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Things You Should Know About Siding

Siding doesn’t just protect your home’s exterior; it also adds personality and creates curb appeal. It is one of the first things visitors and passersby notice. Whether you’re purchasing for the first time or you’re considering replacing existing cladding, here are some things you should know about siding.

The Purpose of Siding

Siding serves a number of purposes both aesthetic and functional. These include:

  • protection from the elements, anything from the sun beating down to driving rain to punishing winds
  • enhances the design of the structure
  • brings together all the aspects of the home’s exterior – visual harmony
  • expresses the character of your home while blending in with the community

Siding Material Variety

Vinyl siding is the number one siding choice in North America. Other popular siding materials are aluminum, wood, and fiber cement. But, according to sources, there are over 15 different types of siding available to the consumer. While aluminum is a typical siding material other metals such as steel are being used.

If you love the idea of cedar shingles but don’t want to commit to a high-maintenance material, there are fiber cement siding and vinyl siding finishes that imitate the look of real wood siding without the cost and upkeep. The same goes for real stone or brick – for almost every natural siding material there is a faux alternative. In today’s market, there are more options than ever, including an impressive range of colours to complement any residential style and design.

Siding and the Environment

Excluding wood siding, siding is generally low maintenance, being durable and requiring fewer resources to maintain.

Aluminum siding and steel siding are 100% recyclable.

Some manufacturers are environmentally conscious when manufacturing siding products, employing processes that do not consume too much energy and reduce the number of toxins released into the environment.

In the past, asbestos was commonly used in the construction industry because of its low cost and fireproofing properties. The manufacture of materials made of or containing asbestos such as siding, roofing, and insulation was banned in Canada in 1979. However, non-friable (cannot be reduced to powder) products containing asbestos continued to be used in the construction of homes well into the 1990s. If an older home with asbestos siding becomes damaged, it must be inspected, repaired, and/or removed according to strict guidelines by a licensed asbestos contractor. Canada is set to implement a complete asbestos ban by 2018.

While it is true that different types of siding better insulate your home than others, siding, in general, helps regulate heating and cooling cycles, reducing energy costs.

Tips for Cleaning Any Type of Siding

With summer heading toward fall, now is the time to do those seasonal home maintenance chores that will help your home survive the cooler, rainy weather ahead. When layers of dirt, sap, pollen, and dust accumulate, siding becomes dingy or stained, creating negative curb appeal. Take advantage of these tips for cleaning any type of siding to make the exterior of your home look new again.

Schedule a Time

Choose a day and time for cleaning the siding and let everyone know. This will help avoid the unexpected open window (after you made sure it was closed) or someone opening and closing the back door when you’re near by cleaning the siding.

Quick Inspection

The purpose of a quick inspection is to alert you to any potential problems you might need to fix or contact an exterior finishing contractor to fix them for you. Use binoculars if your house is more than one storey or if you don’t plan on using a ladder until you have to. Damaged siding – small holes, dents or missing panels – is vulnerable to water damage and moisture build-up. Before manually washing or spraying siding with a garden hose spray nozzle, look for: loose siding panels or cedar shingles; loose and/or missing nails; worn or damaged sections of siding; and missing siding panels.

Cleaning Siding Don’ts

Don’t skip prepping the area around the house. Cover sources of electricity; remove obstacles like toys and patio furniture; and protect landscaping, especially when using a bleach solution to clean mold/mildew/algae from siding.

Don’t use a pressure washer on “textured” siding or siding with a raised surface such cedar shingles, brick, and stucco.

Don’t use harsh cleaning products. It’s probably best to avoid anything with “industrial strength” on the label.

Don’t use abrasive cleaning tools such wire brushes, scrapers or steel wool. Avoid pressing down too hard.

Cleaning Siding Dos

Gather together all of your supplies before you begin. This includes giving the ladder you’ll be using a thorough safety check.

Start at the roofline and work your way down to the foundation. Clean one section at a time; this will help eliminate dried-on residue and streaking.

Most types of siding can be cleaned with a bucket of water and mild detergent. When cleaning mold, mildew or algae off siding use this popular homemade solution: 45 grams (1/3 cup) of powdered laundry detergent, 85 grams (2/3 cup) of powdered all-purpose household cleaner, 947 millilitres (1 quart) liquid bleach, 3.8 litres (1 gallon) of water.

Use a soft-bristle brush, especially on aluminum siding, vinyl siding, and stucco. Any cleaning tool used on siding panels and cedar shingles should be blunt-edged and non-abrasive.

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.

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.

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.

Installing New Siding? 10 Common Questions People Ask

If you plan on installing new siding, you might not know where to begin. See if these top 10 siding questions give you the answers you’re looking for.

What things should I consider when buying siding?

Main factors to consider when buying siding are:

  • water resistance
  • energy efficiency – R-value rating of siding material
  • versatility – suits the size and architectural details of your home
  • durability – matches demands of regional climatic conditions
  • aesthetics

What is the best siding material?

The best siding for your home is one that enhances its architectural style, fits your budget and is easy to maintain. Check local bylaws or neighbourhood association rules for any restrictions.

How much will it cost?

In addition to the cost of the siding material, other factors that determine the total cost are:

  • size and height of home
  • condition of existing siding and/or building structure
  • number of windows and doors, including the corresponding sizes

Will I have to move out while the siding is being installed?

Usually, no. A siding contractor typically removes and installs the amount of siding that can be done during standard work hours. This ensures that your home is protected from the elements and you don’t have to move out during the installation process. However, be prepared for some shaking and noise while the crew is working.

How long does installing new siding take?

Depending on the size of your home, weather conditions and the type of siding, the installation process typically takes one to two weeks. For example, vinyl siding can take as few as two days, while aluminum siding might take around seven days to install.

Does the old siding have to be removed?

Whether or not the old siding is removed first or new siding is installed over top depends on what the contractor finds during the inspection upon which the estimate is based. If wood rot, other types of damage or insulation issues have been discovered, the old siding will have to be removed.

Does the siding color matter?

While siding colour is a personal preference, it can adversely affect your curb appeal if it makes your home stand out in a “bad” way. Even a carefully chosen neutral color can have visual impact. Siding color choice should be unique to you but blend in with the neighborhood.

Is there a type of siding that is maintenance free?

Unfortunately no. But some siding materials such as fiber cement siding, vinyl siding, some types of pre-treated wood and engineered wood siding are lower maintenance than others.

Are there any good green siding options?

If you would like your new siding to be eco-friendly, consider its sustainability. Choose quality siding materials that are durable and long-lasting. The more biodegradable the siding material, the more earth-friendly it is.

Is there a particular season I should plan to have siding installed?

Summer and autumn are good seasons to have new siding installed. However, winter, when siding companies tend to be less busy, is also a good time. Regardless of the season, most siding installation contracts will include a “dependent on weather conditions” clause.

Summer Maintenance Tips for Siding

summer maintenance for siding

Photo credit: ntm1909/Flickr Creative Commons


Siding should make your home look attractive. If it’s worn, damaged or has become a canvas for mold or mildew, it’s time to be proactive. Take advantage of the nice weather this summer to improve the appearance of your siding, extend its lifespan, and give you peace of mind during the upcoming winter months.

Check Siding for Damage

Summer months are ideal for inspecting the siding of your home for damage. Different types of siding materials require different kinds of maintenance and repair. What kind of siding does your home have? Check for these specific signs if your siding is made of:

  • wood – peeling paint; loose cedar shakes or siding panels; insect activity; soft spots (rot)
  • aluminum – dents, dirt buildup; red streaks or holes (rusting), buckling
  • vinyl – extreme colour fading; changes in texture (might feel “roughed up” to the touch); split panels
  • brick – discolored, cracked or receding mortar

Also inspect siding for gaps between the siding panels and exterior walls.

Clean Siding

Cleaning the siding of your home isn’t just for curb appeal. Streaks, smudges, and grime buildup are typically organic matter of some kind. Regardless of the siding material, dirt residue is food to microscopic organisms. Washing it away as part of a scheduled summer home maintenance plan will eliminate places for mold, mildew or algae to grow; decrease other potential health hazards; and extend the siding’s longevity.

Repair or Repaint Siding

Summer is a good time for renovations. Any gaps, holes, mold growth or insect/pest infestation can eventually lead to structural damage if not properly repaired or dealt with.

When thoroughly washing siding doesn’t remove all the grime or any discolouration, you might want to consider painting or replacing the affected sections.

Landscaping and Siding

Unfortunately summer isn’t all about sunshine. During windstorms and heavy rains, branches can be repeatedly blown against exterior walls. This causes damage to the siding, compromising how well it protects your home. Trim back any trees and shrubs growing too close to the house.