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What type of siding should I use?

15 years ago

Reading another thread got me thinking. I know I don't want vinyl siding, because it just looks bad.

On my old house, I had boards that seemed to be some type of composite made out of wood (the board seemed to be made of chopped up wood that was fused together in a mold that had fake grain and knot lines.) I know it wasn't very expensive because I got the "contractor's special" on everything in that house.

I was very satisfied with this board, as it held up very well. Sure it needed to get painted every 7 years or so, but I don't consider that a problem. Perhaps it was called something like "chemplank"? Does that ring a bell?

Anyway, I am open to all cost effective options that do not involve vinyl. I don't care how good the manufacturers say that they vinyl products look - I've never a vinyl house that didn't scream out "I'm super cheap."

Comments (10)

  • 15 years ago

    Let us assume that whatever you choose will be installed properly, to be weathertight. However, installation cost can be a factor whether it's for a topnotch mason or a crew that actually knows how to install Hardiboard. Do you want something that combines insulation with the exterior? Do you live in a wildfire-prone area, or want the benefits of good fire resistance?

    Is cost an over-riding factor? That means, does the wallet insist on the least expensive initial outlay, or can it afford a higher upfront cost in order to save down the road such as lower insurance rates for brick or fibre-cement or stucco; or lower heat/AC expenses due to insulative qualities.

    IMO, the cost of insulation should be included when comparing various exterior materials costs. This is the only way to fairly compare various types of SIPs to more conventional masonry or wood. While opinions and preferences vary as to which insulation is best, folks who live in highly insulated houses seem nearly unanimous in touting both the comfort and savings for heat and A/C.

    But I think one of the most important things is which 'look' appeals to you. What style is the house? Some styles call for clapboard (or planks of some material), and some look best in brick or stone or stucco, and others use a combination of materials. What appeals to me may not suit you.

    But if you question is, what did I choose and why did I choose what I chose, then I can tell you that the new house will have a stucco exterior. It's cottage style, which imo looks best in stucco. The location is quite rural and heavily wooded so fire is a definite concern ~~ the nearest fire dept is 12 miles away and has an average response time of 25 minutes to my locale. To me it seems better to build with highly-resistant material, not to mention savings on the cost of insurance. Notice I don't say fire-proof -- true fire-proof is way beyond my budget. But concrete walls and roof (with shutters for doors and windows) will go a long way to lessening the potential for catastrophic damage.

  • 15 years ago

    Louisiana Pacific Smart Side composite wood siding is one product similar to what you are talking about. It comes pre-primed and is made to be painted. It is made out of engineered wood (Aspen) and a resin impregnated surface layer for painting.

    There is also TimberSil which is a solid wood product made from Southern Yellow Pine and pressure treated with glass to make it rot resistant. It is a newer product initially geared towards decks, but they also make siding. It can be painted/stained or let to gray naturally.

    Both of these products are very fire resistant, rot resistant, and are made from a renewable resource, trees.

    There is also the older choice of Masonite siding which is just hardboard with a paper cover layer that is made to be painted. This product is not good in humid, hot climates of the south due to rot. It works fine in northern climates assuming that it is installed correctly and painted properly. My parents home in Iowa (built it the 1950s) has this original siding on it and it works fine.

  • 15 years ago

    jrdwyer, this will be in a very hot, humid environment (Gulf Coast). And yes, I think that Louisiana Pacific Smart Side is what I had. Would it be considered an inexpensive option?

  • 15 years ago

    I'm not sure what your budget is, buy this product is probably a good compromise between expensive brick and inexpensive vinyl. Being engineered wood, it is going to be more stable than a solid wood product.

    Another option is real cypress siding (baldcypress or Taxodium distichum) since you are close to the source for this material. It needs to be either primed and painted or stained. It has long been used in the south for siding and is probably competitively priced. The young growth cypress that is mostly cut today is rated moderately resistant to termites/decay, whereas the old growth cypress is rated very resistant.

    Other options exist if you are going with poured or block exterior walls instead of wood framed walls. In Europe, this style is very common and they skim the block walls to make it smooth and then after a drying period it is primed and painted.

  • 15 years ago

    From the weekend newspaper ads, here are the big box store prices for siding in our area:

    Vinyl- Double 5" (10" x 12' x very thin)- $4.58/10 sq. ft.
    LP SmartSide- 8" x 16' x 6/16"- $7.47/10 sf (1" overlap)
    HardiePlank- 8.25" x 12' x 5/16"- $7.79/10 sf (1" overlap)

    So it seems that builder's grade vinyl is definitely the lowest cost siding option of these 3 right now.

  • 15 years ago

    Hi Swampwiz,

    I was wondering if something like my siding might work for you. I've attached a few pictures below. My apologies to those who have seen these before. I really need to take some new pictures. If you like it, I'll let you know what it is.

  • 15 years ago

    First of all you dont say what style of house you are building or show us any pictures. Have you started construction ? With that being said. there are many options... Stucco /stone, Vynil shingle /shakes are a great option that if chosen and designed right for the house are a reasonable choice. Investigate Georgia Pacific,Certainteed, Crane,Mastic,Variform and several others. Hardi plank is a cement based siding. Several manufactures such as the above mentioned smart board. Be sure to look for similar styles of homes with what you are looking at. Then get samples in the colors you are considering and make sample boards for matching it with other details of exteriors. Check prices and locations of installed jobs using the products you are looking at. Speak to exterior trim / siding contractors about their experiences with the various choices. I spoke about vinyl shakes because I like the look, the texture, the many colors and styles available and because the costs are often vary comparible to or less than other options. I just put them on 2 new homes I designed and am building now.Each is over $400K and look great mixed with stone. Low maintainance is a benefit as well. But again you need to consider your style and taste and look for what fits tha and you budget and other requirements

  • 15 years ago

    jr.....that is a VERY high price for hardiboard!! I got a quote from several subs and it ranged from $1.90- 2.15....materials(pre-primed) and labor installed! I am a GC thou. Drive thru neighborhoods under development and get several subs to quote you that install this product. Most every thing at the Big Boxes are going to be high in price.

  • 15 years ago


    The prices I listed were for 10 sq ft of coverage, not 1.

  • 15 years ago

    I am interested in what type of siding you have, especially if it isn't hardiboard.