The color, texture, and design of siding makes the exterior of a home attractive, but it does more than just reflect the taste of the homeowner. It also protects the home from animals, insects, and weather. Aluminum, stucco, brick, vinyl, and wood are only some of the siding choices available.
Aluminum siding comes in a variety of colors and has an enamel finish that can be smooth or textured. Because it’s manufactured, aluminum is sometimes made to look like wood, but it won’t rot or attract bugs the way wood does, and it’s suitable for most climates. However, it dents easily and the finish is prone to cracking, fading, and chalking. It will need repainting every few years. Other maintenance consists of washing it with a hose at least once a year. Spots or stains may be cleaned with detergent or vinegar. When installed, pieces are overlapped to prevent water from getting between the slats. Some aluminum siding is also dent resistant and when properly cared for, it can last 25 years or more.
Stucco is made of sand, water, and cement. It’s often textured and has an acrylic finish that helps make it waterproof and weatherproof. It provides good insulation, but is brittle and prone to wildlife. Holes created by birds and insects need to be repaired immediately to prevent water from getting behind the siding. Because it’s porous, stucco also stains easily. Degreaser or bleach may remove some of these stains. When installed in dry climates and properly maintained, stucco can last up to 25 years.
Brick siding doesn’t rot or fade. It comes in a variety of colors and isn’t usually painted. Applied with mortar over a wooden frame, bricks can be patterned according to the homeowner’s taste. In wet climates, a clear water-repellant coating can be used to protect the siding. Mortar can crumble as it ages and will need to be grouted, but brick is otherwise maintenance free. Installation requires a skilled mason, but when properly installed, brick siding can last 100 years or more. Mortarless brick, an alternative to regular brick, is shaped into interlocking pieces. Because there is no mortar, a professional mason is not required to install the siding.
Vinyl comes in various styles and colors, and is often made to resemble wood. It doesn’t dent, rot, rust, or crack, and it holds up well in almost any environment. Because the color goes all the way through the siding, small scratches don’t show. Maintenance consists washing it with a hose at least once a year. Stains can be cleaned with a cloth or soft-bristled brush. While vinyl is durable, if a piece should happen to come loose, it needs to be fixed as soon as possible; otherwise the wind could bend it out of shape and make it difficult to fit back on. Vinyl is also best installed on a house with a good roof overhang; otherwise water can get behind the siding and rot the wall. When properly installed and maintained, vinyl siding can last decades.
Wood is the most natural of all the sidings. The most common types of wood siding include clapboard, rectangular planking, plywood, shakes, shingles, and hardboard. Wood can be painted or stained any color, or it can be bought pre-finished. Because it’s natural, it’s prone to dry rot, birds, and insects. Holes and cracks should be repaired to help avoid these problems. Wood siding is also prone to water damage and should be kept several inches off the ground to prevent moisture from getting behind the siding. With occasional cleaning and proper maintenance, wood siding can last 75 years or more.