The Best Type of Siding for Your Home

The subject of installing siding on homes and buildings is one that is frequently requested by both residential and commercial clients alike.

In the early 1960’s the installation of aluminum siding became a popular retro-fit for those homeowners that had clapboard wood siding on their homes, and who viewed the activity as being a low maintenance alternative to preparing and re-painting the wood siding after a number of years.

As part of that evolution; the installation of aluminum soffit cladding, aluminum fascia cladding, and aluminum gutters also became popular, and such services remain so to this day. Such companies as Reynolds™ and Alcan™ were large providers of all such products in those days, with many smaller companies following suit, developing their own brand of products at a more local level.

In Canada; companies such as Kaycan™, Gentek™, and Buchner Manufacturing™, are the top suppliers of such products today; with many product lines encompassing both aluminum and vinyl siding products and rain-ware.

With many siding options available; vinyl siding tends to be the most popular today as it does not typically dent or fade as aluminum could. Aluminum is often a preferred choice for walls of homes that are in close proximity to neighbouring homes, and where building code requirements dictate regulations pertaining to fire spread between houses.

For some; choosing aluminum siding is a preferred option, due to colour options, appearance, and texture.

In more recent years; and becoming increasingly popular, are aluminum siding products that mimic the look of natural wood or stained wood siding materials. It can be hard to tell the difference unless one actually touches the product. They are that good. Such products now offer home and cottage owners a truly low maintenance option, with superior longevity to most natural wood siding products like cedar or pine.

Like wood; aluminum siding is fully recyclable and uses far less oil consumption in the manufacturing process when compared to “plastic” vinyl siding.

Vinyl siding is widely regarded as being superior in terms of thermal resistance, but all siding materials require (or should have), a proper vapour retarder installed beneath, on the cold exterior wall, and where possible; be fortified with exterior thermal insulation.

A vapour retarder is installed on the outside of a home or building to help resist cold exterior air from migrating into the warm (insulated), interior of the structure. Building wrap is most commonly used today in modern construction, to accomplish this. Such material is taped at overlapping joints, and window openings, etc., to help seal the external air barrier properly. Such materials selected should have a measure of “breathability”.

In prior years; and still valid today is the use of breathable asphalt-saturated felt (tar paper). It is considered that tar paper is not as thermally efficient as a house wrap but may be preferred in some circumstances where the development of condensation may be a consideration.

When installing any type of siding on a wooden exterior walled structure; one must decide whether exterior insulation is actually required. If for example; the interior wall cavities are insulated using spray foam, installing additional exterior insulation would not be best, for fear of creating condensation.

However; if it was an older home, and the cost or practicality of adding such insulation by having to disturb the interior plaster walls; it may make good sense to add extruded polystyrene (SM) insulation to help resist the entry of cold exterior air.

Related Content: What is Vinyl Siding

To make such decisions, one must consider climatic conditions, existing construction methods, and existing levels of insulation. It is often a good idea to retain an engineer to obtain sound investigation and advice on how to proceed. This is particularly suggested if retrofitting an older home. New build homes tend to be constructed in strict accordance with modern building code standards where insulation levels and methods are clearly defined.

On homes or buildings that have exterior block wall construction, it can be a good idea to install blue Styrene insulation on the exterior walls of the structure; but again; consulting an engineer is best advised to account for any other nuances of the particular building.

When installing siding materials, it is often required to strap the walls, or cross-strap the walls, to accommodate securing the siding panels. On commercial structures, a metal channel called the “Z” bar is used to secure steel panel siding materials to the underlying wall surface. Wood strapping is more commonly used in house applications, depending on whether or not, insulation is being installed.

Commercial steel siding is commonly utilized on commercial strip plazas, or as a complete cladding system on steel skeleton building structures. It is often selected as a covering over concrete block walls. On high-rise buildings; the installation of commercial steel siding on the exterior curtain walls, has become a popular retrofit choice where existing masonry walls have become shaled or spalled, and brick restoration has become cost-prohibitive; due to the working area being situated so high up from the ground, and or the extent of the masonry deterioration.

Commercial steel siding is typically manufactured in panels, having lengths that can span the height of a particular floor.  Different styles of panels, essentially having variations of a corrugated design; are available in colour selections with coatings that are baked on in the painting process by the manufacturer.  As a result, steel siding panels can last for decades without rust or compromise.

There are different gauges (thicknesses) of steel siding which can be selected.

The installation of commercial steel siding is somewhat specialized as it requires tradespersons who are able to work at considerable heights, and are skilled to use swing stage equipment.

Natural wood siding has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in the GTA, as people that own character and heritage types of properties are interested to maintain the original appearance of areas such as tongue and groove soffits, porch ceilings, and dormer sidewalls.

Cedar shingles also represent a type of siding material that serves not only as a roofing material but as a siding material. If one considers Cape Cod-style architecture; cedar shingles represent a natural material that repels insects and resists rot, and will last for decades, providing a New England style and charm.

Other natural wood products include board and batten siding, which provides a rustic appearance. Such siding is commonly sourced from pine, hemlock, and cedar species of wood. Further options include milled wood siding products that have a smooth, refined, finish, and can be installed vertically or horizontally; with a tongue and groove system.

Related Content: What is Vinyl Siding

A more recent addition to the myriad of siding options available includes a category of fibre cement products. These siding products mimic the look of real wood siding in terms of dimension, grain, and texture. These siding products replicate profiles of natural wood siding, having styles such as clapboard, bevelled edge, and cove siding. Accessory products involving trims and closure materials are also available. One advantage is that such products can be ordered already painted form a wide selection colour palette. This siding can also be painted over in years to come if there is a desire to change colour.

Many people inquire about the cost of The Benefits of Properly Caulking Your Siding. In very general terms; horizontal vinyl or aluminum siding is very similar. Natural wood siding and fibre cement siding are close comparatively in terms of cost with variables being the specific nature of the wood materials selected. In broad terms the labour for fibre cement siding may be typically higher as there are some finicky steps involved to, for example, create water-proof joints.

Regardless of the style of siding selected; the major influence on price can relate to the working access, the number of stories high, the preparation work which may be required, the use of insulation, underlying structural repairs if required, and hydro disconnection and re-connection requirements. The use of scaffolding as a working platform is typically mandated by health and safety regulators as the required method of working on such areas, and for which; may also represent a cost.

In terms of value; siding is very cost-efficient over time. It can quickly transform the appearance of a building, or help to re-create an original architectural charm. To learn more about siding installation, visit: