I get these questions a lot: what are the different types of exterior finishes available for houses – and which one should I choose for my home?
Types of Exterior Materials Available for Houses
To keep things simple, there are six basic categories: brick, vinyl siding, wood siding, stucco, fiber-cement, and stone (or stone-veneer). Here in the Triangle area, brick, vinyl siding, and wood siding are the most common choices you’ll find in existing homes on the market, as well as new home construction – although, the others do pop up occasionally.
This article from DIYNetwork.com compares the pros, cons, and costs of each type of material: Buyer’s Guide for Exterior Siding. According to the article, costs can range from $2.00 per square foot (for the cheapest vinyl siding) to $25.00 per square foot (for synthetic stone, installed).
I asked my friend, and professional contractor, Paul Caporale from Caporale Remodeling to weigh in with his expert opinion. The first question as I asked Paul was, “what are some of the cost differences consumers can expect – including materials and installation?”
Paul answered, “installation costs will always vary from contractor to contractor. The low estimates are always going to be poor quality most of the time – contractors who come in rushing through the job to get to their next job. Anytime contractors are rushing to get things done quality suffers.” He continued, “details matter and they are overlooked. It takes time to do the detailed required for quality and a good-looking job.”
Hiring the Right Installer: Look for Licensed Contractors
Paul shared a word of caution: “You have to be careful as well when recruiting Craigslist contractors. Some contractors sub out their work entirely by placing ads in Craigslist looking for carpenters and paintings. They show up with the homeowner thinking these are the people he has been passing off as his crew. But the truth is he’s never seen their work. And thus owner’s expectation are crushed sometimes. I’m just saying be aware .There are good contractors on Craigslist. Look for licensed contractors.”
The Difference In Licensed Contractors
Paul reminded us that “the only difference between a licensed contractor and unlicensed is that the licensed contractor gives the homeowner a little bit of assurance they know what they are doing per code. That’s it. Because a non-licensed contractor may know the codes as well but hasn’t taken the time to take the contractor’s exam. Bottom line, both the licensed and unlicensed contractor have to have their work pass inspection, if required.The only real protection the home owner has is if the contractor has to pull permits for the work, the City or County inspection teams come to inspect. When it comes to plumbing and electrical you want to make sure your house doesn’t flood and burn down. And that’s why inspections & permits are important.”
So Which Exterior Should I Choose for My Home?
A lot of variables go into selecting the right exterior siding for your home, like aesthetics, durability, cost of materials and installation, and even the local climate.
According to HGTV.com, the “low cost, versatility and easy maintenance of vinyl siding has helped it become the most popular siding choice in the United States.”
Paul’s expertise from earlier didn’t end with contractor selection, either. He weighed in with suggestions on materials selection for us: “In general, higher cost materials have long life spans, durability and overall quality. Fiber Cement siding is much more durable than compressed siding and won’t rot with a slight increase in cost difference. With less maintenance than compressed siding because of rot resistance in cement products. But you still have to paint it regularly. I would say compressed board siding is at the bottom, next to vinyl, but it can fade after awhile. Next – fiber cement, but you have to paint that regularly. Brick is the most durable with lowest maintenance – you’ll pressure wash only occasionally on the lower half. When purchasing an existing house take into consideration that any home with wood windows has high costly maintenance. If not yearly attended to, bare wood areas left unpainted starts the rot process and costly molding and window repairs. Try to buy homes with vinyl or clad windows.”
Want to go with something completely out of the ordinary? This Ideabook from Houzz.com features homes with exterior finishes of shingles and even a super contemporary look made with metal. Take a look at http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/1537973/list/9-top-siding-materials!
Thanks again to Paul Caporale, owner of Caporale Remodeling, for his help with this article! And if you want to talk more about exterior finishes, leave me a comment below.