While it’s true that siding can dramatically improve the looks of a home, siding does contribute more to a home’s overall function and design.
Why use siding?
Siding protects the OSB or plywood Sheating that covers a home’s exterior. Vinyl or composite siding costs less and requires less maintenance than wood siding, which needs regular painting/staining and insect treatment to eliminate rot. Bricks carry a high price point, and aluminum siding loses its luster and begins to look worn and sad over the years.
Siding saves money, too. It improves a home’s energy efficiency and provides a defense against seasonal weather conditions and temperature changes. It’ll give a boost to poorly-insulated homes that lose heat in winter and cool air in summer.
Types of siding
Vinyl siding’s relatively low price point accommodates a wide range of budgets. It maintains its shape for years, requires little maintenance other than the occasional power washing, and installs quickly.
Insulated wall systems—vinyl siding that includes an extra layer of contoured insulation that raises the walls’ r-value—save homeowners money in the colder northern states and keeps the cost of heating/cooling for homes in more temperate states.
There’s a wider selection of siding than ever before, encompassing wood, vinyl, metal, brick, stone, fiber cement, and more. Check out this comprehensive list of styles.
This advanced composite siding incorporates an innovative triple-composite process that’s designed to create a product that lasts for life. It doesn’t require caulking or painting. Water resistant and completely comprised of man-made products, it won’t bow, rot, swell, or attract wood-boring insects.
The durable, strong, and safe cellular PVC is extruded through precision tool and die manufacturing to the highest tolerances. The manufacturing process includes chemically bonding an acrylic cap into the PVC substrate to provide a more durable, fade-resistant protection.
According to the manufacturer’s website, this naturally water-resistant product also offers “superior wind, hail, and impact resistance and will not support combustion.” At less than half the weight of fiber cement siding, its lightweight construction and butt joint system makes installation easy and requires no special tools.
This fiber-cement siding is the gold standard of this type of product. Unlike Everlast, it contains a blend of organic and man-made materials. Its core is interlaced with wood fibers, but the manufacturing process uses embossed texturing to create a wood-grain effect. The simulation is fairly close to the real thing—at least on the surface—and helps to break up flat surfaces visually.
This neutral building material won’t feed flames, and it’s considered 100% fire resistant but not fireproof. In other words, it doesn’t contribute combustibles toward a fire. It’s also nearly as thick as wood siding and is easily painted. Even though it does have a cellulose fiber core, the product still resists insects like ants and termites because there isn’t enough organic material to attract them.
The company that manufactures this product, the James Hardie Corporation, offers a 50-year warranty on the product. But when it’s properly maintained and painted, it lasts longer—which contributes to its status as a green building material. Cellulose materials are sourced from common (not endangered) species of wood, cement and sand are easily obtainable, and production uses no toxic materials.
Its biggest drawback for many homeowners is its expense. It’s about two-and-a-half times as expensive as regular vinyl siding because:
- There are fewer contractors who install fiber-cement.
- Installation takes longer.
- It’s heavier than vinyl siding and costs more to ship.
- It’s higher demand and low supply also drives up costs.
- It arrives ready to go, but if you choose to paint it, the labor and supplies increase the overall project cost.
However, according to Remodeling Magazine, you can expect to recoup about 78% (sometimes more) of your expense on this upscale siding project when you sell.
Pros and cons between the two brands
This product looks like wood and has a natural, solid feel, comes pre-painted (although you can paint it after its installation, if you prefer), resists fire, and uses production waste like wood fibers that would otherwise go to a landfill.
On the other hand, it’s heavy and hard to work with. It can delaminate or cause gaps over the years. The color does not permeate the entire product and—in rare instances—may require touch-ups if it’s chipped or damaged in some way. It contains many seams which must be sealed to prevent water from infiltrating behind the siding, which can cause mold and mildew.
This lightweight product is easy to install and clean, with an interlocking system to keep it flat and even. The color permeates the entire product, so it can’t chip off color, and the color never fades. It uses all man-made products which eliminates possible damage from insects and critters. There are fewer seams, they’re water-tight, and the product is mold and mildew resistant.
This style does cost more than fiber cement and is a petroleum-based product. Its production also uses polymers, which—not unlike the manufacture of vinyl products—can be more harmful for the environment.
When you’re researching siding options, consider the durability of materials and how well they’ll work in your particular environment. Fiber cement siding costs less than the real wood siding it imitates. Blended siding, like Everlast, that are made entirely of PVC resins, crushed stone, and polymers last longer and require less upkeep and maintenance over the life of the product.