Siding is a cost-effective, quick-to-install option for those homeowners looking to transform their homes' exteriors. Some of its advantages include a consistent appearance, minimal upkeep requirements, increased weather resistance, and improved insulation. The upfront cost of the material and installation is offset by the reduction in maintenance and utility costs and the improved home resale value, making this upgrade a solid investment.
When it comes to selecting the right materials for your projects, there are several factors to consider before making your purchase and starting the process. Take your time and do your research before making such a costly investment. You’ll also want to consider your project needs, as well as the various style options available before making your final decision.
Assessing Your Project Needs
Siding comes in a variety of styles and materials, and the cost and ease of installation of these different materials should be factored into your decision-making.
Do you like the current look of your home, or do you want to completely redesign? Siding can do either. You can easily reproduce most exterior styles, or you can completely abandon the original look and start with a clean slate.
Unless you intend to stay in your home forever, you may want to consider how changes to your exterior will affect your resale value. Anything that makes your home stand out from the surrounding homes can make a difference, both positively and negatively.
Ease of Installation
If your home is particularly tall, has unusual landscaping, or could possess any other installation challenges, consider using an easy-to-install product such as vinyl.
For many homeowners, the project budget is the deciding factor in home improvement plans. The cost of materials needs to be carefully estimated for each option before you make a decision and begin working.
The "Wood Look”
Original aluminum siding was designed to replicate the traditional wooden “clapboard” overlapping style. This is still the most common look for houses, but today there are two different materials most commonly used to create the feel of traditional wooden clapboard: vinyl and concrete.
Vinyl is probably the most commonly used product on the market today. It's inexpensive, easy to install, and readily available in a variety of colors and finishes. Vinyl is perfect for the budget-conscious DIYer.
Concrete board reinforced with fibers is the latest in options. Often called “hardy board” after a popular brand, this material is a bit more expensive and takes more expertise to install properly than vinyl, and requires painting after installation.
Paneled siding, typically made from wood composites or plywood, became popular in the last quarter of the twentieth century when home renovations were on the rise and homeowners needed a fast, cheap option for their projects. The most common, a panel known as T111, has vertical grooves with a wood-grained texture to create a “barn look.”
Wood panel products, such as T111, are the most commonly used panels on the market. They're cheap, and they're easy and quick to install. However, they typically don’t last as well or as long as vinyl or concrete products and require regular maintenance and painting upkeep.
Concrete reinforced with fibers comes in sheets as well and often features a “faux stucco” texture in addition to the common grooved panels, which are similar in appearance to T111. They are more expensive and require more expertise to install, but this option lasts longer and requires less maintenance than wood products.
Brick, stone, and other textures, such as “log cabin look” siding are available in various product types. Almost any texture can be found in vinyl, and some options have high-quality painted textures that give the look and feel of real brick or stone. Generally, retailers have two types of specialty products available: hardboard and foam.
Hardboard, commonly known as “Masonite” for the most popular brand, comes in faux brick and other textures. It's typically colored, easy to install, and inexpensive. It should be reserved for small, detailed areas that are under partial cover because this material tends to be less durable or weather-resistant than other options.
Foam siding is manufactured to resemble stone and log cabin textures, and coupled with the right coatings, can be a long-lasting option. It also adds the most insulation value, which is great for homeowners looking to cut down on their utility bills. However, it's susceptible to impact damage, so it may not be the best option in areas where high winds and hail are common.
When choosing your material, it's best to explore several options before committing. It's recommended that you always see and feel products in person before making your selection to ensure you're completely confident it's the right choice for you.
If you have a company in your area that does siding installation, you can always visit its showroom, even if you don’t intend to hire the company to complete the job. The showrooms will often have siding styles and products on display for you to compare.