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If you’re thinking of new siding, you’re in for a treat. Your choice will likely be a major upgrade in your home’s appearance — that’s the fun part. On the flip side, it’s not an easy decision to make. There are lots of siding options, and each presents a mixed bag of cost, reliability, ongoing maintenance, and environmental responsibility.

Here’s what you need to know about options for new siding:

Vinyl

Vinyl siding is tough and comes in a boatload of colors and textures. Because the color is throughout the material, nicks and scratches don’t show up. Sophisticated manufacturing techniques create products that do a surprisingly fine job of mimicking wood-grain lap siding, wood shingles, and even stone.

Vinyl siding is lightweight and, in many instances, can be installed directly over existing materials, so it’s a good retrofit option. Because it’s easy to handle, vinyl can be installed quickly, saving labor costs.

Relatively new to the market, insulated vinyl siding features a layer of expanded polystyrene foam, providing an insulating value of R-2 to R-6. Insulated vinyl is on the checklist of items that can help a house achieve Energy Star qualification. Expect to pay about 15 percent more for insulated versions of vinyl siding than the standard.

Upside: The material requires little or no maintenance, and dirt simply washes off. Never needs repainting. Vinyl has a relatively low cost compared to other siding materials. The best brands offer transferable lifetime warranties.

Downside: Because the standard panels are 12 feet long, the ends of the panels must be overlapped, creating noticeable seams. You can order extra-long panels that reduce the number of seams, but you’ll pay a premium of about 30 percent more than standard-length vinyl.

Green meter: The same stuff that makes vinyl so tough — polyvinyl chloride or PVC — lasts for decades (if not centuries) in landfills. Although many vinyl manufacturers claim that the material is readily recycled, not many contractors take the time to remove and recycle used vinyl siding. Manufacturing PVC can produce dioxin and other toxins.

Fiber Cement

The current darling of the siding industry, fiber cement has earned a reputation for stability and low maintenance. It’s made from a mix of wood pulp, cement, clay, and sand, and it can be molded to mimic wood clapboard, shingles, stucco, and masonry. It readily accepts paint, and most manufacturers offer an array of factory-applied finishes.

Upside: Fiber-cement siding resists expanding and contracting with changes in humidity and temperature, so caulk and paint really hold up. It’s fire-resistant, termite-proof and it won’t rot. A 30-year warranty is the norm.

Downside: Fiber-cement siding is flat-out heavy, and installation requires special techniques and tools that add to the cost. Finding a remodeling contractor with experience installing fiber cement can be a challenge. Retrofits mean completely removing the old siding, adding about 5 percent to the overall cost.

Green meter: It’s extremely durable and has a long replacement cycle, which scores points for sustainability.

Synthetic Stone

Synthetic stone is made in molds from a mixture of cement, sand, and aggregate. Modern manufacturing techniques ensure that the final product looks realistic. It mimics any number of stone types — including granite and limestone — and the variety of shapes and styles includes split face, dry-stacked, and round river rock.

Although it’s not often used to cover entire houses, it’s a popular choice as an accent, covering lower portions of walls or chimney exteriors.

Upside: The look of real stone at a fraction of the cost. Lightweight, so installation doesn’t require beefing up foundation footings. Synthetic stone is fire and insect-resistant.

Downside: Although it costs less than real stone, synthetic stone is still one of the more expensive siding options. Discerning critics say it still doesn’t look like the real thing.

Green meter: It is an inert material that doesn’t off-gas or use toxic ingredients during manufacturing, and it reduces demand for real stone and associated environmental disruption.

Contact us today at Xtreme Home Products, located in Mooresville NC, to get a free quote and learn more about our replacement siding options. We serve Statesville, Troutman, Asheville, Hendersonville, Winston Salem, Taylorsville, Hickory, Denver, Sherrills Ford, Mooresville, Newton, Concord, Davidson, Huntersville, Cornelius, Lincolnton, Charlotte, and the surrounding areas.

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