Envision your dream home. One thing that pops into your mind is an image of the exterior. You may have a clear picture of the color of the house, the shape of the windows, or even the size of the porch, but have you considered the type of siding material you will use? No other choice may have as large an impact on your home’s curb appeal, and choices abound to fit every lifestyle and design.
The priciest of materials, natural stone siding is a beautiful choice that adds tons of curb appeal to homes. Stone, found in many shapes and color tones, can be found to match almost any style of home from rustic and country to sleek and modern. Stone also has the added benefit of lasting virtually forever. The only maintenance required for natural stone is a hose washing once or twice a year. Although stone sounds like a perfect choice, its hefty price tag, between twelve and thirty dollars per square foot, makes some homeowners think twice before deciding to use it.
Faux stone can be a more cost-friendly alternative for homeowners who have their heart set on the look of stone but can’t afford to commit such a large part of their budget to the exterior of their home. Over the years, faux stone has begun to look much more realistic and requires just as little maintenance as its natural counterpart. Still on the higher part of the exterior cost scale, faux stone typically costs between eleven and fifteen dollars for each square foot.
A close second to natural stone for style and curb appeal is brick siding. Although it is estimated that brick can actually increase the value of a home, that increase comes with a high cost. Brick can cost as much as twelve dollars per square foot. That cost however, should be weighed with its many benefits. Brick can be applied in many different colors and textures. Differing types of brick can even be applied to create patterns. Brick also shares the same life expectancy and maintenance requirements of natural stone.
Exterior wood siding has long enjoyed its status as the most popular of siding choices. Less expensive, with an estimated cost of less than seven dollars for each square foot, wood siding still gives homeowners many options for expressing their own special style with their home. A classic material, wood siding can be applied in a multitude of ways. Some of the more popular options include a horizontal application known as clapboard, a vertical application with additional strips of wood covering the seams known as board and batten, and the application of small pieces of wood known as shingles. In each of these instances, wood can be painted any color or stained to show its natural beauty.
The only real drawback to wood siding is the maintenance required and shorter life span. Wood siding should be power washed each year and will require repainting or sealing every six years or so. If cared for properly, wood siding can last as long as thirty years, but if it has been neglected, wood siding can require serious repair work.
Engineers have worked to find alternative materials to give the look of wood siding with a decreased cost. One alternative is engineered wood siding. Made with wood products and bonding agents, engineered wood siding is lighter than natural wood and costs significantly less than natural wood. Engineered wood comes in the shapes and styles of natural wood and will need to be painted. Unfortunately, some engineered wood products have been known to have problems with resisting moisture. While manufacturers have taken steps to correct those problems, proper installation is very important in engineered wood applications.
Another alternative to natural wood is fiber cement siding. Originally introduced in France over one hundred years ago, fiber cement siding has enjoyed increased popularity in the past few years. Composed of cement mixed with sand, cellulose and additives, cement siding often comes with a warranty for as many as fifty years. Fiber cement siding also features a low cost between three and four dollars per square foot. Although this product does require regular painting, its composition keeps it from reacting to weather changes in the fashion that natural wood products react. This decrease in swelling and contracting causes paint finishes on fiber cement products to last between fifteen and twenty-five years when the product is painted at the factory before installation. In addition, fiber cement comes in styles that imitate many other exterior siding materials and can be painted virtually any color.
For homeowners who want the look of wood without the maintenance wood and its alternatives require, vinyl siding may be a viable option. Vinyl siding is typically applied to resemble clapboard style wood siding. Vinyl siding is available in many colors, but can’t be custom ordered to a color outside of the colors made available by the manufacturer. Costing between two and three dollars for each square foot, vinyl siding only requires a regular hose wash to maintain its appearance. Manufacturers claim that vinyl siding will last the life of the home, but there have been reports of changes in the appearance of vinyl siding over time.
Finally, one additional siding material deserves mention as requiring very little maintenance. Stucco siding, made of cement and sand or lime, can be created in an array of textures to suit the homeowners tastes. Color can also be added to the stucco mix to allow the homeowner to choose his own color. Although stucco exteriors can last as many as seventy-five years with only hose washing, stucco does not fare as well in very moist climates. Stucco is also one of the more costly exterior materials and can cost as much as nine dollars per square foot.
Choosing the siding material to be used in your home can be an intensive process. Homeowners have to consider pricing, maintenance requirements, availability and appearance. However, if the appropriate consideration is given to each of these factors, you can end the process with a home that’s beautiful and suits your needs.