Siding Basics

Siding refers to any kind of material that is placed on the exterior of a home. Learn about the basics and the different types available for your home.
siding basics

siding basics

Figure D

Siding Basics

As you begin to cover the frame of your home, it's important to understand the two primary functions of the exterior siding:

  • The first is to provide protection from the elements, such as rain, snow or ice.
  • The second is to provide an aesthetically pleasing look that matches the rest of your house.

Siding That Protects

There are many types of siding you can choose for the exterior of your home. Wood, brick and vinyl are just a few, but what's important is how well they keep out one of nature's most common elements — water.

"Water penetration is far and away the most disastrous effect that can happen on a house. It's the easiest way to have a house see all sorts of problems, whether it's structurally or in terms of mold growth — or just having it break down," said John Broniek, manager of building programs at IBACOS.

Some kinds of siding are better than others for keeping moisture at bay, and among them are aluminum and vinyl siding, which are perfect for wet climate regions of the country. Other materials such as wood, stucco or stone may be aesthetically pleasing but are less affective as water barriers. If you have heavy rainfall in your region, these are not the best choices for your siding because they probably won't hold up and could develop problems with mold.

Vinyl, aluminum, cement and brick, however, do work well in wet climates.

Siding That Looks Good

Once you've considered what kind of siding is best at handling the elements in your particular climate, it's time to look at the second function of siding — the aesthetic one.

"Another aspect of exterior building products are their aesthetic value that they give to a house. They're often the first thing that a person sees as they drive up to a house, so it's important that it's very presentable because it adds to the quality and the character of the house," John said.

Choosing a siding material that's appealing to the eye, however, is a purely subjective choice. Some potential homeowners may like the elegant look of brick or the traditional look of wood siding, while others may prefer cultured stone or stucco, which is a combination of lime, sand and water and is actually a modern version of ancient adobe construction — a building technique introduced more than 400 years ago by Native Americans.

Note: Exterior building materials can vary in price; therefore, it's important to balance your choice of siding with your budget.

Siding Cost

Because siding options vary widely in their cost, making a choice can be pretty tough, especially when you throw in concerns about water resistance and aesthetic value. You'll need to take time and research the siding options "before" you make the purchase.

Constructive Advice: Whether it's brick, wood or any other product that you've chosen for your siding material, make sure that you don't just pick a sample from a showroom. Go out and look at examples in your neighborhood of how that material will look on a larger scale. Seeing that choice in a larger context will help prevent disappointment and expensive replacements in the future.

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