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Choose the Right Materials: Siding

First impressions count! Here's how to put the best face on your new home or remodeling project with the right siding.

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    • Siding 101: Vinyl

      Homeowners and builders like vinyl siding because it's long lasting, inexpensive, and virtually maintenance-free. Characteristics:

      -- Never needs paint
      -- Can be cleaned with soap and water
      -- Comes in a wide variety of colors from pastels to deep tones
      -- Styles include lap, shakes, scallops, and fish scales
      -- Available with foam backing for energy efficiency
      -- Lasts about 40 years
      -- Cost: $1-$6 per square foot, uninstalled

    • Siding 101: Wood

      The traditional favorite, wood has declined in popularity as cost has increased and homeowners look for lower maintenance materials. Characteristics:

      -- Available as clapboard or lap siding, shakes, and shingles
      -- Cedar and redwood are naturally decay-resistant
      -- Flammable; look for factory-treated with flame retardant
      -- Needs to be stained or painted every few years
      -- Damaged boards are easy to replace
      -- Cost: $1-$4 per square foot, cedar uninstalled; $5 per square foot, redwood uninstalled

    • Siding 101: Engineered Wood

      Engineered wood siding is the generic term for hardboard and plywood made into 4x8-foot sheets or lap panels. Characteristics:

      -- Available in smooth or embossed textures
      -- Cuts and handles like real wood
      -- Needs repainting every 5 to 10 years
      -- Exposed cuts or edges can weather or decay
      -- Lasts 20 to 30 years
      -- Cost: $1.50-$3 per square foot, uninstalled

    • Siding 101: Fiber-Cement

      Fiber-cement siding (made of cement, sand, and cellulose fiber) looks like wood, but it's more durable and less expensive. Characteristics:

      -- Available in planks from 5 1/4 inches to 12 inches wide
      -- Smooth or wood textures available
      -- Fire-resistant and termite-proof; won't rot or crack
      -- Holds paint up to 15 years
      -- Limited, transferable warranties up to 50 years
      -- Cost: $2-$6 per square foot uninstalled, plus trim

    • Siding 101: Metal

      Metal siding made of aluminum or steel is generally low-maintenance, but steel isn't suitable near saltwater. Characteristics:

      -- Available smooth or embossed with wood grain
      -- Comes in a wide range of factory-baked enamel colors
      -- Resists fire, rot, and insects
      -- Scratches on steel will rust, aluminum can dent
      -- Lasts 40 years to life of building
      -- Cost: $2-$5 per square foot, installed

    • Siding 101: Brick

      Brick is a traditional option made from fired clay. It needs to be supported by the home's foundation. Characteristics:

      -- Available in many sizes, colors, and textures
      -- Won't rot, burn, or fade, should last a century
      -- Provides excellent sound and thermal insulation
      -- May result in lower insurance rates
      -- No maintenance the first 25 years; then inspect mortar joints
      -- Cost: $6-$12 per square foot, installed, but varies by region

    • Siding 101: Brick and Stone Veneers

      Lightweight aggregates, portland cement, and pigments are cast to imitate brick or stone. Characteristics:

      -- Less expensive and not as heavy as natural stone or brick
      -- Wide variety of styles; can be combined with other materials
      -- Only maintenance required is to check mortar for cracking
      -- Like natural brick and stone, resists fire, rot, and insects
      -- Should last the life of the building
      -- Cost: $4.50-$6 per square foot, uninstalled

    • Siding 101: Stucco

      Stucco is best suited for dry, warm climates, and should be avoided in overly wet zones. It's popular in the Western U.S.

      -- Installed over a wire mesh on wood frame
      -- Can be colored; textures include smooth, raked, or swirled
      -- Naturally fire resistant and a good insulator
      -- Susceptible to water penetration
      -- Time consuming to apply
      -- Cost: $3-$15 per square foot, uninstalled

    • Siding 101: Synthetic Stucco

      Also called exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS), synthetic stucco is less expensive and less likely to crack than stucco.

      -- Moisture penetration plagued early versions of this product
      -- Professional installation is essential to prevent moisture
      -- Energy efficient
      -- Can be washed with a hose and water
      -- Should last the lifetime of the building
      -- Cost: $6-$14 per square foot, installed

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      Siding 101: Cost Comparison

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      Next Slideshow Exterior Color Combinations Done Right

      Exterior Color Combinations Done Right

      Getting ready to paint your home's exterior? Find color-scheme inspiration and tips for picking paint palettes as you peruse this appealing array of homes that combine colors in charmingly impactful ways.
      Begin Slideshow »

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