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Boiling Spg Lks, NC Update the Exterior of Your Home

Boiling Spg Lks, NC Home Improvement Guide

Exterior Claddings
Concrete Contractors; Mason Contractors; Painting Contractors; Siding; Stucco Contractors

Changing the exterior of your home gives it a whole new look. Whether you are looking to remodel or build new, there are a variety of options to choose from that have distinct advantages and disadvantages. The exterior of a home should provide insulation during summer and winter months, repel weather elements, hold up against minor impacts, withstand insects and pests and of course, look beautiful.

When choosing an exterior cladding, consider the architectural style of the home. Placing vinyl on the outside of Victorian home will not only look a bit odd, it could also significantly decrease the value of the home. Climate is also a major factor as it needs to stand up to the local elements. Upgrading the exterior of a beach house on the Oregon coast using redwood siding will wear and deteriorate well before its time. Price, durability and maintenance are also considerations as well as the environmental impact of the material.

Replacing old claddings or adding them to the exterior for the first time is a major project. Even an expert do-it-yourselfer shouldn’t tackle a project this big. General contractors will call in skilled masons that are cladding experts depending on the type of material. For help finding a good general contractor, visit the Architects and Builders section.

Advantage: Brick is one of the most durable materials. Made from fired clay, it offers good fire protection and can last a century. Maintenance is very minimal as it never needs painting and is resistant to rot and fading. It is available in a variety of colors, textures, and styles and can be laid in a variety of patterns. Brick provides a solid exterior barrier protecting the home from outside noises. The strength of brick makes it a load bearing material that often provides lower insurance premiums. As an energy efficient material, brick keeps energy bills lower and is cleaner for the environment.

Disadvantage: The initial cost for brick is more expensive but it may be worth it due to longevity and lower maintenance costs. Damaged bricks are difficult to replace and require removal of a larger section. It is also expensive to repair. Brick adds significant weight to the foundational structure which needs to be accounted for and is difficult to change if you want a new look.

Cost: One of the more expensive claddings, expect to pay on average $6-12 per square foot. Installation requiring a professional further increases the overall cost.

Durability: As one of the stronger materials, brick is extremely durable and lasts a long time. It offers strong protection against fire, rotting, and fading and has a lower absorption rate to water.

Maintenance: Very little maintenance is required with brick. Occasionally, the mortar between the bricks may need to be replaced.

Installation: A brick mason is an expert specialist at installing brick exteriors. A general contractor can hire one to handle the job or to find one in your local area visit the Mason Contractors heading at

Advantage: Stucco is a cement compound mixed with fine sand, hydrated lime and water. A variety of cements are used based on climate. When an appropriate water and vapor barrier is used between the stucco and the exterior, the dried material creates a very durable, fire resistant, rot resistant and energy efficient material. Pigment can be added to the stucco to provide a variety of color combinations or it can be painted after it dries. Stucco can be swirled or raked prior to curing to give it texture or be left smooth. When completed, stucco provides a seamless, continuous exterior.

Disadvantage: Because of the cement base, stucco is porous and susceptible to significant moisture passing through it when exposed to extreme water conditions. Once dried, stucco is very durable so it works better is warmer, drier climates. Cracking can occur as the house settles and will begin to pull away from the vapor barrier if water gets inside.

Cost: Similar to brick, stucco costs $3-9 per square foot. Professional installation is required, adding to the cost as well.

Durability: Within the right climate, stucco is an extremely durable surface lasting 50-80 years. It can also be reapplied over itself or a concrete block. Typically, stucco is applied over a base of wire mesh, building paper or plywood sheathing. It can be applied by hand using a trowel or new stucco can be sprayed on. Hand troweling still remains the preferred method of application ensuring a more solid covering. Stucco requires a minimum of three applications, allowing each application to entirely dry to maximize durability.

Maintenance: To avoid separation due to cracking, stucco should be checked every year. Finding cracks and fixing them before they become a bigger problem further extends its durability. Cracks can be resurfaced and covered. Stains are removed using water and a mild soap. Dirt can quickly be removed using a standard garden hose. Avoid using pressure washers as they can cut in and damage the surface.

Installation: Due to the intricate process and multiple applications, stucco should be left to the professionals. A general contractor will typically hire a stucco expert or you can find one directly by visiting the Stucco & Coating Contractors heading on

Advantage: Natural stone is a very durable material that provides an elegant and attractive look to any exterior. Quarried rock is found in a wide variety of colors to complement any style and cut to fit any needed size. As it is a natural resource, stone is easy to maintain and withstands the weathering of any climate.

Disadvantage: Stone is heavier which needs to be accounted for during installation. Supporting walls need to be reinforced to support the weight and it is difficult and costly to have it delivered to the site. As it is a higher end look, it is also reflected in the cost. Opting for a stone veneer provides the advantages of natural stone at a significantly reduced price.

Cost: One of the most expensive exteriors at $12-30 per square foot.

Durability: Quarried from natural rock, stone is one of the most durable exteriors available. Natural stone will last for the life of the home, ages gracefully and can withstand many climates.

Maintenance: A simple hosing once or twice a year removes dust and dirt. Mortar is required to hold the stones in place and after a few years, occasional touch ups may be necessary.

Installation: Due to the weight of the stone and mortar requirements to set it in place, professional installation is needed. A general contractor may hire a brick-stone mason or you can find one yourself by visiting the Masonry Contractors heading at

Fiber Cement Siding
Advantage: A popular choice in exterior siding, fiber cement siding offers the look of wood with significantly longer term durability and less expensive cost. The material is made from a mixture of cement, sand, and cellulose fibers that are steam cured at extremely high temperatures. This ensures its strength and durability along with a 25-year manufacturer warranty. It is available in a variety of colors and pre-painted siding is available from the manufacturer. Changing the color any time is an option as the siding holds paint well. Fiber cement siding does not warp, buckle, or fade and is water, fire, and flame resistant, making it safe to place a barbeque next to it. It also withstands rot, salt damage, ultraviolet rays, birds, insects, and termites. Extreme weather conditions do not affect the material reducing the possibility of splitting in cooler temperatures.

Disadvantage: Occasional cracking can occur in the caulking which causes discoloring and fungus growth. Regular checking of the product is required to patch, re-nail, or replace any caulking before it causes damage. As the material is not produced naturally, it is not as friendly to the environment and most products are not recyclable.

Cost: Very affordable alternative, particularly to wood, stone, brick, and stucco. The average cost is $3-4 per square foot.

Durability: As it is resistant to almost everything, fiber cement siding is extremely durable, long-lasting, and holds up to harsh conditions. Its strength also prevents it from being dented. Available in a variety of styles and shapes it can be adapted to create a variety of looks for any exterior.

Maintenance: Caulking issues need to be fixed immediately using a latex, acrylic, or urethane caulk found in most home improvement centers. Re-painting is typically required every 7-15 years depending on the wear. Cleaning is easier using a standard power washer.

Installation: Because of the size of the job and the degree of caulking required, a professional installation is recommended. A general contractor will bring in a framing contractor or siding contractor who specializes in fiber cement siding. Or if you want to find one or your own, visit the Building, Framing Specialists or Siding Contractors heading at

Vinyl Siding
Advantage: Vinyl is the most popular choice in siding due to its durability and low cost. As the least expensive of all exterior claddings, it is used on a large number of homes in United States today. Made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), it is remarkably strong and resistant to rust, warping, rotting, chipping, denting, pests, and termites. It also holds up very well against various climate conditions and is easy to install. Available in a variety of colors and style, vinyl siding does not require painting. The color is included during the manufacturing process preventing the possibility of future color peeling, chipping or flaking. Most vinyl siding is produced to look similar to wood and from a distance, you cannot tell the difference. Vinyl is offered in a variety of styles and designs creating the possibility for a number of options. While prone to some denting when hit with an object, the dent should not be permanent and will work itself out over a short time.

Disadvantage: While vinyl is designed to look like wood and accomplishes it from afar, up close, the vinyl material is apparent. Lawn mowers and snow blowers can chew up or crack the vinyl if they are used too close to the siding. Damaged pieces cannot be repaired and will need to be replaced. While the outside of the vinyl creates a durable and protective barrier, if the elements reach the inner barrier it will rot and decay. The majority of the time this is caused due to poor installation so make sure it is done correctly. Exposure to high winds pulls thinner pieces from the wall and heavier hail dents the siding. As a man-made product, it cannot be disposed of in an environmentally friendly fashion.

Cost: As the least expensive material, vinyl siding costs $2-3 per square foot.

Durability: Lasting a minimum of 20 years and sometimes the life of the house, vinyl is a very durable product that withstands a variety of potential damage. It does have weaknesses as it is made from plastic; it is not as strong as brick, stucco or natural stone.

Maintenance: An occasional spray of the garden hose removes any grime or dirt and is basically the only maintenance required for vinyl siding. Unless a panel is damaged or comes unsealed, little maintenance is required. Checking the siding one or two times a year cuts down on the possibility of excessive damage should the under barrier of the siding become exposed. Never requiring another coat of paint makes vinyl siding a popular choice for homeowners.

Installation: Even though it is one of the easier installation processes, hiring professionals is still recommended. Due to the large area to be covered and the need to ensure it is done correctly, leave it to the experts. A general contractor will call in a framing contractor or siding contractor to handle the job. If you would like to hire one on your own, search local experts by visiting the Building, Framing Specialists or Siding Contractors heading at

Wood Siding
Advantage: Nothing can match the beauty and elegance of wood. Many siding alternatives mimic the look of wood but nothing can beat the real thing. Wood is one of the most elegant siding options and is available in a number of styles and colors to fit any home. If well cared for and properly maintained, it will last longer than alternative siding options. Proper maintenance also prevents it from peeling, cracking, splitting, warping, or rotting. As a natural material to the environment, it is eco-friendly and is easier to dispose of. Wood creates a natural insulation for the inside of the home and is available in several different wood options. Redwood and cedar are the most popular selections along with pine, spruce, and fir.

Disadvantage: Wood requires a significant amount of maintenance in order to ensure its durability and beauty. Naturally susceptible to water, fire, and termites, untreated wood will mold, mildew, peel, crack, and rot.

Cost: As a moderate price point, wood costs $4-7 per square foot. While still one of the more expensive siding options, it is considerably less expensive than masonry materials.

Durability: If properly maintained, wood siding lasts an average of 30 years. It does require some attention and protection in order to ensure longevity and after years it holds its look more traditionally than alternative siding options.

Maintenance: To enjoy the look of wood, on-going maintenance is required. Annually, wood should be power washed to remove excess dirt and homes for pests. Staining and sealing, or repainting, should be repeated every 4-10 years depending on weathering. If fading occurs or you start to see mold and mildew, re-seal immediately and decrease the time between re-applications.

Installation: Like other siding options, framing contractors and siding contractors specializing in wood can help with the installation. Leave this big job to the professionals and discuss possible companies with your general contractor. If you prefer selecting one on your own, visit the Building, Framing Specialists or Siding heading at

Aluminum Siding
Advantage: Resulting from a lower maintenance option to wood and the abundance of aluminum after World War II, aluminum siding continues to be a popular option today. Aluminum siding is durable and resistant to fire, water, rusting, and termites. It is also a lighter material that makes it easier to work with and install. An enamel coating which is baked on the surface can be shaped to provide a variety of looks, even wood. Aluminum also holds paint very well allowing it to match any look or style.

Disadvantage: Aluminum is prone to denting when bumped or hit by an object and is difficult to replace. Over the years, aluminum becomes prone to showing scratching, denting, and cracking, more so than any other siding option. As siding color is applied to aluminum after manufacturing, these flaws become more visible. Under higher and lower temperatures aluminum expands and contracts which needs to be accounted for at installation.

Cost: Similar to wood, aluminum siding costs $3-5 per square foot.

Durability: If well maintained, aluminum siding can be expected to last for 40 years. It stands up well to the elements, especially during the first few years. Regular checking should be done to ensure dents and cracks are maintained.

Maintenance: Annually, cleaning should be done using water and a mild soap. A soft bristled brush should be used, avoiding the pressure washer. The stronger forces of a power washer will dent or peel the paint. To keep it looking clean and protected, plan on painting the siding every 5-10 years. Oxidation may start to occur, resulting in a powdery chalk appearance. This is an indication that it is time to repaint. All oxidation can be removed using sand paper or a cleaner, and should be done prior to painting for better adhesion

Installation: Aluminum is a lightweight, easier to install siding. While it can be done yourself, this is a job that is best left to professionals. Due to the size of the project and the allowances required for expansion and contraction, ensure a quality installation by hiring a specialist. Like other siding a framing contractor or siding contract will most likely by called by your contractor. To contact one yourself, visit the Building, Framing Specialists or Siding Contractors heading at

Engineered Wood Siding
Advantage: Made from wood products (sawdust and wood strands) coated with resin which are then compressed, engineered wood provides the look of wood without the natural flaws. The manufacturing process creates a solid siding material that is treated and protected to avoid rot and termites. Engineered wood is also lighter and less expensive than real wood. It is available in a variety of colors and patterns but most often is used similar to the styles and siding offerings of real wood. Paint provides a protective barrier and engineered wood can be purchased pre-primed or pre-finished to make the job easier.

Disadvantage: Moisture is a common problem with engineered siding and many lawsuits have been filed against manufacturers for this problem. Most problems were a result of product imperfections and improper installation. Recent advancements have solved the majority of the product imperfections and assuming a quality professional installer is used, solves the installation problems.

Cost: Engineered wood costs less than real wood and is comparable to other siding at $3-5 per square foot.

Durability: Due to the process of manufacturing, engineered wood is a solid, durable material that lasts up to 30 years. Additional treatment protection prevents rotting and termite problems more common in natural wood.

Maintenance: To keep it well sealed and protected, engineered wood siding should be painted every 5-10 years. Annual cleaning prevents it from holding dirt and dust, keeping it looking fresh and clean.

Installation: Because of moisture problems with earlier manufacturing, have a professional install the product to ensure quality and warranties. A general contractor will most likely bring in a framing contractor or siding contractor who specializes in engineered wood. If you are interested in finding your own specialist, visit the Building, Framing Specialists or Siding Contractors heading at

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