If you're just beginning to think about replacing the siding on your home, or how to side your new construction, you may be picturing a very limited selection of plain, drab colors. In fact, today's siding is anything but. There are colors, textures and degrees of durability to meet every taste and every budget. You can create your very own look by mixing siding with other elements, and you can help to insulate your home. Here, we'll review these trends to give you the basics about what's available. We'll also look at some important things to consider when hiring a siding contractor.
For many years, siding was just a finishing touch on a home's exterior. There was usually nothing underneath the vinyl or aluminum. Professionals in the industry have realized that this is a wasted opportunity to make your home more energy efficient.
Today's siding is available in a range of designs to meet your specific “green” needs. Where there was once empty space between the walls of your home and the pieces of siding, there is now dense insulation, usually foam. This foam provides another layer of protection, making it harder for indoor air to escape and harder for outdoor air to sneak in through cracks. Sealing your home in this manner is a great way to cut down on your energy consumption, since your heating and cooling systems don't have to work as hard to keep your home comfortable. This means smaller utility bills and a reduced impact on the environment.
If you're concerned that energy-efficient siding may not look as good as more traditional siding, you needn't worry. Insulated siding is usually vinyl, which means that it can be created to mimic many different textures and comes in a wide array of colors. Wood is a popular choice, and the best insulated siding options on the market today look...even up close...exactly like real painted wood.
Offering you even more savings, there are tax credits available for homeowners who choose to use green materials and appliances. Siding is no exception. Check to see what the credits are in your area, and be sure to apply for them if you qualify. Read the regulations carefully, since most are very specific about which products and materials qualify for tax credits.
Creating a Unique Look
A large number of people these days live in developments where each house is extremely similar. Sometimes only two or three home designs are used alternately throughout an entire development. It's easy to see why so many homeowners today are looking to siding as a way to make their homes stand out from the crowd.
Thankfully, with the options available, this is easier than ever! A very popular and simple way to show some personality is to use complementary colors on different portions of your home. If part of your house extends forward, for example, you might choose to use a more dramatic color on while keeping the body of the house more neutral.
Another way to make your house stand out is to use a more unusual form of siding. Cedar or redwood shakes are perfect for this purpose, as is board and batten siding. Board and batten siding is essentially vertical siding; instead of running horizontally across your home, the pieces run up the sides. Shakes resemble shingles and are installed vertically. These types of siding have been used for centuries, and they still evoke a charming, country appeal.
Many homeowners love the textural differences which can be created by combining horizontal siding with board and batten. You can use horizontal siding on the lower floor or your house and vertical on the upper, for example. Your only limits are your budget and imagination.
Combining traditional forms of siding with other materials is another popular current trend. Since budgets are tight for many people these days, homeowners are getting more creative than ever. Many crave the expensive look and sturdy appearance which brick and stone give a home. However, these are often cost-prohibitive.
Using more expensive materials as accents, however, is usually well within budget. Stone, brick, or a synthetic which mimics either material is being used to cover a lower floor while the upper is sheathed in traditional siding. You can also choose to do an entryway or patio wall in stone. Even a small border around the bottom of the home is quite attractive. No matter what your budget, you can find a way to accommodate your ideal design with a little creative planning.
Disadvantages and Advantages of Materials
A very unique look for your home's exterior comes in the form of shakes. These “shingles” of wood are traditionally either cedar or redwood. They look very similar and are installed in the same way. Shakes are more expensive than most other types of siding, and require more time to install. However, many homeowners feel that no matter what the price, the rustic shake look is worth it. Shakes can be stained however you like, although many choose to leave cedar shakes unfinished.
Over time, cedar will weather to a beautiful silvery-gray color. While shakes are one of the most low-maintenance siding materials on the market, be aware that if you don’t' like the silvery-gray color which will come with time, you'll need to treat your shakes approximately every two years to maintain their natural color. Fire is another obvious disadvantage to this type of siding.
Composite wood siding is best avoided. This siding is created in much the same way that inexpensive furniture is. Shavings, sawdust and other small bits of wood are put under extreme heat, sometimes chemically treated, and pressurized to form solid slats. In recent years, composite siding has been looked at in a very harsh light. The chemicals used to create it are suspected carcinogens, it does not hold up very well over time, and some evidence suggests that it may actually do damage to your home.
Vinyl siding is the most popular type of siding in use today. There are a few reasons for this. Vinyl is inexpensive, especially when you consider the price of materials such as cedar shakes. Easy to install and virtually maintenance-free, you can count on vinyl siding to retain its original color and texture for years to come. In fact, the best brands offer warranties which often extend for fifty years! Vinyl is also available in a wide variety of colors, so you can create a look that’s truly your own.
Many homeowners these days are shying away from vinyl because its' extremely common. More people than ever want their home to stand out, and vinyl siding blends in. Another common concern is that the color of vinyl siding can never be changed. It won't hold paint, and so if you change your mind in a few years and want to change the color of your home, you'll have to purchase and install new siding.
Aluminum and steel siding used to be very common. They're still found on many garages and rural buildings. However, for a home, these metals are rather unreliable. Like any metal surface, metal siding can be dented quite easily. Aluminum siding is notorious for this, although steel can dent as well. Steel also rusts, which is anything but attractive and can cause damage over time. Since there are such superior alternatives available, only a few retailers even bother to sell metal siding anymore.
Natural wood is a beautiful choice for siding, but for most people it is simply too expensive to be considered as an option. If you love the look of wood, consider our next material.
Fiber-cement siding is creating by fusing fiber and cement together. The resulting product is extraordinarily durable, fire-resistant, and can be designed to mimic many different textures, including natural wood.
Take care when installing and sealing fiber cement siding, as it can absorb moisture and retain it if "raw" gaps are left exposed to the elements. However, once sealed, fiber cement is considered by many in the industry to be one of the best options available.
Finding the Right Siding Contractor
You may find a contractor who specializes in siding, you might find one who specializes in roofs and siding, or you may come across a handyman with a lot of siding experience under his or her belt. Whoever you choose, there are a few things you should make sure of.
Ensure that your potential contractor is properly licensed. Depending on your area, this will vary. They should also have insurance covering not only themselves, but any crew members or assistants they have working with them. Insurance is essential, because it ensures that injuries will be treated, and that medical bills won't come back to you, the homeowner, simply because the accident occurred on your property.
Look online, and take advantage of the consumer reviews which many websites now offer. These can be a great help in your decision, since they offer you a “behind the scenes” look at how a contractor really behaves while working on a project. Are they prompt? Polite? Reliable? Professionalism is much more than licenses and experience, so make sure you read reviews to learn about any potential hires.Posted by: TrustedPros