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What to Consider When Replacing Siding

What to Consider When Replacing Siding

Americans have clad their homes with siding since colonial times. Siding affects the appearance of your home as well as the energy efficiency. It’s one of the most important architectural systems on your home.

So, how do I know when it’s time to replace my siding?

Most types of siding are durable and should last a long time, but if you see evidence of fungus and wood rot, separated seams, warped or split boards, missing shakes, or you find yourself painting the exterior of your home every three to four years…it could be time to replace your siding.

What types of siding are available?

Wood siding was really the only option available until the 1920’s. Asbestos siding and asphalt siding became popular alternatives to wood until the advent of aluminum and steel siding in the 1940’s. These systems all had drawbacks and eventually fell out of favor with homeowners.

Vinyl siding and fiber cement board first became available in the 1950’s and gained immense popularity in the decades that followed. Significant technological improvements have made these systems the most commonly used siding in new construction. Composite (or engineered) wood siding has also become popular in recent decades.

Which type of siding is best for me?

Every siding system has advantages and drawbacks. It’s important to realize the installation and maintenance costs before you commit.


In my opinion cedar siding looks the best. Whether you install clapboards, panels, or shakes, you will need to protect the wood from the elements and from insects. You’ll likely have to re-stain the cedar every 4-5 years. If you choose to go with a more natural look (i.e. clear sealer or semi-transparent stain) you’ll still need recoat the surface according to the severity of the environment you live in. If properly maintained, wood siding (cedar, pine, spruce) should last at least 15-20 years.

Cedar Siding in Whalehead


Vinyl siding is the least expensive to install. It doesn’t peel or corrode, which makes it very popular. Most vinyl siding manufacturers also offer insulated panels, making them a good choice for the energy-efficient homeowner.

However, vinyl siding is less aesthetically pleasing than other types of siding, and its color will fade over time. Even if installed properly, it doesn’t seem to hold up well against the weather on the OBX.

Fiber Cement Board (Hardie Plank)

Fiber cement board is relatively low maintenance and looks nicer than vinyl siding. It’s available in a number of profiles. From a distance it looks like wood. It’s fire resistant and is not prone to insect damage.

It doesn’t require painting as often as wood, but the boards are heavier, which means they come in shorter lengths and are more labor-intensive to install. Over time, fiber cement boards have a tendency to crack. They also have a tendency to wick up water if installed adjacent to a driveway or deck where water can pool.

Composite or Engineered Wood (LP Smart Siding)

Composite wood siding is made with wood fibers/chips and epoxy resin. It is impervious to moisture and insect damage. It looks more like natural wood than any other option. It’s also much easier to install and less expensive than fiber cement boards.

It appears to be the most durable siding option available today and has become increasingly popular on the OBX over the last few years. Louisiana Pacific offers a limited 50 year warranty on it's Smart Side products.

LP Smart Siding in Nags Head

Installation practices

Regardless of which siding system you choose, the siding must be properly installed. After removing your old siding, your contractor should check everything visible before installing the new siding. Plywood sheathing should be checked for rot and insect damage.

House wrap should be replaced. We prefer to use 30-lb asphalt felt paper rather than polypropylene fiber. It is more durable and has no chemically adverse reactions to different types of wood or metal. Tyvek, on the other hand, deteriorates when installed behind cedar siding.

30-lb Felt House Wrap

Flashing should also be inspected. During the building boom on the OBX, there were a lot of slipshod construction practices. Step flashing and Z flashing were often times improperly installed and sometimes omitted completely. This is a huge factor in the amount of wood rot we are now finding all over the OBX. The correct type of flashing with compatible fasteners and back caulk is a crucial step. Any roof lines that terminate into the siding MUST be properly flashed, as well as all sills, decks, and decorative trim pieces (i.e. “beauty bands”).

Windows should also be sealed with window tape prior to installing the siding. It’s an inexpensive step that was often overlooked back in the day. The house will also need to be caulked at every joint and every trim piece. A high-performance exterior acrylic latex caulk will outlast most paint jobs. Cheaper latex caulks are less resistant to UV exposure and will yellow and crack.

As with anything in life, you get what you pay for. Siding is a great return on investment. According to Best Pick Reports, a homeowner can recoup 93% of the money spent on siding replacement.

Take your time and do your homework before committing to a major home improvement project. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. We are more than happy to give an estimate and consultation on your siding replacement. Find out why Beach Construction Group has become the preferred siding contractor on the OBX.

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Why Customers Choose Beach Painting

  • Expertise - we have the experience and versatility to take on the most demanding painting and residential construction projects.
  • Integrity - we only use the highest grade materials and take the time to do the job correctly.
  • Dependability - our employees are directly employed (not subcontractors) and covered under our liability and workers' compensation policies.
  • Professionalism - we carefully measure all components of the work and provide a detailed scope in our estimates and proposals.
  • Longevity - with over 20 years of steady growth, we have become the largest full-service painting contractor on the Outer Banks.
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