By Rich Cosgrove, President Stark Trumbull Area REALTORS®
When replacing siding, you’ll often recoup a significant amount of your investment, but there are tradeoffs in maintenance, price, and sustainability. Perhaps no other building material plays such as key role in your home as siding. It protects your house against the harshest elements and is a factor in your home’s appearance, architectural character, and value.
Here’s our guide to common siding replacement options based on your budget, maintenance tolerance, and green priorities.
Vinyl is the most popular choice for home siding on new homes in the U.S., according to 2008 U.S. Census Bureau data. It is tough, durable, and widely available in many styles and colors. Color permeates the material and won’t reveal nicks and scratches.
Today’s standards ensure that vinyl siding will maintain its shape in extreme temperatures, provide resistance to high winds, retain its color, and meet or exceed other manufacturer claims. Labeling should indicate if it conforms to the American Society for Testing and Materials’ standard, expressed as ASTM D3679. Or ask you contractor to confirm.
Benefits: Light weight makes for speedy installation; can be retrofit over existing siding; little maintenance; top-quality brands offer transferable lifetime guarantees to subsequent buyers.
Drawbacks: Seams will show where the ends of standard 12-foot panels overlap. Extra-long panels virtually eliminate seams for an additional cost of about 30%.
The popularity — and availability — of steel and aluminum siding is waning because vinyl has evolved as the better low-cost option. Metal siding comes in many prefinished colors and features styles that mimic wood. Modern metal sidings are dent-resistant, insect- and fire-proof, and require little maintenance. With proper care, steel and aluminum siding will last more than 50 years.
Benefits: Light weight speeds installation; baked-on paint enamel finishes won’t need periodic repainting.
Drawbacks: Not readily available in all areas; dents are permanent; scratches should be touched up with a quality, color-matched house paint.
Fiber-cement siding is made from a mixture of wood fibers, Portland cement, clay, and sand. It’s slowly gaining market share as consumers become more aware of its rugged durability, low maintenance, and weather-resistance. Because it’s made from a liquid cementitious mixture, it can be molded to closely resemble painted wood, stucco, or masonry. It’s also termite-proof, fire-resistant, and doesn’t rot. A 30-year warranty is standard. Most home improvement stores carry samples.
Benefits: Pre-finished fiber-cement siding eliminates the need for painting after installation, yet the material accepts repainting easily when you want to change colors. It resists thermal expansion and contraction, so paint and caulk hold up well; in some areas, fiber-cement is considered to be masonry and may qualify you for lower home insurance premiums — check with your agent.
Drawbacks: Fiber-cement materials are heavy. Installation requires specialty tools and techniques, adding to labor costs (about 50% more than vinyl). Search for bids and find an installer who’s familiar with the product. Check contractor services, such as HomeBlue or ServiceMagic. Retrofits require a complete tear-off of the old siding, a job that requires one or two days for a 2,450 square-foot house and adds about 5% to the total cost of the project.
Wood siding comes in many species and grades, and what you select — and pay — depends on how you plan to finish the material. If you want the natural beauty of wood to show through a clear or semi-transparent stain, you’ll need to opt for more expensive grades with fewer knots and other defects.
If you plan to paint or use an opaque stain, you can select less expensive grades of wood. Lumber yards and home improvement centers may stock only one or two examples, so view styles and compare prices at an online store, such as BuildDirect.
Benefits: Easy-to-shape-and-cut material requires few specialized skills for installation, reducing labor costs; with proper care, wood will last 100 years or more — longer than synthetic materials; superior aesthetics.
Drawbacks: Can be expensive; requires repainting every 5 years, re-staining every 3 years, or applying a clear finish every 2 years, for which a professional painter will charge thousands; retrofitting with wood means a complete tear-off of existing materials; non-moisture-resistant species, such as pine and fir, are susceptible to rot.
With so many options and variables to consider, spend some time researching various materials regarding your budget.
Rich Cosgrove is the President of Stark Trumbull Area Realtors which serves Stark, Carroll, and Trumbull counties. Visit the website www.star.realtor for a complete listing of Realtor and Affiliate members. If you have any questions or comments on this article, please contact Cosgrove by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.