When selecting new siding for your home there is one factor that is even more important than aesthetics or durability, and that is the maintenance requirements. It is all too easy for homeowners to get sold on the look and durability of a siding product, not realizing that some options require high maintenance that is both time-consuming and potentially expensive. Remember, durability doesn't necessarily mean low care, so you must consider how much time and effort you realistically want to invest into your home's siding.
The most common reason for siding to fail isn't due to being aged beyond repair after meeting it's full anticipated lifespan. In reality, the majority of siding replacements are due to irreparable damage caused by neglect. Therefore, as a homeowner, it only makes sense to select the best low maintenance siding you can.
(Photo by ArmchairBuilder.com)
Homeowners specifically looking for a low-cost option often turn to vinyl. Vinyl first became popular as a very low-cost alternative to wood. While it may be more popular in cookie cutter subdivisions b/c of the lower cost to the builder, vinyl also has a reputation for poor durability.
Vinyl may warp or melt in high summer heat and may crack or splinter in the bitter cold, not to mention how hot to cold temperature swings wreak havoc on this material. You may not have to deal with repainting vinyl, but for many homeowners that is little value when considering they may have to replace their siding much sooner than anticipated.
Steel or aluminum siding
Metal siding is another common choice for low care siding. Steel and aluminum tend to both be very durable, fairly affordable, and can be installed rather quickly. However, when you think steel siding, you typically invision a warehouse or a business. It is hard to picture your home covered with steel.
The issue with metal siding is that it simply may not be attractive to homeowners that want a warmer feel to their home. Additionally, metal siding (steel in particular) isn't ideal for coastal homes right at the water's edge. Rusting and color fading may also occur, which means this other low maintenance siding will eventually need new surface treatment.
Brick or stone veneer
Few can argue that brick and stone veneer is beautiful indeed. There are manufacturers that now produce such realistic looking faux veneers it very much looks like the real thing. There has also been a shift in veneer towards using fiber cement rather than actual brick and mortar construction. Many companies heavily promote their veneer as hardly needing care. Unfortunately veneer has a drawback as well.
Brick and stone veneer is right up there on the list of the most expensive siding materials you can purchase. Many homeowners would be unable to side their home completely in veneer, which leads them to have to purchase another type of siding for the rest of the home. This can look very beautiful, but it isn't financially sound for homeowners on a tight budget or someone looking to quickly sell their house while getting a high ROI.
Fiber cement siding
Fiber cement is an interesting product and can also be found in essentially any color or grain texture. It is quite appealing in terms of appearance. However, despite often being looked at as a good durable option, fiber cement has two drawbacks.
The actual cost of the siding isn't unreasonably high for the quality, but what is expensive are the labor costs. Fiber cement siding is a very heavy material and requires more time as well as manpower during installation compared to other options. This will naturally drive up the price you'll be paying. Additionally, fiber cement isn't completely care-free. It does need to be repainted periodically to keep it’s curb appeal.
Modified wood siding
(By Kontur arkitektur + konstruksjon, photo by Kontur, Lasse Haldrup Juul)
Last, but certainly not least, is the ultimate low-maintenance siding material - modified wood. Modified wood checks off almost every box when it comes to a high-performance material. It's affordable, classically beautiful, highly durable, and requires no surface treatments. Modified wood has a long lifespan and is nearly as carefree as a siding can get.
Caring for modified wood only requires occasional cleaning when you notice dirt, with household cleaners being enough for tough spots or algae growth. This material naturally develops a beautiful silver-gray patina with age and stands up to some of the harshest weather you can imagine. Also, being a real wood product, it is easy and fast for contractors to work with.
While all of the siding options featured are often lumped into the category of "low maintenance", you can see that some of them have faults that tarnish their reputation. There is no absolute best siding for every homeowner, but it is safe to say that homeowners that love the warmth and beauty of real wood and truly want an almost no-care siding will be thrilled with modified wood. Whether you have a cozy cabin in the woods or a grandiose contemporary home in the suburbs, modified wood siding is the perfect backdrop for designing an exterior with serious curb appeal.