Since its introduction in the 1960s, vinyl has become the No. 1 siding in the United States because of cost, versatility, and low maintenance. More than 300 color choices are available in profiles that include horizontal and vertical panels, shakes, shingles, fish scales, lap, and beaded designs. The only routine maintenance is an occasional wash. Warranties offered by vinyl manufacturers generally are lifelong and transferable.Vinyl is the least expensive of all siding materials to install and can be cut dramatically if you're able to do the work. Vinyl siding is sold by most home centers and requires few tools to install. The siding needs to be installed on flat surfaces, so the wall will need to be lined with 1/2-inch-thick sheets of rigid-foam board to provide a nailing surface.
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Choosing The Right Siding
Wood Siding: Shakes and Shingles
Shakes are machine- or hand-sawn from wooden blocks called bolts. Shakes are thicker than shingles and less uniform in appearance and thickness, but they do last longer. Wood shingles are sawn for a smooth and consistent look and can be cut into an array of shapes to create visual interest. Both come from a variety of woods but most common are Western red cedar and redwood.Shakes and shingles are available with a fire-retardant treatment, which is a requirement in high-risk locations. They are installed over a solid surface, such as plywood, with a moisture barrier between the two and a finishing coat (paint or stain) and caulking on the outside. Shake and shingle siding require periodic maintenance including painting and caulking to prevent weather damage.
Wood Siding: Bevel Siding
Bevel (also called clapboard or lap) siding is one of the oldest forms of exterior cladding used on homes. It is made by resawing a board at an angle to create two pieces that are thicker on one edge than on the other.Pine, spruce, cypress, and Douglas fir are the favorites because of their longevity and price. Cedar and redwood are great options, as they contain natural rot resistance, but cost more.Bevel siding is installed horizontally with the upper piece overlapping the lower. Wood siding is installed over a solid surface, such as plywood, with a moisture barrier between the two and a finishing coat (paint or stain) and caulking on the outside. All wood siding requires ongoing maintenance including painting and caulking to prevent weather damage.
Engineered Wood Siding
Engineered wood siding is made with wood castoffs, such as sawdust, and bonding agents. It is a strong, lightweight product that is less expensive than real wood. Engineered wood comes in an array of typical wood siding styles. It does need to be painted for weatherproofing purposes, but factory-applied finishes are available. The standard life expectancy, if installed properly and maintained, is about 20-30 years.Engineered wood cuts, handles, and is applied like solid-wood siding, but you do not have the imperfections that often accompany and must be negotiated with in real wood.