There are many components that make up the exterior of your home, but none are as prominent or as important as your exterior siding. Siding is your home’s first line of defense against the elements, and it’s also what gives your home its finished appearance and curb appeal.
Types of Exterior Siding
There are many types of siding on the market today, each with its own positive and negative attributes and characteristics that may or may not make it the right fit for your home. Because there are so many choices, it can be hard to determine exactly which one is the best option. Comparing the various types of exterior siding for their appearance, durability, and longevity can help you make the right choice for your home.
Stucco is a unique siding material made from a blend of aggregates that include cement and sand. It’s applied in layers to your home and can be smoothed or worked into a texture, depending on the amount and texture of aggregate used.
Stucco has a unique appearance that complements many types of architecture. It’s also fairly durable and resists most moderate knocks and impacts, as well as both heat and cold. It can be painted in a variety of colors, so you can customize the look of your home. In hot climates, stucco tends to reflect heat off the home, keeping the interiors cooler.
While stucco holds up well to most things like impacts, it can and does become damaged by water, especially over time. Stucco will eventually become soggy and develop some signs of failure. When this happens, you have no choice but to replace the areas in question. When this is done, it can be hard to have them match, so you will need to repaint the entire structure to blend it in.
Stucco doesn’t work well on every type of home. So if you live in a home that looks better with traditional lap siding, stucco won’t work for you.
Stucco typically costs around $8 a square foot installed. Keep in mind, it usually has higher maintenance costs than some other materials and needs frequent painting.
Wood is a very popular material for siding, mostly due to the fact that wood was one of the first types of siding used on homes and has a lot of options for style and appearance.
Wood is lightweight and fairly easy to install. It comes in many sizes and can be installed in several patterns including shiplap, board-and-batten, and traditional horizontal lap. Wood can be rustic or more contemporary, and it works on most architectural styles. There are also several different types of wood to choose from, so it can have a range of costs that will allow it to fit into most budgets.
Wood is one of the most high maintenance types of siding. It needs frequent repainting, and it will eventually develop problems with water (swelling, warping, cracking, or rotting). Wood needs constant vigilance to make sure that small problems with water or with insects don’t spread to other areas, so you need to stay on top of maintenance and repairs at all times, which means that it has a high ongoing expense as well as the initial cost.
Wood has a pretty big range of cost depending on the style and type of wood you choose. Prices start between $6 and $12 a square foot, and there are additional costs for painting as well.
Brick has an instantly recognizable appearance that differs quite a bit from other siding types. While most homes today are clad in brick veneer, rather than solid brick, the look remains unchanged from over the centuries.
Brick is an incredibly durable siding material. It’s unaffected by rain, snow, heat, cold, or impact, and if well-maintained, it can last centuries. It’s also flame retardant and insect- resistant, and in its natural state, it’s fairly low maintenance and doesn’t require regular painting.
Brick, even brick veneer, can be very expensive to install and to repair. While it is a durable material, it may sometimes need to be repointed, meaning that the mortar needs to be removed and replaced, which can be expensive.
Brick doesn’t need to be painted, but if you decide that you don’t like the color and you paint it, it will require just as much maintenance as wood, and it’s nearly impossible to revert back to its original color later on.
Brick has a wide range of costs depending on the type, color, and thickness of the material. You can pay anywhere from $15 to $30 a square foot (installed) for brick siding.
4. Stone Veneer
Stone veneer is a popular material for accents and occasionally for the entire exterior of the home. Stone veneer was once made from stone, but today’s it’s actually made from a material similar to fiber cement, but it is made to look like stone rather than wood.
Compared to natural stone, stone veneer siding is lighter and easier to install, and has much less variation from piece to piece or within one piece, so you can get better control over the appearance. It’s also better controlled for size and shape, so it’s less expensive than natural stone as well.
The biggest disadvantage to stone veneer siding is the fact that it’s difficult to install properly. The pieces don’t overlap like standard siding, so it’s easy for moisture and water to find their way behind the veneer and cause problems on the walls behind. To fix the problem, the veneer needs to be completely removed, which is very expensive.
Stone veneer can range in cost depending on how skilled the installer is, and the size of the veneer. Expect costs to be in the $15 - $20 a square foot range, which can make this material better suited as an accent than a complete home exterior.
Metal siding is one of the oldest types of siding first introduced as an alternative to wood. It can be made of several materials including steel and aluminum, and can have many different appearances from standing seams to log-look siding.
Metal siding is durable, resisting moisture, insects, and flame. It comes in many styles so it can suit traditional, rustic, or contemporary homes, and many of the styles are fairly low-maintenance, so it can last a long time without needing a lot of care. It’s also resistant to weather conditions such as heat or cold, so it works in all climates.
Not all metal sidings are created equally. While one may be low maintenance and long lasting, another can dent easily or rust over time. Some types of metal siding also fade when painted, leaving a chalky residue that can wipe off on your clothing. When the metal gets chalky, the only remedy is to repaint the entire facade.
Because there are several types of metal siding, there is a wide range of costs. Standing seam and aluminum start around $6 a square foot (installed), while insulated steel can cost closer to $12 to $15 a square foot.
6. Fiber Cement
Fiber cement siding is made from a mixture of sand, silica, cellulose fiber, and Portland cement. It can be installed in several ways, and can mimic the look of wood siding.
Fiber cement is incredibly durable and resists impacts, moisture damage, insect activity, and fire. It comes in architectural panels, lap siding, board-and-batten siding, cedar-look shingles, and decorative shingles, so it’s possible to easily match nearly any architectural style from traditional to contemporary.
Fiber cement comes in a wide range of colors, with a finish that resists peeling or chipping for 10 years or more, and it’s also low-maintenance once it’s installed, with lower lifetime costs.
No material is perfect, and fiber cement does have a couple of minor drawbacks. It’s very heavy, so installation may require an additional person. It needs to be cut in a way that helps contain the dust since it contains silica and produces a lot of dust.
Like other siding types, fiber cement has a range of costs depending on shape, size, and color. You can expect to pay between $8 and $12 a square foot (installed) on average.
The Best Choice - Fiber Cement
Of these siding options, fiber cement is the only truly low-maintenance material that gives you a lot of choices in terms of style and appearance. It’s also less expensive than other low-maintenance materials like brick, and it doesn’t have the high ongoing maintenance costs like stucco or wood. If you’re considering new siding for your home, take a look at fiber cement siding to find out more about how it can benefit your exterior.