Top Five Tips When Siding or Residing Your House
Written by: Stephanie Stevens
Installing house siding can be a do it yourself project. However, it is not a one man job, and it requires carpentry skills. But by taking care, and following these tips before starting, it can be accomplished successfully. These tips are not a DIY handbook for siding installation. All of the following types of housing exteriors except the brick and stone methods are doable.
1. What is available in looks or style?
The appearance should be something that appeals to the homeowner. The basic exterior looks for houses are brick or stone, stucco (plaster), horizontal lapboards, or vertical board and batten or tongue and groove look.
Many modern housing projects use sheeting that gives a vertical appearance by using sheets of inexpensive pressboard, that are scored to look like boards. Battens (narrow raised slats nailed over the grooves or joints, complete the board and batten look.
The finished product is pleasant, especially during the first year or two. A different style is obtained with the horizontal lapboard, used for hundreds of years in America with many variations. Flat boards lap each other, keeping the rain out, but early renditions allowed a lot of cold air in during the winter, Variations of the lapboard made it more weatherproof as the years went by.
Today, lapboard siding comes in pressboard, aluminum, vinyl siding, and cement boards, as well as the traditional woods, including cedar and pine.
Stucco, or plaster exteriors have a nice appearance, textured and smoothed, with many options for decoration around windows, eaves, and corners. Brick is the traditional "you can huff and puff and never blow it down" material, and it can be purchased in many colors, sizes, and textures. Stone exteriors, as regards these tips, are included in the scope of brick exteriors.
2. Cost, security, and durability
Often, people only consider the way the material with which they cover the exterior of their houses looks. Some houses are built from such soft material that a pocketknife could gain entry for a thief through the walls!
Vinyl siding over a foam insulation board can easily be cut into and the exterior walls penetrated by accident or malicious intent. If you do choose vinyl siding for its durability and "never needs painting" benefits, be sure to use good plywood behind it, not just Styrofoam boards.
Aluminum siding is very similar to vinyl, except that it can discolor (oxidize) and lose its lustre from the sun's incessant barrage. Stucco provides excellent choices of style and color.
Modern stucco are spread over insulation foam board, and can be quite fragile. A lawnmower cutting grass too close to the corner of the house could require a repair job, gluing the stucco back on. If a ladder is leaned against the house to paint or clean out a gutter, it will probably poke a hole through the stucco.
Pressboard sheeting should be avoided, if possible, for it is an inexpensive, looks-good-for-a-year material that soon swells and needs replacing.
Brick (and stone) is the most durable building material for exteriors. However, brick is expensive- four times as expensive (or more) as other sidings- and leaves few options for changing its look.
Even with brick veneers, houses still need to have the eaves and trim painted or covered in vinyl. Cement boards, actually called cement fiber boards, are very durable, can be ordered pre-painted, and are inexpensive.
Even though they are made of a cement, they can be scored and snapped, or cut with a jigsaw or circular saw. James Hardie was the inventor of this board, and has quickly gained popularity. His version is known as the "Hardi Plank".
Homowners should keep in mind that hail can damage aluminum, vinyl, soft stucco, and some soft woods. Strong winds can blow out vinyl or aluminum soffits, if they are not fitted tightly.
For security and peace of mind, plywood should cover the entire exterior if vinyl, aluminum, or modern stucco is used.
3. Choose quality insulation
The right insulation can eventually pay for the installation of your siding. Good insulation has high resistance to cold (or heat) coming through it, and a good installation keeps air from seeping through cracks around the insulation.
Besides the normal wall insulation used between the studs (an R-19 minimum rating), the walls should be covered in a layer of foam board, then wrapped in a layer of strong plastic house wrap. The thickness of the foam, available in ¼" to over 2", will determine how much insulating quality it achieves. Joints should be taped. All cracks should be tightly filled with insulation, especially around windows.
4. Weatherproof factors.
Common sense can help avoid some pitfalls made by being in too big a hurry to get the siding up. All exposed cracks that allow water through, should not only be caulked, but flashed behind them.
When using wood or cement board horizontal siding, always flash (flexible vinyl that can be cut approximately six to eight inches wide) behind the butt joints (where two boards butt against each other). Since the boards will lap on top of each other, the flashing should be stapled to the wall where the joint will fall, lapping over the board below.
The board being installed completely covers this flashing, but if rain were to go through the crack, the flashing will force it to drip back out over the lower board.
Windows must be carefully flashed, following the window manufacturer's instructions. Vertical siding should be flashed to keep water from entering at top edges. The flashing is nailed behind the higher board before it is installed and laps over the lower board. Narrow metal or vinyl "Z" molding can be purchased to accomplish this purpose.
Finally, concerning weatherproofing, do not use too much caulking. Caulking that holds water in, not allowing it to drain from the wood of the house, can cause rot. Caulk only to keep water out, where it would naturally try to enter from rains.
5. Care and Maintenance
Now that the siding is on, the maintenance and care must be addressed in order to have years of trouble-free weather protection. Stucco, pressboard, wood, and cement board exteriors will need painting.
Some will have 25 year to lifetime warranties against having to paint if pre-painted versions are purchased, such as some cement boards and stuccos. But even if it does not make it through the warranty period, the warranty will be simply pro-rated and the owner will get some credit or cash toward his next paint job.
He will not get his house repainted for free. Most "never need painting" exteriors can get by with a good pressure washing once a year. If paint is used, select the long-lasting kind, with a very long warranty. It's a good idea to use "never needs painting" vinyl in the hard to reach gables and high eaves.
Home exteriors should be suitable to your house. Not only should they be attractive, but they will be more appealing to a buyer or long-term owner if they are maintenance free and offer durability and security to the homeowner. After all, a home is its owner's castle.
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