the damage takes place every year with changing seasons.

The effect of such a cyclical process can easily lead to the siding material of a home suffering from cracking and or sustaining greater damage on a structural level.

Protect your Home Siding from the Cyclical Freeze/Thaw Process

The type of siding material you decide to use for your home can be detrimental in preventing or limiting the damage freeze/thaw cycles cause. Here’s what you should know about four commonly used siding materials across the US.

Fiber Cement Siding

Made from concrete, fiber cement sidings can be more brittle when compared to the material that has some “give” as in the case of wood siding. The brittle nature of fiber cement obviously means the material is more prone to cracking or completely breaking when water freezes in dipping temperatures.

If you reside in an area where the freeze/thaw cycle extends for a long period, then fiber cement siding might not be the best material to use for your home siding.

Engineered Wood Siding

Made from industrial-grade binders and treated wood, engineered wood sidings offer the best resistance and protection against damage caused by freeze and thaw cycles. If you live in an area where the freeze/thaw cycle extends to a substantial part of the year, then engineered wood sidings are an excellent material choice as they are not very prone to damage from cracking and splitting.

Traditional Wood Siding

The key to preventing serious damage to traditional wood siding from the freeze/thaw cycle lies in maintenance. Without periodical maintenance which includes scraping and painting, traditional wood siding is prone to cracking, warping, and splitting.

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl has a tendency to substantially contract and expand in response to fluctuations in temperature. If your home sidings are vinyl based, then it is best to install your siding loosely on the house. This will allow the material to expand and contract when the weather changes. Vinyl sidings are, however, prone to cracking during the winter.

Worried about the effects of freeze/thaw cycle on your home sidings? We can help. Connect with us at Trulog steel sidings today!

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