Monday, July 21, 2014

Which Siding Are You On?

99% or more of the houses in the area where I live are stucco, and almost none are brick. However, the house I grew up in surprisingly enough did have aluminum siding, which is pretty rare for my area. My folks still live in that same house and still have aluminum siding, although about 5 years ago they had the old icky stuff replaced with newer, more modern looking siding. Not all siding is equal according to Mike Holmes in the article below. There are many advantages and drawbacks to pretty much any product you choose for your home. The trick is to pick the option that best fits your situation. Wood siding or "clapboard" is probably the most economical and environmentally friendly option. However, clapboard is by no means maintenance free and requires painting or staining in order to prevent it from deteriorating. Aluminum siding is pretty much maintenance free, however, as with my folks home, the product does get old and worn and ugly after awhile. It can also dent and scratch. Vinyl siding is also an alternative. It looks better than aluminum siding, however it's a plastic product, which means it's not very environmentally friendly and it can burn very quickly, releasing toxic fumes. Lastly, there is another option for siding: cement fiber board. Cement fiber board is essentially wood fibers held together with cement. It's a great choice for pretty much any climate, however, it's rather pricey and tricky to install. Regardless of what option you choose, it's important to do your homework and hire a knowledgeable and experienced professional who knows how to install the product.

From the National Post:

If your home needs new siding, start planning now.
Siding or cladding protects your home from the elements — especially precipitation — making it less vulnerable to mould, rot and all their related issues.
When it comes to materials, the three leading contenders are usually aluminum, vinyl and fibre cement board.
In the past, siding was made from wood and it was called clapboard, which is just painted wood cladding; it’s still around today. But wood requires maintenance, and so clapboard needs to be painted every couple years. Even stained wood siding needs restaining.
Some wood siding products come with a 50-year warranty against decay, or a 15-year warranty on the stain, as Maibec does. I've used Maibec on a lot of projects and I like what I see. But this is a superior product that not every homeowner can afford.
So people started looking for an alternative to clapboard to save time and money. That led us straight into the age of aluminum siding, which became popular because it was basically maintenance-free, durable and cheaper than wood. It was also textured to look like clapboard, so homeowners weren't shocked by it.
But aluminum dents and scratches, and the finishing fades. Homeowners wanted a product that wasn't just maintenance-free but looked a little more sophisticated, too.
Enter vinyl, which is now one of the most popular exterior siding materials. It’s usually installed over a brick veneer. You don’t want vinyl siding near the ground — it’s more likely to crack and develop mould.
But even when it doesn't touch the ground, vinyl siding can become brittle and crack, exposing the sheathing below to moisture. Strike one. After all, it’s a plastic product, which brings me to strikes two and three: It’s not environmentally friendly, and it’s a fire hazard.
It would take only five minutes for flames to spread from one vinyl-clad house to its neighbour six feet away. And once vinyl starts to burn it is very toxic.

Then there’s fibre cement board. It’s made to look like wood and it’s just as expensive, sometimes more, but it’s made from a mixture of cement, sand and cellulose fibres.
The great thing about fibre cement board is that it won’t crack, burn or rot; it will last for years and is really good at protecting your home against water and extreme climates. But there are a couple of drawbacks.
It’s expensive, and difficult to cut and install — you must hire a pro with plenty of experience working with and installing it, which could cost you more in labour.
Plus, when cutting fibre cement board the area needs to be well-ventilated and you must wear a respirator.
No matter what type of siding you choose, installation is key to its durability and performance. I’ve seen jobs done with the best siding products money can buy, but poor installation led to rot and mould everywhere. Also, a siding warranty can be voided if the product is improperly installed.
The right installation usually means installing weather-resistant house or building wrap over the sheathing, below your exterior cladding — vapour permeable on the exterior walls, so moisture can escape, and impermeable around windows and door jams so moisture can’t reach the structure below.
Vertical strapping is added on top of the sheathing. This allows for air movement, so any water that gets in behind the cladding can evaporate. The last step is the exterior siding.
The right products help make your home better and healthier, but you also have to hire the right professionals to install them so they stand the test of time. It’s all part of making it right.
Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more information visit

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