Choosing the Right Siding for Your Home

More than any other feature, people focus on a home’s overall appearance. According to a survey from Professional Home Builder magazine, 61% of homeowners consider curb appeal to be the most important consideration when it comes to choosing a home, and a large component of that appeal is your home’s exterior finish.

There are a number of options a homeowner can choose when selecting a protective material to clad the exterior of their home. Working in combination with the roof, your home’s wall cladding forms the first line of defense against extreme temperatures and potentially destructive elements. By carefully selecting your home’s external cladding, you can create a more comfortable environment inside the home, while enhancing the property’s curb appeal.

While your choice in exterior cladding is often led by aesthetics, that choice must also be appropriate for the climate you live in. This exterior cladding will be your primary protective layer between your home and the elements. While there are a wide variety of materials that can be used, each with its own benefits and drawbacks, here are six of most popular options, along with some tips on how to pick the right siding to help your home shine.

Vinyl Siding

Standard vinyl siding is one of the most cost-effective ways to create a watertight external barrier, while giving your home an updated look. Vinyl siding offers homeowners simplicity and affordability. It doesn’t require a lot of maintenance — typically a good power washing in the spring or a scrub with a sponge and some soap and water. The biggest advantage is that vinyl siding is relatively inexpensive and the material is quite capable of lasting decades. Plus, it’s possible for a proficient do-it-yourselfer, who is willing to spend a bit on the specialized tools, to complete this job themselves. The biggest drawback is the lack of detailed options (it comes in a variety of colors, but doesn’t offer many other aesthetic options), plus the material is susceptible to denting.

Wood Siding

Wood siding gives your home a warm and natural look. As a timeless siding option — used as much now as it was a century ago — wood siding is best selected based on the trees that are native to your area. Popular options include Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir or Pine. A big advantage to wood siding is that many species, particularly cedar, are naturally decay resistant and it doesn’t cost a lot, in terms of time or money, to replace a damaged section of your home’s wood siding. Plus, wood siding can often last two to four decades — sometimes longer, if a homeowner is meticulous about its upkeep. The downside is the cost — it can be expensive, when compared to other siding options, the fact that it’s flammable, and it requires annual maintenance. Still, if you can afford it and don’t mind the yearly maintenance commitments, wood siding offers a timeless, elegant look.

Fiber Cement Siding (Hardie)

If you want a durable, high-value siding option, consider fiber cement siding (also known as Hardie board, a brand name that helped popularize this type of siding). These boards offer strong durability due to a mixture of clay, cement, pulp and sand that are compressed together to form a sturdy cladding, yet highly resistant to all kinds of weather. One of the biggest advantages of Hardie board is that the siding offers a wide range of aesthetic choices; you can choose various colors, different shapes (from long boards to shingles) to a variety of finishes that can make the boards appear like wood. Better still, fiber cement siding resists cracks, burns and rot. Probably the one downside is that fiber -cement siding is hard to install as a do-it-yourselfer, particularly if you want your new exterior cladding to come with a warranty.

Stucco Siding

Stucco is a siding material that is applied, rather than installed. Made of Portland cement, sand, lime and water, this mixture is applied three times over a lath base. Each time the application hardens it provides a solid, durable and seamless home exterior. The biggest advantages of stucco are its natural resistance to fire, its relatively inexpensive cost, and the low annual and life-long need to maintain this type of exterior. If regularly (and often professionally) cleaned, stucco can last as long as 50 years or more. The downside is that stucco has fallen out of favor, when it comes to aesthetic appeal, which means that buyers often don’t value this type of home exterior as much as other options.

Stone Veneers

Installing stone veneer on the exterior of your home is one of the more expensive siding options, but when it comes time to sell, it’s also got one of the highest returns (92%) of any remodelling project, according to Remodeling magazine. Other than adding to your home’s value, an advantage of stone veneers is that it requires very little maintenance, if installed properly, and can last two to four decades. To help cut costs, select a synthetic stone veneer. This will reduce the overall installation cost and add another three decades onto the lifespan of your home’s exterior siding.  

Choosing the right siding can dramatically change your home exterior appearance. Choose from one of these six popular styles and you’re sure to find an option that best suits your home's style and meets your needs for maintenance and durability.