First, siding provides protection for the structure from the climate and elements. When designing the exterior of a home, builders and homeowner have a multitude of options for creating the desired look and lifestyle. The façade of a building is the most visible aspect and will send a visual message. By choosing the siding material, color and style, the owners determine that message.
Wood is the traditional exterior siding for homes. Available in a range of species, grades, and profiles, wood offers a traditional charm and expensive aesthetic. The use of wood creates a depth in design. Depending upon the area of the country, wood species will be readily available, or may be ordered, which will increase the time for installation. End cuts of any wood siding must be treated to avoid moisture absorption.
Pine is an economical softwood often used for siding especially when painted or stained. When treated and stained, it can mimic the look of cypress — which is expensive and often not available. Due to the nature of the wood, it should acclimate to the humidity of the area prior to installation to diminish the spaces between the boards or shingles after installation. All sides and ends of pine must be sealed or it will absorb moisture and warp or cup. Treated pine will be rot-resistant but maintenance is a must for pine siding.
Spruce is a softwood available in the East and Fir in the West with much the same features as Pine. Easily milled into profiles, these species will require maintenance as they are not rot resistant.
Cedar is naturally rot and insect resistant and since it does not have resins, it is easily milled into profiles. Frequently used for shakes and shingles, Cedar is prized for its graining, and staining will enhance its look and long life.
Redwood is naturally rot and insect resistant and is easily milled into profiles. The color of heartwood redwood is prized and is the most expensive of the wood siding choices. Since it is a Western species, Redwood can be even more expensive in the East. With little resin, it takes paint and stains easily, but staining is the most popular because of the beauty of redwood. With proper installation and simple maintenance, Redwood siding should last a long time.
Engineered Wood is produced from thin layers of wood that are bonded together with the grain parallel to the long direction and compressed into strong, uniform boards. Since it is manufactured under controlled situations with jointed or lapped veneers, it is engineered to be stronger, more uniform, and straighter than traditional lumber, plus an overlay makes it water and insect resistant. When compressed, textures can be added to the surface. Boards are light-weight, and primed or pre-painted.
Vinyl has become the most popular siding for exterior cladding due to its longevity and low maintenance factors. Created in a multitude of profiles that may mimic wood or offer a smooth finish, vinyl siding is now produced so color is retained throughout. Newer technologies for color in vinyl also permit darker colors that will not fade. Vinyl is insect resistant and does not absorb moisture so it will not warp or expand — unless exposed to a direct heat source. DO NOT locate an outdoor grill up against a vinyl sided structure! Vinyl siding will carry a warranty of a minimum of 50 years and many offer a lifetime warranty.
• Insulated vinyl siding will contain an expanded polystyrene formed insulation that fits into the profile of the vinyl siding. While it provides an R-2 to R-3.5 value, the insulation is also a thermal block. Plus, the insulation provides a backing that reduces cracking from blows versus non-backed vinyl.
• Certified vinyl siding will be resistant to 110 mph. winds and even higher. In hurricane prone areas or along the coast, wind resistant products are required and vinyl offers products in that category.
Plastic is formed into siding products such as shakes and shingles, and decorative trims such as scallops.
Fiber Cement siding is created from wood pulp, cement, clay and sand that is mixed and molded into siding profiles. Fire-resistant and insect resistant, fiber cement is resistant to water, salt spray and ultra-violet rays. Siding is molded into a variety of profiles, surfaces—wood grained or smooth— to provide a variety of designs. Fiber cement is heavier than other materials. Delivered primed or pre-painted, it may need to be touched up if scratched and will need to be repainted periodically, but not as often as wood. When handling, fiber cement use proper protection for the eyes and a dust mask. Cutting with a circular saw requires carbide-tipped blades.
Aluminum siding — everything old is new again. Created in several thicknesses (thicker gauges will be more wind resistant), profiles and textures, aluminum is fire, water, and insect resistant — essentially maintenance free! Industrial-grade paints resist fading and chalking, although scratches must be touched up. Hail may damage.
Steel siding is created from heavy-duty, galvanized steel. Profiles may be woodgrain or smooth finish. Moisture, insect, and fire resistant, heavy-gauge steel resists impacts and high winds. May be finished with a fused polyvinyl chloride low-gloss coating in a variety of colors, steel siding will only need an easy cleaning.
Brick provides an aesthetic unlike any others and is insect, water and fire resistant. As an insulator, brick is unrivaled by other siding products. It is wind resistant and provides a strong covering for a home. Brick is a natural product created by forming clay and shale into pieces that are cured at extremely high temperatures to produce a long-lasting, attractive construction material. Manufactured in a variety of colors, brick also can have a range of textures. The deterrent to brick is the cost. Laying brick is a time-consuming process, too.
Stone siding may be a composite material or natural stone created as panels and easily installed, almost like puzzles. Water, insect and fire resistant, the stone veneers require no maintenance. These panels are mostly used as accents in combination with other siding materials and not on the whole house.
• Natural stones such as limestone, marble, quartzite, sandstone, slate and travertine are used to create panels that can be easily installed.
• Composite stone panels may be a mixture of concrete, aggregate sand and water molded into panels and cured. Color will be throughout the panel. Water, insect and fire resistant, the composite stone panels require no maintenance other than washing.
BrickVeneer is produced from natural clay or an aggregate mix. Some manufacturers use a mounting surface or grid for easy installation. The brick veneer is about half the thickness of regular brick and created in a variety of colors, textures and shapes.
Stucco is one of the oldest siding materials used to protect homes. Made from natural elements of cement, sand and water, it is applied in layers to provide a strong, insulating layer on the exterior of the home. Colors can be personalized to provide a custom exterior and textures can be designed into the surface. Water, insect and fire resistant, stucco can last up to 50 years. While the materials to create the siding are not expensive— the slurry will be applied to a mesh substrate attached over a moisture barrier — the installation process is time consuming and requires experience in application.
Material choice will have the greatest impact upon the price.
• Brick is the most expensive to consider with much of the cost in the installation. With little if any maintenance and longevity, it may be an appropriate choice depending upon the budget and style of the home.
• BrickVeneer and Stone are higher in cost depending upon the stone used but have a lifetime of 100 plus years. With low and no maintenance other than cleaning, weigh the cost against the aesthetics.
• Wood siding can be expensive for the materials, installation and maintenance. Wood does not offer the same lifetime as other materials. The aesthetic of wood should be compared with the overall costs.
• Engineereed wood siding is very inexpensive especially when factored over the lifetime of the panels and the low maintenance.
• Vinyl siding can range in costs depending upon profile, manufacturer and design, with insulated vinyl adding an upcharge of almost 50 percent. With no maintenance costs and a lifetime of 20-30 years, vinyl is an affordable siding.
• Aluminum and Steel are inexpensive alternatives in the lower range of siding materials, although not as many options are offered. With no maintenance costs, and a 20 to 30 year lifespan, metal is an affordable material.
• Fiber Cement may run 50 percent more than vinyl. The cost of installation for fiber cement is higher than vinyl, aluminum and steel. With low maintenance and a lifetime expectancy of 35-50 years, consider the advantages of fiber cement.
• Stucco is among the more expensive of the siding options but it requires none or little maintenance and will last more than 50 years.
Resale value of the home may be taken into consideration when choosing to re-side a house. A higher investment when residing may turn into a significant return at resale.
Installation if done by a professional contractor will cost more than an experienced do-it-yourselfer.
Maintenance costs may be a factor in choosing siding as the pricing is factored over the lifetime of the material. Maintenance is discussed under each material.
A comprehensive guide on what you need to know before choosing the right siding.
Shutters are easy to install, inexpensive and can enhance the exterior decor by adding depth and personality to your home. Shutters provide a color accent and frame windows so that they stand out. Besides, quality shutters enhance the value and appeal of any house.
Originally, shutters were installed to protect homes from intruders and liquids. Nowadays, these functions are unnecessary. But if you want to add protection to your windows, functional exterior shutters are a great choice.
If you're looking for a new look for your house but want shutters to be maintenance free, go for decorative options. With the proper placement and size, no one will tell its faux shutters.
To list all shutter types and materials in the world will take hundreds of pages, so here we talk about the most common ones that you will find in many stores. So, shutters come in several main types.
Louvered exterior shutters add a traditional detail to architecture of any home. They come in different materials and at different prices to suit everyone. The beauty of these shutters is their universal appeal. Whether you live in a rural or urban home, traditional or contemporary, these shutters are a great way to enhance windows. In addition to standard sizes and designs, you can order custom shutters that accommodate windows of all sizes. However, most of them are decorative and slats are fixed. Thus, you will need to be functional shutter hardware, hinges and swing separately. Louvered shutters are easy to install and doesn't require any special maintenance.
Make your exterior more elegant by adding board and batten shutters. The look you'll achieve will remind you of different architectural styles combined together, especially that of coastal beach cottages and unique Northeastern brownstones. Just like wainscoting in interior design, board and batten shutters feature vertically running planks that are secured by battens.
Mounting raised shutters add additional charm to window frames. This is a traditional, always-loved design that can be found in many homes nationwide. From an urban, huge brownstone home to a small ranch, mounting raised shutters attract more attention to windows and enhance their architectural features. They also come in different colors and design and usually made of wood or vinyl.
Bahama shutters also known as Bermuda shutters were designed to enhance durability of windows in tropical, hot climates. Today, they are still widely used in coastal areas and states bordering Southern Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. All types of homes can benefit from natural breeze flowing through and controlling levels of sunlight, and Bahama shutters are a nice architectural element as well as an asset to temperature control.
True to south style, these shutter hardware kits allow wind and light to pass through without obstruction of your view. They also offer more privacy, protection from direct UV lights that damage furniture, floors and draperies and enhance comfort. Bahama hardware arms can angle the shutters away from windows, allowing owners to see out, but creates a screen blocking out curious eyes.
Custom shutters are handy if you have unusual window shape or unique home exterior design. Nowadays, it only takes several weeks to create custom made shutters that will draw attention to windows or conceal poorly sized windows.
To make long things short, a quick overview of three main shutter types:
• Raised-panel shutters feature two equal panels. They add to security and provide a Colonial look. • Louvered shutters have slats separated by a mullion. These are more traditional option that has proven to be an attractive exterior addition. • Board and batter shutters feature vertical boards and cross battens. They are often used to enhance the cottage-style look and are known for the authentic aesthetics.
Shutters can have different architectural differences, usually straight top, arch top or eyebrow design. Each serves certain function and gives different personality to your house. The easiest way to choose the right ones is to go with the one that matches the lines of your house.
No two wood shutters are the same, but maple, oak, poplar, alder and pine are the most popular choices. Wood shutters can be stained light or dark or painted any color to match your house. Most are ready to treat to withstand harsh conditions.
• Western Red Cedar is a popular wood choice. It's knot-free and has smooth grain that receptive to varnish or paint. Red Cedar has color retention, and won't become yellow and fade once coated. It has natural tannins that make it resistance to fungus, deterioration and other wood insects.
• Cypress has got popular recently thanks to its watertight durability and nice grain. Cypress trees make natural preservative oil that makes wood resistant to fungus, insects and decay.
Plastic and Vinyl - Plastic and vinyl may sound artificial, but many shutters feature a wood grain look that duplicated the look of natural wood panels. Whether you choose colored plastic or vinyl, they both last longer than wood and have a color-through finish that won't chip like the paints that require yearly maintenance.
There are two rules that you should follow in order to buy perfect shutters: carefully measure your windows and when you're done, measure them one more time. When it comes to adding new details to the exterior of your home, especially something that attracts attention like shutters, precision means a lot. Invest the time to get the right numbers before you buy shutters. Once you know the size you can start shopping for them.
If possible, try to find a single width for all your windows to create a uniform look, but remember that many homes with several floors have different window sizes on different floors, so measure all of them. Width of window shutters varies from 6.8 to 33 inches and it's easy to find shutters of a proper size. Don't just blindly follow size charts you can find online - those are just suggestions and nothing else.
Start measuring height from the top to the bottom of the trim. You may need to leave a 1/4 inch gap when installing vinyl or plastic shutters in windows with a sill because these materials will expand and contract depending on a season. When you go shopping for shutters, you'll see that their size options often come in 2-inch ranges (let's say that you have 14W and 25H windows, so you should select shutters of 24H-26H inches). Just like the width of windows, their height may vary from window to window, so you want to measure every window.
Your shutters will see a lot of sunlight. Just like you wouldn't go to the beach without a sunscreen, you shouldn't buy shutters without the UV stabilized feature. Even some expensive shutters don't have this feature, but it's definitely worth your investment. You don't want to get a product that will be warped, faded or somehow damaged by the sun.
Do your shutters meet all child safety regulations?
Even if you don't have kids or not planning to have them at all, finding shutters that meet the mandatory child safety regulations is important as you can have a family with children coming to you. Every year several kids die from strangulation by curtain cord. The safety regulations can be found in the instructions that come with shutters and it's better to familiarize yourself with them. You can also ask a salesperson about these regulations, and be sure they can tell you about the latest standards and the products they offer you have necessary warning labels.
What color do you need?
If you can't find the color of your choice in the store, ask a salesperson if they have it. Stores often don't display all versions of all their shutters. Quite often, the shutters that you see come in many different colors.
Do you want your shutters to be made of eco-friendly materials?
When it comes to shutters, there are many ways to be environmentally conscious. If you're going to buy wood shutters, ask the salesperson about how the wood was harvested. Another way to be eco-conscious is to search for energy efficient shutters. These shutters will reduce your carbon footprint and help safe on energy bills.
Choosing the best shutters for the best price comes down to common sense. Look for material and color that suit your window type, room decor and lifestyle. If you're overwhelmed with many different options, search for decor examples. Their price can range from $200 to $2,000 and the most expensive ones aren't necessary the best ones for the style of your home.
A comprehensive guide on what you need to know before choosing the right shutters