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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.

How does Fiber Cement Compare with Cedar Siding?

In some circles, it might start a war if you suggested that fiber cement siding is a good alternative for cedar siding. For homeowners living in a Craftsman style house, Cape Cod house, or another style of historic home, there’s no substitute for real wood. If you feel the same way (whether or not you live in a heritage home), then it might surprise you that fiber cement and cedar siding are relatively comparable.

Similarities between Fiber Cement and Cedar

When it comes to the main things to consider when purchasing siding – cost, aesthetics, and durability – both fiber cement and cedar meet all three criteria. While fiber cement is somewhat less expensive than cedar siding, both types of siding materials are priced mid-to-high end.

Like cedar, fiber cement siding can be used with traditional North American architectural styles such as lap, board-and batten, and half round shingles.

Fiber cement siding is just as durable as cedar. Depending on local climatic conditions cedar siding can last three to five decades.

Both cedar siding and fiber cement siding are equal when it comes to aesthetics. Some professionals, including siding experts and architects, admit they can’t tell the difference between the two siding materials from a distance; only up close can they see that the wood grains of the fiber cement are uniform.

Differences between Fiber Cement and Cedar

Cedar siding is a natural siding material; the two most common kinds used for siding are red cedar and white cedar. Fiber cement is man-made by pressing sand, wood fibres, and cement into a mold to form planks, shingles or shakes.

Fiber cement cannot be recycled. However, as an inert material, it doesn’t release toxins as it sits in the landfill.

Hands down, fiber cement siding wins the low maintenance contest over cedar. While cedar is less labour-intensive than other kinds of wood siding, cedar siding must be regularly maintained to prevent rot, mold and other moisture-related damage.

Some homeowners select untreated white cedar so that it will develop that special silvery patina over time. Or a clear sealant or semi-transparent stain is applied to white cedar siding to prevent weathering while revealing the wood’s natural colour. These options aren’t available for fiber cement siding, which can only duplicate the appearance of painted wood.

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.

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.

Home Exterior Design Trends 2017

Your home is a big investment. Trends come and go but you want maximum curb appeal that expresses your unique style and personality without the threat of becoming quickly outdated. With these home exterior design trends for 2017, your home will never go out of style.

Low Maintenance Materials

Exterior finishing elements should be low maintenance. Expect to see cement fiber siding, seamless aluminum gutters, hidden gutters, and fiberglass doors as emerging trends. Any home exterior products that require minimum time expenditure for upkeep, are durable and are environmentally friendly, will be popular choices in the New Year.

Natural Elements

In the upcoming year, homebuyers and homeowners will see more natural elements inspired by the Craftsman architectural style. Tapered wood porch columns stationed on stone bases, open gable porches, and cedar siding, particularly shingles, are making a comeback.

Nothing outshines copper gutters for instant curb appeal. And they check all the right boxes – they’re sustainable, durable, and relatively low-maintenance.

In addition to being both natural and sustainable materials, brick and stone are low-maintenance, giving a home’s exterior an enduring and timeless appearance. The upcoming trend is brick and stone being used together, for example, a brick exterior mixed with stone wainscoting.

Metal toned materials like copper gutters, pewter door handles, and brass mailboxes or mail slots boost curb appeal and expresses your personal style.

Environmentally Conscious

High on the trend-setting list for 2017 are sustainable materials. A product is considered sustainable if its life cycle (extraction, fabrication, disposal) is not harmful to people and the environment.

Transom windows are typically a smaller set of windows placed above regular windows or an entry door. While they were often added as a decorative detail, in today’s housing market, transom windows are being used to increase the amount of light in a room and improve ventilation.

In 2017, landscaping will be more eco-friendly and low-maintenance. The emphasis will be on landscape design that minimizes resources used to maintain a garden, such as planting perennials, reducing lawn size, and strategically planted trees to control shade and light.

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.


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.


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.

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.

Preventative Measures for Your Home Exterior

Life in general can sneak up on you and all of sudden you’re dealing with overflowing gutters or a leaky roof. Whether you’re living in your forever home or you’re planning on selling in a few years, keeping it well-maintained enhances curb appeal and increases resale value. Use these preventative measures to come up with your own comprehensive maintenance plan.

Don’t Ignore Red Flags

Signs of structural damage include: large cracks in the foundation and around windows and doors; settling of the house at one or more of the corners; sagging roofline; and components such as a deck, chimney or perpendicular walls moving away from one another.

Constantly overflowing gutters most likely are clogged or damaged in some other way.

The appearance of mold, mildew and rot in the gutters or on exterior walls is a sure sign of excess moisture from some unwanted source.

Damp patches appearing on interior ceilings, siding panels or roof shingles could indicate a serious or developing leak.

Don’t Put off Minor Repairs

A few missing roofing tiles, a cracked window pane or a loose downspout might not seem very significant. But if something isn’t working the way it should, it will eventually become critical if left unattended. Minor repairs now can save you a lot of money and stress later.

Do Inspections and Scheduled Maintenance

After severe weather, the end of a season or returning home from a vacation or business trip, walk around the exterior of your home, checking for signs of damage to the roof, the gutters, siding, windows and doors.

Inspect and/or clean the roof annually.

Thoroughly clean out the gutters at least once a year, twice or more if your property is surrounded by lots of trees.

Do Hire a Pro

Maybe you’re reluctant to hire a professional because of the expense, particularly if the task appears to be a minor one. But if you keep talking yourself out of cleaning the gutters or the small patch of mold on the siding is now covering three-quarters of the wall, hiring a licensed contractor to do the work for you could help prevent the problem from becoming worse. Most professional siding, roofing and gutter installation companies offer a free estimate or consultation to help determine what needs to be done and how much it will cost.