Sprucing up Your Siding

Siding influences so much about your house: its condition, its style, its feel. Dirty, weathered siding makes owner and observer alike feel as if they are looking at a dump, even if the interior is pristine. Because siding affects all aspects of a home, poor siding will eventually allow deterioration to work its way to the interior. When you show your siding some love, it will love you back. Learn which type of siding you should buy (or why you have the siding that you already have); how to assess it for damage and make simple repairs; and how to clean your siding for maximum effect with minimum effort.

Basic Types of House Siding: Cost, Durability, Installation

With a house, nothing is random; there is an explanation for each of its elements. Siding is no exception. Region, culture, traditions, and climate are just some of the reasons why a home in Cape Cod may have wood shiplap siding and one in Albuquerque may have stucco siding.

Individual needs and desires form another layer of choices. An owner may have chosen vinyl siding because money was tight that year. A different homeowner may have spent more on fiber-cement siding because she knew that she would be selling before long and wanted to boost resale value.


  • What it is: Fiber-cement, considered a premium siding, is a mix of sand, cement, and cellulose that is baked in molds into hard shingles or planks.
  • Cost: Fiber-cement siding tends to run on the high end. Expect to pay about $5,600 to $13,750 for 1,250 exterior square feet. Those are low-end estimates, though, as fiber-cement and labor are both very expensive.
  • Durability: Fiber-cement is very durable, insect-free, and fire-resistant (though not fire-proof). Much like ceramic tile, it is brittle and will crack.
  • Installation: Technicians install long, horizontal strips of fiber-cement siding on house sheathing, much like traditional wood shiplap.


  • What it is: Vinyl siding, often thought of as inferior to other types of siding, nonetheless is very popular, prevalent, inexpensive, and easy to install.

  • Cost: Vinyl siding is a low-cost favorite, running around $2,500 to $8,750 for a medium-sized house.
  • Durability: The vinyl siding industry has a saying, “Vinyl is final,” and that is true in the sense that vinyl never needs painting. Lighter colors tend to be colorfast for decades, yet darker vinyl can fade. Vinyl stands up against the elements well but not so much against impact. Something as simple as hitting it with a lawn mower can crack it. Barbeques will melt vinyl siding. Even reflection from a neighboring window has been known to melt vinyl siding.
  • Installation: Thin sheets of vinyl install in channels that can be laid directly on existing siding or on house sheathing.


  • What it is: Wood siding is found in the form of lap siding on a historic home or large sheets of engineered wood on newer homes.
  • Cost: Prices run the gamut, from the premium prices paid for authentic lap siding down to extremely low, in the case of pre-finished engineered wood siding. Expect to pay about $6,500 to $10,000 or more for a 1,250 square foot house for real wood siding. Engineered wood in sheets will run about $3,000 to $5,000 for the same size house.
  • Durability: Wood is only as durable as its coating. As long as you keep the paint in good condition, the wood below will last for decades. Because wood is not brittle, it is less prone to cracking than other materials. Termites and carpenter ants love wood siding, so effective pest control should always be part of your routine.
  • Installation: Only qualified carpenters should install lap siding. For engineered wood, carpenters either nail tongue-and-groove sheets or horizontal strips onto the home.https://www.sbcmag.info/news/2015/may/builder-advises-how-install-engineered-horizontal-siding


  • What it is: Brick is one of the rare types of materials that is both the home’s siding and main structural component.
  • Cost: Expect to pay about $150 per square foot to build a home from brick.
  • Durability: Structural brick is extremely durable, with quality brick lasting into the hundreds of years. Mortar does need to be re-pointed occasionally, though.
  • Installation: Brick installation is always the province of skilled masons, who create the home under the supervision of the general contractor.https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/architects-and-engineers/build-a-house/

Manufactured Veneer

  • What it is: Veneer stone is faux stone made from minerals and cast in molds. It can be formed in the shape of natural stones or as thin bricks used as facing (but not structurally).
  • Cost: Veneer is expensive. As such, it tends to be used for some, but not all, of the house exterior.
  • Durability: Veneer is moderately durable and should never be thought of as being as durable as natural stone. Once the outer appearance layer is nicked or scratched, the inner homogeneous cement core is exposed. Veneer stones tend to become dislodged or cracked.
  • Installation: Installation is mostly a job for masons, especially on a large scale. Veneer is mortared onto cement-board, itself nailed onto house sheathing.


  • What It Is: Stucco is the only siding that goes on as a wet substance. Used for millennia in traditional building practices, stucco forms the siding for millions of homes and is considered superior at deadening sound.
  • Cost: Estimates run about $6 to $9 per square foot for installation of this labor-intensive material.?
  • Durability: Stucco can last up to 50 years. Because it does not do well in areas of heavy rain where the foundation may shift, stucco is usually found in hot, dry-climate places such as the U.S. Southwest.
  • Installation: Stucco is applied to cement-board in three coats: first, the adhering scratch coat, then the leveling coat to prepare the surface, then the finishing coat. Paint must be applied to keep stucco secure.https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/siding/stucco-siding/http://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2017 http://home.costhelper.com/siding.html

House Siding Check-Up and Damage Assessment

House siding takes a brutal beating over the years, so damage is par for the course. Repairing damaged house siding should be an expected part of your normal house maintenance duties.


Typical Damages: Cracks; holes; peeling coating
Solutions: Fiber-cement siding is brittle and prone to cracking. Cracked boards should be replaced. Holes and dings can be filled with cementitious patching compound. Peeling coating can be stripped and repainted.http://inspectapedia.com/exterior/Siding_Fiber_Cement_Repair.php


Typical Damages: Cracks; melting (from barbecues, etc.)
Solutions: Cracks are best dealt with by replacing the entire vinyl plank. As a stop-gap, you can make a crude patch out of “like” material and stick it over the missing area with silicone caulk.http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/rooms-and-spaces/walls-and-ceilings/how-to-repair-vinyl-siding


Typical Damages: Peeling; chipping; cracks
Solutions: Since all wood siding must be painted, its paint is usually the first layer to be damaged. Strip, patch, and repaint. Deep chips and cracks can be patched with wood putty, then primed and painted over. Long, horizontal cracks in wood plank or lap siding usually warrant replacement of the entire board.


Typical Damages: Crumbling mortar joints
Solutions: Structural brick is hardy, but mortar is not. Re-point brick mortar on an as-needed basis when you begin to lose mortar from between the bricks. Pointing is not difficult but it is tedious. If you decide to point the brick yourself, use a pointing trowel and make mortar from six parts fine white sand, two parts lime, and one part white Portland cement.https://www.bobvila.com/articles/how-to-repoint-brick/#.WionJN-nGUk

Stone Veneer

Typical Damages: Dislodged or missing stones; cracks in existing stones
Solutions: Cut to size and replace with the same brand and style of veneer stone. Cracks can be filled with tinted mortar, but for best appearances, replace the stone entirely.http://homeguides.sfgate.com/fix-veneer-stone-fallen-off-wall-39626.html


Typical Damages: Holes; cracks; chips
Solutions: Small holes and cracks in stucco can be effectively patched with flexible sealants. For larger holes and for chips, use a putty knife to apply pre-mixed stucco patching compound.https://www.quikrete.com/athome/video-repairing-sealing-cracks-holes-in-stucco.asp

Clean Your Siding Safely, Efficiently

Brighten your home’s colors and make it gleam with an annual cleaning in the spring or summer.

Many homeowners clean their siding with a power washer. While this wins points for ease, it does risk damaging the siding as well as forcing water under the siding. For a thorough job, nothing is better than a manual cleaning. While it may sound daunting, with the right tools and materials this can be a manageable weekend project.

Tools and Materials

  • Bucket
  • Hose and Nozzle
  • Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)
  • Long-Handled, Soft-Bristled Brush
  • Ladder
  • Cleaning Solution: Use ½ cup of TSP per one gallon of warm water

1. Choose the Perfect Time
Avoid times when the sun blasts directly on the siding, as this can bake the dirt back onto the siding. Early morning tends to be the best time.

2. Think in Sections
Cleaning an entire side of the house is defeating and leads to a barely-clean house. Instead, mentally create ten-foot-wide sections and work each section by itself.

3. First Rinse
First, protect vegetation with a tarp. Start with a quick rinse from the hose to knock off large debris. Rinse working downward.

4. Clean Upward
It may seem counter-intuitive but starting at the bottom and working upward is the best way to minimize streaking. Dip the brush in the cleaning solution, then gently swab the house, starting at the bottom of the section.

5. Go Higher (But Carefully!)
When you cannot reach any higher, set up the ladder and step on the lower rungs. Be careful of pushing too hard or you will tip the ladder. Work quickly to avoid the cleaning solution drying on the siding, but always stay well within the margins of safety.

6. Rinse Section, Repeat
Rinse the section thoroughly to remove all traces of grime, working from the top downward. Then move to the adjoining section and repeat the process.https://www.houselogic.com/organize-maintain/home-maintenance-tips/how-to-clean-siding/https://www.vinylsiding.org/vsi-resources/cleaning-and-maintenance/

Your house siding may be durable against the elements, but it does need your attention. Learn about the basic types of siding, how to assess and repair damages, and how to clean.