Things to consider before opting for an optimal type of siding for your home
The right siding can dramatically boost your exterior's appearance. Whether you're renovating or building new, you'll want to choose the house siding option that best suits your home's style and meets your needs for maintenance and durability. Use our guide to the most popular exterior home siding options to find your material match.
When searching through various types of siding, there are six fundamental issues to consider besides the initial cost:
- Water resistance. Waterproof types of siding will have longer life spans.
- Ease of installation. If installing the siding on your own, ensure the technique is within your skillset, requires no special tools, and creates no harmful dust when cut.
- Durability. Does your siding of choice have the strength to resist temperature shifts present in your climate? Consider how it will stand up to everyday wear and tear, as well as typical weather in your area.
- Energy efficiency. Check the R-value rating (which indicates its resistance to heat flow) for energy savings and understand what insulation will be required beneath the siding.
- Visual appeal. Your siding will be in full view as you come and go, so make sure it is beautiful to you.
- Versatility. Make sure the siding has the versatility to meet the varied needs of your specific project. If aspects of your home's exterior will make using a particular type of siding more challenging than others, make sure you understand what the added costs or necessary adjustments will be.
The main types of siding and their properties
The wide array of house siding options can make deciding on new siding a daunting task. While there are more than ten types of siding on the market today, it’s a good idea to keep your list of options to a minimum to make the decision process a little easier. Below we outline the best types of siding for houses and what to expect in terms of cost, durability, colors, weather resistance, maintenance, and appearance.
Cost: $5 - $9.80 per sq. ft.
Service life: up to 20 years
Stucco is a cement and sand-based type of siding found on about 50% to 60% of homes in the Southwest and Pacific regions of the U.S. It is highly durable, energy-efficient, and low maintenance. Stucco siding is known to help homeowners save on their month-to-month utility bills thanks to its great energy efficiency and insulation.
Stucco is an excellent choice for drier climates, but there are better choices for wet, damp environments. We recommend stucco as a long-lasting, affordable siding solution if your home does not get an abundance of annual rainfall. Fiber cement siding may be a better choice if you live in a wetter region.
How to maintain stucco siding?
To get the most from stucco, remove dirt and debris that collects on it using a garden hose and a medium-bristle brush at least once a year.
To protect it from mold or efflorescence (a white coating that develops after prolonged moisture exposure), mix one part of non-chlorine bleach, white vinegar, and three parts of water. Apply directly to the stains with a sponge and rinse with a hose.
In short, stucco is a practical, effective and versatile way to reimagine the exterior of your home. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of stucco to see if this is the right option to upgrade your home’s curb appeal.
Stucco siding - Advantages and downsides
Stucco is very appealing for many reasons. It’s versatile, long-lasting, and easy to maintain. Here are some of the pros of choosing a stucco finish:
- Long service life. Stucco can well last over 50 years with proper maintenance. Unlike other siding options, it can expand and contract with the weather to sustain critical damage. It’s also resistant to mold, rot, and mildew.
- Low maintenance. Stucco is very easy to keep clean and well-maintained. Pressure washing the exterior once a year is enough to prevent dirt from building up in the pores. Any small cracks can easily be fixed with paint or sealants, leaving the finish as new.
- Versatile. When it comes to color, texture, and the type of application, no other home siding material provides the flexibility that stucco does. It can be smooth, coarse, swirled, and even shaped into figures to add architectural details.
- Fire- and pest-resistant. Stucco can be applied over any surface, including wood and brick. A 1-inch coating of stucco can provide a one-hour firewall rating, which means it can prevent the spread of fire from one side of the wall to the other for at least one hour. With wildfires ravaging communities and homes over recent years due to arid climates, stucco is becoming a popular siding option.
Although stucco has many factors in its favor, some disadvantages exist. Stucco’s brittle nature makes it susceptible to house foundation shifts, and it isn’t always the best choice for particular regions.
Here are some of the cons of choosing a stucco finish:
- Not for all climates. While stucco does an excellent job at repelling moisture, it’s not recommended for areas with lots of precipitation. Rainy environments can oversaturate stucco, causing the building materials beneath to get waterlogged over time.
- Complicated installation. Stucco isn’t easy to apply, even for the most ambitious DIYer. While there are some do-it-yourself kits, these are usually meant for small spaces and projects.
- Complicated repairing. Other types of siding can be replaced by changing the damaged piece. For stucco, though, the damaged surface needs to be prepared, and stucco must be reapplied the same way it was initially done. To match color and texture, homeowners usually turn to repair services, which can be time-consuming and expensive.
- Easily chapped. Stucco can be brittle, especially in areas where the ground is prone to shifting. It can develop hairline cracks if the soil moves, particularly in earthquake-prone regions.
Cost: $1.50 - $8.50 per sq. ft.
Service life: 25 - 40 years
Since its introduction in the 1960s, vinyl siding has become the most popular cladding in the U.S. because of its price, versatility, and low maintenance. Hundreds of color choices are available in profiles that include horizontal and vertical panels, shakes, shingles, fish scales, lap, and beaded designs. The only routine maintenance is an occasional wash, and vinyl manufacturers' warranties are generally lifelong and transferable.
The vinyl siding cost savings extend to installation. It's the least expensive of all siding materials to install and can be cut if you're able to do the work. Vinyl siding is sold by most home centers and requires few tools to install. This home siding must be installed on flat surfaces, so the wall will need to be lined with 1/2-inch-thick sheets of rigid foam board to provide a nailing surface.
How to maintain vinyl siding?
If you'd like to keep your siding looking good for as long as possible, it's well worth adhering to a few simple dos and don'ts:
Although vinyl siding doesn't cause wood rot, it may conceal moisture-related problems from another source. If a leak is hidden behind the vinyl siding—which is itself impervious to decay—it may go unnoticed for a long time. Investigate any suspicious streaking or staining on the vinyl itself or on the exposed foundation wall beneath, which may warn of hidden trouble. Because the nails or screws that secure the siding to the wall lose their holding power in rotted wood, loose areas of siding are another warning sign.
Wash using a soft cloth or an ordinary long-handled soft bristle brush. For textured surfaces, use only a soft bristle brush to avoid smearing the stain into the grooves of the texture. Clean gently to avoid surface abrasion. After cleaning, rinse the area with water. To wash an entire house, start at the bottom and work up to the top, then rinse back down from top to bottom to prevent streaking.
Do not use cleaners containing organic solvents or other aggressive ingredients because they could affect the surface appearance of the vinyl. Examples of such cleaners are chlorine bleach, liquid grease remover, strong soaps and detergents containing organic solvents, nail polish remover, and furniture polish/cleaners.
Be careful where you park your lawn mower, bicycle, or snowblower. Vinyl doesn't dent (unlike aluminum, which sustains big, permanent damage when smacked with a line drive or poked with a rake handle), but it can crack or break, especially when rendered brittle by cold weather. Replace any damaged sections as soon as you can.
Vinyl siding - Advantages and downsides
Before you make a choice to install vinyl house siding, learn all about its strong points and its drawbacks.
Here are the advantages of vinyl siding that make this material the top choice from the point of performance and cost:
- Affordability. Few siding materials are less expensive than vinyl siding. On a materials-only basis, fiber-cement siding can cost two to four times more than vinyl siding. Comparably-sized shiplap fiber-cement siding will cost at least twice as much. Vinyl siding will nearly always be your cheapest home siding option.
- Efficiency. Vinyl is an excellent insulator for your home and may reduce your utility costs by aiding in temperature regulation. By assisting your HVAC and home systems, your vinyl siding can take some of the burdens off of your central systems and help them to run smoother and longer, thus potentially lengthening the lifespan of your appliances.
- Low maintenance. Vinyl siding's slick surface means dust, cobwebs, and other debris slide off relatively easily when sprayed with a garden hose. Because there is no paint to peel, you will never have to scrape, patch, prime, or paint your house's exterior surface.
- Versatility. No matter how you look at it, there are many color options if you go with vinyl siding. We've installed various shades of red, green, gray, and blue, as well as the more neutral shades of white, taupe, and brown that you might be more used to seeing.
- No need to paint. Nearly every siding material other than vinyl is coated with a color layer. Vinyl siding and shutters are unique in that their color is baked-in. Vinyl siding's color is 100 percent homogeneous: the color on top runs all the way through. The color cannot be mechanically abraded, scratched off, or stripped. If you hate the idea of exterior house painting, this is vinyl siding's most vital point. Vinyl siding never needs painting.
- Resistant to fire and insects. Vinyl can be installed in hot climates and fire-prone areas as it can withstand up to 750 degrees. Besides, this siding material prevents the spreading of pests.
Here are the setbacks of vinyl that should be considered before opting for this siding material:
- Prone to fading. Vinyl can fade faster than other types (10 to 15 years, depending on the climate). In general, darker colors will fade more than lighter ones. The biggest environmental factor affecting fading is exposure to sunlight.
- Allow water beneath boards. While vinyl surfaces are resistant to moisture, the shape of vinyl siding boards (along with their layered installation) can trap water between the boards and insulative layers. This lingering moisture can make its way inside the property, encourage the growth of mold and mildew, and cause structural damage.
- Maintenance issues. Even though vinyl can withstand many harsh conditions, it can have some maintenance issues down the road that should be on your radar. Vinyl may bend and crack if it’s under a great amount of pressure or was installed incorrectly. If initially nailed too tight, it may expand and bulge or warp over time. If a plank is torn or cracked, it cannot be patched – the entire piece must be replaced to prevent further damage and to block water from entering your home.
- Lowers home’s value. Even though vinyl siding has a lower upfront cost than other siding types, it may decrease your home’s value since many buyers tend to view it as inferior to real wood or other materials. It could potentially result in lower offers if and when you decide to sell your home later.
- Expert installation is required. While the installation of vinyl siding is relatively simple compared to certain other options, it requires careful planning and execution to ensure the best results and the longest lifespan. Even something as minor as nails being driven too hard or too lightly can lead to warping, improper insulation, and a host of other problems. Whether you’re investing in brand-new vinyl siding or seeking siding replacement, you must do your homework when hiring contractors to tackle this project.
Natural wood siding
Cost: $6 - $12 per sq. ft.
Service life: 20-40 years
Natural wood siding creates a classic look for your home in the form of clapboard, lap siding, shakes, or shingles. Wood siding tends to be less popular with homeowners, as it is higher maintenance than other types of siding and requires regular maintenance and upkeep. Maintenance needs include treatment to prevent termites and improve flame resistance and regular painting and staining. All types of wood siding fall in the mid-range for pricing. The cost of the product and the installation ranges between $6 and $12 per square foot on average.
Clapboard siding, which is a popular form of wood siding made from split oak, pine, or spruce, costs roughly between $5 and $6 per square foot. It can be identified by its thickly cut, overlapping boards. Boards are applied like shingles to the home’s exterior, with the thin side underneath the thick edge creating a wedge. Clapboard comes in a wide variety of styles, finishes, and textures. Once installed, the clapboard can be left unfinished or can be stained and painted.
When properly maintained, natural wood siding can last up to 40 years. Damaged panels are typically easy to repair, but they must be replaced before damage like rot has the opportunity to spread. If you live in a warmer climate, it is recommended to paint or restain the siding every four to six years, as well as apply fungicide and mildew deterrents every three to four years. More expensive types of wood, like cedar and redwood, are more decay-resistant than other wood siding types and typically last longer.
How to maintain natural wood siding?
Wood siding has a big drawback. Wood is, of course, biodegradable – if you don’t maintain it, say goodbye to your beautiful home. Neglect can lead to damage caused by water, moisture, and pests. Said another way: you need to take regular care of your wood siding.
Here’s how to maintain wood siding:
1. Trim back bushes or trees from touching the wood siding.
Since contact with wet leaves and branches can increase its susceptibility to rot, trim away the bushes and trees so that there’s no contact with your siding.
2. Clean your gutters regularly.
Water and ice can dam up and cause real damage to the siding. Try to clean gutters twice a year – once in the fall after the leaves have fallen and before the winter, and once in the spring.
3. Clean off dirt and mildew from the siding.
At least once a year, applying a brush with soapy water to the wood is sufficient. If the siding is particularly dirty, consider using a power washer – but on low settings so that the wood is not damaged. For mildew, apply a solution of either 3 parts water and 1 part white vinegar (or bleach) to the mildew spots.
If there are plants around the area you are cleaning, cover the plants with a sheet or tarp so as not to damage them with the cleaning solution.
4. Re-caulk around doors and windows as needed to keep water out.
Any gap or space between the siding and structural elements allows water to get in. Check areas around doors and windows during your annual cleaning and seal up any visible gaps with a quality caulk material.
5. Apply a clear sealer or wood stain to the siding.
The clear sealer helps protect wood against bleaching by sunlight but penetrates less deeply. Typically, a clear sealer can be applied every few years.
Wood stain is a more effective protectant, as it sinks deeper into the wood and lasts longer against moisture. Typically, you’ll want to apply two coats every four years. Consider using a paint sprayer to apply the stain, as it may be quicker and more evenly spread. Of course, cleaning a paint sprayer isn’t that fun, but it may be worth the investment in time savings. It should be applied every 4 years.
6. Whenever you see the damaged siding, replace it as soon as possible.
Because of the harsh winters and wet springs, damaged siding can let in and trap moisture, causing much more serious damage. Plus, damaged siding may make it easier for animals and pests to enter the house.
Any siding that is cracked, rotted, or broken should be replaced and restrained immediately. This can sometimes be best completed by a professional, as ripping the piece off may cause damage to the yet-undamaged siding.
Wood siding - Advantages and downsides
Wood siding is one of the oldest options available, and homeowners love its natural beauty. Replacing the siding on your home is a significant investment, so it's essential to check out the pros and cons of wood siding before you make your final decision.
- Easy to paint. Wood is the ultimate chameleon, easy to paint or stain to suit your home's character or aesthetic preferences.
- Eco-friendliness. When it comes to siding, wood is one of the most eco-conscious materials available. It does not emit pollutants during the manufacturing process; it is biodegradable and is also considered a renewable resource. Choosing wood siding can be a proactive decision for homeowners focused on reducing their environmental footprint.
- Durability. When properly taken care of, wood can last for ages. On top of that, it's easy to repair as well! You can fill up any small holes or get a replacement for warped or damaged boards. Maintenance is relatively simple. All it takes is for you to clean the planks, brush them, and varnish them every so often.
- Wide variety of styles. The sky's the limit when outlining your ideal facade. There are lots of installation techniques to choose from. You can use a classic overlapped design or mix horizontal and vertical boards to create a unique pattern.
- Multiple wood species. There are numerous species of wood to choose from. The most popular types of wood siding include pine, spruce, fir, cedar, redwood, and cypress.
- Raise home's value. Upgrading to wood siding can add value to a home because it is considered high-end siding. When you're ready to sell, it will give your home a slight boost in resale value.
Keeping up with timber can also have its downsides. It can become quite costly and tiring. Before you start designing your dream facade, check out the cons of having wood cladding:
- Pricing. Depending on the style and the species of wood you select, timber cladding can get rather expensive. However, keep in mind that you’re getting what you pay for. Look at the cost of your wood siding as a smart investment. It’s a high-end material, so it’ll significantly increase your home’s resale value.
- Maintaining wood siding can be costly and tiring. Some styles will need to be stained at least every two to three years to prevent moisture damage, and paints on wood siding should be reapplied every four to five years.
- Wood attracts termites. An annual pest-control inspection should be scheduled to prevent infestations. Remember that preventing termites is more cost-effective than repairing damage after the fact.
- High maintenance. If the wood becomes cracked, rotted, or the victim of a woodpecker’s bill, it must be replaced immediately. A damaged strip of wood siding can allow water to seep into a home and cause additional problems, such as interior mold growth. Wood siding must be cleaned once a year to remove dirt and mildew buildup. It is recommended that homeowners use a soft-bristled brush rather than a power washer, which could cause damage due to its high water pressure.
Manufactured (engineered) wood siding
Cost: $4 - $9 per sq. ft.
Service life: 20-30 years
Engineered wood siding is the generic term for manufactured, synthetic, or composite wood siding made into 4×8-foot sheets or lap panels. It is available in smooth or embossed textures and cuts and handles like real wood. If you are a fan of the look of natural wood and want a comparable alternative that costs less while maintaining durability, engineered wood is a good siding choice for you. Many modern-style homes today use engineered wood siding for a sleek natural outer appearance.
Engineered wood siding is energy-efficient and relatively inexpensive. It is also resistant to water, warping, fungus, pests, and mildew and does not chip or fade easily. In terms of durability, it is partially foolproof, as exposed cuts or edges can weather and decay. It also lacks the authentic variations found in real wood grain. You can expect your engineered wood siding to last between 20-30 years if regularly maintained and painted every 5 to 10 years.
How to maintain engineered wood siding?
Upkeep is one of the most crucial factors to consider when installing new siding. Even though engineered wood siding is durable and long-lasting, it still requires some maintenance throughout the years to prolong its longevity, so keep this in mind. Here are a few actionable tips to keep your wood siding in mint condition for years to come:
- Clean mildew. To clean mildew, use a solution of three parts water and one part white vinegar with a cloth or sponge. Then, gently rinse off with a garden hose. Never use a pressure washer on LP SmartSide products, as it can force water underneath the panel and cause damage to the finish.
- Remove dirt. Use a cloth, sponge, or soft brush along with mild detergent and water to remove dirt from the siding surface. Do not use abrasive cleaners or solvents because they could damage the paint. Gently wash off with a garden hose.
- Touch-up paint. While LP SmartSide Trim & Siding is an easy maintenance siding option, it’s still a good idea to inspect for any chipped or cracked paint. Carefully dab with a cotton swab to the area and let dry for 24 hours.
- Prune trees around the house. Cut branches and bushes before they have the opportunity to scrape against siding and windows. Additionally, remove creeping ivy (be careful it’s not poison ivy before doing so). While you’re checking your landscape, ensure there’s proper distance between mulch and your home’s foundation (at least a 6-inch distance is recommended).
Engineered wood siding- Advantages and downsides
Aside from all the advantages engineered wood siding has over real wood, it also has benefits unrelated to its physical superiority to wood. Look below to find out what they are:
- Affordability. This siding material tends to be relatively affordable compared to one-hundred-percent wood siding. If you're looking to renovate right now, these high wood prices are out of your control—making engineered wood siding, which uses less of the stuff, a much more viable option financially.
- Ease of installation. Engineered wood siding is also easy for a professional to install, meaning that you could save money and time on labor costs. We certainly don't recommend doing it yourself, as siding is a critical factor in protecting your home and, therefore, its financial stability. But because engineered wood siding is relatively lightweight, installing it can be accomplished much quicker and easier than with certain other siding types.
- Versatility. This type of siding is aesthetically versatile. Available in a variety of textures and colors, the specifics of which we'll touch on below, it can be made to look like a variety of more expensive and more maintenance-heavy siding types while still holding onto its strength. With engineered wood, you can get the look you love, plus the durability your home deserves.
The following are the disadvantages of using engineered wood sidings in a home.
- Not eco-sustainable. Different resins, binders, and other chemicals that are not eco-friendly are used to manufacture engineered wood siding. That is why if you're concerned about environmental protection, this material might not be the best fit.
- Artificial appearance. While they do an excellent job of creating a look close to natural wood, they tend to look too perfect for mimicking the look completely. Nothing compares to actual natural wood.
Fiber cement siding
Cost: $3.25 - $13 per sq. ft.
Service life: 50+ years
Fiber cement is quickly becoming one of the most popular siding choices. This is mostly thanks to its affordable price, superior durability, and weather resistance. It provides excellent protection from the elements, pests, and noise pollution. Not to mention, it looks great when installed and can be produced in virtually any color. Fiber cement comes in a variety of styles, including lap, plank, vertical, shake, curved shake, and various geometric patterns. It can also be manufactured to mimic the look of wood, stone, or brick.
Fiber cement siding is an environmentally sustainable choice, not to mention a good long-term investment. This type of siding will last 50 or more years as long as it is adequately maintained. Fiber cement siding replacement projects top the 2021 Cost vs. Value Report at number 4 for the most worthwhile home investments. Fiber cement siding can yield a 69.4% return on investment.
It is important to note that, unlike wood siding, installing fiber cement siding is not a DIY project. The upfront installation and labor costs fall between $5 to $10 per installed square foot. However, once this type of siding is installed, the maintenance requirements are limited. Most manufacturers recommend refinishing the siding every 15 years to maintain your warranty.
How to maintain fiber cement siding?
Follow these recommendations to clean the exterior of your home and to help maintain the beauty and value of your fiber cement siding:
- Wash down the exterior surfaces every 6 to 12 months with a garden hose to remove dirt and debris, and gently clean your siding with a soft brush or soft wet cloth in a side-to-side motion in the direction of the plank siding.
- Install gutters and downspouts on your home—if not already present when you purchased the home.
- Clean out your gutters, blocked pipes, and overflows of any debris, leaves, twigs, and dirt.
- Keep vegetation such as shrubs, bushes, and small trees trimmed back and away from the home and siding.
- Adjust sprinkler systems so they do not excessively spray on siding or continuously soak the ground near your house.
- Avoid direct contact with deicing salts, as these salts may prematurely damage the finished look of the siding. We recommend the use of sand or gravel to manage snowy or icy surfaces near the siding.
- Ensure required external ground clearances and drainage slopes are maintained. Do not fill landscaping up to the siding.
Fiber cement siding - Advantages and downsides
Here are the primary pros of fiber cement siding that make it so attractive choice for homeowners nationwide:
- Aesthetic. It offers an appearance that is remarkably realistic. When you start to look at the alternative exterior options which are available for your house, many of the most affordable ones tend to look cheap, fake, or both. Your first glimpse of fiber cement siding will leave you with a different perspective. Even when you look at this option up close, the texture of the piece makes it look like real wood, brick, or stone. That means you can still enjoy the traditional look without sacrificing the many benefits that come with modern products.
- Weather-resistant. If you own a property near the ocean, then the salty air can cause devastating damage to your home’s exterior structure in a surprisingly fast amount of time. When you use fiber cement siding for your house, then you are using a product that will withstand the elements for several years. It will even stop rain and wind damage from occurring in high-risk environments for a fraction of the cost of the other siding choices. This product can even withstand hurricane-force winds, which is a definite benefit if you live along the East Coast of the United States.
- Rot and insects resistant. When you install fiber cement siding on your home, then it provides you with complete protection against rot and pest infestations. There are no seams that overlap with this siding, so you receive a layer of protection against mold or mildew formation as well. Pests don’t chew through the product either since it is made from mostly concrete. These advantages all work together to reduce the number of allergens found in the home, providing you with better indoor air to breathe without a significant HVAC investment necessary.
- Fire-resistant. When you poll the average homeowner about what events scare them the most, a fire at home is usually at or near the top of the list. That’s why fiber cement siding is such a fantastic product to use for the exterior of the structure. 90% of the composition of this product comes from materials that are inflammable. Even in instances of extreme heat, this siding can hold strong.
- Versatile. When you choose fiber cement siding for your home, then there are several base colors from which to select so that your home can have a perfect look right away. If you don’t see a hue or tone that you like with this product, then you can paint over it with an exterior-grade paint without compromising the integrity of the cement.
Here are the drawbacks of fiber cement siding one should consider not to make a costly mistake:
- Not eco-friendly. The ingredients in fiber cement siding are considered inert from an environmental perspective, which means tossing it into a landfill or other form of disposal will not cause it to degrade into a damaging substance. Unlike other materials (especially aluminum) available for siding, this option has no recycling option. If you need to take it off your home's exterior for any reason, then you're going to be throwing it away.
- High maintenance. Depending on the quality of your siding and the kind you get, you may find yourself doing a lot more than anticipated for your fiber cement siding. That said, maintenance is rarely going to be tedious. A factory paint job will last you about 25 years before you need to repaint it. Meanwhile, some vinyl siding never needs to be repainted. You may also need to recaulk some areas of the fiber cement during maintenance. Otherwise, maintenance can be straightforward: clean your gutters, wash the siding with a garden hose, and use mild dish detergent and a nylon brush to scrub away grime.
- Difficult installation. Let "cement" clue you into how annoying installation can be. Unlike vinyl siding, which is relatively lightweight, 100 square feet of fiber cement weighs around 300 pounds. Lifting requires a lot of manpower. Naturally, that will extend the installation time, so the costs will be higher than other forms of siding.
- Not for every climate. Fiber cement is not as bad as some materials because it has wood in it, but it is less energy efficient. For colder climates, fiber cement siding may not protect your home, as well as something thicker, such as vinyl paired with insulating foam.
Cost: $2 - $7 per sq. ft.
Service life: 40+ years
Metal siding and roofing have both been rising and becoming increasingly popular in residential homes. Despite its expensive upfront cost, the longevity and durability of metal siding make it worth it. Metal is great for homeowners looking for sustainable products because the used materials are completely recyclable even if their siding is replaced. Other roofing materials end up in landfills for decades upon decades.
Metal siding is also resistant to bugs, mold, and fire. While metal siding is quite durable, it can be susceptible to rust (for steel siding) or dents (primarily for aluminum siding). The good news is homeowners don’t need to worry about termites or any pesky rodents chewing through their steel siding. Plus, metal siding can be manufactured to imitate any other type of siding but with that added benefit of durability and long life.
How to maintain metal siding?
Metal siding is one of the lowest maintenance siding materials available on the market today. Its low maintenance qualities are one of its biggest benefits — requiring less time and less money in upkeep than vinyl, wood, and other materials. However, there are a few ways you can help your metal siding stay looking new. Here are some metal siding maintenance tips to follow:
Routine inspections. Metal siding is an extremely low-maintenance siding material. Typically, once it’s installed, you can go quite some time without putting any money, time, or effort into cleaning or other maintenance care. Our team recommends that you do a once or twice-a-year visual inspection of your metal panels to ensure they’re still performing the way they should be. You should be looking for any damages to your siding panels — scratches, knicks, impacts, and other types — so you can address them quickly before they turn into bigger issues.
Rinse and wipe your panels. Most of the dirt, dust and other grime that can accumulate on your metal panels can usually just be rinsed away with a garden hose or wiped down with a wet microfiber cloth. Our team doesn’t recommend power washing your siding because it can dent and damage metal panels if used too closely. Most of the time, a simple spray-down does the trick. We recommend using microfiber cloths to avoid any small scratches that can come from other rougher fabrics.
Apply only light cleaning solutions. If you have some stubborn dirt or stains on your siding panels, a light cleaning solution may be needed to get them back to looking brand new. Bridger Steel recommends mixing a ¼ cup of detergent (this could be a mild dish soap or car washing soap) with a gallon of water. Simply just rinse your panels, apply the solution to your siding with a microfiber cloth, sponge, or soft-bristled brush and let it sit on the surface. After about 5-10 minutes, rinse it clean, and your panels should look good as new.
Metal siding - Advantages and downsides
There are lots of benefits to choosing metal siding, which is why it’s one of the most popular exterior home building materials.
- Durability. Metal siding is incredibly durable. It can withstand severe weather, changes in temperature, and wind-driven impacts. Higher-quality metal siding, known as 53-gauge, is even more durable than standard 44-gauge metal siding.
- Energy-efficiency. Metal siding reflects heat, so it resists the sun’s rays and lowers air conditioning energy consumption better than other materials. Conversely, homes with metal siding won’t absorb as much of the sun’s heat in winter, so good in-wall insulation is still important.
- Simple maintenance. Metal siding is extremely low maintenance. Other siding materials can dry rot, attract bugs, absorb moisture and grow mold or mildew. Those materials require a constant eye to ensure they’re in good shape. Metal siding doesn’t. It won’t absorb water or allow mold or mildew to grow.
- Fire-resistant. Metal is non-combustible. If you live in areas prone to wildfires, metal siding’s fire resistance offers a serious benefit.
- Repels bugs. Insects don’t like metal siding. They can’t eat it, and they can’t bore through it to build nests. There’s less concern about termites, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, and other bugs. Just be aware that no siding material is entirely impervious to bugs.
Metal siding has a lot going for it, but it isn’t perfect. Here are some points shoppers should understand before choosing metal siding.
- High cost. While some metal siding, like aluminum, may be budget-friendly, higher-quality metal siding can exceed the price of many other siding materials. The following are some of the average materials-only costs for siding projects. Labor would be extra.
- Prone to dents. Hard impacts from tree branches, vehicles, sports equipment, and even hammers during installation can dent a metal panel. This kind of damage is a pain to repair or replace.
- Challenging installation. Installing metal siding can be a challenge. It’s generally much heavier than vinyl siding and more difficult to cut. However, it’s not impossible for experienced DIYers to install it. It’s just not as easy or forgiving as vinyl.
Cost: $5 - $15 per sq. ft.
Service life: up to 100 years
Brick siding creates a traditional aesthetic for your home, available in many sizes, colors, and textures. While the initial installation cost may be considerable, at $5 to $15 per square foot, brick is extremely durable. Brick siding will not rot, burn, or fade even in extreme weather.
With brick siding, there is virtually no maintenance required for the first 25 years. After 25 years, you should begin inspecting mortar joints, as masonry can potentially deteriorate. Brick siding can also have a positive impact on your monthly utility bills, as homes with brick siding are naturally insulated and effectively cool your home during extended periods of hot weather.
How to maintain brick siding?
Here are some steps you can take to maintain your brick or stone home:
- Annual masonry inspection. The key to preventing costly masonry problems is spotting them early. To avoid expensive repairs, you should inspect your masonry (including the caulking and mortar) for signs of damage every year.
- Masonry cleaning. It’s no secret that bricks and stones get dirty. You might even notice a powdery substance, known as efflorescence, on your masonry’s surface. Efflorescence appears when salt dissolves and evaporates on the surface of the stone, and it’s a sign that your masonry needs to be sealed. Luckily, a thorough cleaning will remove dirt, efflorescence, and watermarks from bricks and stones. With a synthetic or natural brush, scrub the masonry with a mix of mild detergent and water. Avoid using a wire brush because it can leave behind pieces of steel, which can rust and cause discoloration.
- Unclog weep holes. Masonry often features weep holes built into the mortar. These tiny holes are placed periodically throughout a masonry structure to help the accumulated water drain (which prevents flooding) and increase ventilation (which prevents mold and mildew). If the weep holes are clogged, the buildup of water can become a problem, especially if it freezes. Freezing water expands and can damage your masonry.
- Remove mildew and moss. Damp brick or stone is a magnet for moss, mold, and mildew, which can weaken your masonry by holding in moisture. Most often, you’ll find moss, mold, or mildew growing in areas of your property that doesn't get direct sunlight, including the east-facing area of your property, your basement, or areas heavily shaded by trees and shrubs.
Brick siding - Advantages and downsides
Brick siding is one of the most popular exterior cladding options for homes in North America for several good reasons. Some of the benefits of brick siding include the following:
- Durability. Nothing beats the durability of brick or stone. It will last for as long as you need it and probably a lot longer. Many brick and stone buildings have been standing for hundreds of years. Unlike many other options, brick siding is impervious to fire and insects.
- Visual appeal. Stone and brick buildings have long been the epitome of elegance, and these siding options offer a wide variety of choices in color, texture, and style to suit each homeowner’s tastes. The beauty of a brick or stone home will never go out of style.
- Simple upkeep. Brick and stone siding options require very little maintenance to keep them beautiful for many decades. Occasional power washing is all they require.
- Insulation properties. Stone and brick siding offer protection against extreme weather as well as an effective sound barrier. Brick and stone are very energy efficient, so long-term savings on your utility bills will offset the higher price you pay for materials. This type of siding will also help you maintain a peaceful home: the noise you make indoors will stay there, and outside noise will be kept out.
- Environmental friendliness. Although brick requires a great deal of heat, and therefore a great deal of energy, to produce, its durability and energy efficiency-enhancing qualities mitigate this drawback. If you live in an area with clay-rich soil, you may be able to find locally sourced brick, which saves a great deal of energy by eliminating the need for long-distance transportation of heavy materials.
Brick veneer offers some distinct advantages. It's generally much cheaper than building a masonry home and lighter than traditional brick while still offering durability. You get the same look of brick masonry construction with low maintenance. However, there are some potential drawbacks to consider when looking into brick siding:
- Susceptibility to water damage. Do you live in an area with regular heavy rainfall? Brick veneer may not hold up as well on your home if it's constantly bombarded with heavy rain. The brick veneer surface is susceptible to moisture retention, which can cause damage over time. The moisture can also get trapped between the veneer and your home's exterior wall if the rain gets into that space.
- Potential for vibration damage. Brick veneer is a relatively durable house siding material, but it could be better in some locations. If you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes, tremors, or other forms of vibration, consider using brick siding in your home. Those surface vibrations can cause the brick veneer to shift or fall off the home, especially if it isn't anchored properly. Masonry homes tend to be much better suited for areas with regular vibrations if you're going for a brick look.
Natural stone siding
Cost: $30 - $48 per sq. ft.
Service life: 100+ years
Natural stone siding creates a stunning look for your home. It is one of the most sought-after types of siding due to its high aesthetic value. It is also highly durable, as it is resistant to rot, pests, fire, and severe weather, and it can last 100 years or more.
Natural stone siding is also considered low maintenance, as it can be cleaned once every one to two years with DIY solutions. It is much more low-maintenance than wood, metal, and even vinyl siding. It will not fade over time and is resistant to standard wear and tear concerns of other types of siding, such as chipping, scratching, and rotting.
The heavy weight of natural stone can make installation very expensive – ranging between $30 and $48 per square foot. Also, due to its weight, it can put undue pressure on the structure of your home. You’ll need to have your home evaluated prior to installation to ensure that it can handle the weight without the risk of damage.
How to maintain natural stone siding?
Read these useful tips on how to protect and preserve your stone veneers:
- Do periodic inspections. Look for scratches, dents, and loose materials. Although stone veneer is hardy, contact with objects and vibrations can cause damage. Check with your manufacturer as to how these can be fixed.
- Re-grout if necessary. Examine exterior walls for loose or dried grout, which can cause the stone veneer blocks to fall out. Check for holes or gaps around the stones. Reapply the mortar with the grouting bag. If you have used colored mortar, take care to match the shade.
- Clean with water and soap. Don’t use chemicals or harsh cleaners on your exterior stone veneer walls. Instead, use warm water with dish soap or vinegar and sponge the walls. You may also use a soft-bristled brush. Never use high-pressure sprayers or hoses, as the force will damage the stone. Try a buffing or polishing accessory to spare yourself some effort.
- Use breathable sealers. Opt for a breathable sealer if you want to seal the stone veneers. Following manufacturer recommendations when choosing products to clean or seal the exterior veneer walls is always a good idea.
Natural stone siding - Advantages and downsides
See below to check out the benefits of installing natural stone siding:
- Durability. This type of siding is significantly more durable than other types. It will not fade over time and is resistant to chipping or scratching.
- Long service life. With its durability and relatively low maintenance, natural stone will last the lifetime of your home. You should never need to complete another siding replacement project!
- Unique appearance. Natural stone creates a unique look for your home. It is not crafted from a factory mold and comes in various natural colors and textures to give your home a distinct, one-of-a-kind look.
- Eco-friendliness. If making an environmentally sustainable choice for your home is important to you, natural stone is a fantastic choice. It is naturally occurring and emits no gasses that would impact indoor air quality. Depending on where you live, you may be able to use stone that comes from your immediate area, which reduces CO2 emissions from long-haul transportation costs of stone siding.
Please check the downsides of natural stone siding to ensure you consider all aspects of this material and make the right buying decision:
- High initial cost. Natural stone wall cladding is generally more expensive when compared to other wall covering options available on the market. Of course, there’s a good reason for this; natural stone is a natural resource exclusive to specific geographical areas of the world. It can’t just be found anywhere and everywhere. Furthermore, it is a durable, timeless, and aesthetically pleasing material. As such, it is highly desirable, which, when combined with scarcity, makes this exquisite wall covering all the more valuable.
- Requires sealing. If you want to maintain the beautiful look of your natural stone wall cladding for as long as you possibly can, then it’s important to make sure that it’s sealed well, probably every two to three years. This is subject to the type of natural stone chosen and how porous it is. Failing to seal natural stone surfaces can leave them vulnerable to stains or discoloration over time. This extra step may be seen as a con amongst certain homeowners; however, it is a crucial step that will most certainly pay off in the end.
Stone veneer siding
Cost: $6 - $11 per sq. ft.
Service life: 20 - 75 years
Natural stone is beautiful and durable, but it is also very costly. If you’re looking to achieve a similar look that you can install yourself, faux stone panels, also known as stone veneer siding, might be the best option. Faux stone and stone veneer create a look for your home that is incredibly similar to natural stone, and the cost is considerably less.
Stone veneer comes in sheets of lightweight panels, usually weighing no more than 11 pounds. This lightens the weight of the siding for your home’s structure, reducing the risk of structural damage. Although the look is almost the same, faux stone and stone veneer siding do not offer the same durability as natural stone. Made from concrete, the faux stone breaks much more easily than natural stone. However, you can still expect solid durability from stone veneer, as it lasts between 20 and 75 years.
How to maintain stone veneer siding?
Both stone and cultured stone veneers are essentially maintenance-free, which is one reason that homeowners choose them as part of their exterior finish. Nevertheless, upkeep won't go amiss if you want your exterior siding to preserve its original look for years to come. Keep reading to find out the actionable maintenance tips for stone veneer siding:
- Periodical sealing. The veneer is porous and needs to maintain equilibrium with the outside humidity by swelling and shrinking slightly as it becomes more or less humid. Brush your sealer on with a paintbrush in two coats, allowing the first to dry according to the label instructions before applying the second. Do not apply more sealer unless indicated by the manufacturer.
- Inspect annually. Make a habit of periodically inspecting your stone veneer. Once or twice a year, when inspecting window screens, gutters, and other exterior elements, take a few minutes to check the condition of your stonework. Look for signs of damaged stones. They are rugged, but even stone veneers can be damaged through impact or loosened by vibration. Check the grout between stones if your veneer is grouted. Look for cracks and loose mortar on the tops of stones for signs of wear.
- Cleaning. Most stone veneers are cultured or concrete stone. This makes them more susceptible to damage from cleaning chemicals than most natural stones. Fill a bucket with warm water and add vinegar or dish soap to create a mild detergent solution. Scrub the stones with a sponge wet with the solution, squeezing them out frequently to keep them clean. Then, rinse the veneer with clear water from your garden hose to ensure no soapy residue remains. You can also use soft bristle brushes, but you should avoid wire brushes. Do not use high-pressure sprayers or acidic cleaning materials intended for actual stone unless you know that it is actual stone. To save some physical effort, a rotary tool, set on medium speed and fitted with a buffing or polishing accessory, can be used. Apply soap and water with a sponge, then work the area clean with the tool.
Stone veneer siding - Advantages and downsides
Here are the pros of stone veneer siding that determine the place of this material on the siding market:
- Durability. Stone veneer siding is long-lasting and durable. Manufacturer’s warranties range from 20 to 75 years. If properly installed, faux stone veneer siding is maintenance-free and more fire-resistant than wood or vinyl siding.
- Versatility. Since stone veneers are substantially lighter, they can be used in applications that would not support the weight of a natural stone, including your home’s entire exterior.
- Affordability. In addition to being a less expensive material, manufactured stone veneers are also more affordable in terms of labor costs to install compared to natural stone.
Here are the main downsides of stone veneer siding you have to consider:
- Moisture-prone. Moisture problems can occur if stone veneer siding is not installed correctly and water becomes trapped behind the veneer. Common issues include improper backing materials, missing flashings, and insufficient sealant caulking around windows, doors, vents, and other cut-outs.
- Professional installation is required. Poor installation can lead to significant problems, including water leaks, moisture accumulation between exterior and interior walls, mold, wood rot, and structural damage. Improper installation can lead to thousands of dollars in repairs.
- Not the cheapest in its segment. In terms of cost, manufactured stone veneer is less expensive than natural stone, but it still costs substantially more than other types of siding, like vinyl.