Vinyl siding is advertised as the antidote to exterior painting. Of course, board and shingle siding, aluminum and also steel siding do not always follow suit. Read on for must know tips and tricks that make installing exterior siding an informed decision.
Why Invest in Exterior Siding?
Exterior siding installations add to the aesthetic appeal of a home. Rather than dealing with crumbling stucco or discolored bricks, durable vinyl siding and curb appeal are virtually synonymous. Of course, in addition to looking nice, exterior siding is designed to shed water away from the home’s walls and protect it against the elements.
Which Siding is Best?
Vinyl siding has gotten a bad reputation, in part because PVC does not sit well with environmentalists who claim that the manufacture and disposal of the product harm the environment. The industry counters by pointing out that insulated vinyl siding actually increases a wall’s R-value and therefore aids in making the home more energy efficient.
Wood is iffy in areas where termites are a regular infestation and weathering – over time – renders wooden slats and boards looking unattractive. Then again, the 2004 fire test conducted on vinyl siding by the National Institute of Standards and Technology – as reported by Science Daily – showed that a fire spread between two homes with such siding in roughly five minutes, underscoring the fact that vinyl can be rather flammable.
This makes aluminum siding a good option. Of course, aluminum siding must be kept protected by paint to avoid oxidization. As outlined by Ask The Builder, it is possible to repaint this rather long-lasting exterior siding material, but this task requires a bit of know-how.
Tip: Contact a home inspector in your area and discuss siding with her. Find out what kinds of problems she encounters in her line of work on a daily basis, what exterior siding materials she finds hold up well, and which issues you should watch out for. Armed with this information, you will make a better buying decision.
Preparing the House for Exterior Siding Installations
During new construction, exterior siding installation takes place after the wall sheathing is put in place. Older homes may first need to have siding removed or walls prepared for the installation. Some installers suggest to simply place the new material over the old, but in the case of heavily damaged siding – or insufficient sheathing – this can pose more problems than it solves.
Tip: Take the opportunity to remove a portion of the existing siding and discuss the situation with a professional siding installer (not necessarily someone with whom you have contracted to do the job.) Ask his opinion about the condition of the sheathing, whether the home would benefit from having the old siding removed and, as suggested by Home Time, a house wrap should be installed for added insulation.
DIY or Professional Task?
There are plenty of websites that claim installing exterior siding is easy. There are also plenty of professional vinyl siding installers that claim it is difficult. The truth lies somewhere in the middle: if you are a handy person, not prone to procrastination, have radial-arm and circular saws as well as aviation shears in your garage, the odds are good that you might be able to handle the job with a few friends. If you even tangentially doubt your ability to prep, sheathe and side an entire house, find a reputable professional to do the job for you.
Warning: Do not dabble in siding removal or replacement; if you make mistakes and end up hiring a professional, the time spent undoing your work will add on to the cost of the job. In addition, if you install the siding incorrectly, the subsequent mold and moisture problems have a huge impact on the value and safety of the home. Only do the job yourself if you are certain you understand how to do it.