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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.

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.

When is a Really Good Deal Just a Scam?

Home improvements not only make a house more functional, they also add beauty and resale value. While there are many dependable, highly skilled contractors, unfortunately, some are not. When planning renovations this summer, use these tips to tell a really good deal from just a scam.

Types of Home Improvement Fraud

Does the roof need replacing? Is the siding of your home a little worse for wear? Have you wanted to build a ground floor addition where the old garage used to be? Home improvement fraud comes in all kinds of guises such as driveway repair, replacing the roof, siding repairs or replacement and “fixing” structural issues.

Warning Signs

Fortunately, there are identifiable warning signs that can help a potential victim avoid home improvement fraud. The most common signs are fraudulent “contractors” will:

  • appear on your doorstep claiming they were in the neighbourhood or they had done renovations for someone on your street
  • quote a very low price
  • offer special deals – only good for one day; free paint; discount because materials were leftover from another job
  • tell you the work they do will be covered by your home insurance policy – most policies don’t cover the costs of home improvements
  • want payment before the work begins – possible indication that they don’t have the money to buy materials or they have no intention of doing the renovation
  • have no permanent indicators of a company affiliation like a truck with a logo, legitimate licenses/certifications, and proper contact information (YP listing, real website, etc.)

Ways to Prevent from being Scammed

Nice weather seems to bring out the itinerant roofers, pavers, landscapers, and gutters and siding installers intent on not providing the services they promise. To prevent from being scammed:

  • check all credentials, licenses and any other documentation they provide – if something doesn’t look or feel right, confirm with the appropriate board, agency or municipal office; legit businesses have a paper trail that can be followed
  • insist on an itemized estimate that clearly outlines what work is to be done, material costs, labour costs, and a stated percentage of how much more than the original estimate can be charged
  • avoid unsolicited offers; get a recommendation from a family member or co-worker
  • don’t cave into someone else’s sense of urgency – if they talk too fast, offer a low price if you sign right now, or pressure you into making a decision, ask yourself why or what are they hiding?

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.

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.

The Right Materials for Soffit, Fascia and Siding

While soffit and fascia aren’t as noticeable on your home’s exterior as siding is, they do play a significant role in protection from water damage. And like siding, soffit panels and fascia boards add an aesthetic element to its overall appearance. Selecting the right materials for soffit, fascia and siding also strengthens the building envelope and increases your home’s curb appeal.

Materials for Soffit and Fascia

Soffit panels enclose the underside of the roof edge. They are available in vented (allows air to circulate) and unvented options. Fascia boards cover the ends of the roof rafters. In the past, the material of choice for soffit and fascia was wood. Today, many soffit and fascia installations are made of aluminum. Another popular material for both soffit and fascia panels is vinyl.

Using metal or vinyl instead of wood eliminates potential wood rot; reduces the effects of water damage; and decreases the amount of warping that can occur.

Aluminum soffits and aluminum fascia are made from different grades or thicknesses. The thicker or higher the grade, the better the soffits and fascia will withstand the elements. Vinyl soffits and vinyl fascia also come in a range of thicknesses; the thicker the panels, the more protection they will offer.

Materials for Siding

The top four materials for siding are aluminum, fiber cement, vinyl and wood.

Aluminum siding and fiber cement siding are naturally resistant to fire, rotting or insect infestations. Vinyl siding is the most cost effective, but has the shortest lifespan.

Treated wood siding decreases its vulnerability to the effects of water.

Soffit, Fascia and Siding Material Tips

Replacing wood soffit and fascia with metal or vinyl can reduce the risk of injury when maintaining hard-to-reach soffits and fascia panels. Depending on the size and shape of a house, access to soffit and fascia can be awkward or difficult.

Materials for soffit, fascia and siding should be: easy to maintain; durable; strong; and create a unified appearance for your home’s exterior.

When choosing a siding material, consider the size and architectural style of the home; regional and local environmental conditions; and the cost, both to purchase and maintain.

Fiber Cement Siding for Your Home

Siding protects your home from the elements, doesn’t have to be painted and is durable. But some types, like cedar siding, are higher maintenance than others. What if you could have the look and feel of wood siding without the disadvantages? Fiber cement siding or Hardie board is an attractive alternative.

What is it Made Of?

Fiber cement siding is a composite material made by combining wood fibers with other substances like cement, sand, clay and crushed stone. The variety, combination and concentration of elements create the desired appearance, texture, durability and strength of the fiber cement. It is manufactured in sheets of boards, planks or shingles in varying thicknesses.

Advantages

There are several other advantages to choosing fiber cement siding for your home. These include:

  • uniformity – the appearance of grains of natural wood products vary from tree to tree
  • durability – isn’t prone to warping, splitting or rotting
  • doesn’t expand and contract as much as wood siding or aluminum siding
  • available in a range of colors and textures including stucco and cedar siding
  • resistant to fire, wind, water and insects
  • stable in constantly changing weather conditions
  • holds paint well; few reported incidents of peeling or blistering
  • low maintenance

Disadvantages

As with any kind of siding material, some disadvantages of fiber cement siding or Hardie board are:

  • costs more than vinyl siding, aluminum siding and some types of wood siding
  • is heavier than most of kinds of siding
  • installations can be more complicated due to its heaviness and tendency to be brittle when cutting
  • typically installed by professionals only due to health concerns caused by dust

Right for Your Home?

Knowing the pros and cons can sometimes confuse the issue. How can you tell if fiber cement siding is right for your home? Things to consider that might help you to make a final decision are:

  • if you want your new siding to be a do-it-yourself project, another kind of siding material might be a better choice
  • the budget of your siding project
  • where you live and how much rainfall you get
  • architectural style and size of your home
  • the ambiance you want your home exterior to have (cottage, Craftsman, modern, etc.)

Shake up Your Home with Cedar Siding

Siding is designed to protect your home from the elements. While it must be functional, the siding material you choose should also be esthetic, complementing the architectural style to create a harmonious exterior. Durable and beautiful, cedar is a popular choice for homes in the Pacific Northwest. Cedar siding also appeals to homeowners because, left in its natural state, the wood shakes develop a silvery patina over time.

Depending on the type of cedar, the colour ranges from soft blond to golden honey to deep browns to rich reds. Cedar naturally repels many types of insects that penetrate and damage wood surfaces and structures. It is also moisture-resistant, reducing the possibility of mold and mildew buildup. If the siding matches the climate conditions, it can also reduce utility bills and help to make your house more energy efficient.

If selecting an environmentally friendly siding material is one of your priorities, cedar is a natural choice. It is sustainable, recyclable, produces fewer greenhouse gases, and generates less water and air pollution when being produced than other siding materials. Additional benefits of cedar siding are: immune to changing weather, humidity and temperature conditions; possesses a higher insulating value; and retains its moisture and distinctive wood grain.

Cedar siding produced from trees is typically available in shakes, shingles, clapboard and planks. Mixing and matching different kinds of cedar siding will give a home exterior a unique appearance while adding texture and visual interest. Panels can be installed horizontally, vertically or a combination of vertical and horizontal. While it does have a reputation for being high maintenance, there are simple methods you can use for keeping cedar siding looking new and in good shape.

Cedar siding generally is associated with architectural styles like rustic, cottage or country. It also can be found on many types of heritage facades including bungalow, craftsman and Cape Cod. But cedar siding is becoming more common on contemporary and modern residential buildings. Stark cedar planks, vivid staining techniques or specific cedar plank orientation produce dramatic effects suited to contemporary and modern architecture.