Residential homeowners and contractors in North Carolina and Southern Virginia have a particular challenge when it comes to exterior siding materials. The climate in North Carolina is known as subtropical, meaning that temperature and weather conditions fluctuate between frigid winters with snowstorms and hot, humid summers full of rain. In contrast, Southern Virginia is milder but receives significant storms. It goes without saying that residents of both regions need to be prepared for anything.
The exterior of the home is the most important protective factor. If the exterior siding is not up to par or becomes compromised in any way, it could lead to significant damage that may go unnoticed. Though these issues may not be immediately noticeable, they could still be causing havoc underneath. Choosing the right exterior siding for a home will mitigate against this. But with so many options, which exterior siding type is best? Read the guide below to find the best choice for your project.
Fiber Cement Siding
Fiber cement siding is a strong, engineered product made of lightweight cement reinforced with cellulose fibers for added strength and durability. It’s available pre-stained or painted in a wide array of colors or can be painted on-site. Fiber cement siding is available in a multitude of different panel and siding styles, from traditional shake to lap siding to sheet panels. It can fit in with any architectural design, from traditional to modern.
Fiber cement siding is particularly beneficial because it protects against critters like termites and is rot-resistant, a huge advantage in humid environments like North Carolina and Southern Virginia. It’s also a Class A fire-rated material, and won’t ignite or melt under direct flame or heat.
Though easy to install, fiber cement siding is generally heavier than other siding options and requires at least two people. While a more expensive product than alternatives, fiber cement can increase the value of a home and is considered low-maintenance. Maintenance generally includes quick inspection and occasional re-caulking or repainting. To ensure damage doesn’t occur, make sure gutters are clean and that potentially damaging tree foliage is cleared in case of a windstorm.
Fiber cement siding usually comes with a fairly long warranty, ranging from 25 years up to 50 years for some manufacturers. James Hardie offers excellent warranties on their fiber cement siding.
Vinyl siding has been among the most popular of siding options since its introduction in the 1960s. It is available in many colors and styles, and today, vinyl siding can be made to look like multishake or wood siding. It’s preferred over aluminum siding as it is more durable, a factor that is important to North Carolinians and Southern Virginians.
Vinyl siding is also one of the least expensive siding options and is easy to maintain with simple soap and water cleaning.
Just like any other waterproof siding material, water can collect underneath if not installed or maintained properly, damaging the walls and creating a much larger problem. Because it is so quick and easy to install, many homeowners choose to install it themselves. Ensuring installation is done correctly will reduce the risk of damage.
Given the reasonable cost of vinyl, it is usually in homeowners’ best interest to have the siding installed by professionals, which can also keep any warranty intact. Vinyl siding warranties vary, but can extend up to 50 years.
Engineered Wood Siding
Engineered wood building materials have become a mainstay in the building industry for many reasons. It takes all the benefits of solid wood and strengthens it by adding resins for durability and moisture-resistant properties. One of our manufacturers of engineered wood siding, LP Smartside, creates a siding product that can withstand the freeze/thaw cycles pervasive of Southern Virginia and the extreme humidity in North Carolina.
Being a composite material, the durability of engineered wood siding is higher than some solid woods as it is particularly effective against the elements and insects. Installation is similar to wood siding but is more cost-effective, and it can replicate a natural wood siding look more than vinyl or aluminum.
While engineered wood siding is made from renewable wood sources, double-check your product if sustainability is an important factor. The resin composites are not always eco-friendly.
Warranties for engineered wood siding are usually very good. With proper installation and maintenance, they can run upwards to 50 years.
Western Red Cedar Siding
Western red cedar siding has an authentic, warm look and is available in a variety of stains and colors that mix well with other textures such as stone or brick. Like all woods, red cedar will fade over time with weather and sun exposure. For some, this is an attractive feature, giving a house a traditional feel. For others, however, this look may be a deterrent and will require restaining or painting.
Red cedar siding is also thermally efficient, saving homeowners on costs of heating and cooling. This is a particularly attractive feature for North Carolinian homes that withstand fairly extreme temperature fluctuations and Southern Virginian summers, which can be uncomfortably hot.
Cedar wood siding is relatively easy to install and requires less labor than other siding options. This makes it an attractive choice for DIYers. Among the best features of red cedar siding is its longevity, which can run upwards to 75 years if properly installed and maintained. Many warranties also reflect this.
It’s important to note that red cedar siding is still wood and, as such, flammable if not treated properly. Most states require manufacturers of wood building projects to meet specific fire codes, making it essential that you and/or your client is aware of that.
The cost also may be prohibitive to some builders and their clients, as it’s one of the most expensive siding options. However, general contractors can put their clients at ease by assuring them that the cost-benefit is in its return on investment.
And Don’t Forget the Trim
Once you choose the perfect siding, you need to pick equally perfect trim. While there’s a lot of options on the market, two quality trims are MiraTEC Treated Exterior Composite trim and CertaTrim Trimboards.
MiraTEC exterior trim is made from the patented TEC™ process, is engineered and has an authentic woodgrain texture. MiraTEC will not delaminate, is moisture, rot and termite resistant, and is backed by a 50-year limited warranty.
CertaTrim is made from cellular PVC that installs just like wood. It’s a low-maintenance, long-lasting material that can be painted to complement your siding color, or you can leave it a natural white for a clean look. It comes with a 20-year limited warranty.