Siding Options

Ever since man first built up mud and rocks to protect his family against the wind siding has been a necessary part of a home's structure. Like the roof it keeps the interior walls from the elements and insects, both of which cause decay and a loss of structural integrity of the home.

Wooden Clapboards

Many American settlers used logs and the need for siding was wrapped up in one convenient package. All they had to do was to fill the cracks with mud and their wall was secure. As the area became more settled newer building designs include an idea by the Dutch called “clapboards.” These were planks that were split from a log and then overlapped lengthwise to allow water to run off the building. This also prevented wind from penetrating the walls without the need for mud. A few of these homes from the 1700's still sport their original wood clapboard siding. The true test of the endearing qualities of clapboard is that the newer materials mimic the style right down to the woodgrain.

Today clapboard siding is still a prime design feature in many neighborhoods. However, to avoid the rot than can come with wood pressure-treating has allowed the lowly spruce to be made into clapboards. Not only are they treated but are pre-painted so that they can be installed immediately. For a natural look cedar and redwood are still good choices because their natural oils resist decay. Both types of wood weather to a fine silver and will last the life of the home.


Another American original siding is stucco. Although used in Europe and Asia for longer the natives of the southwest had their own version made from local clay. This composition was changed from mud to a more lime base when the Spanish came and today the main ingredient in stucco is Portland cement. Stucco on new homes begins with a water-proof felt wrapping that is installed on the wood exterior, usually plywood. A metal sc4reening or lath is then attached to the sides of the home. To get started the first coat of stucco is pushed into the lath and the subsequent layers are anchored to the stucco. The finished stucco layer, usually the third application, is smoother and can be either white or colored. Once dried stucco can last the life of the home.

Vinyl Siding

Probably the most popular siding sold today is PVC, or polyvinyl chloride siding. It is cheap, colorful and easy to install by a trained crew. Most manufacturers mimic the wood clapboard design right down to the woodgrain that is stamped on during the extrusion process. To make vinyl more affordable only the top coating contains the color and ultra-violet ray protection. This is back by a cheaper vinyl that is strong and provides the bulk.

The downside with vinyl is that is can warp in the hot sun and heavy wind can damage the strips. Another downside is that it can become brittle over time and crack if bumped, especially in colder climates.

Cement Fiber Siding

Another clapboard design is a cement plank reinforced with fibers and stamped with woodgrain like vinyl. This planking can be cut, sawn and nailed like real wood. In addition it can be painted or bought pre-painted. Because it has weight cement fiber siding will not warp, crack or suffer from the elements like vinyl. In addition, it is completely fireproof and will not be affected by insects or any mind of rot. The planks can be made from 5¼" to 12" wide and from 5/16" and 7/16" thick. The cost of cement fiber is between vinyl siding and wood making it an affordable product.

Aluminum Siding

The original replacement for clapboard siding was aluminum. Unfortunately the early models faded easily and were very easily dented. However, old aluminum is still seen on many homes where the homeowner simply pints the surface every few years. Today, aluminum is powder-coated with a surface that is hard and resists ultra-violet rays. It does take a skilled hand to install it and this costs about double that of vinyl

Steel Siding

Like aluminum siding, steel siding is very popular in western snow areas. Coated with PVC it will last the lifetime of the home.

Insulated Vinyl Siding

A relative newcomer to the siding business this type features regular vinyl with a foam core. This not only increases the R-value for the home but the siding has more heft and is not a likely to shear off in a heavy wind.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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