I’m lucky to have purchased a house clad in an incredibly low-maintenance exterior material: brick. Where others have to deal with repainting or replacing faded or damaged siding, the amount of time I have to spend on my brick exterior is minimal (actually, to this point it’s nonexistent). I love it.
And brick isn’t the only low-maintenance material on the market. The most popular options also include vinyl, stucco, and fiber cement. Let’s learn a bit more about each.
An inexpensive option, vinyl siding won’t rot or peel and should last about 40 years. (Occasional cleaning with a hose is probably all it needs to stay in shape, although if you spot mildew, clean it with a household cleaner or a vinegar-and-water solution). Another bonus: Vinyl is available in a variety of colors and often looks like real wood.
Warning: As long-lasting as vinyl siding may be, it’s primarily made from PVC, which is a nasty source of organic pollutants. Plus it’s hard to recycle vinyl siding, so once you do get rid of it, it often ends up in the landfill. Yet many people, including the Vinyl Siding Institute, still stress that vinyl is a great exterior siding option. So, as always, if the environment and the health of your home comes into play when you select building materials, do your research to make the most conscientious decision possible!
Oh, and should you choose to take the DIY route when replacing your home’s wood siding with maintenance-free vinyl, this article on HammerZone can help.
Depending on where you live, stucco is another durable option that survives well in harsh marine climates, is fire resistant, and should last the lifetime of your house (although you may need to repair cracks in the finish occasionally).
An alternative to stucco, synthetic stucco is less expensive and less likely to crack than its counterpart and also should last the lifetime of your house. (Professional installation is necessary, however, to prevent interior moisture buildup.)
Luxury Housing Trends says it’s hard to beat brick, and I agree (I’m not biased at all, am I?). Brick is fantastic because it won’t burn, rot, or fade and it can last a century (with little, if any, maintenance for at least the first 25 years). You will need to check the mortar for cracks and repair any you spot as soon as possible though.
Brick and stone veneers are other options that provide the same fireproof benefits of brick. They should last the lifetime of your house and are virtually maintenance-free as well, although these veneers tend to be pricey and require expert installation.
According to ConstructionTrends.com, fiber-cement siding is a popular option. It’s made of cement, sand, wood fiber, additives, and water and typically looks like wood—but unlike most wood it’s insect-, water-, and fire-resistant; won’t rot or crack; and resists hail damage. (Some types of fiber cement can also be made to look like stucco or masonry.) Fiber cement should last 50 years with minimal maintenance, although it may require repainting after about 15 years.
It makes sense to include low-maintenance trim materials if you’re opting for siding that requires minimal attention. One example: Restoration Millwork by CertainTeed, a cellular PVC trim that looks, cuts, and fastens like wood but won’t absorb moisture or fall victim to insects like regular wood does.
If you have sustainability on the brain like I do, head over to Oikos for its handy guide to siding options with an emphasis on which ones are best for the environment. And the Minnesota Green Affordable Housing Guide provides a helpful chart of cladding alternatives (including others that I haven’t listed here) broken down with prices, expected product life, and more.
What’s your favorite type of siding and why? Did I miss a good option? Share with me here!
The Home Know-It-All