The pros and cons of exterior house siding materials
So, you’re at a point where you decided to put new siding on your house. This is a big decision with a lot of different factors to weigh. Not to mention, it’s also a decision that will not come cheap, relatively. That’s where this article will help you to determine the first step in getting new siding, which is figuring out the best siding option for you by going through the pros and cons of house siding.
The best part about changing your house’s siding is that it’s almost like getting a new house, from an outside perspective at least.
But getting from the starting point to the end point is not an easy task. There are many things to consider, such as:
- Maintenance over its useful lifetime
- Environmental impact
Each type of siding presents its own pros and cons. The first thing to consider is what type of siding you’re going to buy for your house.
Vinyl siding is probably one of the more popular choices for eternal siding material. It’s very durable and the amount of colours and textures it comes in is huge.
Keep in mind that there are two types of vinyl:
The insulated vinyl includes a layer of expanded polystyrene foam, which insulates to a value of R-2 to R-6. If you are considering insulated siding, know that you’ll be paying anywhere from 15% to 20% more for materials. Considering that you live in Winnipeg, that might not be a bad option. If you are someone who takes energy consumption to heart, insulated vinyl will help you reach Energy Star accreditation.
- The color goes throughout the material meaning that any nicks or scratches won’t show
- Due to very well-developed manufacturing processes, vinyl is able to replicate very similar end products to wood-grain lap siding, wood shingles and stone.
- Vinyl is lightweight meaning that it’s a bit easier to work with, which translates in to a quicker installation and less cost for labour
- In some cases, vinyl can be installed right over top of existing exteriors
- Very low maintenance, if any
- Will never need to be repainted
- Fairly low cost, comparatively
- May come with transferable lifetime warranties
- Normally, vinyl will come in panels of 12 feet in length, which means that the panel ends must be overlapped. This will create seams that are very apparent.
- As an alternative, you can buy longer panels, which will minimize the amount of seams, but you’ll also pay more.
- A bit of a catch 22, what makes vinyl so strong and durable also is its downfall when it comes to environmental friendliness. Vinyl is made with polyvinyl chloride, commonly known as PVC, which happens to last for a very, very long time (like decades or centuries).
Wood siding offers a unique perspective on your house with a natural beauty and warm charm. With wood siding, you have many options for the species and grades. Usually, you can choose a wood siding by figuring out what you want it to look like after it’s sealed and stained.
A clear sealer or semi-transparent stain will make the grain standout a lot more, but consequently also any knots or other impurities. To avoid this, you’ll need to buy more expensive wood. On the other hand, you can chose cheaper woods for painting or opaque stains.
- Wood siding is very durable and can last decades, but it comes at the cost of sticking to a consistent maintenance schedule (finishes, stains, and paints to be reapplied every 2 to 5 years, depending)
- Easy to cut and shape
- Installation can be done by knowledgeable DIYers
- Natural beauty and warm charm
- After your wood siding has reached its end of life, it breaks down quite easy in landfills
- Can get expensive for better quality wood
- Considerable maintenance
- Need to remove any existing exterior materials
- May not be an environmentally friendly option if you do not buy wood siding that has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Certified wood comes from sustainable forests as opposed to old-growth forests
Fiber cement siding
Fiber cement is well-known for stability and low maintenance. It is comprised of wood pulp, cement, clay, and sand. Fiber cement is very versatile and can be made similar to wood clapboard, shingles, stucco and masonry. It is paint friendly and usually comes with a wide selection of finishes.
- Low maintenance
- Does not expand and contract very easily with changes in temperature
- Termite proof
- Will not rot
- Has a long life cycle, which means that it stays out of the landfill for a long time
- Normally comes with a long warranty
- Very heavy, which makes installation difficult
- Requires special tools and skill
- Limited contractors with the required experience
- Need to remove all existing siding beforehand, which adds to the final cost
Stucco siding is one of the most well-known types of exterior housing materials. It is very durable and matches well with other materials. It’s made of epoxy, which helps to prevent chipping and cracking.
There are two main types of stucco:
- Stucco that is comprised of earth and lime
- Stucco that is comprised of Portland cement, which has been linked to CO2 emissions
- Very durable and lasts a long time
- Low maintenance
- Can be made into various colours that remain consistent throughout its depth
- Resistant to fire
- Resistant to insects
- Considerable amount of preparation
- Might be difficult to find a reputable and experienced stucco contractor
- Cement-based stucco production has been linked to CO2 emissions
Engineered wood siding
Engineered wood siding is very durable and can hold up in extreme weather conditions, which is great news for all of you living here in Winnipeg. It’s made from wood fibers and exterior-grade resins.
With engineered wood siding, you can choose amongst a variety of styles and textures, which includes:
- Beaded lap
- Rough-sawn clapboard
- Replica wood shingles
- Very durable and lasts a long time
- Comes primed or with factory finishes, as well as ready to paint
- Cheaper alternative to fiber cement and real wood
- No harmful dust
- Easily workable
- Impervious to insects
- Environmentally friendly as binders are low-VOC and production waste is very minimal since the manufacturing process uses entire trees along with wood scrap
- Earlier or less quality versions may experience moisture problems
Synthetic stone siding
Synthetic stone manufacturing has advanced so much that the stone looks like real stone. It is made from cement, sand and aggregate. You can find synthetic stone that is similar to numerous types, such as granite and limestone. You can also get it in various styles, such as dry stacked, round river rock, and split face.
One thing to keep in mind when considering synthetic stone siding is that it is most often used as an accent on lower portion of wall or chimneys, as opposed to covering the whole house.
- Looks like real stone but costs much, much less
- Lightweight which makes installation easier
- Fire and insect resistant
- Environmentally friendly as the manufacturing process does not give off gas or use toxic materials
- Reduces the demand for real stone, which consequently also reduces the industrial environmental impact
- Although cheaper than real stone, it is still more expensive than other siding options
- Some people still say that it doesn’t match up to real stone