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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

  • 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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