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 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, restrict which siding materials can be used, or require a certain amount of natural stone).
At Made to Last, we are eager to give you your dream home. We will work hard to 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 as 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 siding are also among the highest, and usually include washing, staining, and sealing the wood periodically. 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 new stain again. The most popular wood siding in the Cowichan Valley is cedar.
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, and 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. 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, and a consistency in product that may result in diminished appreciation for those who love natural products.
Stucco was very popular in the mid-to-late 20th century in BC, and there is good reason. It can look good, is easy to maintain, has great longevity, and 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 well.
Brick is a timeless choice for 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.
Cement, pigments, and lightweight fragments of rock and mineral constitute this popular and fairly affordable siding option. Stone veneer gives you the look and feel of a natural stone exterior, but compared to natural stone, the cost is much lower. It also weighs less than natural stone, making it easier to transport and install. However, since it is essentially a light weight synthetic product, it lacks the natural durability of real stone.
Aluminum, standing seam, and other metal siding options can be a great product to consider for its longevity and modern styling. It also protects the home well from Vancouver Island elements. Each month, it seems new options are coming available for metal siding. This is generally one of the most expensive products for exterior siding, but maintenance costs are very low.
Vinyl is among the cheapest options for residential 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.