by Allison Gunkel
For many people, interior decorating is the favorite task of building a new home. You get to choose furniture, colors, fabrics and prints – anything that reflects your particular style – and then portray it to everyone who steps inside.
With all the interior excitement, it is easy to overlook the significance of exterior design. However, it is important to remember that your home's exterior is responsible for welcoming guests and making a lasting first impression. This first impression "curb appeal" applies to characteristics such as color, texture, and shape that draw the eyes of passersby and makes your home stand out beautifully. With the great array of siding options available today, an ideal home exterior can become a reality.
Choosing a siding for your home is about functionality as well as curb appeal. In order to get a truly functional siding, factors of climate, budget, and your home's lifestyle will need to be taken into account. This will ensure that you get a beautiful home that will not complicate your life.
Wood siding comes in various forms:
- Planks – long pieces arranged side-by-side and installed vertically
- Clapboard – long pieces installed horizontally and arranged to overlap
- Shingles – smaller uniform pieces arranged in rows
- Shakes – smaller non-uniform pieces also arranged in rows
The cost of wood siding is largely dependent on the type of wood used and the cost of installation. Softwood or manufactured wood is the most cost effective option, followed by cedar (a common choice), and redwood, which is extraordinarily expensive due to available location and installation.
Whichever wood you choose it is important to know that maintenance must be a priority, one that can be both costly and time consuming. No wood can have extensive moisture contact as this makes wood immediately susceptible to bugs as well as rotting and warping. Wood siding is quite durable and has a long lifespan if properly repainted or sealed every five to seven years. This may need to be done sooner if the wood is exposed to harsh climates.
Also known as polyvinyl chloride, vinyl is a low maintenance siding material. It never requires painting or sealing, but an occasional power wash will keep it looking new. Vinyl is durable, dent and rust proof, and easy on the budget. Solid core vinyl is another option where premium vinyl is lined with foam backing which increases energy efficiency. Vinyl comes in a wide variety of color options, some of which closely resemble the appeal of wood.
Metal: Aluminum and Steel
Metal siding is gaining in popularity as its characteristics are comparable to vinyl but with a look that is all its own. Metal siding will not rust or rot and is insect and fireproof. It is susceptible to dents and scratches but certainly will not break. It requires only the occasional cleaning but is otherwise extremely low maintenance. Metal siding is slightly more expensive than vinyl, though this varies based on installation fees.
Brick siding is a natural product of clay and water that is fired. It is an expensive siding option but it increases the value of the home in return. Extremely durable, brick also acts as an insulator and is fire and corrosion proof. It does not require any maintenance of painting or cleaning, however, do not allow plants or vines to grow up the side of the brick. This traps moisture and causes the mortar to weaken. If you find any spots where this has happened, do get it repaired quickly so as to avoid future damages.
The colors available for brick siding come from the clay used in production, which causes a natural variance among the bricks. When choosing a color, be certain it is the one you like best as the color cannot be changed except by painting or replacing. The texture of brick also varies from perfectly smooth surfaces to somewhat rough to the touch. Texture is evident visually and adds unique charm to a home.
When choosing brick you will need to decide what role it will play. Will it be a load-bearing wall that supports the weight of your home with no additional frame behind it? Or will you choose the more common veneer? Veneered brick is attached to a structure's frame. The frame supports the home's weight while the veneer adds the beautiful look of a solid brick home.
Stucco siding is prevalent in hotter climates and comes in two forms:
- Hardcoat – 3 layers of sand, cement, and water mixed together and applied to the home
- Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS/synthetic) – layers of polystyrene foam, cement adhesive, glass fiber mesh panel, and acrylic elastomeric coating.
Both are extremely good insulators with thick walls that keep in cool air during hot seasons and warm air in the cool seasons.
Stucco is the most efficient siding choice when it comes to insulation, however it is not as durable as many other materials. Stucco is porous and easily dented by balls, children, and wildlife. Any holes that appear require immediate repair as water can cause immense damage; rotting, bug infestations, and mold do not take long to form when water permeates stucco. The key to durable stucco lies within installation. Most all issues that stem from stucco siding can be traced back to installation mistakes. Proper installation requires extensive experience, so it is recommended that a professional be hired. The high expense of stucco is largely due to the difficulty of installation.
Remember that your siding will be most energy efficient if paired with quality insulation, no matter the material you choose. Check references of contractors, verify insurance, and ask about warranties on your siding material. Inquire about necessary building permits and obtain competitive estimates. After thorough research, you will be able to choose quality siding for your home plan that will not only catch the eye, but will be unforgettable – truly a lasting impression.
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