People often judge a home’s value by its appearance. While sound plumbing and wiring are important resale factors, an unattractive exterior can make even the most well-built home seem less desirable. Siding replacement needs vary according to climate and exposure to the elements, and it is important to make the best choice for your location. What kinds of materials are available for economical, lasting and attractive siding?

There actually is no single answer that fits all construction. The history of siding is lengthy, and materials have become popular and then declined in favor. The most common variety today is vinyl, a plastic compound first discovered in 1872. It became commercially viable in the 1930s, and was widely used in home construction after the 1960s. It has retained much of its popularity since that time, and vinyl used for this purpose consumes a large percentage of production.

The vinyl siding used today on older existing homes very likely replaced older materials such as wood. For years, wood was the dominant choice when available, and the earliest settlers used it almost exclusively. Wood is attractive, is naturally occurring, and adds warmth and charm to a home. Today it retains its popularity, but unfortunately has become less economical due to environmental concerns. Wood needs to be repainted every few years, and many damp climates cause it to deteriorate more quickly.

During the 1950s, many homeowners began to cover their home’s wooden exteriors with asbestos, prior to the recognition of asbestos’ inherent health hazards. This kind of siding was manufactured until the 1970s, and there are still homes that were originally covered with this type of material. Its main advantage was fire and insect resistance, but as soon as other materials became available, asbestos use was largely abandoned.

One of the cheap alternatives became windows and asphalt siding, which looked about as attractive as its name sounds. This external covering included sheets of material covered with thick asphalt and crushed bits of stone. It is weather resistant, and was made to look like other building materials such as brick. Asphalt was extensively used during the post World War II housing boom to keep costs down. Aluminum siding, however, soon began to take its place as an inexpensive alternative.

Exterior home coverings made of aluminum were first introduced during the 1940s. This material was lightweight, not too difficult to install, and easily covered old, unattractive exteriors. Aluminum doesn’t rust, rarely needs repainting, and was regarded as a more permanent solution. Unfortunately, aluminum production is energy-intensive. It will dent and scratches easily, and there is no practical way for it to bounce back to its original shape.

Hardboard was invented as a practical substitute, and is made of wood chips mixed with epoxy resin. There have been problems with moisture retention, and hardboard didn’t prove to be the ideal external covering, which brings us back to vinyl. Vinyl has overcome many of the problems it wrestled with in the beginning. Today it is the dominant siding material, and competes directly with aluminum in many ways. It is weather resistant, won’t dent, doesn’t succumb to low temperatures, requires no electrical grounding, won’t erode away, and is less wasteful during construction.

The right choice for siding installation Austin is the one that compliments and accentuates the home, and fits the construction budget. A tract home is a good candidate for vinyl or aluminum, but a stately and dignified old Victorian requires wood siding that matches the rest of the home. A good idea when considering replacement is to get samples, and take a critical look at existing jobs in order to see what the finished product looks like. Your contractor will appreciate your input, and will be able to give your home a new look that will be attractive and long-lasting.