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Question DetailsAsked on 5/21/2013

Best exterior siding

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A lot of this depends on your aesthetic preferences and budget - just like countertops, where some people like granite, some laminate, some stainless steel, etc. To a GREAT extent what is best depends less on which type product you choose than non the quality of the installation - the best siding product can be a nightmare of leaks if installed wrong or shoddily. Your success will ultimately depend on a good quality product from a reputable manufacturer who will give AND STAND BEHIND its warranty over the years, and expert installation by a contractor who knows how to attend to the trim, sealing and caulking details that make all the difference between watertight and not.

Before talking to contractors, you should preview the different materials by taking a scan on the web, take a trip to your local lumberyard or box store to see what they carry, and also drive around and look at what is exposed on home in your neighborhood and in new subdivisions.

Briefly -

1) Panel products like T-111 siding, painted plywood or OSB, etc. - similar issues to Wood below, but bear in mind that these are laminated or glued wood products, so if water gets into the wood surface layer they will bulge, buckle, and start shedding pieces or slivers - OSB more so than plywoods. Not waterproof - only the paint or stain keeps water from damaging it. Frost damage resistant. Susceptible to insects, wildfire. Easy for homeowner to maintain/repair.

2) Wood looks best to a lot of people, but unless you intend to show the grain (i.e. clear or stain finish) wih the exception of brushed or rough-cut wood like cedar it will not look any different than an artificial panel product after painting. Needs pressure washing and repainting about every 5-10 years (on lesser side unless top-notch paint is used), or serious maintenance and rehab will be needed. Inexpensive, and less susceptible to installation errors than most other finishes. Frost damage resistant. Not waterproof - only the paint keeps water from damaging it. Susceptible to insects (except for VERY expensive types like Redwood and some cedars cypress), wildfire. Easy for homeowner to maintain / repair.

3) Vinyl - economic, can be gotten prepainted or painted (by professional, with proper prep) in color desired. Cuts and goes up easy, but susceptible to splitting and corner breaking if improperly nailed, susceptible to paint peeling, and in locales with intense sunlight exposure, to splitting. Watertight if properly installed. Generally considered to be longer-lasting than wood. Frost damage resistant. Unaffected by almost all insects, but not more than minimally fire resistant and will burn very hot and poisonously. Easy for homeowner to maintain/repair.

4) Steel/aluminum siding - can be prepainted, goes up cheap though initial cost higher. Requires expertise in spacing to avoid kinking and bulges from solar heating. Watertight if properly installed. Longer-lasting that above coverings. Requires attention to maintenance painting at damaged/weathered spots before it starts corroding/rusting. Frost damage immune. Immune to insects, fire (though underlayers and sealing materials will burn well if exposed to high heat). Repainting/repair usually requires expert.

5) Cement/HardiBoard - can be prepainted, goes up fairly cheap though initial cost higher. Long lasting, relatively easy to repaint if first coat was properly primed and painted so it does not peel before needing repainting. Water resistant (water vapor can penetrate if not well painted) if properly installed. Some problems with splitting and breaking where nailed - depends a lot on brand and on expert installation. Frost damage resistance still in question - some brands have had cracking problems due to freezing of contained moisture. Immune to insects, fire (though underlayers and sealing materials will burn if exposed to high heat). Repainting/repair usually requires expert.

6) Plastic/fibreglass panelling - rarely used except for architectural purposes. Waterproof if properly gasketed at edges. Very susceptible to sun damage, which usually dramatically shortens its life where exposed to direct sunlight. Insect and frost resistance good to excellent. Fire resistance very poor to dangerous. Security risk - easy to break through.

7) Brick/stone- most expensive, low maintenance, available in limited colors. Can be painted but doing so greatly reduces the value of a home. Water resistant if properly maintained, though water vapor can penetrate from long exposure to water. Frost damage resistance dependent on keeping water from standing on it or getting into/behind it, and keeping grout sealed. Insect and fire proof (extreme heat may spall it, but is considered a fireproof surface as far as fire resistance.) Very expensive to use on more than bottom 3 feet in high earthquake zones.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD

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