Text by Pat Gerbrandt
The exterior of your house is more than just a “pretty face” for your home; it also protects the structure from climatic factors.
Protection from the effects of sun, wind, extreme temperature changes and significant precipitation is crucial. The durability of your exterior finish needs to be considered in your selection. Do keep in mind that the style and even colour should complement the style of your house.
Seamless steel siding, made of 29-gauge galvanized steel coated both sides for rust protection and covered with 8 ml. PVC is maintenance free. Howard Wiebe, of Superior Stainless says that the company has not had a single warranty claim since operation began in 1986. With 24 profiles and colours available, including shades darker than can be offered in vinyl, and log siding, too, with actual woodgrain finish, this exterior option has wide application. Extruded on site, there are no seams or overlaps and the product does not buckle. It is impervious to wind and rain and is maintenance free.
Inexpensive vinyl siding can easily be cleaned. The vertical siding is even easier to clean than the horizontal. It will not peel, rust, flake or corrode. Careful installation can prevent damage due to expansion and contraction caused by temperature changes. Because vinyl does not conduct electricity, no grounding is required. A wide selection of colours makes this an appealing option for many people.
Aluminum siding also comes in many pleasing colours. It can withstand more temperature changes than vinyl and the finish is more durable. Aluminum is fully washable and can be repainted. Ease of installation is another plus to aluminum siding.
Wood siding has a charm all its own, is affordable and its maintenance can be minimized. Rough woods surface absorbs stain well, so re-staining may not be necessary for up to 15 years. Treating wood makes it more weather resistant and allows for a greater variety of colours.
Cedar is a versatile wood, naturally resilient to elemental damage, as well as to the attacks of insects. Natural cedar tones will turn silvery-grey as the wood ages. Do check with local construction codes regarding fire prevention regulations before ordering wood siding.
Wood fibres fused together and combined with wax and resin result in a product amazingly close to natural wood. It is more durable than wood, affording a low-maintenance exterior finish. Wood fibre siding is also moderately priced, making it a popular choice.
Fibre cement is versatile, available in a variety of finishes with smooth or rough surfaces and can be stained or ordered factory-stained. Although it is a cement (made of cement, sand and cellulose fibers) it mimics wood. Weather resistant, impervious to insects and mildew, fire resistant and low-maintenance, this wood-look product is proving popular.
A relatively inexpensive option is aggregate stucco. Applying it is fairly easy and it can be applied to irregular surfaces.
Acrylic coatings have the advantage of better water resistance and greater durability.
Masonry has been used for centuries. Today, the choices are wider than ever and the advantages of soundproofing, impact resistance and durability offset the slightly higher costs.
Modern technology renders clay bricks better able to resist water and humidity and makes them available in a wider range of colours than was previously available.
Concrete brick is even more water resistant, is available in more colours and is less expensive than other types of brick.
Mortarless brick is easier to work with than traditional masonry, since it uses an installation system predicated on screws.
Reconstituted brick and stone are available in a wide range of colours, due to the mixing of colourants with sand and silica, but these products are also available in white. Cultured stone has become a popular choice, as it combines greater ease of installation with a wide range of styles.
However, there will always be a market for natural stone, whether granite, cobblestone, limestone or cut stone, as it gives undisputed class to any exterior. Its durability is evident in period houses.
Work out your budget, determine the style most suited to your house and explore the exterior options for your renovation project or new house. Protect your home and be proud of the way it looks.