Taking on a major home improvement project – like remodeling your home’s exterior – can be exciting. While the interior is where you live your life, the exterior’s job is to make a lasting impression on viewers – as well as to protect the walls from moisture and insulate your home. With so many options to choose from in terms of material, this is a real opportunity for you to consider how you want your house to look from the outside.
Cost is only one small piece of making this decision. You’ll also have to decide how much maintenance work you’re willing to put into keeping the siding looking and functioning at its best. If you’re sustainably minded, a material’s impact on the environment is also an important consideration.
Take a look at the following materials to see how they compare in terms of appearance, eco-friendliness, and durability.
Wood is usually the first siding material that comes to mind. But does that mean it’s the best choice for your home? Let’s see how it stacks up.
Wood has a classic, rich appearance – which is precisely what makes it so popular. However, wood is also a varied material that comes from many different tree species, which means you’ll have to think about quality as you consider the cost of your siding project.
The grade of wood you choose depends on how you plan to finish the exterior. If you want to highlight the wood grain, for example, you’ll have to use an expensive, high-quality grade of wood like red cedar, and apply a transparent or semi-transparent sealer or stain.
Wood is a highly sustainable material, especially when sourced ethically from a managed forest. It also breaks down easily in landfill or compost. Unfortunately, this rapid decomposition is exactly precisely where wood fails in terms of durability.
Durability and Maintenance
Wood is the most maintenance-intensive siding material you can choose. The durability of wood relies entirely on proper care, which means periodic staining, painting, chalking, and more. Be prepared to arm yourself against critters if you choose wood siding – it’s highly susceptible to insect and rodent activity.
The upfront cost of wood isn’t the only price you’ll pay. Expect to reapply clear finishes every two years, or paints every five years, to make sure your wood siding lasts.
Statistically, vinyl is the most popular siding material in the nation. It’s affordable, versatile, and easy to take care of. Additionally, vinyl is an easy material to incorporate into a quick refinishing project because it can be installed directly on top of already-existing materials.
The “plastic” appearance of vinyl can be a turnoff for some homeowners, but manufacturers have actually made great strides in creating aesthetically pleasing vinyl products. It comes in a wide variety of colors and textures, many of which mimic natural materials like wood and stone. Additionally, because vinyl is colored the same throughout the material, any minor nicks and scratches won’t show.
This material is an eco-friendly choice in terms of insulation, helping homeowners significantly cut down on heating and cooling costs – as well as the home’s carbon footprint. Vinyl is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), so the manufacturing process does produce some toxins. Additionally, it can last for tens or even hundreds of years in landfills. However, many recycling facilities across the country have incorporated successful vinyl recycling programs, helping to ameliorate this issue.
Durability and Maintenance
Vinyl’s long-lasting nature is a great asset in terms of durability. It also requires minimal maintenance; any dirt will wash right off. However, because vinyl is pre-colored, it cannot be painted, so think carefully before you pick a color.
3. Stone Veneer
Stone is one of the most expensive natural siding options, but manufactured stone veneer is an attractive and affordable alternative.
A highly versatile material, stone veneer comes in a wide variety of designs, and many manufacturers – both local and national – specialize in certain styles. If you decide to go with stone veneer siding, you’ll find a virtually endless selection of colors and stone-like textures. Some critics still say it doesn’t quite look like the real thing, but it certainly comes very close. Stone veneer is also a much more lightweight material than natural stone, so it can be installed on just about any surface.
Stone is a non-renewable resource and must be mined and carefully transported, making it both disruptive to the environment and inefficient in terms of energy usage. However, stone veneer is a wonderful synthetic alternative that doesn’t use toxic ingredients or off-gas in its manufacturing process, making it a great choice for those who want the look of stone for siding or accents.
Made from a mixture of sand, cement, and aggregate, stone veneer is strong and long lasting, made to withstand any major temperature changes and inclement weather. It will also resist fire and insect activity. It’s also easy to clean, requiring little more than a simple annual hosing off.
Fiber-cement siding – particularly from James Hardie, our preferred manufacturer – offers the best of everything in terms of exterior siding. Here’s a breakdown.
Fiber-cement siding is made from a mix of water, Portland cement, wood pulp, and fly ash. These ingredients comprise an amazing versatility of styles and designs, mimicking any number of materials, including wood clapboard, shingles, masonry, stucco, and more. You can choose from a number of pre-applied finishes – but you’ll also have the option of painting in the future. Unlike vinyl, fiber-cement readily accepts paint.
Because the material is relatively new to the industry, it’s hard to evaluate its eco-friendliness. However, its extreme durability is a definite asset in terms of sustainability and potential for repurposing.
Durability and Maintenance
There’s no siding material more durable than fiber-cement. It requires little to no maintenance. Additionally, fiber-cement resists expanding and contracting with changes in moisture or temperature, which means any caulking or paint jobs will hold up over time. The material also resists fire, insects, and rot.
Talk to the Experts at Lakeside Exteriors
With so many choices, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. At Lakeside Exteriors, we’re well acquainted with the ins and outs of each siding material, and we can help you evaluate the options in your home remodeling project. We specialize in high quality vinyl, stone veneer, and fiber-cement siding, and we can provide any insights and recommendations you ask for.
To talk to us about your project or to request a free quote, contact us today.