There a variety of options that your siding contractor can recommend to you. It is amazing how siding has changed over time and how many options you now have to give a fresh distinct look to your home.
A Quick Siding History
Originally siding wasn’t siding but part of the structure of the building. It could have been brick or stone or wood. In the case of wood, unless it was a log cabin, there actually was a frame and siding made of wood.
Later, most homes were built with a framework of wood on a cement or concrete block foundation. Then a siding of brick or stone or wood was added but these were for looks and to keep the weather out and not for structural support.
Asbestos, Asphalt & Aluminum
The first siding other than wood was made from a mix of asbestos and concrete. It was not a very good insulator and faded and absorbed water. Then they came out with asphalt shingles which was similar to roofing shingles although often brick or stone patterns were printed on it. It tended to be used on low end homes. When aluminum siding started being produced in the 1950s people quickly moved away from the other two. But aluminum dented which was a problem over time because it couldn’t be easily fixed. Plus the paint on the aluminum had a tendency to turn chalky and not look good over time or it could be scratched and the exposed aluminum would begin to oxidize. Plus aluminum production is energy intensive so when energy prices went up in the 1970s the price of aluminum siding went up as well.
Stay away from this. It is basically particle board made into siding and there have been lots of problems with it absorbing moisture, expanding, growing fungus and other problems. Enough said.
Vinyl was first used in the late 50s and early 60s but had problems with color fading, brittleness over time and expansion and contraction issues. By the 1970s these problems had been worked out and vinyl for the most part has supplanted aluminum. The color goes through the entire sheet so a scratch doesn’t show and the technology has improved so the color doesn’t fade or discolor over time. There is no issue with denting because vinyl bounces back.
Other advantages are that vinyl doesn’t conduct electricity, doesn’t act as a sound magnifier for rain and hail, and doesn’t conduct heat or cold the way aluminum does. It is also great because you can put it over whatever siding is already there without going to the trouble of taking the old siding off. For that reason, it makes the residing job much less expensive and has the benefit of increasing the insulation on the house since you now have two layers of siding.
Styles of Siding
At first, vinyl siding was just straight sheets like the aluminum. Then they started to put some texturing on the plastic to give it a bit of a wood grain look even though it was colored to look like it was painted. However, it didn’t really have the look of painted wood. It looked like plastic with a rough surface.
If you haven’t looked at vinyl siding for a while, you need to look again. Houses that you think have cedar shake siding might actually be vinyl siding. CertainTeed and other manufacturers have really upped their game. Cedar shakes can be put on in different patterns, such as all the same size or alternating larger and smaller and sometimes the shakes are half rounds. The vinyl has matched these patterns and you can even mix square with half round to get patterns on the walls of your house like they did in Victorian times but without the labor costs involved.
There are other versions that look like different types of wood clapboard. There are choices of regular clapboard, dutchlap and beaded.
Then there are a variety of options for trim around the windows which can really spruce up the look of your home. So definitely ask your siding contractor about all the possible options.