The exterior siding of a home is somewhat like the clothing we wear. Clothing serves three main purposes: it covers our bodies, protects us from the elements, and is a statement about our style. The siding of a house (sometimes called “exterior cladding”) generally performs the same goals:
- To hide what is behind – Not only does siding hide the materials inside the walls, it also hides you! Although homes with a lot of windows are beautiful, privacy is important (particularly in the bathroom).
- To protect from the elements – This is a valuable function of siding. Although outside sheathing and weather paper are designed to keep your home dry, exterior siding that is properly installed will aid in protecting your home from the rain, snow, wind, and sun.
- To express your style – The various siding options, along with additional exterior detailing and paint/stain choices, give homeowners lots to choose from by which to express their style. We don’t change our siding quite as often as our clothing, but we should remember that fads affect the housing market just as much as they do fashion (though some items that go out of style often come back). Your siding will always be the first thing people see when they visit your home, so it’s very important!
These purposes are key to consider when choosing which exterior siding is right for you.
Five other things to consider are cost, maintenance, longevity, resale value, and possible restrictions within a housing development (e.g. some developments limit colour choices or restrict which siding materials can be used).
At Made to Last, we are eager to give you your dream home. We make sure you get the exterior siding and detailing you desire. However, we are also here to give advice on what options stand up the best to our Vancouver Island weather, are the most cost-effective, or are the most popular.
As you make decisions regarding your dream home, here’s a breakdown of the common exterior siding options, along with their advantages and disadvantages:
Natural wood is a classic siding option that looks beautiful, will never go out of style, and sometimes can become more appealing as it ages. However, maintenance requirements for natural wood exterior siding are also among the highest (every 1-5 years generally). This can include washing, staining, and sealing the wood.
Choosing the right wood and a quality stain is extremely important, as it can reduce your maintenance. A quality product can leave the wood looking new for many years and require little work to freshen it up, whereas a cheaper stain will require you to strip the wood and apply a new stain again.
The most popular wood siding in the Cowichan Valley is cedar. This siding choice is featured prominently on our Thetis Island Oceanfront Home.
If you’ve ever heard the name ‘HardieBoard/Plank’ then you know fibre cement siding. James Hardie is the world leader in fibre cement products. This product is very common on Vancouver Island. It is a synthetic product that consists of a mix of cement, sand, and wood fibres.
The result is strong, extremely easy to maintain, and aesthetically pleasing. It also has the benefit of being highly fire-resistant. Because of its popularity on Vancouver Island, it is fairly economical. The variety of fiber cement allows homeowners to mimic wood, natural stone, and even brick-and-mortar. Drawbacks include the need for periodic painting (every 5-15 years generally) and consistency in product that may result in diminished appreciation for those who love natural products.
Most of our custom homes utilize fibre cement products, so you can see many examples in our Portfolio.
Stucco was very popular in the mid-to-late 20th century in BC, and there is a good reason. It can look good, is easy to maintain, and has great longevity. It also provides insulating and sound dampening value to the home. One challenge of stucco is that it is labour-intensive to install, so costlier than fibre cement or vinyl. However, it is still fairly economical. The material itself—a combination of cement, Silica, and lime—is applied in multiple layers over a frame of metal or wood. It can be challenging in areas with extreme temperatures or excessive precipitation, but Vancouver Island seems to handle stucco reasonably well.
Brick is a timeless choice for exterior siding, both because it provides a classic look and lasts a long time. The maintenance requirements are low, requiring infrequent washing (unless painted). There’s a good reason why so many homes throughout history have featured brick exteriors. However, even though brick masonry has its functional advantages, the look is simply not for everyone, and it is costly.
A natural or fabricated stone product can be applied to the outside of your home as a siding choice. Natural stone often costs more. Visiting a local stone provider is always worth the time if you desire stone product for your home. True stone has a natural beauty and elegance, but is less controllable than a fabricated stone, so you should expect more variation.
Fabricated stone products are made with cement, pigments, and lightweight fragments of rock and mineral. This can give you the look and feel of a natural stone exterior, but compared to natural stone, the cost is usually lower. It also weighs less than natural stone, making it easier to transport and install. Another benefit is that the colours and sizes are completely controlled, if variation is not desirable for you.
Our Goldstream Heights Custom Home features some lovely darker stone detailing. Ocean Bank utilized a natural stone from a Vancouver Island quarry, which made it very close in price to a manufactured stone product, while minimizing environmental costs of cement-production and shipping.
Aluminum, standing seam, and other metal siding options can be great products to consider for their longevity and modern styling. It also protects the home well from Vancouver Island elements. Each month, new products are coming available for metal siding. Maintenance is generally done with easy cleaning with a sponge.
One great option is aluminum siding that has been coated to look like wood siding. This allows you to gain the maintenance ease and longevity of metal siding, while having the look of wood. The Quamichan Net Zero Home utilized the Longboard product that looks amazing and is incredibly durable. Our clients chose to feature it at the front door and on the lakeside of their home. Wood-printed metal siding is generally one of the most expensive products for exterior siding.
Vinyl is among the cheapest options for residential exterior siding. It has received a poor reputation on Vancouver Island for its overuse in the 1990s. However, vinyl siding has made considerable strides in recent years while remaining low in cost. Homeowners are now able to achieve a wide range of designs and appearances using this versatile siding. It also stands up to the elements very well and has almost no maintenance requirements. Severe weather can, however, damage vinyl siding. For this reason, it can be valuable to maintain a personal stock of replacement material. Also, vinyl siding should never be painted a dark colour, which will cause it to warp and buckle with sun exposure.
Check out more helpful information related to home-building and our Latest News here.