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Roofing | Final grade | Soffit and fascia | Electrical and gas laterals | House wrap | Masonry | Stucco | >>Siding | Exterior concrete | Exterior paint | Foundation parging

Siding is used to cover the exterior walls giving the home protection from heat, moisture and wind. Depending on the style and color, It can have a drastically affect the appearance of the house.
The types and styles of exterior siding are almost unlimited. Traditionally siding was made almost exclusively from solid wood. Today siding is made from steel, plastic, cement, wood composites, and aluminum. With the scarcity and expense of solid wood lumber, siding has been made of different materials.

Vinyl, Steel, and Aluminum (interlocking siding).
Interlocking siding is the most popular type of siding used in new construction. It became popular during the building boom of the 1980's. It comes in many colors and styles. In most cases it is very durable and virtually maintenance free. Vinyl siding makers have created a vast array of vinyl accessories which allow the siding to be installed quickly. Trim is available in various sizes and styles. Soffit and fascia material can be color coordinated with the siding.

Vinyl siding
Advantages: Will not rot, flake or dent; painting is never required; available in many colors and styles; least expensive siding option; maintenance free except for periodic cleaning.
Disadvantages: Can chip and crack if struck hard, will fade slightly over time, will not hide wall imperfections as well as steel, some don't like plastic image.

Steel siding
Advantages: Will not rot, flake, crack or chip; imitates "wood look" better than vinyl; hides wall imperfections better than vinyl; no painting required; has a clean rigid appearance; non-combustible; no maintenance except for periodic cleaning.
Disadvantages: Not as cheap as vinyl; can dent if hit hard enough; shows scratches more than vinyl.

Aluminum siding
Advantages: The same as steel
Disadvantages: Dents easily; more expensive than vinyl; costs more to insure due to risk of hail damage.

Wood siding
There are several categories of wood siding available. Traditional solid wood sidings makes up a small percentage of wood siding sold today. Traditional solid wood siding made of cedar and redwood is expensive, and high maintenance. That has caused it's dwindling use in residential construction.
Fiberboard siding is made of compressed wood fibers and glue. in recent years it has been gaining in popularity. It comes in 16' long lap boards or in 4' wide panels that are 8'-10' long. Fiberboard has more of the look and feel of real wood but not the expense.
Plywood siding is similar to panel siding in the sense that it is sold in 4' width lengths. Plywood siding is economical because it provides the structural properties of structural sheathing (OSB, wafer board and plywood) and siding in one product. Plywood siding is installed during the framing process.

Solid wood siding
Advantages: Strong; beautiful; timeless; can create any look that you want; can be installed horizontally, vertically or diagonally; can be stained or painted.
Disadvantages: Expensive; susceptible to rot & insects and animals; high maintenance; needs to be painted regularly.

Fiberboard siding
Advantages: Looks like solid wood siding; solid; strong; usually guaranteed against rot and termites; can be purchased pre-primed and/or pre-painted.
Disadvantages: Higher cost than vinyl siding; high maintenance; needs to be painted regularly.

Plywood type siding
T 111 siding is a typical plywood siding.
Advantages: Installed as part of the framing process; inexpensive; solid, can be stained or painted.
Disadvantages: Limited styles; fairly high maintenance; some feel that it has a "cheap look".

Fiber-cement siding
Fiber-cement siding is made with cellulose fibers embedded with Portland cement and sand. It has become more popular in recent years.
Advantages: Durable, and strong; resists moisture damage; will not rot crack; withstands termite attack; non combustible; paints like wood.
Disadvantages: Heavy, more expensive than interlocking siding; must be painted regularly; new material... no performance history.

Notes to the owner-builder
Vinyl siding prices are very competitive because of it's popularity and the ease of installation and low start-up cost has allowed many contractors to get into the business.

The contract should specify the following:

  • Total price for the job
  • Cost for change orders
  • Labor rate for extras
  • Warranty
  • Number of days for completion

The Specs (description of material) should include the following:

  • Siding brand
  • Siding model
  • Siding color
  • Trim or accent color
  • Window & door trim sizes
  • Method of attachment (nail gun is not recommended)
  • Brand and type of caulk (including year guarantee)

Check that siding is straight, flat and level. Vinyl siding will buckle if not properly nailed. Check that interlocking siding is nailed according to manufacturers instructions. Vinyl siding will expand and contract; make sure that the panel will move freely side-to-side. Listen to the siding as the sun strikes it early in the morning. If the vinyl "cracks" and "pops" it's probable that the siding was nailed too tightly or left without room for expansion.
Check the trim openings, especially around doors windows. The trim must overlap so that water run off the trim/siding and not behind.
Caulking is very important with wood, cement fiber siding. Check around windows and doors for cracks and gaps where water can enter.

Siding is installed after the Brick or stone in the construction schedule. Siding will not seal out wind or moisture completely so it is important that house wrap or building felt is installed prior to the siding.

Vinyl siding is a real money saver. Some don't like vinyl because it is plastic. However, vinyl siding has earned a reputation for value, strength, durability, and for being maintenance free.


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