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Vinyl Siding Education from

BMR Homes, Inc.

Remodeling and Restoration

Learn More

For a large majority of homes vinyl is the best choice for siding due to its toughness, style, maintenance, colors and cost.



Below are some key things to know as you explore which is right for you.



Section 1- The Importance of Siding

Siding on a house is like clothing on a body. Siding protects the house against the elements and pests; it also helps prevent moisture from penetrating that can cause mold to grow.


You should put in careful consideration when choosing your siding. Siding needs differ depending on where you live, as some siding is better for various conditions. However, other siding such as vinyl, are suited for all types of weather conditions.


Moisture is a major concern for your home. If moisture gets behind the siding, the wall will get soft and thus degrading the strength of the entire frame of the house. You may also find termites, carpenter ants and dust mites behind improper siding. The presents of these issues could result in a weak wooden frame, putting your family at risk.

Section 2- Types of Siding

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Aluminum is a metal siding that comes in long panels with baked-on enamel finish that can be textured or smooth. It may dent and depending on the location of the damaged panel it can be a difficult task to replace it. Aluminum is a good heat insulator and is very waterproof. It is composed of the same 3 basic parts as vinyl.


Rectangular Plank

These are rectangular wood planks applied vertically with their ends butted together. Then, long, narrow strips of wood called battens; cover the vertical joints of the planks. This helps keep the moisture out and gives a vertical "rise and fall" look to the siding.



Clapboard is rectangular planking applied horizontally and overlapped. It isn’t as smooth, however it can be given a smother look if the edges of the plank are beveled or tapered.


Composition Board

Composition board (hardboard) is planks or sheets of compressed wood fiber and weather resistant adhesive. It can be made to look like clapboard if it is cut and applied horizontally.



Shingles are usually cedar, redwood, or cypress. They are smooth sawn and of uniform size and shape. They are applied from the bottom up and overlap each other a bit as the next highest row is applied. Shingles can be applied in a single course, where all shingles are exposed to the elements or a double course in which only the top layer of shingles is exposed. Shingles are prone to cupping, a rolling of the shingle toward the center, and checking, which is cracking or splitting.



Shakes are a rough type of wooden shingle, usually redwood, cedar or cypress. They can be either: hand split, hand split and sawn on one side or hand split and sawn on both sides. They are non-uniform in size and shape and give a rustic look to the exterior of the home. Shanks can be applied in a single course where all are exposed to the elements or a double course in which only the top layer is exposed. Shanks are prone to cupping, a rolling of the shake towards the center, and checking, which is cracking or splitting.



Stucco is very similar to plaster on an interior wall. Stucco is a durable siding, composed of water, sand and cement. Today some stucco has an acrylic finish. In a traditional stucco application, wire mesh is attached to the sheathing and studs of the house. Two or three coats of various stucco mixtures are then applied over the wire mesh. Finally, the topcoat of a stucco siding is applied with a smooth or textured finish.



Veneers are usually brick or stone and are applied one ply thick either as a whole house veneer or as an accent veneer. Veneers are applied from the ground up and are attached to the wall sheathing with brick ties. The brick ties expand and contract as the frame does to help keep the veneer from cracking. There is also an L-shaped metal flashing that runs underneath the brick and up the wall to keep water from the foundation. Veneers allow moisture to escape through their weep holes underneath the bottom course of the siding. Mortar less brick veneers are made of high strength tongue and groove concrete. Mortar less brick can be installed about 35% faster than conventional masonry. This type of siding is an excellent example of rain screening because water cannot penetrate the veneer.



Vinyl panels are made of polyvinyl chloride and resemble wood. They act in the same way as aluminum, but it doesn’t dent. If vinyl is scratched, it doesn't need to be painted because vinyl doesn't rust and the color of the vinyl permeates the entire thickness of the panels. Standard vinyl siding has three components: a nail hem at the top of the panel where the slots are located, the face (which is the exposed area of the panel visible when installation is complete), and the butt lock, which is located on the bottom of the panel and locks into the previously installed panel. J- Channels and other accessories can be functional and aesthetic. These accents can cover seams, enclose eaves or overhands, and provide and accent to the siding.


Wood Plank Siding

Planks for this type of siding can be cut perfectly rectangular, tapered, or with special milled cuts. The special milled cuts are: V-groove, channel, rabbeted bevel, shiplap, and drop. In addition to providing some texture, special milled cuts also fit together in such a way as to protect joints from water infiltration.


Plywood Siding

Plywood consists of 2 materials glued and veneered. The veneer is a slice or cut of wood of constant thickness. Plywood siding is more water resistant than indoor plywood.

Section 3- Types of Materials Used in Siding

Aluminum is similar to vinyl, but is very susceptible to dents. It is relatively low maintenance in the earlier years, however it will need repainting after a while. You will know it needs to be repainted when you touch it and a chalky residue appears on your finger. When it does need repainting, it must be carefully prepared using a primer specifically selected for that aluminum. Keep in mind sometimes a manufacturer will discontinue a pattern, so it is a good idea to purchase several replacement panels when you make the initial siding purchase.


Stucco is a combination of sand cement and water. Even though it is waterproof, it is also permeable to water vapor (It lets moisture escape from the walls)


Vinyl is made of polyvinyl chloride, and is widely used in construction today. It resembles wood and comes in various styles and colors. One of the advantages of vinyl is that the color of the vinyl permeates the thickness of the panel, making scratches almost unnoticeable. Vinyl responds well in a wide variety of temperatures and climates, and unlike aluminum, damaged panels can be replaced quite quickly. Unlike woods, vinyl has a relatively high ignition temperature. Cedar will burn 2 1/2 times faster and hardboard will burn 3 times faster than vinyl. This slower burn rate can give occupants more time to escape in case of a fire.


Brick is now more affordable due to the newer mortar less applications available. Mortar less brick is made of concrete.

Woods, such as cedar, redwood, and cypress are most often used as siding. That being said, some woods are very attractive to birds and other animals. It is important to know about the area you live in before choosing a particular type of wood.

Cedar produces natural tannin that is thought to be a natural insect repellent, but these tannins can cause spots, especially after storms. The spotting will stop after about 3 years, once the wood is used to the weather conditions.

(Redwood is similar to cedar except in its color.)


Plywood veneers include southern yellow pine, double glass fir and western red cedar. Plywood siding can be either smooth or roughhewn. Plywood siding applied horizontally is susceptible to water penetration, but two possible remedies for this are flashing behind the plywood or creating scarfed joints.

Section 4- Siding Maintenance

Wood Shakes and Shingles

These should not be installed close to the ground where moisture might get behind them. If there is soil buildup around the bottom of the wood siding, it should be removed. Shakes and shingles will fade over time, and may fade unevenly depending on landscaping or nearness to other homes that might cause partial shade. Shakes and shingles can be painted or stained to help preserve them, but depending on the climate, painting may have to sooner than anticipated.


Wood Planking

Wood planking will have to be repainted. The time period between paintings is dependent on the climate.


Composition Board or hardboard must have a good deal of attention, especially in wet climates. Composition board must be repainted often because it doesn't hold paint as well. If left exposed too long, the board will absorb moisture, expand and bow out. It may actually disintegrate, so make sure sprinklers and leaky downspouts don't wet the hardboard. Choosing a wood that is appropriate to your area is important to consider before you make your decision.


Brick and Stone veneers may develop spalling (that means that the brick or stone or mortar may fall out or crumble). This is especially likely to occur where the walls meet or at the bottom of a wall. One way to slow spalling is to clear any debris from underneath the lowest course of the veneer. Another way to help prevent spalling is keeping vines off the siding. The vines hold onto the mortar, making it weak and they trap moisture next to the house. If cracks or spalling occurs it should be patched or replaced as soon as possible. Mortar less brick will not have the problems that brick and mortar siding does.


Stucco should be watched for cracks. All loose materials should be scraped from the cracks before caulking, and only paint-able caulk should be used.


Vinyl is extremely easy to maintain. From time to time vinyl will have to be washed to eliminate dirt, dust, grass stains, mold or mildew. For heavier stains, vinyl siding can be cleaned with a soft cloth, or soft bristled brush. Since vinyl and its accessories will melt when exposed to significant fire or flame, owners of vinyl siding should take care to keep grills and combustible materials, away from the siding.


Aluminum is easily maintainable for the first few years. After that, the color may fade, blister, or crack. It should be watched for dents, which should either be repainted or the panel should be replaced. Aluminum may need to be cleaned, but pressure-washing aluminum should first be done with low pressure. If that doesn't seem to be making the area clean, do a higher power test wash on an area that is less visible. The test wash is important because some pressure washers create enough pressure to break the siding. It is best to use biodegradable detergent and hose it off with a light spray.


Plywood siding can expand and contract at different rates than the framing it is attached to. This can cause nails to pull out; joints to pull apart and siding may fall off. Keep the surface finishes fresh or the plywood siding will deteriorate. Once the warping starts the grooves in the plywood will split, allowing even more water to penetrate until the siding actually pushes away from the under ply.

© 2007 BMR Homes, Inc.