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Popular Siding Choices for Vancouver Homes

Choosing the right siding material for your home is a big decision. Siding, no matter what type, should do two things – look good and protect a home’s exterior from the elements. Popular siding choices for Vancouver homes braving our rainy winters, moody springs, and moderate summers are cedar shakes, aluminum siding, vinyl siding and fiber cement.

Cedar Siding

Cedar shakes and cedar shingles give lower mainland homes a natural appearance that is versatile, welcoming and long-lasting. When properly installed with the right kind of house or building wrap, cedar siding is ideal for our coastal climate. Real cedar, as opposed to products manufactured from composite or engineered woods, shakes and shingles are typically more expensive than aluminum or vinyl siding but is comparable in price with fiber cement siding.

Aluminum Siding

Aluminum siding is a popular siding material because it’s cheaper than wood siding and cedar shingles. It is also very durable and low-maintenance. It can be easily repaired by replacing damaged or colour-faded panels with new ones. This lightweight cladding material suits Pacific Northwest weather conditions because it is wind-resistant, rust-proof, and low-maintenance. Aluminum siding is also a popular choice because it comes in a range of colours and textures and complements almost all architectural styles.

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is the least expensive cladding material on the market. While it doesn’t rot or rust, it can become brittle with age. The color of vinyl siding is prone to fading especially when in direct sunlight for extended periods of time. However, that being said, vinyl siding is cost-effective, relatively maintenance-free, and well-suited to Vancouver’s temperate climate.

Fiber Cement Siding

Fiber cement siding is a good choice for homes in the lower mainland because it’s water-resistant and won’t crack, burn or rot. Made from cement, sand and wood fibers, it can be made to mimic almost any other siding material including cedar shingles, wood grain, and stone. It performs well in most climatic regions, from mild to extreme.

Vinyl Siding – a Controversial Choice

Where functionality, aesthetics, and cost are equal concerns when building a home vinyl siding makes sense. But nothing seems to draw a line in the sand faster than the topic. It’s popular with consumers because it’s the most inexpensive cladding material available. However, it’s less popular with architects, builders, and other construction industry professionals because many feel that vinyl siding has more cons than pros. To help you decide if vinyl siding is right for your home here are the top four reasons it is a somewhat controversial choice.

Eco-Friendly

Opponents’ View

Nothing about vinyl siding could be considered eco-friendly. In the manufacturing of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), greenhouse gasses and carcinogens are produced. Sulfur dioxide, a by-product of vinyl siding production, is the main cause of acid rain and smog. Studies are inconclusive regarding toxicity during regular use but do consistently show that when vinyl siding catches fire or is subjected to intense heat, lethal amounts of toxic fumes are released.

Supporter’s View

Under certain conditions vinyl siding is very durable – the longer it lasts, the longer it is kept out of landfills. Technically it can be recycled. However, most vinyl siding ends up not being recycled because many depots don’t accept it due to its high handling costs.

Low Maintenance

Opponents’ View

The longevity and general appearance of vinyl siding largely depend on climatic conditions. While manufacturers maintain that vinyl siding can last anyway from 25 to 30 years, opponents claim that there is no conclusive proof because siding made of vinyl has been known to crack, fade or split within 10 years of being installed depending on environmental factors.

Supporter’s View

Considered to be low maintenance, since it doesn’t have to be painted or repaired, vinyl siding can easily be washed with a mild cleaning solution. While some detractors say vinyl siding can’t be repaired, it actually depends on the type. Some manufacturers produce vinyl siding panels that can be easily snapped in or out of place.

Appearance

Opponents’ View

Fake is fake – regarding older, historic, and landmark homes, opponents of vinyl siding cite inauthenticity as its greatest crime.

Supporter’s View

Since vinyl siding imitates other siding materials including stone and wood, it provides homeowners with inexpensive siding options. For those who own an older home, maintenance costs are automatically higher, so a siding material that looks like wood, is easy to install, and simple to maintain is an ideal budget-stretcher.

Installation

Opponents’ View

Vinyl siding is the number one choice of do-it-yourselfers. Detractors of this siding material point out that it needs to be installed properly in order for it to fully protect a house. Most opponents feel that DIYers and contractors not specifically trained and certified to install vinyl siding do not have the right skills, potentially allowing water to seep in and water damage to occur.

Supporter’s View

Vinyl siding is inexpensive and easy to install, relevant factors to someone with a large home. But the naysayers are right – vinyl as a siding material contracts and expands. While it’s fairly simple to install, the installer, whether a DIYer or a contractor, must be aware that if nailed incorrectly, during an expanding-contracting cycle, the siding could crack, bulge or warp.

Give Your Home Exterior a Facelift this Spring

Spring heightens our senses and inspires us to refresh our homes, both inside and out. It’s a time when we shake off the gloomy days of winter and get our backyards ready for summer entertaining. Here are some low-budget ways to give your home’s exterior a facelift this spring.

Windows

Cleaning the windows, interior and exterior, will make your house smile. It’s surprising how much light gets blocked out by even a light film of dust or grime.

While you’re out there anyway with the sudsy pail of water wipe down window sills and trim. Examine window and door frames for peeling paint, warping, cracks or gaps. If you need to fill in gaps and cracks with caulking you can do the repairs now or plan to make them in the fall before winter comes back.

Front Door

A new front door can change the whole appearance of your home. It doesn’t have to be “new.” Painting the door a bold blue, red or yellow is an economical way to brighten the main entrance to your home.

Underutilized Areas

Transforming the underutilized areas of your property can greatly improve your curb appeal. Adding outdoor furniture to a bare porch turns empty space into an inviting place to relax in warm weather. Park a bench next to a flowerbed or in front of a birdbath and a patch of lawn becomes a place to enjoy the view. Container gardens are an excellent way to beautify an entry door, deck, patio, plain fence or cement steps.

Landscaping as Camouflage

Don’t have time to paint the fence? You plan to replace the siding in the next two years, but in the meantime, the stained and dented section is very noticeable. Planting shrubs or flowering bushes can hide flawed areas of a home exterior. Camouflage air conditioner units, tanks, trash cans and pool equipment with fencing panels or outdoor screens. Use trellises and flowering climbing vines to bring spring colour into your backyard.

General Cleanup

The appearance of your property will be greatly improved with a general cleanup. Power wash hardscape elements such as a flagstone sidewalk, a concrete driveway, a fire pit, a wood deck or a paved patio. Use a power washer on siding and gutters with caution.

Remove dead plants, trees and any sections of shrubs that have become withered. Rake the lawn to get rid of leftover storm reminders like bits of twigs and decayed leaves.

Dos and Don’ts for Choosing the Right Siding

When it comes to siding for your house, there are a lot of choices. It’s a big investment; you don’t want to have to do it all over again in just a few years. If you’ll be purchasing siding in the near future, here are some helpful hints for choosing the right siding for you, your home and where you live.

Do Choose Durability and Low Maintenance

While wood siding is more eco-friendly than engineered wood products, they both are very durable. Wood siding can be higher maintenance than any type of engineered wood siding, but if not properly cared for both natural and engineered woods are prone to rot and pest infestation.

Vinyl siding has a relatively long lifespan but can become brittle when exposed to direct sunlight. Vinyl siding is no maintenance, which essentially means in most cases it can’t be repaired.

Aluminum siding is durable, low maintenance, and lightweight yet strong.

Fiber cement siding is available in a wide variety of finishes that mimic real wood grain, cedar shingles, and staggered edge cedar shakes. Easy to maintain, it is strong, durable and a versatile siding material.

Don’t Forget Restrictions

If you live in a gated community, own a heritage home, or live in a townhouse, your property could be subject to zoning laws, municipal bylaws or the guidelines of a homeowner’s association. Municipalities and other governing bodies might specify what type of siding material, paint color and style can be used. Check first.

Don’t Ignore Climatic Conditions

Some types of siding materials are better suited to our Pacific Northwest climate. For example, stucco is a popular cladding material, but not really suitable for homes in the lower mainland because of its porous nature. Good choices for our local region are fiber cement boards, aluminum siding, and cedar shakes.

Don’t be too Bold

You want your home to stand out, but when it comes to exterior colour choices, it’s probably best to err on the side of lighter shades or neutral colours with darker undertones. Bold colors can hurt the resale value of your home. Avoid trending paint colors for the same reason. Choose something you like and can live with for a long time.

Do Match Siding with Architectural Style

The siding you select should emphasize key architectural features. For example, the siding colour shouldn’t clash with the roof, or a contemporary siding material shouldn’t be applied to a Georgian-style house. Coordinate siding material with your home’s architectural style for maximum curb appeal.

Do Plan to Hire

An exterior finishing contractor will be able to advise you about the best type of siding for you and your home. Siding installation done by a professional installer will ensure that your home is well-insulated, protected from the elements, and lasts for many years.

Why You should have a Landscape Plan

Landscaping that incorporates and harmonizes the different aspects of a home’s exterior creates the best curb appeal. It’s not just about what types of plants and shrubs go where. An effective landscape plan utilizes a variety of elements to create the outdoor space you envision for your home, such as a deck or patio, a flagstone pathway, perhaps a pond or a gazebo.

Purpose

Decide what the purpose is of the landscaping – to entertain, increase resale value, create more visual appeal, replace annuals with eco-friendly plants. When creating a landscape design that is multipurpose, select a unifying theme to connect the different elements or areas together.

What’s Included

If you want a deck, will it include a barbecue or grill? Will you park a wrought iron bench near one of the flower beds? You picture more formal landscaping – would a gazebo be out of place? Since you’re upgrading the garden anyway, maybe the landscape plan should include trees near the southwest corner of the house to protect the living room from the mid-afternoon sun.

When choosing what is to be included in your landscaping design take into consideration height (you don’t want to block your neighbour’s view), building codes, permits, and safety (swimming pool or pond and small children).

Budgeting

You have all these dreams for your perfect backyard, but now you have to make then a reality. Take the time to set a budget: it will help you focus on what’s important and ensure you don’t run out of funds in the middle of repaving the driveway or building the deck. A general rule of thumb dictates that a project involving construction will cost more than adding shrub containers by the entry door or replanting the flowerbeds at the front of the house. Include labour costs for anything you don’t plan to DIY.

Tree Placement

If your landscape plan will be adding more trees to your property, don’t forget about your gutters, siding, and roof. Trees grow tall enough to shed leaves and needles into the gutter system, brush up against siding or damage the roof in a storm. Plant trees to provide shade or protection from the wind while ensuring they won’t interfere with the gutter system, the siding or your roof.

Siding Choices that Suit Your Lifestyle

The siding you choose defines your home’s personality, increases its value, and creates curb appeal. While siding should be functional and aesthetical, it should also express your personal tastes. To get the most out of your new siding, here are some tips on how to match a particular siding material to your lifestyle.

Natural Siding Materials

For those homeowners who feel strongly about protecting the environment, natural siding materials are especially attractive. Hardwood siding and cedar siding are naturally durable and organically resistant to pests, mold, and mildew.

Wood siding adds a beauty and warmth to any home’s exterior. Cedar siding is especially suited to the climatic conditions of the West Coast.

To create a more dramatic and unique appearance, often two or more types of siding, like stone and wood, are used together.

How Much Upkeep?

If you feel your weekends are better spent doing anything else but home maintenance, you’re not alone. One of the top five 2017 home exterior design trends is for low maintenance products that provide homeowners with maximum durability but the need for little upkeep. Types of siding that require minimum attention include vinyl siding, fiber cement siding, and aluminum siding.

Most types of siding materials, including metals such as steel and aluminum,  can be manufactured to mimic wood, stone, and brick.

Engineered wood products are popular alternatives to cedar siding, wood shakes and board and batten siding.

Making a Statement

Select siding that conveys your personal style through types, textures, and colours. Your siding material choice doesn’t have to be dramatic or bold to make a statement. Is whitewater rafting or a challenging hiking trail your idea of fun? Reflect your sense of adventure with a bold shade of seamless aluminum siding. Do you prefer quiet contemplation in a formal garden? Choose earth-toned natural materials such as cedar siding or stone veneer siding to create a harmonious home exterior.

Choosing a Front Door

Entrance door

Photo credit: Ken Doerr/Flickr Creative Commons


Whether your aesthetic style is formal, elegant, simple, practical or whimsical, the front door reflects your home’s personality. The main entrance to a house should definitely be welcoming, but there are other factors to consider. Choosing a front door for your home’s exterior is also about the right materials, durability, and functionality.

Materials

The three most popular materials for an entrance door are wood, fiberglass, and steel. A wood door has a traditional appearance that is organic. When they become worn, old or broken, wood doors can be painted or repaired. You can also change the hardware on a wood or composite wood door.

Fiberglass doors are very low maintenance. The fiberglass is molded onto a frame and can be textured to mimic the look of any type of wood including oak, walnut or beech. A fiberglass door is available with or without hardware.

A steel door combines security and durability. It is low maintenance; while a steel door is susceptible to denting, it can be repaired. Steel doors are typically constructed from a wood frame reinforced with steel and then covered by thin sheets of metal.

Durability

Residential exterior doors must withstand the effects of sun, wind, and rain. But durability does not solely depend on the type of material it’s made from. A combination of how it was manufactured (quality materials, type of finish, etc.) and how it’s maintained ultimately determines the lifespan of your entrance door.

Functionality

Give some thought as to what you need from your front door. Is the hallway too dark? Let in more light with a door that has glass panels. Air refuses to circulate throughout the first floor in the summer? Pair a screen door with your new wood entrance door. Want to make a bold statement? Choose a decorative entry door in a primary colour to complement the siding. Do you want a traditional deadbolt or would you prefer keyless entry? Choose an entrance door for your home that meets your specific requirements.

Finishing Touches

Before deciding on hardware and decorative accents, take all the elements of your home’s exterior into consideration. For example, if you have brass carriage lights on either side of the entrance, ensure that the door handle and letter slot of your new door match the light fixtures.

When Cleaning Your Home’s Exterior

Seasonally cleaning the outside of your home is a smart way to protect its structural integrity and improve curb appeal. You intend to clean the gutters, wash the siding, and spruce up the driveway before winter arrives. To keep both you and your home safe here is a brief list of things not to do when cleaning your home’s exterior.

Forgetting Ladder Safety

Before using a ladder to clean the gutters, windows or siding, make sure it is in good shape. Choose the right type of ladder for the chore at hand. Set it on level ground and don’t lean it against the gutters. When on the ladder, avoid overreaching, loading yourself down with tools, and operating equipment without keeping one hand on the ladder.

Skipping the Prep Work

When water and cleaning solutions are involved, windows and doors need to be tightly closed or sealed. If you’re using a hose or a power washer, plan to turn off the power to any nearby outdoor outlets that might be affected. Remove items such as patio furniture, parked cars, and toys away from siding or anywhere you will be working. Cover plants and trees that could be damaged in the process of your fall cleanup.

Pressure Wash

Use a pressure washer selectively. Using a pressure washer on the appropriate setting is fine to clean decks, fences, driveways, and pavers. But power washing aluminum gutters can dent them or loosen fasteners that keep the gutter sections in place. A power washer used on siding might push water in behind loose panels, where moisture encourages mildew, mold or algae growth. Pressure washing can also damage finishes, including painted surfaces.

Wrong Cleaner

You might think that because the deck and siding are made of wood, you could use one cleaner for both. But a cleaner designed to remove grime from siding might mar the deck’s finish. When using a commercial cleaning solution, ensure that it’s the right one and that you follow the instructions.

Windy Day

Whether you’re cleaning the gutters, removing dirt from siding, or washing windows, it’s best to do the task when the wind won’t blow spray back at you. Overspray can travel a surprising distance, landing on siding or in the nooks and crannies of wood trim, creating a nice cozy home for mold and mildew.

Things to Consider Before Buying Siding

A person buying siding typically thinks first of the type of material and how much it will cost. But because any kind of cladding is a major investment that can impact a building’s structural integrity, there are several other factors to consider.

Water Resistant

For those of us living in the Lower Mainland, it is particularly important to choose a water-resistant siding. This might sound like stating the obvious, but some types of siding material are more water resistant than others. For example, stucco is the least compatible siding for our rainy climate because it is a porous material that will eventually lose its ability to repel moisture.

Eco-Friendly

It’s not just about what it’s made of and how it is manufactured. Yes, eco-friendly siding should ideally be produced from naturally occurring materials such as clay, sand, and cement (fiber cement siding) or wood (cedar siding).

How energy-efficient will the new siding be? The R-value measures the energy efficiency of the siding material. The higher the R-value, the better the siding will keep heat from escaping, making it greener or more eco-friendly.

Durability is another factor that makes a siding material environmentally sound. The longer it lasts before it needs to be replaced, the less maintenance (resources used) it will require.

Aesthetics

The siding material chosen for a home should match its character – you probably wouldn’t want aluminum siding on a Queen Anne style house. While siding is designed to protect and insulate, it should also reflect your personal preferences and enhance the architectural features of your home’s exterior.

Aluminum Siding – A Versatile Siding Choice

Aluminum siding is a versatile siding choice for many reasons. It’s aesthetically pleasing to the eye, has proven durability, available in a number of textures, and comes in a variety of colours and styles. Installing aluminum siding is an economical way to update your home’s exterior, yet blend in with the neighbourhood.

Aluminum Siding Properties

Aluminum siding will not burn, melt, rot, rust or be affected by insect activity.

When correctly installed, aluminum siding increases water resiliency of exterior walls.

It provides good insulation, especially when insulated aluminum siding, rather than hollow-backed, is used.

Aluminum Siding Technicalities

Aluminum siding can be used in conjunction with most other common types of building materials such as concrete, brick, wood and stucco.

Aluminum siding is available in a number of grades; a higher grade generally means better quality – it will last longer and be less prone to denting.

It is lightweight while offering maximum protection from the elements.

Aluminum Siding Aesthetics

While it is available in many colors, should it fade, become damaged or you want to change the color, aluminum can be painted.

Aluminum siding can be installed vertically or horizontally, depending on the visual effect the homeowner wishes to achieve.

Manufacturers offer aluminum siding products in a variety of textures. It can have the appearance of wood grain, cedar shingles, smooth surface or raised surface.

Aluminum Siding Benefits

In comparison to other types of siding materials, excluding vinyl siding, aluminum siding is inexpensive.

It requires minimum upkeep.

While not the greenest of siding choices, aspects of aluminum siding are earth-friendly because it can be recycled, has a long lifespan, and is low-maintenance.

When choosing aluminum siding for your home, consider its versatility, aesthetic value and the cost to install and maintain throughout the years. Aluminum siding has unique properties that can improve curb appeal and increase your home’s value.