Types of Home Siding For Your House
Stone and Cultured Stone - You'll see this most often in commercial structures, such as condo complexes or hotels, and there's a reason for that it's very expensive. Stone is elegant and rustic, earthy and sophisticated. It's also one of the most durable building materials. Granite, slate, and other quarried stones are beautiful and hardy, and can withstand weather extremes.
Stone veneers are one way to bypass the expense of natural stone, and they are just as sturdy and low-maintenance. You can also opt to split the difference by choosing to highlight just one wall or section of your exterior such as a chimney or entryway with stone or structured stone siding. Emphasizing a particular feature can create interest and depth, without shredding your budget.
Brick and Brick Veneer Siding - Brick has many advantages. It's durable, doesn't rot or fade or require painting, and weathering only adds to its charm. It's made from fired clay and comes in a range of attractive, earthy tones. It can last your lifetime and beyond, and won't need repair or maintenance for the first couple of decades, although a water-repellent coating is recommended. In time, it will most likely just need to be patched or re-mortared. Brick isn't the cheapest option, but brick veneers are also available at a lower cost. Veneers are also durable and fireproof, although they won't last for centuries like real brick will.
Wood Clapboard Siding - There's no overstating the beauty or flexibility of wood. It's organic and sustainable, and can look rich and sophisticated or simple and rustic. Wood siding can be used with a wider variety of architectural styles than most other siding options, and there are many types of wood (cedar, redwood, fir, pine, spruce, larch, cypress) to choose from. Some wood (cedar and redwood) is more expensive than others, and each offers its own unique qualities. Hardboard is also an option.
There are also several different types of beveling or other ways (shiplap, tongue-and-groove) in which clapboard siding can be installed that can affect the look. Wood siding does need care; it should be repainted every seven years or restained every three to five years (staining is recommended for longer life). If taken care of, clapboard will outlast vinyl and other man-made materials.
Cedar (or Shake) Shingle Siding - Shingle siding is a low-maintenance alternative to clapboard. Usually made of cedar, the shingles can be stained a variety of earthy colors, from grey to brown to rust. Staining, as opposed to painting, also minimizes peeling. Shingles can last up to 30 years, but do need to be treated every five years or so to prevent rot and mildew. Individual shingles may have to be replaced if they crack or curl. Prefab panels are also available and are more inexpensive, but they are not as thick or durable, and are harder to repair.
If you live in the southwest or another fire-prone part of the country, wood siding isn't the wisest choice, which is why you see wood siding much more frequently in the northwest and northeast. Shingle siding is beautiful, natural, and rustic, and is particularly well-suited to wooded environments.
Fiber Cement Siding - One of the more versatile innovations in siding is cement fiber. Cement fiber is a durable, natural-looking chameleon that can emulate wood, stucco, or masonry. It's often referred to by the most well-known brands in the industry, HardiPlank® and HardiPanel®. An old idea (invented in France over 100 years ago) with many admirable features, cement fiber is termite-proof, won't rot, weathers well, and is fire-resistant. Cement fiber comes in multiple widths, is tougher than vinyl and low-maintenance, and can be painted. Some manufactures even offer a 50-year warranty.
Stucco Siding - Next to natural stone, stucco is one of the oldest forms of siding in existence, used for centuries since its invention in Italy during the Renaissance. Stucco is a form of cement created by combining water with sand and lime. It can be finished in a variety of different ways (smooth, raked, swirled) to create different looks, and sand or pebbles can be added in for a coarser finish. It can be troweled on or sprayed on. Pigments can be added to the mix, or it can be painted (look for an acrylic latex formulated for stucco).
Mock stucco is made with synthetic materials and is lighter than real stucco. Genuine stucco is solid, hard, and more durable and water-resistant. Real stucco will absorb moisture, but dries quickly.
Engineered Wood Siding - Engineered wood, also known as composite wood, usually comes in inexpensive panels that are relatively easy to install. It comes ready to paint, pre-primed, or pre-finished, which also helps to lower installation costs.
Engineered wood is made from wood products mixed with other materials, bonded with resin or similar, and then compressed. It is thus stronger than real wood, and it is ligher, too. Like cement fiber, engineered wood can look like real wood, but at the same time is cheaper, more resistant to weather and other elements, and lower maintenance.
Some examples of composite wood are hardboard, oriented-strand board (OSB), and veneered plywood. Engineered wood can be molded to look like traditional clapboard. Because it is manufactured, the grain on engineered wood is too perfect to look like real wood, but it is more convincing than vinyl or aluminum.
Seamless Steel Siding - Steel siding's performance advantages are that it is extremely strong, won't rust (unless scratched), warp, bulge, crack, chip, peel, flake, or blister. It's low maintenance (just rinse it with a hose occasionally), and fire and bug resistant. Steel siding is custom made, so it can be pricy, but the cost can pay for itself when you factor in the durability and lack of upkeep. Steel siding can come in any color and style imaginable even a wood-look texture. Corrugated steel can be an interesting look, as well. If your siding does get scratched, paint promptly to avoid rust.
Aluminum Siding - For low-cost, low-maintenance siding alternatives, nothing beats vinyl or aluminum. Aluminum hit the markets first, however, over 50 years ago. It is remarkably durable and won't crack like vinyl. It can dent, and may require painting every once in a while, but for the most part you can install aluminum siding and never lift a finger again. It is fireproof, won't rot or corrode, and is also termite-proof.
Vinyl Home Siding
Vinyl Siding - Vinyl siding is a great economic choice, and it's durable as well. It comes in many colors, and the color is now baked in rather than applied later, so scratching isn't an issue. Vinyl isn't susceptible to rot or termites like shingle or clapboard, and it can withstand dramatic temperature extremes (including high wind).
Vinyl is a PVC plastic, so it can fade and crack, and while it is moisture resistant, it can trap moisture underneath it, which causes a whole new set of problems. It should be washed at least once a year. It is not a very 'green' choice, and there have been some very pointed questions about its contributions to poor health.
Vinyl Coatings - The cost of vinyl panels and liquid vinyl coatings is about the same, but the warranty on liquid vinyl is much better. Liquid vinyl is sprayed on and you can match your exact color choices, just like paint. Liquid vinyl is a mix of polymers and resins, and the spray-on coatings end up being more similar to a paint job than regular vinyl siding. Liquid vinyl is seamless and smooth, which is an aesthetic choice favored by many homeowners. It is about as thick as a credit card when dried. If not applied correctly, vinyl coatings can be a disaster.
Vinyl coatings are a newer option, and there isn't much information yet to support many of its claims. Some companies have run into trouble with government bureaus over how they have marketed their products. Check with the FTC and other organizations regarding any firm you might be considering!