Nothing will affect the appearance of your home more dramatically than the exterior siding you choose. As you shop, look for a siding material that suits the architectural style of your house and also fits your lifestyle. Listed here are the most popular materials for exterior siding, along with links to resources to help you choose. Your decision can change the look of an entire neighborhood.
Stucco-sided home in Morningside, Florida. Photo (cc)Flickr Member "Critical Miami"
Traditional stucco is cement combined with water and inert materials such as sand and lime. Many homes built after the 1950s use a variety of synthetic materials that resemble stucco. Some synthetic stuccos have been prone to problems. However, a quality synthetic stucco will prove durable. Tint the stucco the color you want, and you may never need to paint.
Stone veneer siding on a Cape Cod house. Photo (c) Jackie Craven
If you think of ancient monuments and temples, you know that stone is the most durable of all building materials. Granite, limestone, slate, and other types of stone are beautiful and nearly impervious to the weather. Unfortunately, they are also extremely expensive. Precast stone veneers and facings are more affordable. Some stone veneers look quite genuine, while others are clearly artificial. Austin Stone
from Owens Corning Cultured Stone® is one respected brand of precast stone veneers.
Katrina Cottages are often sided with cement fiber. PRNewsFoto/Lowe's Companies, Inc.
Fiber cement siding can have the appearance of wood, stucco, or masonry. This durable, natural-looking material is often called by the brand names HardiPlank® and HardiPanel®. If you want the look of authentic wood with a bit less maintenance, cement fiber is a good option. Fiber cement siding is fireproof, termite-proof, and may have a warranty up to fifty years. Some older homes have Cement Asbestos Siding
made from Portland cement and asbestos fibers. Removing that type of siding can be hazardous, so remodelers often apply a new, modern siding on top.
Cape Cod house with traditional wood clapboard siding. Photo (c) Jackie Craven
Modern science has given us many synthetic wood-look products, and yet solid wood (usually cedar, pine, spruce, redwood, cypress, or Douglas fir) remain favorite choices for finer homes. With periodic care, wood siding will outlast vinyl and other pretenders. As with cedar shingle siding, wood clapboards can be stained rather than painted. Many wood frame houses built centuries ago still look beautiful today.
New House With Brick Veneer. Photo (c) Karen Hudson
Made of fired clay, brick comes in a wide variety of earthy, eye-pleasing colors. Although it is expensive, brick is desirable because it can last centuries and probably won't need any patching or repairs for the first twenty-five years. Quality brick veneers are also attractive and durable, although they don't have the longevity of solid brick.
The Shingle-sided Spring Lake Inn, New Jersey. Photo © Jackie Craven
Homes sided in cedar shingles (also called "shakes") blend beautifully with wooded landscapes. Made of natural cedar, the shingles are usually stained browns, grays, or other earthen colors. Shakes offer the natural look of real wood, but usually require less maintenance than wood clapboard. By using stain rather than paint, you can minimize peeling.
"T 1-11" siding panels have shiplapped edges and parallel grooves. Engineered Wood Association (APA)
Engineered wood, or composite wood, is made with wood products and other materials. Oriented strand board (OSB), hardboard, and veneered plywood are examples of engineered wood products. Engineered wood usually comes in panels that are easy and inexpensive to install. The panels may be molded to create the look of traditional clapboards. Because the textured grain is uniform, engineered wood does not look exactly like real wood. Still, the appearance is more natural than vinyl or aluminum.
Seamless steel siding is very strong and resists shrinking and bulging when the temperatures change. The siding is custom fit to the exact measurements of your house. You can purchase steel siding with a wood-look texture. Or, for a modern house, consider the industrial look of corrugated steel.
You may think of aluminum siding as an old-fashioned option, but some builders offer it as an alternative to vinyl. Both materials are easy to maintain and fairly durable. Aluminum can dent and fade, but it won't crack the way vinyl will. Also, aluminum is not usually considered harmful to your health or the environment.
Vinyl siding was installed over the clapboard on this Victorian house. Photo (c) Jackie Craven
Vinyl is made from a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic. Unlike wood or cedar, it won't rot or flake. Vinyl is usually less expensive to purchase and install than most other siding materials. There are, however, drawbacks. Vinyl can crack, fade, or grow dingy over time. Vinyl is also controversial because of environmental concerns.
If you like the idea of vinyl but don't like the look of vinyl panels, another option is to have a pro spray on a liquid PVC coating. Made from polymers and resins, the paint-like coating is about as thick as a credit card when it dries. Liquid PVC became widely available only a few years ago, and reviews are mixed. The damage caused by poor application can be devastating.Miracle Liquid Siding Products