Wood siding has been the gold standard of sidings over the years. All other lap siding products try to duplicate the look of wood. Because it is milled, wood siding comes in many profiles from rough sawn to smooth, from a bevel to a colonial beaded, from a shiplap to a dolly varden pattern. It typically is milled from wood that is less susceptible to rot, like cedar, redwood and tigerwood. Wood siding can be stained with a semi-transparent stain or primed and painted with latex paint.
While beautiful, wood siding requires more maintenance and is susceptible to insect infestation, rot, cracking and knots falling out. In wildfire areas, it also is not the best choice since it supports combustion. Wood siding is also expensive and requires special installation.
Wood Siding Alternatives
For homeowners that want those classic looks that wood can bring, but without the maintenance and durability issues, there is an alternative – fiber cement siding. Fiber Cement siding comes closest to duplicating the look of natural wood siding without some of the potential issues. It is insect, impact and rot resistant, and has a Class A fire rating which means it will not support combustion. It is certified by California for use in wild fire areas and certified in Dade County for coastal regions that are affected by hurricane.
These five alternatives to wood siding will help you realize that when it comes to the exterior of your home, you can have your cake and eat it, too.
1. Traditional Lap Siding
Horizontal or Dutch lap siding is one of the most popular and frequently used styles on homes across the country. Homes of nearly any size, style, and architectural design can make use of traditional lap siding in several sizes to achieve their exterior covering goals. Lap siding can be used on its own or paired with more decorative options to highlight certain aspects of a home’s design.
Traditional wood lap siding looks great when it’s first installed, but over time it has a tendency to peel, fade, and chip, which requires frequent scraping and repainting to stay looking its best. And depending on the type of wood you install, it may also be flammable if not treated, prone to termites, and may eventually begin to rot in places if moisture infiltrates that peeling paint to the siding below. All of this means that you’ll spend thousands of dollars just maintaining your siding over the lifetime of your home.
Fiber cement comes in a wood-look alternative to traditional lap siding. Choose from either cedar-look, which has a natural-looking wood grain in the surface of the siding, or smooth, which has the appearance of freshly sanded wood. Either type can be found in several sizes beginning at 5-1/4-inches and heading up to 12-inches wide, so you can customize the look of your home. Both types also come ready to paint or are available in 22 brilliant colors. Cedar-look planks are also available in natural wood stains as well.
2. Vertical Siding
Another popular choice for wood siding is the vertical plank, or board-and-batten siding. This type of application involves two sizes of wood siding installed vertically, with a smaller batten being installed over the seams between the boards to help keep out moisture. The look is not only classic, it has a lot of dimension that works well on beach properties, Country-style homes, and barns.
Unfortunately, all the same issues that come with horizontal lap siding are also found in vertical board-and-batten wood siding. The wood needs to be painted every few years, and is susceptible to things like moisture, termites, and flames.
Fiber cement is also available in a vertical panel that when combined with Plycem trims, can be installed as a board-and-batten alternative. The panels themselves come in several different styles, including a cedar-look and a smooth panel so you can get the look you want for your home. By choosing the size of the Plycem trim, as well as its placement across the panels, you can also customize the look of the board-and-batten siding.
Both the vertical panels and the trim come in a wide range of different colors, as well as in ready-to-paint finishes, so you can coordinate the look of your siding with the rest of your home and property. Pair a section of board-and-batten fiber cement siding with a section of horizontal lap to get a more personalized look for the finished exterior.
3. Shingles and Shakes
For those that like a more textured or rustic look for their homes, shingles and shakes made of cedar are frequently used. The shingles may be straight edged or staggered, and the shingles themselves may be uniform and even or come in a variety of different sizes pieced together. Wood shingles may be used to cover a portion of a home or used to cover the entire thing. Like all other wood products, however, they often need frequent maintenance. Unlike lap or vertical siding, however, shingles can be even more difficult to maintain simply due to their size, shape, and texture; they often take longer to prime and paint and may need more frequent replacement.
Fiber cement siding comes in a wide range of different shakes and shingles, from long sections that can be installed quickly to individual shakes in both straight and staggered sizes. This allows you to customize the look of your siding to match the architectural style of your home; opt for rows of 7-inch straight shingles to pair with horizontal lap siding, or cover your home in individual shakes of varying sizes for a truly rustic look.
4. Decorative Shingles
It’s not uncommon for some styles of home, such as Victorians, to feature sections of decorative siding, such as shingles in the shape of octagons or hexagons. These more stylish sections may be painted or stained in a different color than the rest of the home to help show off the area more effectively. But like all other wood products, using them does mean that you’ll be spending even more time scraping, repainting, and replacing them over the years.
Fiber cement shingles also come in decorative shapes like octagons and hexagons, so you can trim out your Victorian or Tudor-style home perfectly without those maintenance issues. All fiber cement shingles come in a full range of colors, as well as ready to paint so you can customize your look.
5. Wood Trims
Siding your home is all well and good, but you still need to trim out those sections around your windows, as well as frame the edges, and separate the areas where different styles are being used. Wood is usually used to trim out homes in this way, completing the exterior look and style either with color matched pieces or by using contrasting colors.
Plycem trims come in a range of different sizes, in both wood-look and smooth styles so you can easily complete the look of your home. Fiber cement trims come prefinished for easy installation or paint them on site to get the perfect finishing touch for your wood-look siding.
Make the Switch
Wood remains a popular option for homes simply because of its classic good looks. Fiber cement siding offers those same good looks, and more – durability and low maintenance for as long as you own the home. Make the switch to fiber cement siding to get all the looks and style of wood, but without any of the hassles.