Next to the roof the most important protective covering is the home siding. Like an extension of the roof, siding protects the wall structure from water, wind and the sun's heat, all of which have a direct impact on the home's integrity.
When America was first settled the pioneers found wood in abundance and so used logs as both the interior and exterior wall structures. The cracks were filled with mud which secured the wall from the elements. Thousands of log cabins from the 1800's are still in existence.
Clapboard siding became such a staple in American building that it remains a preferred design. Wooden clapboards are still used on homes either in pine, cedar, redwood or pressure-treated spruce. They can also be purchased pre-painted for immediate installation. Cedar and redwood have natural oils that repel water and resist decay. If left untreated they age to a fine silver color.
People who want the clapboard look without the cost and maintenance can choose vinyl, which is actually PVC, or polyvinyl chloride siding. Inexpensive, colorful and easy to keep clean they mimic the wood clapboard design with a woodgrain texture. The top coating of siding contains the coloring and ultra-violet ray blockers while the backing, a less expensive vinyl, provides the bulk. Cheap vinyl siding can warp or lose coloring quickly. Also, attention should be paid to installation so that the siding would not come off in a windstorm.
Stucco siding is another American favorite. Although the process is thousands of years old the natives of the American southwest had a unique mixture made from local clay. When the Spanish arrived the stucco began using lime as a base and today it is Portland cement. To place stucco on a new home a water-proof felt is wrapped on the wooden exterior, either plywood or oriented strand board. This is then covered with a metal screening to hold the stucco and the first coat of stucco is pushed into it. This becomes the anchor for the stucco. Usually three applications are applied with the last being a smooth finish that can be either white or colored. In dry conditions stucco can last the life of a home.
Cement Fiber Siding
Cement planks reinforced with fibers are another popular clapboard design. Like vinyl siding this cement siding has a woodgrain-look. However, this is where the similarity ends because cement siding is cut and nailed much like wood and it can be purchased painted or primed. Due to its weight cement fiber siding will not crack, warp or rot. Another good feature is that it is fireproof .
Powder-Coated Aluminum Siding
Aluminum first made its appearance in the 1950's but the product dented eaily and the color faded quickly. Today, the siding is hard and resists denting. In addition it is powder-coated resists ultra-violet rays.
Vinyl-Coated Steel Siding
Steel siding is much like aluminum except it is less expensive. Coated with colored PVC it can last as long as vinyl or aluminum.
Insulated Vinyl Siding
A new development in home exteriors is insulated vinyl siding, which is a regular vinyl with a foam backing. Besides increasing the insulating factor of the home this siding has more weight which helps in windy areas. It is installed in much the same manner as regular vinyl siding.
For information on siding contractors in your are consult our Contractor Directory or simply post your project online.
Kim Kinrade writes for renovation, travel and news sites. When he is not doing this, or renovating old houses, he finds the time to write novels.
Key Hiring Tips
From large to small projects, before you select any contractor be sure to take the time to properly screen them. The time it takes now to screen a contractor will help ensure success for your home improvement project and avoid problems down the road.