Angie's List | Home siding options

Your siding is usually the only thing standing between the elements outside and your interior drywall and insulation.  Each board works together as a complete system with nails, caulk, and a painted finish to keep out moisture and protect your home.

 Homeowners have several siding options available today.

·  Wood, vinyl and fiber-cement are the most popular choices. Aluminum and composite are also available.

·  Painting your home's exterior is a cost-effective option. Whether you paint the entire house or if you stick to the trim around windows and doors - painting can give your home a whole new look without having to spend a lot. You can also paint brick if you are looking for a new look.

Each siding material has its own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to installation, maintenance and cost, so you need to do your research to find the perfect product for your home.

Siding Contractor Steven Smalley says, "If the neighborhood doesn't have covenants, more people will tend to do the vinyl-insulated siding once they learn about all the sidings because the first question I ask them is do you want more of a maintenance-free product that is going to save you on energy? Sure. That's why people replace windows. They are energy efficient. Well, siding is energy efficient when you are looking at insulated siding."

Steven explains, "House wrap does not insulate your house. This is just a weather barrier, its house wrap, it's what goes behind your siding. So that's not an insulating product."

"Cedar is a maintenance product. If you are installing cedar, you want to get everything oil-based all the way around, not just normal primer, oil-based primer because that absorbs into the cedar and will help you go longer periods of time of maintenance," he continues.

Angie Hicks says, "Painting can be one of the easiest way to give your home a facelift. You can change the trim or even the entire color of the house. And remember you can paint wood siding, even brick. But do keep in mind if you are going to be painting vinyl siding you want to check the manufacturer's warranty before doing so because some warranties will be voided if painted.."

Judy Hartley was unhappy with the former siding on her home.

So after 20 years, she decided it was time for a makeover and chose a vinyl insulated product.

Homeowner Judy Hartley says, "At the time we got our previous siding the only choices were beige, gray, just the real plain neutral colors so that's what we got. We went cheap. That's what we did. And then we lived with it. Then we started to notice other houses. They had more color."

"The first samples the contractor brought us were close but not what we wanted. We kept describing it. He went completely out to another vendor and found the exact color and brought it to us and then they let us keep a sample so that we could see it in different lights to be sure that was exactly what we wanted," she points out.

Judy continues, "We really love it. Our neighbors, of course, are all glad that we did it. There was a total stranger riding by on a bike one day and he said you have the most beautiful house in the neighborhood, so that made us feel good."

While many people think about the exterior of their home as an asset as far as beauty of their home, it's really a big protector of the inside. If you think about it, your siding, the exterior of home is what is protecting you from the elements so you want to be sure it's in good condition and taken care of every year.

"Weather can be one of the biggest enemies to your siding so you need to keep in mind that you can get hail and wind damage. You may consider when residing your house to get some additional pieces of siding to keep so that you have some that matches your house if you need to do some repair work, encourages Angie Hicks.

Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews , asked highly rated contractors about siding and painting options.

Often, homeowners can't tell how much hidden damage has occurred until the siding is physically removed so they are able to see how much wood rot exists on the frame of their home due to years of moisture penetration behind the siding. 

Walk around your house and look for these signs that your siding may need repaired/replaced.

·  Is the siding wavy, warped, buckling, or rotting?

·  If your nails have popped out, it may mean your siding has experienced some sort of movement, or has been expanding and contracting. 

·  Over time, caulk can shrink, crack, or slowly wear away.  If seams have shifted and boards look uneven, your siding system will fail. Caulked correctly, your siding should look almost seamless.

·  Is paint faded? Check first before you paint vinyl siding - some manufacturers will void your warranty if the siding has been altered in any way.

·  Your siding may need to be replaced if rodents or other pests have been able to find their way in and live between your interior walls and exterior siding.

·  Water stains

show up as discoloration or streaking on the siding.

Angie's List Tips: Hiring a contractor

·  Homeowners must weigh the pros and cons of the different siding types and choose what best fits their personal tastes and budgets. For example, some products require more maintenance than others.

·  If you hire a painting contractor to do the job, be sure to talk to him or her about the products they use and the guarantee they offer. Many exterior paint manufacturers provide warranties for up to 25 years. Siding manufacturers are often very specific on how the product should be installed. If installed incorrectly, you could void your warranty. Check first before you paint any product, some manufacturers will void your warranty if the siding has been altered.

·  Get at least three estimates and thoroughly research the companies' local reputations before you hire. And don't skip on reading the contract – those details are important.

·  Is the contractor factory trained in the product? For example, special tools are required to install fiber cement, so you want to hire a contractor with experience in installing this type of siding.

·  Ask your siding installer for samples of grades, colors and textures and view them outside at different times of the day.

·  Before any siding goes up, make sure a quality moisture barrier is installed first to protect your home from water damage and provide insulation.

·  If you have to repair your siding in the future, you could run into issues of matching replacement siding to the color and material of your existing siding. Consider buying extra siding to avoid issues with mismatched siding, which could devalue your home.

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