When I first started building homes, the only siding I thought should be used to cover a home was wood. As the years went by I began to see the advantages of using the alternative sidings of vinyl and cement board. Both sidings are ecologically sound and economical.
Initially, wood siding can look great on a new house. Over time, Mother Natures elements can diminish the beauty of wood siding. The sun can fade the paint or stain on the siding. The sun can also dry out the siding, causing it to cup, crack, and split, sometimes to the point of replacement.
A wet climate can attract insects. Some of the most common critters are carpenter ants, termites, and silver fish. If these insects are present on or behind the siding, they can attract birds such as woodpeckers. They can peck away till there is a hole in the siding, giving them access to food and opening up a home to possible water damage and more insects.
Depending on the size of a house that has had wood siding installed, up keep and maintenance can be an expensive proposition. Eventually, a house sided with wood will have to be repainted. For the do-it-yourself weekend warrior, this could take a whole summer of weekends. Should one contract the job out to a painting contractor, the cost could run into the thousands.
Vinyl and cement sidings have virtually eliminated most if not all of the above mentioned problems that can come with a house clad with wood siding. Both are made of materials that seemed to be ignored by insects and birds.
Cement siding is relatively new to residential construction compared to wood, aluminum, steel and vinyl. Unlike wood sidings, cement siding will not crack, split,
cup or warp when exposed to the elements and should last a lifetime. One drawback to cement siding is the fact that it has to be painted. Being exposed to the weather, at some point a house with this siding will have to be repainted. Of the two alternative sidings mentioned here, cement siding is more expensive. It is also more labor intensive to install.
Vinyl has displaced all other materials as the siding of choice in residential construction. There are a variety of reasons for this rise in popularity and its easy to see why. Unlike the former siding champ, aluminum, vinyl will not dent and scratches do not show as much because the color is all the way through. Once one chooses the sidings color, it may never have to be painted. Vinyl will not split, crack, or cup like wood. It also does not attract insects like wood. Vinyl is economical, virtually maintenance free, and easy to install.
Everyone has their preferences when it comes to exterior finishes. With rising costs of natural materials, these preferences may change. As time goes on these alternative materials will keep expanding their place in the building industry.
Mike Merisko (C) 2007