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Buyer's Guide for Exterior Siding (page 2 of 6)

Getting ready to re-side your house? Compare costs, weigh pros and cons, and learn how each of today's most popular siding materials rank when it comes to being earth-friendly.

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Image courtesy of Bear Creek

Wood

Few building materials have the natural charm and beauty of wood clapboard and shingle siding. Prized for its warmth and workability, wood siding is the choice for a premium renovation project.

Wood siding comes in many species and grades. What you choose usually depends on how you plan to finish the siding. Using a clear sealer or semi-transparent stain highlights the grain, but you'll need to select more expensive grades of wood that are free of knots and other blemishes. Choose less-expensive grades for use with paint or opaque stains.

With dedicated maintenance, wood can last generations. Clear finishes should be reapplied every two years; semi-transparent stains every three years; and paints every five years. That kind of diligence adds up — a complete refinishing job is $2,000 to $5,000.

Upside: Wood is easy to cut and shape, and can be installed by reasonably skilled DIYers. It's a great-looking material prized by architects, designers and homeowners for its natural beauty.

Downside: Better grades of wood can be pricey. Diligent maintenance adds to the overall cost. Retrofitting with wood siding requires removing existing siding materials.

Green meter: Wood siding is considered a highly sustainable material that breaks down easily in landfills. The best grades are made from old-growth timber. To relieve the pressure on old-growth forests, choose wood siding that's certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as being harvested from sustainable forests.

Cost: Clapboard siding: $5 to $8 per square foot, installed. Expect to pay $14,000 to $23,000 to have wood siding professionally installed on an average two-story house.

Cost: Shingle siding: $6 to $9 per square foot, installed.

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