Home siding is the exterior look of a home, and it adds both appeal and value to the property. But besides the obvious cosmetic appeal, the siding’s true purpose is to protect from the elements and defend the house from intrusion from insects, fungus, and other infestations seeking to enter the home.
While today’s materials are more durable and longer lasting than ever, there will still come a time when the siding will need to be replaced. Disregarding this can lead to negative results in the upkeep of the home, and in some cases, physical damage that will cost many tens of thousands of dollars to repair. But there is no hard and fast rule for knowing when to replace the siding — because there are a variety of materials that can be used for the siding. One must first delineate the type of siding that is used and then search out its particular characteristics in order to see if damage is occurring — or warning signs are in evident that indicate the siding is ripe for replacement.
Vinyl siding has seen much play due to its relatively low cost and wide assortment of choices in color and design. To the eye, the vinyl can appear to be another material altogether, like wood shingles, while not giving up on the ease of use in positioning the siding on the home. Additionally, vinyl siding is extremely low maintenance, as no painting is required. But vinyl is quite susceptible to changes in the weather; for example, extremely cold weather can cause the vinyl to crack if it is impacted by a heavy object. Also, this cracking can occur if the siding has not been properly installed, with the ends of the siding moving outward from its configured position. All of this can be compounded if the vinyl has been installed over an existing siding, such as wood siding. This is a commonplace use for vinyl siding, but it does increase the risk of an improper installation that can be impacted by the weather and result in the vinyl being damaged. Typically a damaged vinyl siding must be replaced — it cannot be repaired, as the cost of new vinyl siding is significantly less than that of repair work.
A more recent addition to installation siding on the home is that of cement fiber. It is able to duplicate the appearance of wood and installs in a similar manner. Additionally, it comes in a variety of patterns and styles. Similar to vinyl in the low maintenance it requires, cement fiber is made from recycled materials and shows a regard for the planet. As a 50-year warranty is common practice with cement fiber siding, the fact that it will endure over a long time seems obvious. Still, it can be damaged by extreme weather conditions. A close inspection of cement fiber siding should thus be performed on a regular basis even though it will prove futile in most cases, especially when compared to the other siding materials.
Wood clapboard is one of the earliest materials used in siding and is often found in old homes. While the beauty of the wood is undeniable, it is also extremely susceptible to weather conditions. This can result in chipping, warping, and cracking of the wood, a few sure signs that replacement is needed. One shouldn’t expect massive damage to stand out either; searching close-up will show minute cracks and other types of damage that are not easily seen. Insect infestation is also an indication that replacement is needed, as is discoloration of the paint that is covering the wood.
Aluminum siding has the distinct advantage of being less susceptible to changes in the weather than wood, but it too will need replacement at some point in the life of the home. Telltale signs of damage are dents in the aluminum siding — a negative characteristic of the material — that have occurred from being impacted by objects (be that hail or a wayward baseball, or any number of other possibilities). The finish that is painted onto the aluminum siding, while giving it an esthetically improved look, is no more invulnerable to fading from sun exposure than any other finish on siding material. The aluminum siding can also experience runoff, which can only be seen from close inspection and the joints where one meets the other can have separated outward.
The type of siding that is covering the house is as much a statement about the lifestyle of the person inhabiting it as it is a protective shell. Regular maintenance of the home will keep the need to replace the siding to a minimum, as well as ensuring that other problems that the house might develop are caught early on before they can even become a damaging factor.