Your home’s siding is a crucial player in the structural integrity of your home, alongside your roofing, foundation, and windows. Furthermore, design-focused siding combinations offer a huge boost in the curbside appeal of your home. There are a few easy tips for maintaining your home’s siding, just to ensure it stays in good condition for as long as it can, and we’ve listed those below.
Most siding doesn’t require much maintenance. It’s designed to withstand the elements, be in short proximity to bushes or trees, or even have the occasional baseball thrown against it. Maintenance suggestions vary depending on the type of siding on your home so we’ve broken this up into sections for the most commonly seen siding materials: vinyl, fiber-cement, stucco, and wood.
Vinyl siding is a tough plastic material that entered the market in the late 1950’s, replacing the once-popular aluminum siding which tended to warp and show dents/dings more easily. Vinyl remains the most popular option for siding throughout the United States today as it’s durable and affordable. There are a wide variety of colors, textures, and decorative edges which give homeowners flexibility when building or replacing their siding. Vinyl siding is resistant to rot, moisture warping and termite infestations.
Pro Note: Insulated vinyl siding adds comfort and reduces energy loss in your home. Insulated vinyl siding has rigid foam insulation permanently attached to the panel which fights thermal bridging by blanketing the home’s exterior to reduce energy loss through the studs. Read more here.
Vinyl siding maintenance tips: Vinyl siding maintenance is as easy as it comes. Although vinyl doesn’t rot the same way that wood siding can, there are chances of cracks or punctures. To avoid this, trim shrubbery and trees away from the material so it doesn’t cause damage over time. Vinyl’s material and durability makes it easy to clean by taking a power washer to remove any mildew, dirt, or other stuck on debris. (Read some vinyl power washing tips here before you get started).
Once a year, we recommend taking a bucket of warm water and a TSP substitute or mild detergent and scrubbing the surface for some extra TLC. You’ll likely want a long-handled, soft-bristle brush that easily extends to reach tough areas. After scrubbing, rinse your siding with clean water to remove any excess suds. Before starting this process, cover any surrounding shrubbery with tarps to avoid damage to your plants.
If you notice any cracks or punctures, call a reputable local siding contractor to perform an inspection and put together a repair estimate for you. Since vinyl siding is installed in panels, it’s easy to replace a few sections rather than paying for an entire siding replacement.
Fiber Cement Siding
Often called “hardiplank” or “hardie board” siding, fiber cement siding is formed using wood pulp with cement. As a result, the fiber cement planks mimic the look of traditional wood siding. The material is more durable than traditional wood siding and stucco and is fire-resistant and resists insects and rot. Similarly to vinyl siding, fiber cement siding withstands damage from storms and is best known for its durability.
Pro Note: With good maintenance, fiber cement siding can last up to 50 years!
Fiber cement maintenance tips: Fiber cement is a great siding choice, but it isn’t perfect. One of the cons of fiber cement siding is its need for maintenance such as painting and re-caulking. You should inspect the caulk around your siding annually and check for any gaps or cracks that may need to be repaired. Ensure that your gutters and downspouts are in good working condition as the excess moisture from faulty gutter systems can wreak havoc on a healthy siding system. It’s also important to keep fiber cement siding clean to avoid any mold or mildew growth. Depending on the finish on your fiber cement, rent a power washer from your local home improvement store to remove any dirt, dust, mold, and mildew.
Stucco is a natural material that consists of aggregate, a binder, and water. It’s a cement based substance that is applied wet and hardens when it dries to provide a very sturdy coating for both interior and exterior surfaces. There are two different types of stucco siding, one coat and three coats, each of which are similar other than their base coats. Stucco has a final layer, a finish coat, that is usually colored with a cement based or acrylic finish. For more information on the different types of stucco, take a look here. Stucco is a very durable material, offering homeowners lifespans of 50-80 years. Annually, stucco also requires the lowest maintenance cost compared to other siding materials.
Pro Note: Lime is often added to modern day stucco to decrease permeability and increase the work-ability of the material.
Stucco maintenance tips: Stucco is one of the most durable siding materials on the market and does not require much maintenance. However, like anything, it may sometimes require a little attention and it’s important to understand how to maintain your stucco to keep it in the best condition. Stucco walls should be washed 2-3 times a year using a garden hose to remove a small amount of dirt and debris that collect over time. We do not recommend using a power washer as the pressure may erode the finish. It may be wise to use a medium-stiffness brush to get tougher dirt spots removed. Be careful to check and make sure the water or brush are not causing any abrasions against the stucco. If you’d like to use a soap mixture, we recommend a simple dish soap and warm water. A bleach and water solution can also be used but we recommend testing a small area of your stucco before cleaning with this solution as there is a risk that it may harm the color if done incorrectly. If you’re nervous about causing any damage with homemade mixtures, there are a few stucco cleaning mixtures sold on the market. We do not recommend painting over your stucco as it impacts its breathability and can inadvertently trap moisture inside the layers. Additionally, painted stucco does require a re-painting every 3-7 years which increases the maintenance cost for the material.
Many other siding options mimic the look of wood because, aesthetically, wood siding is a timeless and classic option. Wood siding comes in a variety of different types and styles which makes it versatile to most areas. Often cedar or redwood since they’re decay-resistant, wood siding comes in many different styles such as hand-cut shakes, shingles, clapboard, or solid wood. Wood siding is readily available and easy to install and easily replaceable in case of any damage. Being easy to paint and easy to stain, it’s easy to achieve versatile looks to achieve any aesthetic goals for your property. Wood siding does require maintenance to keep it looking fresh and to avoid any moisture build-up on your home.
Wood siding maintenance: Insects and water damage are the two largest drawbacks of wood siding and to avoid those, wood siding must be regularly maintained. Without regular maintenance there is a high chance of rot and warping. Termites and ants love wood siding and without proper maintenance and repair, can cause costly damage to the structural integrity of your home. Wood siding must be sealed with paint, stain, or sealer to prevent deterioration. We recommend re-painting or staining every 5 years. Similarly to other siding options, wood siding can be cleaned using soapy water and a soft-bristled brush. Perform a siding inspection (or call a local contractor to assist) to re-caulk problem-prone areas or replace damaged or worn planks of siding.