Choosing sides: The pros and cons of the various exterior cladding products
While beauty may only be skin deep in people, when it comes to your home the exterior cladding you choose is the first thing people will notice. Your options range from natural wood and stone, to a variety of manufactured products. Here, we break down the basic pros and cons of each to help you put your home’s best face forward.
Wood siding can be installed in a range of styles, including overlapping horizontal clapboard, vertical board-and-batten, and cedar shakes and shingles.
Natural beauty, environmentally friendly (particularly if sourced from Forest Stewardship Council certified sources), and it’s very workable, meaning it can be easily shaped into decorative features such as gingerbread trim.
Susceptible to rot and insect infestations. Requires regular repainting or re-staining to maintain looks and longevity.
In some circles, vinyl siding has a negative reputation as the “cheap” option. And some low-quality vinyl siding does look bad. But good-quality vinyl is durable and available in a variety of patterns that mimic the look of wood planks or shakes, and it comes in virtually any colour under the rainbow.
Vinyl siding is your cheapest choice, and insulated versions boost the wall’s R-value, while also helping reduce noise transfer into the house. Layout options include horizontal or vertical installation.
Cheaper versions can be somewhat brittle, particularly in extreme cold – and we definitely get some cold winter days here in Haliburton County! Also, don’t place your barbeque too close to the walls or the vinyl siding will melt.
Aluminum and Metal Siding
Metal siding products are, like modern vinyl, a category where a lot of R&D has gone into improving the look and durability.
Durability and esthetics are the main reasons people choose metal siding products, particularly if you’re going for a modern contemporary design.
Metal siding is one of the most expensive options on the market. It can be dented by impacts, and long pieces can buckle and warp if not installed properly.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more durable building material than natural stone. After all, it’s been sitting in the ground for millions of years before being carved into shape.
Hands down the most durable choice, and a well-designed stone façade adds an aura of upscale elegance to a home.
Cost. Natural stone is both the most expensive option and the most expensive to install, requiring the skills of a trained mason to install to avoid problems down the road.
Stone Veneers and Stone Composites
Manufactured stone materials have improved immensely since they were first introduced to the market several decades ago. While older and cheap options were easier to spot as knockoffs, the textures and varying patterns of some products available today look extremely realistic and are almost as durable as the real thing.
Durable, cheaper than stone, and easier to install. (Some stone veneer products are even marketed to DIYers.)
Some products look decidedly unnatural – particularly up close – particularly if there’s a noticeable repeating pattern.
Humans have been making clay bricks for nearly 10,000 years and, when installed properly and maintained, they can last for centuries.
Durability, variety of colours and textures.
Brick façades are generally more suited for urban and suburban streetscapes than the cottage country settings we build in. While the bricks themselves are very long lasting, over time, the mortar can wear away requiring “tuckpointing” repair work.
Exterior Insulation Finishing Systems (EIFS)
If you’ve seen a modern home with what looks like a stucco exterior, it’s likely EIFS. These products provide insulation, waterproofing, and an air barrier all in one. The surface can be finished in a variety of textures, patterns, and colours.
A great option for renovating a tired exterior with a more contemporary look.
Older versions were implicated in the “leaky condo syndrome” that plagued B.C. owners in the 1990. Improved design fixed the problem, but EIFS are susceptible to impact damage.
Of course, uniformity can be, well, uniformly bland. For the greatest esthetic appeal your best option might be a combination of materials. When it comes time to choose the exterior cladding for your project we can help you decide what works best when you mix-and-match.
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