Alternative Siding Options
For today's homebuilder there are many siding options that won't break their budgets. Engineered wood and cultured stone are two, but perhaps the most common low-cost siding option is vinyl.
"One of the biggest siding or exterior cladding system choices now is vinyl," said John Broniek, manager of builder programs at IBACOS. "It's very popular, especially for production homes. You have many colors, it's very durable, low maintenance, which people appreciate."
For those of you who like the look of wood, vinyl siding is a perfect alternative because it captures the distinctive look of wood — but at a lower cost.
Like vinyl siding, fiber-cement siding is another material that's becoming more popular with homeowners and builders alike. This new innovation is basically cement board, which can look like regular vinyl or wood siding. The only difference is that it's made with cement-type material, and when you put it on your house it can last for decades — with little maintenance required. Most manufacturers have at least 50-year warranties, and it's a durable product that installs as easily as regular siding.
Note: Vinyl and fiber-cement siding can cost up to 25 percent "less" than high-end siding options such as brick, wood and stone.
Low-Cost Siding Drawbacks
Like all siding materials, some of these low-cost alternatives have drawbacks. For example, fiber-cement siding is much heavier than traditional siding options and needs some moisture barrier underneath to ensure its waterproof qualities. Exterior building products aren't 100 percent watertight. In fact, water will get around them somehow — either through them or around them at windows and doors. This means a secondary line of protection is necessary to protect the building that's behind it.
A drawback of vinyl siding is that it doesn't come in as many colors that can be painted on traditional wood.
How Long Will Siding Last?
Regardless of whether you're using a high-end siding or low-cost alternative to cover your home's exterior, you'll want the siding to last as long as possible. The longevity depends upon two things:
- The durability of the product.
- How well the product is maintained.
Durability is an important quality of exterior building products, but it's vital to remember that the materials will be exposed to the extent of what Mother Nature can throw at them in terms of wind, rain, sun, rain, snow and more. All exterior building materials will deteriorate over time.
You can make the building product last longer if you maintain it extremely well. Vinyl siding requires little maintenance, but wood siding requires much more. One of the easiest ways to ensure a longer life for your siding is to keep it clean.
With vinyl or stucco siding, cleaning is as simple as using a garden hose to wash it. With high-end options such as wood, you'll need to have paint or a wood sealant applied by an installation professional or if you're a do-it-yourselfer, you. Once the elements have worn through the out sealant, they'll have to be replaced.
So after you've chosen a material, make sure that your builder has purchased a siding that has a long-term warranty. And once you've moved into your home, remember to clean and repaint or reseal the siding on a regular basis.