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 our favorite exterior color schemes and tips for picking house paint colors. This appealing array of homes combine paint colors in charmingly impactful ways.
    Begin Slideshow »

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