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Remodeling the Siding on your Home

January 12th, 2011

greyHouse Inc- Home Remodeling Blog, Raleigh, NC general contractor 

Remodeling the Siding on Your Home

The siding on your house composes 80%+ of your home’s exterior, making it the most visible – and significant, when it comes to protection – part of your home. It shields your home from the elements, keeps out wind, water and other nasty effects of Mother Nature, and weathers the extreme temperatures that are common here in the Raleigh area. In addition to those important qualities, you may be surprised to learn just how much curb appeal – and financial value – your property can gain simply by remodeling the siding.

If you’re considering siding replacement as an upcoming home remodeling project, you’ve got an important decision to make in deciding which siding product you’ll use on your home. Below we will look at the pros and cons of the two most popular siding products, vinyl siding and fiber-cement siding, in an effort to help you determine the product that best suits your home remodeling needs.

The Pros & Cons of Remodeling Your Home with Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is a popular choice for homeowners who want to replace siding on their homes without the mess that’s often associated with exterior painting (although it’s not as bad as people think – but that’s a blog for another time). Vinyl siding is typically relatively inexpensive and has a reputation for longevity, but like anything there are both pros and cons associated with choosing this product for your home remodeling project.

The Pros of Remodeling Your Home with Vinyl Siding

A Durabile Home Remodeling Product

One of the main reasons homeowners want to install vinyl siding is because of its reputation for being long-lasting and durable. Mostvinyl siding companies offer products that should last decades, and many have warranties to accompany it. The best warranties seem to be offered by CertainTeed, and to take advantage of them in full you’ll want to be sure you’re working with a home remodeler who is a CertainTeed Certified Installer. As with any home remodeling project, credentials of the home remodeling general contractor you select should include certifications from manufacturers who provide the products being installed in your home, and vinyl siding is no exception. Be sure to ask your home remodeler for a list of their credentials when it comes to vinyl siding – they should have a strong list associated with any product they’re recommending.

A Low Maintenance Remodeling Product

Vinyl siding is typically extremely easy to maintain. There is no need to ever paint it, and what minimal fading does occur will be uniformly throughout the building thanks to product technology developed over the last ten years. The only regular maintenance vinyl siding requires is a simple power-wash approximately once a year.

A Cost-Effective Remodeling Product

Over the term of its lifespan, vinyl siding is an extremely cost-effective choice as a home remodeling product. It is typically less expensive than its fiber-cement or wood counterparts, and over its life is certainly less expensive than products that consistently need to be repainted or repaired while on your home. The grain, thickness and even color can determine the cost of specific vinyl siding products, as well as upgrade options like additional insulation (which will ultimately help homeowners save money through their energy bills). For the best selection, use a credentialed home remodeler who can walk you through a selection of available products.

Aesthetic Appearance - It's Easy to See Your Home Remodeling Return

Between the grain patterns, colors, plank widths and thicknesses offered by vinyl siding manufacturers today, it’s hard to believe a homeowner won’t be able to find a product suited for his remodeling needs and tastes. Vinyl siding is now produced by a number of different methods to help give the product a more realistic wood-grain appearance, and color is baked into the product instead of simply being applied as before. This not only gives vinyl siding an aesthetically pleasing appearance, but also helps the product maintain that appearance throughout its lifespan and makes it resistant to showing scratches or small imperfections.

The Cons of Remodeling with Vinyl Siding

Severe Weather Susceptibility

While vinyl siding can withstand most typical weather conditions, it can be damaged in very severe weather and when it is, the entire panel will need to be replaced (though this is true of any siding product). Vinyl is often less durable than its wood and fiber-cement counterparts in extreme weather conditions, due largely to the product’s light weight. In the instance of vinyl more so than other siding products, extreme or violent winds can penetrate under the siding and lift panels from the wall, and blowing debris can puncture it.

Moisture Confinement

While vinyl siding needs little maintenance to maintain its fresh appearance, the product can trap moisture under its panels causing mold and mildew to grow. This can lead to problems with insects, which often breed in dark, moist environments. In extreme cases, underlying moisture that is left untreated can seep through to the inside of the house and cause dampness in walls and similar mold and mildew problems within.

Although these moisture-related problems seem intimidating, occurrence of severe instances are few and far between. A good home remodeling contractor who properly installs the siding can not only help eliminate the issue, but also educate you on the likelihood and prevention of a moisture-trapping problem.

Product Matching when Remodeling

While vinyl siding is offered in a full palette of colors and textures, matching the product for a home addition or siding replacement can be tricky – especially for older panels. Not only do vinyl siding manufacturers constantly change and update their color schemes, but fading of installed panels can further change the hue and make matching even more challenging. In this instance the best solution is a good remodeler who is well-versed in vinyl siding and can offer access to a wide variety of siding brands and products. The more selection that is available the better the chances are of exactly matching the product that’s currently on your home.

Whether you choose vinyl siding for the price, looks or its durability, it’s a strong option to consider if you’re looking for a durable and maintenance-free way to improve your home through a remodeling project.

The Pros & Cons of Remodeling Your Home with Fiber-Cement Siding

As it is with any product you’re considering using as part of your home remodeling project, thorough research into the products themselves and companies that manufacture them can help in the decision of which to use. Your home remodeler can help educate you in any product you’re considering, and if fiber-cement is on the table as an option for your siding remodel, you’ll want to consider these pros and cons before making your final decision.

The Pros of Remodeling with Fiber-Cement Siding

A Durable & Long-Lasting Remodeling Product

Unlike its vinyl counterpart, fiber-cement siding is impact resistant, not affected by moisture (when properly painted and installed) and won't shift like vinyl can with temperature swings. The longevity of the product is equal or better to vinyl, and it’s not as susceptible to damage or rattling caused by strong winds. Because of this durability, manufacturers of fiber-cement siding offer a slew of warranties to back up their products – some of them as long as 50 years. Ask your home remodeler for details on specific product warranties, as  their well as credentials and certifications for providing and installing fiber-cement products.

A Moisture-Resistant Remodeling Product

Again offering a solution for a problem associated with vinyl, fiber-cement siding isn't affected by moisture so it’s not susceptible to rot. Similarly, the worry about termites or other pests that threaten wood siding or can breed in the moisture-confined spaces under vinyl siding isn’t an issue with fiber-cement products.

Dimensionally Stable & A Low Maintenance Remodeling Product

Fiber-cement siding doesn't expand and contract in conjunction with changes in the environment like a vinyl product can, which makes it a good base for paint. The better paint adheres when it’s first applied, the less you’ll have to repaint over the course of the product’s lifespan and the better the paint will look.

Although painting the product is a viable option, manufacturers now offer fiber-cement products that are factory-painted and don’t need additional coats once it’s installed. Because the paint that's applied at the factory is done so under optimal conditions, it’s likely to last longer than conventional paint that’s applied at the time of installation. The most popular is James Hardie’s ColorPlus product, but CertainTeed has also released a similar product in recent years and both companies are continually making improvements to these products. Ask your home remodeler for a true product comparison.

Aesthetic Appearance - It's Easy to see your Home Remodeling Return

Similar to the current vinyl products that are on the market, fiber-cement siding has made major progress in the last decade in the ability to simulate a wood product. Because fiber-cement siding is available in panel, board and shake form, its imperative the products closely mimic their wood counterparts in appearance so they appear authentic. Many fiber-cement products are now cast into shape (as opposed to being pressed with a pattern as they were before), giving them a far more realistic appearance without the inherent drawbacks of an actual wood product.

You Can Feel Safe With A Fireproof Remodeling Product

Unlike any other siding products, fiber-cement is fireproof and carries a Class 1(A) fire/flame spread rating. Class 1 products have the highest level of fire protection, and this quality of fiber-cement siding alone is often reason enough for many homeowners to choose this as their home remodeling siding product.

The Cons of Remodeling With Fiber-Cement Siding

The Upfront Cost of the Remodeling Product

Although fiber-cement siding is offered in an array of styles, colors and qualities that affect the price, it is typically more expensive than a standard vinyl product. However, because it has the potential to outlast vinyl siding, many homeowners are easily able to justify the additional up-front cost based on the product’s longevity. Additionally, the pre-painted fiber-cement products come with the stigma of being more expensive – however, because the product doesn’t need to be painted, much of that cost (if not all and then some) is made up in savings through not having to incurr the expense of painting it. Because every product is different and the options are many, it’s important to ask your home remodeler before making a decision based on cost alone.

Installation Offers Some Challenges

The installation of this siding material poses some challenges in that it's heavy, awkward to handle (without risk of breakage) and has been rumored to create health problems caused by the dust that’s created when the product is cut. Although these issues aren’t ones homeowners deal with directly, it does mean it’s important to carefully consider and select your home remodeler if you’re considering fiber-cement siding for your home remodeling project.

Regardless of the reasons you choose either of these products for your home remodeling project, both have qualities that can easily satisfy the parameters of any homeowner. The best resource for learning about these products, their installation and long-term care is your home remodeler, so make sure you select your general contractor carefully and ask for a list of credentials. Once in their hands, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the process – and results – of home remodeling.


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