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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.

Why a Garage Needs Gutters

Installing gutters on a house make sense, but do you really need gutters on a detached garage? Whether the garage is built on a concrete slab or is supported by a full foundation, adding gutters to a garage’s roof does the same thing they do on your home – direct water safely away from the foundation.

Type of Garage

Backyard buildings, including garages, often serve a variety of purposes. When a garage is multi-purpose, it’s an even more compelling reason to install a gutter system. Today, many one-car and two-car garages include a combination of features such as garden tool storage, attached workshop, and loft storage. Properly channeling rainwater from the roof to the ground will protect not just your vehicle but your other possessions and projects kept inside the garage.

Location of Garage

Where the garage is located is a deciding factor when thinking about installing gutters on a detached garage. Without aluminum gutters or vinyl gutters, water pours off the roof from all sides. If the garage is close to your home, water from the garage roof could seep into the basement. The same applies to a garage without gutters that is near a patio, deck, fire pit or sidewalk.

Water Coming Down

Without gutters, when it rains, you might have to walk through a curtain of water when entering or leaving the garage. Depending on the fit and/or condition of the garage door, water not channeled through a gutter system might leak underneath the door and into the garage. This could especially be problematic if the roof slopes toward rather than away from the garage door.


If there are no gutters on a garage, the water exits directly onto the ground. Over time, this can seriously erode the soil around the building’s perimeter. You will be able to see it as a “trench” or deep depression. Soil erosion can make the concrete slab or garage foundation unstable and vulnerable to cracking, sinking or shifting.

Damage to Siding

Installing gutters on a garage prevents damage to siding. No matter what type of siding it is – wood siding, vinyl siding, cedar shingles – when water is allowed to go wherever it wants it can cause irreparable damage. Should moisture get in behind siding panels or cedar shingles, it can invite mold growth or insect infestation. Where siding is close to the ground, splash back can ruin its finish (discoloration, peeling, bubbling, etc.).

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

What to Expect When Getting Siding Installed

Image credit: jim/unprofound

Image credit: jim/unprofound

You’ve decided to redo the siding of your home’s exterior. Now what? Most types of siding installations can be done at any time of the year. When installing new vinyl siding or Hardie board, knowing what to expect might make the process a little easier.

Getting Ready

While a good siding contractor and their team will be diligent when working on your property, plan on covering any landscaping that might be damaged during the installation process. Ensure that there will be an area free of obstacles for the crew to unload siding materials and other supplies. Provide access to an outlet for power tools. By the time they are scheduled to begin the siding installation, you will want to have removed:

  • items from shelving units and walls such as pictures, vases, books, ornaments, etc.
  • items like patio furniture, the barbecue, container plants from near where the installers will be working
  • vehicles from the driveway and/or garage

During the Siding Installation

Duration: How long the siding installation will take depends on a number of factors including the size of the house, the type of siding material being installed and weather conditions. A standard siding installation can take up to two weeks to complete. Since there will be a lot of noise while the crew is working, plan on being out of the house during the day.

Hours: It will be early – a siding installation crew can be on site as early as 7 or 8 in the morning and work until early evening (4 to 6 p.m. daylight permitting).

As they go: A siding crew generally removes the siding for the area immediately being worked on. Any sections that will be left without siding overnight will typically have the new weather barrier for protection.

After the Siding Installation

Minor repairs: After the siding installation is complete, minor repairs might be required. During the installation process, caulking around the trim of windows and doors can crack; small cracks on interior walls might appear; or drywall nails become loose.

Clean-up: An installation crew will usually clean-up after the siding has been installed, including the removal of the old siding material and other kinds of debris. Consult your contract with the siding contractor for specifics.

Follow-up: When the siding installation had been completed, many siding installation contractors will arrange a follow-up consultation. It might include an inspection to confirm that the work done meets expectations; answer any questions; and address any outstanding concerns.