by Don Vandervort, © HomeTips
The siding that covers the outside walls of your house is critical to your home’s structure, appearance, and weathertightness. Many types of siding are available today, including wood, vinyl, aluminum, steel, masonry, brick, and stucco. Though all are subject to wear over time, newer manufactured sidings have been engineered to require less maintenance than traditional wood.
Underneath most siding, walls are framed with 2-by-6 or 2-by-4 wall studs that have insulation placed between them. Wood sheathing is nailed over the studs, and the sheathing is covered with building paper if the siding is wood, metal, or vinyl. Stucco is applied over wire mesh nailed to wooden- slat spacers and/or sheathing. Brick and stone veneers are attached to sheathing with short metal brackets, or ties.
If you’re considering new siding, choose a material that is appropriate to your climate and lifestyle as well as your home’s architectural style. Keep in mind not just the cost the siding itself but also of installation and maintenance. Be aware that some communities have guidelines and by-laws limiting the materials that can be used.
Vinyl & Metal
Vinyl, aluminum, and steel siding systems look similar to horizontal wood siding but don’t require as much maintenance. These systems are often applied right over the top of old siding but are easier to apply over solid sheathing.
Conventional stucco—a mixture of sand, cement, lime, and water—is troweled onto metal lath attached to wall studs. Newer types of stucco-like coverings are sprayed or troweled onto a base of fiberglass mesh, fiber- cement-board sheathing, or foam-board insulation. Because these polymer coatings are much more elastic than conventional stucco, they’re less likely to crack.
Hardboard & Plywood Panels
Hardboard and plywood sidings are manufactured in sheet form, sized 4 by 8, 9, or 10 feet. Made in a variety of thicknesses and patterns, sheet sidings are often applied directly to wall studs, without sheathing. Some newer hardboard and related oriented-strand-board sidings are embossed with wood-grain textures and given highly durable factory finishes.
Masonry & Brick Veneers
Houses that appear to have walls made of solid brick or stone usually are built of wood-frame construction with a thin veneer of brick or stone applied, in most cases, over solid sheathing. Special ties connect into the areas of grout between the bricks or stones to hold the veneer in place.
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