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The exterior of your home faces a ceaseless barrage of threats from the hot sun, strong winds, precipitation in all its forms, and the bitter winter cold. As such, your house siding must be strong and durable. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful even decades into its life. Advancements in the manufacture of siding materials and their installation have improved both the look and longevity of products for the exterior of today’s home.
If you’re in the market for house siding but don’t know where to begin your search, this guide can help you learn more about the pros and cons of the most popular materials, so you can make an informed choice about which option best suits your house style and local climate, not to mention your availability or willingness to perform ongoing maintenance tasks as the seasons come and go.
NOTE: Some siding is better suited to certain house styles than others. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a the look of traditional wood lap siding in a fiber cement or vinyl product. Do your research on house style before you set out choosing new siding. You’ll also want to consider your climate—including average temperatures throughout the seasons, proximity to salty ocean air, likelihood of exposure to severe weather, such as blizzards or hurricanes, plus other environmental factors like wind, rain and humidity.
Here is a list of the most popular exterior siding options, with features, benefits, pros and cons:
Don’t be fooled into thinking the only look you can achieve is that of the typical hacienda- or tudor-style house. Although stucco is most often whitewashed, a varied range of textures and colors is within reach.
Made from a mixture of portland cement, lightweight aggregate, and iron-oxide pigments, today’s manufactured stone veneer products have become a popular siding option for many homeowners. While the look is a dead ringer and the cost is considerably less ($5 to $10 a square foot cheaper), the product does not offer the durability of natural stone.
Fiber-cement siding composition may vary from company to company, but the basic recipe is Portland cement, sand, and cellulose (wood) fibers. Wood fiber helps prevent cracking, as does a special curing process that leaves fiber cement with a low moisture content. Fiber-cement siding is low-maintenance, impact-resistant, and available in finished or painted options.
Wood siding boasts a timeless beauty, and many homeowners value the way its appearance gradually changes in subtle ways. Whether it is vertical siding like board and batten, or horizontal siding like clapboards, shakes, and shingles, there are various wood species and grades to consider. Wood will, however, require a high level of maintenance to retain its beauty and effectiveness.
In addition to its aesthetic appeal, durability makes brick siding a popular choice. Under normal conditions, brick siding will last the life of the building with little more than an occasional wash with the hose. Although brick siding is considered permanent, masonry does deteriorate, generally at the mortar joints, which are the gaps between bricks that are filled with mortar.
Long saddled with a bad reputation, today’s vinyl siding is weather- and insect-proof, fade-resistant, and virtually indestructible under normal circumstances. It also remains one of the cheapest materials to install.
For more on house siding and exterior maintenance, consider: