On average, siding costs approximately $7,000. Not only an essential component of the building envelope and thereby, the energy efficiency of a structure, siding also makes or breaks the curb appeal of a home.
Consider these four attributes before making a decision regarding this important aspect of your next project.
The way siding looks differs depending on how that product is cut and mounted. There are several common types of siding.
Lap siding: Lap siding is the most common siding product. Built from long boards, or material made to look like boards, lap siding is thinner on the top than the bottom, giving it a slight overlap when it is fixed horizontally on a wall.
Panels: Panel siding comes in large sheets, usually 4 feet by 8 feet. Panels may be made of a variety of materials, including wood or concrete fiber.
Vertical: Vertical siding is similar to lap siding in size, but it is hung on the wall vertically and may or may not overlap.
Cedar-style: Cedar-style shingles are quite similar to lap siding in that they are hung horizontally along a wall and overlap. However, these shingle-sized pieces are much smaller than lap siding boards. Traditionally, this type of siding was made from cedar boards, but now many other products are made to look like cedar-style shingles.
Siding materials must be able to stand up to typical weather, storm hazards, pests, and impacts.
Weather: Rain, snow, and humidity can cause damage to siding if the material absorbs too much moisture, causing rotting, mildew, mold, and warping. If the material can absorb any water, it will need to be regularly sealed with paint or stain and it will need to be caulked to prevent water from getting under the siding and damaging the wall behind it. Extreme cold or heat can also cause damage if the product becomes brittle or melts. Make sure to select a material that suits your local climate.
Storms: Storms with high winds can rip siding off of a home. If you live in an area with high winds, make sure to choose a product that attaches to the walls in a highly wind resistant manner.
Fire: Exterior fires can damage many types of siding, and flammable siding provides fuel to fires. If you live in an area where wildfires are common, choose a fire-resistant product to help protect your home in the event of a fire.
Pests: Bugs and small creatures are attracted to many materials. Choosing an inorganic product will reduce the likelihood that your siding will be damaged by pests.
Impact: Anything that hits the side of your home (from a baseball to hail) can damage or dent your siding. Reinforced or slightly flexible siding will be less likely to dent when hit.
Most siding products have some kind of warranty. Homebuilders concerned about their new siding’s durability should pay special attention to the warranty details.
Transferable: Some companies offer a transferable warranty. Make sure to notify the warranty company to ensure the warranty remains in effect for the new owner.
Timeframe: Although many companies offer so-called lifetime warranties, these warranties are actually only effective for a certain number of years. Make sure you understand what the warranty covers and exactly how long it is effective.
Prorated: Some warranties cover the full replacement or repair cost as long as they are in effect. Prorated warranties cover a percentage of the cost that decreases over time. It is quite common for a warranty to cover the full cost for the original owner but become a prorated warranty if it is transferred to a new homeowner.
A sustainable or green product is usually manufactured in the most environmentally friendly way possible and helps the homeowner use less energy after it is installed.
Insulation: Many newer siding products can increase the R-value of exterior walls, which makes them much more energy efficient. R-value is a measure of thermal resistance; the higher the R-value, the less hot or cold air will penetrate the surface.
Most manufacturers discuss their sustainability efforts on their website. If you’re concerned about a company’s environmental impact, look for companies that clearly discuss their supply chain and their efforts to save energy.
Kate Williams, Ph.D. is a member of the ConsumerAffairs Research Team. She may be reached at www.consumeraffairs.com