A decorative and functional covering

When choosing the best kind of covering for the exterior of your home, you'll need to take cost, durability and aesthetics into consideration. Certain materials look beautiful but don't last long and can be costly to maintain. Are you willing to regularly repaint your siding? If you're particular about your outdoor decorating, exterior paint offers the advantage of a limitless choice of colors. On the other hand, vinyl siding may come only in a fixed range of hues, but it will never need retouching.

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Your resources - both time and money - will be a major determining factor in siding for your home, but so will your climate. Areas that are prone to major weather systems will likely need more durable siding. Not sure where to start? Talk to your neighbors and find out how their siding is holding up.

The Best Siding for Your Home

Homeowners are never short on options when it comes to improving their houses. Even if you have only one practical choice for siding, you'll have plenty of color and style options to choose from. Some of the most popular types of siding include:

  • Metal siding - Steel and aluminum siding are two of the most popular options for home exteriors. Both materials help insulate your home, saving you money on heating and cooling. Metal siding covers over another material, usually brick or wood, but is easy to paint if your house needs a facelift. Furthermore, any metal trim or outdoor furniture can be painted in matching rust paint for a coordinated look. Steel siding is usually a better choice in very cold climates as it's more durable than aluminum. Your metal siding can dent or fade, but it won't crack like other exteriors.
  • Wood siding - Another popular choice for exterior coverage, wood siding gives a natural look to your home and can easily be painted or stained in the color of your choice. Most wood siding is made from cedar, pine, spruce, redwood, cypress or Douglas fir. Your wood siding will usually cover over solid sheathing and a layer of building paper. Wood siding can last for many years when properly treated, but doesn't provide protection from fire like metal siding does.
  • Vinyl siding - A durable and long-lasting material, vinyl siding requires little maintenance other than a good washing to keep it looking fresh. Vinyl siding is generally less expensive than most other types of siding, but unless it's of good quality may fade over time. If you live in a particularly windy area, look for guarantees about its durability in such conditions.
  • Brick siding - If you want amazing durability and a classic look for your home, brick siding is the best option. Capable of lasting for centuries with proper care, brick provides excellent insulation for your home and can help protect it from fire. Today, you can find brick in a wide variety of colors to suit your home design needs. The expense of making and shipping brick adds to its overall cost, which can be fairly high compared to other types of siding.
  • Stone siding - A less common siding choice today, stone still gives a classic, timeless look to your home. Natural stone makes your home look entirely unique, but for sake of cost and labor, pre-cast concrete blocks are more frequently used. If you're planning on a natural stone exterior for your home, you'll find many options available in bluestone, granite, quartzite and limestone. The cost of the materials themselves and the labor involved in installing stone siding can make it an expensive option.
  • Stucco - This siding option is a mix of cement, water and hard organic materials like lime or sand. The resulting paste is then applied to walls to create a seamless textured surface. Stucco can be manipulated to create designs and patterns to personalize your home. Genuine stucco is a remarkably durable form of siding while synthetic stucco is more susceptible to wear and tear. Stucco can be painted. but you should wait for a few months to pass after the stucco is applied before painting it. It takes time for stucco to release all its moisture and painting before the stucco is cured will cause the paint to peel.

Exterior Add-Ons

While you're deciding on siding choices, there are a few other exterior add-ons you'll need to protect your home. Vinyl soffit protects the underside of your roof. It provides ventilation that prevents heat build-up and humidity from damaging your attic. You can also add soffit to the underside of staircases, cornices and beams to protect those areas from water damage. Soffit should be installed before the siding. Make sure your soffit doesn't buckle or sag over longer areas like a porch roof.

Fascia is the vertical covering that connects the roof to the soffit. It's the finished edge of the roof, to which gutters are attached. On a residential home, the fascia is usually built of aluminum or wood. Some prefer to paint the fascia in a color that blends with the roof, but for an eye-catching option, paint the fascia in a color that contrasts the roof and siding of your home.

To protect your foundation from water damage, you'll need to install gutters along the edge of your roof. The gutters collect rainwater and snowmelt and funnel it away from the sides of your home. Without gutters, the water would leak down the side of your home and over-saturate the foundation, which can lead to a leaky basement or foundation undermining. Add an attachment to your downspout to guide your gutters away from the side of your house or put a rain barrel under the downspout to collect the water to be used in your garden.

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