Understanding Home Siding Alternatives

Siding is the home’s outer layer, but it is much more than aesthetic dressing. Siding is the first defense against heat, cold, moisture, and even insects that bombard the home day to day. As such, choosing and installing or replacing siding is an important home improvement decision.

Understanding the different forms of siding and their various advantages and drawbacks is the first step in making sure your home renovation is effective.

Siding can take many forms, but in all cases it serves as a protective layer and aesthetic covering. In both ways it has a significant impact on the durability and economic value of the home. Siding can be composed of boards attached in vertical or horizontal arrangements. Alternatively, it can be an arrangement of shingles. Further still, it can be installed as a “sheet.” Siding can come in wood, metal, plastic, concrete, or other composite materials.

The most common form of siding consists of long boards stacked in overlapping fashion up the outer wall of the house. Such a design is easy to install and is effective in directing water away from walls. This type of siding comes in wood, vinyl, and new composite forms of insulated plastic.

Wood siding can be one of the most expensive, but also one of the most aesthetically pleasing and durable, forms of siding. Wood needs to be maintained and monitored for signs of warping and rotting. Installation of wood siding demands more labor and more technical expertise than other materials, and thus can be expensive to install, beyond the cost of materials. If you do decide to go with wood, go with good wood. Redwood and cedar are naturally weather resistant and thus can reduce the amount of maintenance, but all wood will need to be periodically treated due to the continuous beating it takes from the elements, and to avoid destructive infestations of termites and other wood-loving insects.

A less vulnerable alternative to wood siding is vinyl, which, with the extent of improvements in materials and manufacturing, can be purchased in styles that look almost identical to wood products. It will cost less, is more easily installed, and will require less maintenance over its life than would a wood product. Vinyl siding also comes in a wider variety of colors, finishes, and sizes than wood. Some higher-quality vinyl has a thick core, greater resemblance to natural wood, and insulating properties that can save money on utility bills.

A new form of siding known as insulated siding may be a better choice than either wood or vinyl. This type of siding has a layer of foam custom-fitted to the side that attaches to the house, allowing for a better fit and more effective insulation. Insulated siding typically comes Energy Star certified, which means it has been approved by U.S. government agencies as compliant with energy efficient standards and, while it may cost more than non-certified products, can be expected to provide significant savings over the life of the product. To that end, insulated sidings are usually designed with durability in mind, with some companies claiming that the product will last fifty years or more.

Local conditions should be taken into consideration when choosing your materials, as temperature and moisture are significant factors affecting the condition and potential life-span of siding materials. Consult with a professional on the materials that work best for your area.

Whether doing general home repairs or more intensive home improvement, be sure to keep your siding in mind. It can have an outsized impact on the look of your home, but also is a big determinant of your home’s resistance to the elements. Further, it impacts the energy efficiency of your home, such that investing in good siding may get your more for your money than would a new HVAC system.

Home Pro professionals are a great resource for siding alternatives. Replacement windows are an important investment and will complement new siding in improving your home’s heating and cooling efficiency.

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