Photo by Charlie Vinz

Update: There are plenty of reasons why you might need to replace the siding on the outside of your home. Perhaps the old material is rotting, peeling or cracking so looks shabby and is no longer doing its job. Or you may have a termite infestation that has rendered the siding useless. Whatever the reasons, adding new siding can provide a fresh new look to a home. There are many different materials with a variety of patterns, colors and attributes available, so you can find the one that works best for you.

Siding refers to the external covering on the outer walls of a house that protects the walls from the elements and pests, such as termites and carpenter ants. The factors to consider while selecting a type of siding includes: aesthetics, longevity, maintenance, and the extent to which the material fulfills the functional requirements. Synthetic siding materials include vinyl and aluminum. Wood and stucco are the preferred natural siding materials. New siding can give a home a completely new look or replace the existing siding with no changes to the homes appearance. One of the most common reasons to install new siding on a home is to reduce the need to regularly paint some types of siding.

The time taken to install siding depends upon the size of the house, the number of angles and edges that are present and the type of siding that will be used. For example vinyl siding is easy to install, wood, masonry, and stone sidings require more labor and therefore more time. Siding can be installed in anywhere from 5 days to 20 days.

Material Comparison

Vinyl: The majority of prefinished siding is made from vinyl. Vinyl siding is available in a range of quality, styles, and textures. Vinyl sidings can imitate the look of wood and requires very little maintenance. It is easy to install and can be applied over an existing siding. Vinyl siding does not need to be painted. Vinyl is more durable than wood or aluminum and does not dent easily. It does not swell, chip, and, rot like wood. Other advantages of vinyl include good insulating properties, resistance to air pollution, heat, rain, humidity, etc. Vinyl is not attacked by moss, mildew, and, termites. It is second to aluminum in strength.

Metal: Aluminum and steel sidings can replicate the look of wood and are easier to apply and maintain. Both are more expensive than vinyl siding. Metal siding can be applied over the existing siding. Steel and aluminum sidings are more energy efficient than vinyl siding. This translates into greater savings in heating and cooling expenditures making them ideal siding material for cold regions. Aluminum and steel siding may require fresh paint every few years.

Wood: Wood siding offers several options such as wooded lap board, tongue and groove siding, split log siding, and much more. The siding is available in various patterns for both vertical and horizontal applications. Wood siding is preferably applied over a solid sheathing. Plywood siding is available in sheet form with a standard width of four feet. A sheet siding can be applied directly to the wall without using a sheathing. Wood siding requires maintenance, but can provide your house with a unique look. A disadvantage of wood siding is that it is susceptible to attacks from pests and mold. The siding needs to be protected from water and requires treatment with oil or stain. Boards that rot and have holes dug into them need to be replaced. Wood is also weaker than other siding materials.

Stucco: Stucco is a mixture of cement, lime, sand, and water. Stucco is usually applied over a mesh and it gives a smooth and durable exterior that is also fire resistant. Stucco is relatively maintenance free. It has an acrylic polymer finish that expands and shrinks with the temperature changes. This helps to keep the number of cracks to a minimum. Exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS) is a slightly more expensive alternative to traditional stucco. A fiberglass mesh and a Styrofoam board are used as the backing for the stucco. This results in a siding that is highly resistant to cracks and also a good insulator. However, stucco has poor impact resistance.

Brick: Brick is durable and low maintenance but expensive, which is why it is used primarily in a decorative manner, as a wainscoting or as a facade.

Hardboard: Hardboard is produced by mixing fiberized wood chips with phenol formaldehyde, alum, and paraffin. The mixture is then compressed and baked at a high temperature. It is a less expensive option as compared to wood. Hardboard siding needs to be protected from moisture.

Can a homeowner install siding by themselves?

Siding can be installed as a do-it-yourself project if a prefabricated vinyl or aluminum or wood siding is used. Installing siding requires more than one person and working with tools on a ladder, which can be dangerous if safety precautions are not taken. In order to carry out a siding installation, the existing siding may need to be removed. Also, before installing new siding, there is a good opportunity to put additional insulation on the walls. Also, when the siding is removed from the exterior walls, it’s a good time to make other repairs and updates such as replacing windows or installing exterior lighting