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How to Choose Siding for Your Home

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: If you’re planning a siding project, deciding which siding to use is really important and one that you will have to live with for a long, long time.

    TOM: That’s right. The siding you choose for your home’s exterior not only determines the look, it sets the stage for a maintenance plan for years to come. How to Choose Siding for Your HomeHere to tell us more about siding options is This Old House general contractor Tom Silva.

    Welcome, Tommy.

    TOM SILVA: Thanks, Tom. Nice to be here.

    TOM: You know, generally speaking, the more organic the siding, the higher the maintenance. But all siding has pros and cons, right?

    TOM SILVA: It sure does. You’ve got to think – what are you going to have to do to maintain that siding?

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: Let’s take a cement-fiber siding, for example. There’s a couple of them out there: CertainTeed, HardiePlank.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: It’s a siding that goes up relatively easily. It is heavy, so that is a con, and it snaps and it can be dusty if you cut it. I like the material. It’s practically indestructible, it holds paint very well and it looks like wood once it’s up.

    TOM: And it’s available primed so you can skip that step, as well.

    TOM SILVA: You can also get it in a color if you want to choose a color and then you don’t have to worry about painting it for quite a while.

    TOM: Wow. That’s terrific. Now, what about wood clapboard? If you’re not going to go with the organics, you want to stick with the traditional?

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. You want to stick with the wood clapboards. We use a lot of wood clapboards. So you want to either get them primed on all six sides. If you do a cut on the end or anything like that, you always want to make sure you prime that. I like to lift it off of the sheathing just a little bit, to create a little bit of air behind it. And again, it’s going to have to be painted every now and then.

    TOM: Now, does that change if you use cedar clapboard? I’ve seen products like Cedar Breather and that sort of thing, which put a lot of space behind it.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. It’s a little plastic matrix that sits on the wall.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: Think of it like a miniature chain-link fence that’s plastic.

    TOM: Yeah. Like a mesh almost.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. And that’s – it’s called – Home Slicker is one that goes on the side wall. And that just lifts it right off a little bit and you get a lot of air just moving behind it. And it actually helps your paint last longer.

    TOM: Now, there’s composite products out there that are not wood, they’re not cement fiber, they’re not vinyl, they’re a little bit of everything. Any thoughts on those?

    TOM SILVA: I’m not a real fan of those. I mean I guess I’m kind of a traditionalist. I do like wood and I do like the cementitious materials.

    TOM: Now what about vinyl? You can’t have your wood; we’re going to take that away from you right now. Would you put vinyl on a house?

    TOM SILVA: Well, I live in a house that was built in the mid-1800s and I got tired of painting it for the first 10 years when I lived in it. So I said to my wife, “I’m not a big fan of vinyl but I’m going to put it on my house.” And it was on there for over 20 years and I have to say, I didn’t have any maintenance. So I guess I could say vinyl was final in that …

    TOM: Yeah, there you go. No paint.

    TOM SILVA: I did take it off about 10 years ago and put on my cementitious siding.

    TOM: Alright. So let’s talk about some of the masonry products, like stucco, stone veneer, brick veneer. That really comes down to the install on that to make sure that it’s on once and on right, doesn’t have to be done again.

    TOM SILVA: It has to be done right. You’ve got to make sure it’s fastened to the wall correctly. You have to make sure that there is a water barrier behind it or some kind of a drain tile behind it, because it can be porous. And you want to make sure you have an exit route for that – any kind of moisture that does collect behind it.

    TOM: With all these products, it is all about managing the moisture, correct?

    TOM SILVA: It’s the name of the game. That’s how you protect your house. Keep the water out.

    TOM: And speaking of which, are certain areas of the country better suited for certain types of siding?

    TOM SILVA: I would say yes. I mean when I – we build a lot of houses by the ocean and we have to think about the rain coming sideways, so we want to make sure that we have a siding that can be really tight and withstand the high winds. So, that’s why we use a lot of wood – heavy wood. And we also use a lot of cementitious siding in that situation. It won’t blow off.

    TOM: Good advice. Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    TOM SILVA: Nice to be here.

    LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House andAsk This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

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