Siding is usually an essential but overlooked part of the home, thus siding maintenance is not as often thought of as, say, leaded glass door maintenance. Siding is meant to be exposed outdoors to withstand the elements. However this is no reason to neglect it completely. Repairs should be done immediately if siding is damaged, although it's not advisable to wait until damage is done to think about siding maintenance and repair.
The life of your siding is based on two things: the siding's durability and siding maintenance.
There are different types of siding, and knowing them will help you choose a type that is most suited to your home needs.
Choosing a siding
It's important to know what you're getting into if you plan to get a certain type of siding. There are some sidings that need more care than others, and there are others that are claimed to be "maintenance free". In any case, knowing which siding to buy will help you decide if you're capable or willing to keep up with the siding maintenance.
If you're on a tight budget, consider getting wood siding, as this is the most inexpensive type available. Wood siding can come in all sorts of wood, and the different effects should you wish to combine them is considered very aesthetically pleasing. It is customizable to adhere to a wide range of styles, and the material is flexible enough to fit any look you have in mind. It is also workable with paint and stain.
Aluminum siding can last decades, and does not need heavy siding maintenance. Its vulnerability is low, and is only greatly affected by dents and damage to the paint. Its rigidity can be further enhanced by adding a coat of plastic or vinyl. On the downside, aluminium siding is not as customizable in terms of aesthetics. Its appeal lies more in its practical functionality than its physical appeal.
Vinyl was designed to be an alternative option to aluminium. It is cheaper than aluminum, and does not need to be painted, requiring less siding maintenance. Similar to aluminum however, it does not provide a lot of options for aesthetic design. The distinct disadvantage of vinyl is that it can become quite brittle in winter or cold weather.
Fiber cement is a relatively new development, and was designed to have a similar appearance to wood siding, while also having the durability and long lasting features of other types of siding. It can be customized to suit a preferred look, and comes in a wide array of panelling. Fiber cement siding has a commendable durability, as it is invulnerable to many outside elements. It requires very little maintenance, and the only setback lies in its price, as it is the most expensive type of siding. Nevertheless, the price is well worth it in the long run.
How to maintain different types of siding
The easiest type of siding to maintain is vinyl, requiring only a yearly inspection and washing. Some experts claim it is actually maintenance-free, but you might want to care for the siding in even the most basic ways. Vinyl sidings should be washed annually. Lawn mowers and bicycles should be kept away from the vinyl, as they can cause cracks and breaks in the sidings. Since heat can melt vinyl and affect the overall functionality of the siding, so keep grills and patio torches away from the siding.
Aluminum also requires little maintenance. Aluminum siding should be painted over if you notice chalking or oxidation occurring on the surface. This is usually the result of weathering, so remember to check on the siding at least monthly. Get a power washer and use it annually on the siding to retain the whole "new" look, as well as to keep it clean.
If you prefer wood siding, you're going to need a lot of patience, as siding maintenance is relatively high. Wood is naturally predisposed to problems from termite infestation, rot, moisture problems, cracking or splitting. The siding should be treated with oil at least every three years and painted every five years to prevent wood rot. If you live in a tropical climate, or any place that is perpetually rainy, moisture retention in the wood is a concern, as this causes the material to expand considerably. Wood should also be checked for termites, and holes made by woodpeckers or rodents. Replacement is the only remedy once this has occurred. Pressure washing can be used to clean wood siding, although if not properly done this can actually damage the wood.
Fiber cement siding is not "maintenance free", as it requires painting. Its distinct advantage over the other types of siding is its inability to contract and expand with temperatures, thus the paint lasts longer on fiber cement. Power washing can be used to remove dirt and nests made by insects, birds or rodents. Inspect caulked joints yearly between butt ends of boards, windows and doors, as moisture retention may be a problem. If you notice gaps in the caulk, these can be filled with high quality acrylic or latex. If siding maintenance is done properly, fiber cement siding will require repainting only once every seven to fifteen years.
Prices of siding
When siding maintenance is low, and damage is to the siding is extensive, the only option left would be replacement. The cost of new siding would depend on the surface area you need covered, as well as the type of siding. Vinyl siding sells for approximately $1 to $7 per square foot, while aluminum siding costs an average of $2.50 to $3.50 per square foot. Fiber cement siding runs on a price of $4 to $9 per square foot. Wood siding is a little more difficult to estimate, as lumbar prices vary from region to region, as with the types of wood available. However, the average cost to install wood siding on a house would cost $6500-$7000. If you don't want holes burning through your pockets for siding replacement, proper siding maintenance is the only way to go.