Educational Consumer Tips
Home Siding and Re-siding
Selecting siding for your house is like choosing furniture or a major appliance; it must be durable, attractive and within your price range. When you combine those prerequisites with the wide array of siding available, making the choice can be difficult. Whether you are having a new house constructed, or planning a major facelift for your existing home, there are a number of factors to consider when selecting exterior siding. For example you should consider your own taste, the style of your house, the prevailing styles in the neighborhood, siding types, quality costs, and complexity of the installation process. Applying your own siding may be a challenging, but difficult, do-it-yourself project that possibly can save 50 percent or more of the overall costs. However, other factors influence the cost. For example, do you want low maintenance aluminum or vinyl? Do you want to have it professionally installed, at an additional price? Whichever siding type you choose, it will not be inexpensive. However, new siding, carefully applied, will enhance the appearance and the value of your home.Siding types
There are several different types of home siding, including wood, stucco, aluminum, vinyl and steel.
Wood siding, which comes in the form of large panels, shingles, or individual horizontal or vertical boards, is the most widely used residential siding, and offers a variety of choices. Because wood is a porous, organic material which absorbs and gives off moisture, deterioration of the product may occur over time if not properly maintained.
Wood panel sidings are made of plywood or hardboard, which is constructed of heat-processed wood pulp pressed into sheets. Panels are normally 4' by 8',4' by 9', and 4' by 10'.
Plywood siding styles include smooth and rough finishes. Hardboard siding comes in an even wider variety of styles, ranging from stucco to embossed sheets that resemble shingles.
Boards or solid-wood siding, both horizontal and vertical, run the gamut of styles. Board siding styles to consider include: vertical board-and-batten; bevel or bungalow; drop tongue and groove; or shiplap.
Shingle siding, which gives a rustic look, is another choice of wood. The relatively high cost of shingles is offset by several factors: you may be able to install it yourself; it is not intended to be painted, although it does benefit from periodic stains or sealants; and it will last for years.
Stucco is one of the most durable sidings available for houses. Made of concrete, stucco is applied in three separate coats, with the desired color pigment mixed into the finish coat, so that painting is not required. Stucco however, does present some problems. It is physically difficult to apply, requires careful application, and may crack if applied incorrectly.
Aluminum siding comes in two basic styles, giving the appearance of either wide or narrow horizontal board siding, and offering a choice of several colors of factory-applied enamel coatings. Because of its greater variety of styles, colors, and textures than any other siding products, aluminum siding is easily adaptable to a wide range of architectural styles.
The chief advantages of aluminum siding are longevity and relatively low maintenance. Aluminum is a very stable substrate whose characteristics do not change much overtime. Better aluminum products are finished with premium coating specifically formulated for toughness, long-term durability and low maintenance.
Vinyl is applied in much the same way as aluminum and has a similar appearance when completed. Because vinyl is a plastic, this type of siding is generally more flexible and easier to work with than aluminum; but there is still a great amount of precise cutting and fitting. Vinyl will not dent and scratches are not a problem, since the color is uniform throughout.
However, vinyl expands and contracts more than other materials, and this must be allowed for during installation. When subjected to extreme cold, vinyl siding tends to become stiff and loses some of its strength. Although vinyl siding will not shatter, it may crack from a hard impact. Cracked or broken panels, however, may be replaced.
Steel siding is popular in areas of the country where major hail storms are prevalent. Like aluminum and vinyl, it is available in different colors and is extremely durable. However, steel siding requires professional installation.
Hiring a contractor
In conducting your search for a home siding contractor, check your Yellow Pages and newspaper's classified section. Ask friends, relatives and associates to recommend a reputable contractor. Obtain names and phone numbers, so that you can contact the contractors for additional information, including references. Also, be sure to check potential contractors with the local Better Business Bureaus.
When hiring a contractor, you should consider the contractor's experience and reputation; the quality of the product and its warranty; and the total price of the installation, including labor and materials.
To inquire about the contractor's work experience, ask for the names of several previous customers in your locale. After checking the references and qualifications of three or four contractors, ask them to come view your home and bid on the job. It is important to follow up on the contractor's references to make certain their previous work was performed satisfactorily.
Make sure the company is licensed, bonded and the employees who will perform the work are insured. Some states require that contractors be licensed and include their license number on any written agreement to perform a job. If you have a complaint, contact the contractor's state licensing board.
Before accepting a bid, make sure the following items are included in a written contract:
- The specific materials to be used in the job. This includes the particular brand of siding and the type of insulation, if any.
- A written fixed price to be changed for the work to be performed.
- Dates when the job will be started and completed.
- The manufacturer's warranty for the product.
- A building contract, if required.
- A guarantee of the contractor's work for a specified time period.
- The requirement of a deposit of no more than one-quarter (25%) of the fee in advance, with a payment schedule for the remaining balance.
Installing siding yourself
If you decide to install the siding yourself, instead of hiring a contractor, you should consider the following:
- Will you do the job alone or will friends help?
- Will you have time to complete the job, once you start?
- Are you willing to do the physical labor?
- Are you willing to work from a ladder or scaffold?
Contact a building supply house, or lumber company, for assistance with your home siding project. They can give you do-it-yourself tips and guides for installing siding, as well as information about where to obtain a building permit. The do-it-yourself guides will tell you how to measure your home for siding, what tools are needed, and the amount of materials required.
Do-it-yourself guides can also be purchased at drug stores, book stores, or borrowed from your local library.
When installing siding on a new construction, exterior wall sheathing will be necessary for insulation. Even residing work might require a new layer of foam sheathing to improve the insulation value of the walls. Foam sheathings are not meant for exposed applications and should be covered with siding as soon as possible.
If your house is currently sided with asbestos, a contractor is required in order to follow special siding procedures. You should never install the siding yourself if asbestos is involved.
Due to energy conservation, more attention is being given to insulated siding. There are two types: factory laminated backer board, and separate drop-in panels. The drop-in panels come in convenient lengths and are installed on the job site. They simply drop behind the siding panels as the panels are engaged in the interlock.
In a re-siding project, new siding can often be applied over old. However, if your house is not insulated, you may want to have the old siding removed. After the siding is removed, fiberglass insulation batts can be installed. In addition to cutting your fuel bills, the insulation--always placed with the vapor barrier toward the warm side of the house -- will prevent moisture inside the house from moving through the walls, causing the paint to peel off the exterior walls of your home.
If you decide to have new siding installed directly over the old, you will eliminate a big removal job, and your house will stay protected while you work. Insulation may still be installed, if your house does not already have it. Sheets of rigid insulation, can be nailed to the existing siding and the new siding placed over the sheets. This procedure, in addition to insulating the house, also provides a smooth surface for attaching the new siding.
Tips to remember
- The various types of siding have their own pros and cons; and opinion differs widely on which is best.
- Some factors to consider when making a selection should include your personal taste; cost of labor and materials; product durability; the installation process; and whether you will attempt to perform the job yourself or hire a professional contractor.
- Before hiring any contractor make sure you thoroughly check out the prospect's business and workmanship.
- Contact previous customers about job skills/performance, and your local Better Business Bureau or state consumer protection agency for a reliability report.
- Have all terms of the contract put in writing, including, but not limited to: dates when the project is to be started and completed; costs of labor and materials; the specific types of materials to be used; warranties and guarantees regarding product durability and workmanship; and any other items that you want expressed with respect to the manner in which the job is to be performed.
- The quality of the finished siding job depends on good preparation of the work surface, especially for re-siding jobs. This means all loose boards and wood trim must be securely nailed; any rotten boards replaced; and old paint build-up or caulking scrapped away.
- If you are undecided about whether re-siding is necessary, try washing existing siding with a non-abrasive soap detergent and warm water to see if that improves the appearance.
- Older homes, that require frequent painting because of peeling, or chipping, may be the most likely candidates for re-siding.
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