Siding and Cladding 101

Siding (a.k.a. cladding) refers to the material used to cover a home’s exterior walls. In Ontario, there is a huge variety of effective siding options available to homeowners. Before getting siding installation quotes, it can be beneficial to compare all product options, price ranges and the pros and cons for each siding product type.

Vinyl Siding

Because of its relatively low cost and maintenance requirements, vinyl siding is the most commonly used type of siding in Canada. Some brands of vinyl siding products have insulated options with up to R5 value for energy efficiency.

Vinyl Siding Styles

Available in a variety of profiles such as horizontal or vertical panels, shakes, shingles, stone and lap, vinyl siding is as versatile as it is durable and long lasting.

Vinyl Siding Composition

Mainly composed of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), vinyl siding is a flexible polymer of vinyl chloride and is the most economical choice when it comes to exterior home cladding.

Vinyl Siding Durability 

The range of vinyl siding options is great so be sure to inquire about the warranty on any product under consideration. In general, vinyl siding life expectancy is usually 20 – 30 years. 

Vinyl Siding Pros and Cons

Pros: 

  • initial cost relatively low 
  • lightweight 
  • huge variety of profile and colour options 
  • can be insulated for energy efficiency 
  • low maintenance 

Cons: 

  • impact resistance decreases over time as vinyl becomes more brittle. 
  • occasional washing needed 
  • caulking at seams may need periodic replacement 
  • fades over time (usually 10-15 years) 
  • cannot be painted
  • Painted horizontal wood siding

  • cedar shake siding

  • Stained clapboard siding

  • Log siding

  • Stained board and batten wood siding

Wood Siding

Wood siding is the most traditional style of cladding in Canada. Wood siding styles include: board and batten, shake or shingle, clapboard, log and dutch lap. 

Loved by traditionalists for its natural beauty, todays wood siding is usually pre-treated for weather resistance. Note: because of moratoriums on old growth logging in Canada, new growth wood building products are now being used in their place. New growth wood products have a much shorter lifespan than the old growth that was used 50 years ago. 

Wood Siding Composition

Wood siding is most commonly made from red cedar in western Canada or white cedar in the eastern provinces. Other types of wood used for siding are oak, pine and spruce.

Wood Siding Durability 

Weather treated wood siding products that are on the higher end in terms of pricing will have better durability than untreated wood. The warranties on Canada’s better quality wood shingles only cover material and labour cost to replace rotted shingles for the first 5 years. No coverage whatsoever is provided for mould, fungus, moss or other organic matter.  Also if cut edges are not treated on site during installation, all warranty is voided. Board and batten wood siding and log siding will of course have better durability due to their greater thickness and strength. 

Wood Siding Pros and Cons

Pros: 

  • naturally beautiful
  • unlimited colour and stain options
  • good natural insulator 

Cons: 

  • regular maintenance required 
  • refinishing/weathrproofing needed every 5-6 years 
  • caulking at seams need periodic replacement 
  • vulnerable to pests, rot and mould 
  • supports organic growth such as moss and fungus
  • high initial cost
  • HardiePanel® Vertical Siding PHOTO: jameshardie.ca

    HardiePanel® Vertical Board and Batten Style Fibre Cement Siding
  • HardiePlank® Horizontal Siding PHOTO: jameshardie.ca

    HardiePlank® Lap Style Fibre Cement Siding
  • James Hardie Fiber Cement Siding PHOTO: jameshardie.ca

    Cedar Shake and Lap Style James Hardie® Fibre Cement Siding
  • James Hardie Fiber Cement Siding PHOTO: Gentek.ca

    Red Lap Style James Hardie® Fibre Cement Siding
  • HardieShingle® Fiber Cement Siding PHOTO: jameshardie.ca

    Hardie Shingle® Fibre Cement Siding combination.

Fiber Cement Siding

Factory formed to look like wood or masonry, fiber cement siding has the durability of concrete and fares well in the Ontario climate. Fiber cement siding can be purchased factory primed (for DIY painting) or pre-painted. 

Fiber Cement Siding Styles

Styles include: clapboard, vertical board and batten, shingle, shake, fish-scale, stone, brick and stucco.

Fiber Cement Siding Composition

Fiber cement siding formulations contain the following materials: 
Water – to dissolve dry ingredients and activate cement hardening 
Wood Pulp –  this is the fiber element that strengthens and increases flexibility 
Fly Ash or Silica Sand – functions as a filler 
Portland Cement – A combination of limestone. Iron and clay that binds everything together 

Fiber Cement Siding Durability 

A better fiber cement siding product will have a non-prorated warranty for 25-30 years. The paint on the siding will have a a shorter warranty of 10-15 years. Warranty terms can be tricky so be sure to read all the terms line by line before choosing a product.

Fiber Cement Siding Pros and Cons

Pros: 

  • Unlimited style choices 
  • Insect/pest resistant 
  • Non-cumbustible
  • Mid-Range initial pricing with good ROI
  • Unaffected by UV rays 
  • Better than average weather resistance 
  • Low maintenance 
  • Does not become brittle in cold weather 
  • Does not crack due to freeze thaw cycles
  • Easy to paint

Cons:  

  • Very heavy 
  • Not suitable for DIY projects 
  • Stucco Siding on Toronto home.

    Toronto Home with stucco siding.
  • Stucco Siding with plaster relief detail work.

    Stucco Facade with decorative moulding
  • Common Stucco Siding texture.

    Close up of stucco siding

Stucco Siding

Stucco is a traditional exterior option that dates back to ancient Greece. Installed by hand using trowels and other specialized equipment, stucco siding is best suited for dryer climates as it has a tendency to absorb moisture.

Stucco Styles

Can be manufactured in any colour and applied in a variety of texture patterns but is relatively flat and 2 dimensional.

Stucco Composition

Early stucco was composed of lime plaster, sand and water. Modern stucco products use cement plasters (rather than lime), sand, water and various proprietary synthetic ingredients designed to increase flexibility and repel moisture. Usually installed over OSB or plywood, stucco goes on in 3 or more layers and is a relatively labour intensive siding option.

Stucco Siding Durability 

Warranty life is commonly 15 years, but stucco siding can last up to 50 years if installed properly in very dry climates.

Stucco Siding Pros and Cons

Pros: 

  • Fire resistant
  • Unlimited colour choices
  • Easy to paint

Cons:  

  • Brittle
  • Absorbs moisture resulting in cracking and crumbling
  • Relatively expensive to install
  • Not suitable for DIY projects 
  • Distinction G90 Steel Siding PHOTO CREDIT: gentek.ca

    Metalunic Distinction Steel Siding Wood Grain Print
  • Distinction Steel Siding PHOTO CREDIT: gentek.ca

    Steel siding that looks like wood
  • Dizal HD Printed Aluminum Siding Cumaru print. PHOTO CREDIT: gentek.ca

    Dizal Wood Printed Steel Siding

Metal Siding

Metal siding has been popular in North America since the 1940’s. Due to it’s low maintenance requirements and exceptional longevity, metal siding products continue to evolve for modern commercial and residential architecture.

Metal Siding Styles

Most often designed with a wood grain profile, modern metal siding can also come digitally printed with a wood grain pattern that from a distance, looks like real wood.

Metal Siding Composition

Aluminum siding is more popular for residential use as it will not rust if cut or scratched. Steel can also be used for less cost but rust formation will eventually occur on anywhere the paint has been cut or scratched off.

Metal Siding Durability 

Metal siding most often have very strong warranties if high quality coatings are used. It is not uncommon to find good quality metal siding with 40 years of warranty.

Metal Siding Pros and Cons

Pros: 

  • Fire resistant
  • Unlimited colour choices
  • Easy to paint
  • Low-maintenance
  • Long-lasting
  • Cannot rot or support infestation

Cons:  

  • Dents on impact (aluminum more easily than steel)
  • Steel rusts
  • Less profile choice than other types of siding

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