Siding can make or break the initial appearance and overall feel of your home. Choosing siding to suit your needs is important. Here are a few important tips to help you make the right choice:
1- THE DECISION IS YOURS, NOT YOUR CONTRACTORS. Too often, homeowners make the mistake of allowing their contractor to make the decision for them as to which siding will be used. This is especially true of vinyl. All contractors have their pet siding companies that they like to push, based on price, what their main supplier carries, and so on. Make an informed decision based on all of the facts and tell them what you are leaning toward, or more aggressively, what you have decided.
2- ALL SIDING HAS ITS OWN UNIQUE BENEFITS. Of the various types of siding, all possess their own one-of-a-kind qualities that ultimately will add value to your home. If a particular contractor seems to shy away from James Hardie for instance, it is quite possible that they have very little, if any, experience at installing that product. Ask your siding contractor about PVC-coated steel with its pros and cons; you may be surprised to find out that some do not even install steel siding. One of the most satisfying jobs we have ever installed was an Edina cedar shake job using #1 Blue label cedar shakes. Not only does it look incredible, but it gives our future homeowners this option if they so desire.
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3- BE SENSITIVE AS TO YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD. If you live in an area with mostly vinyl, you may want to shy away from cedar. I have seen some homes that would have looked great in LP SmartSide or James Hardie, but because of the neighborhood that they lived in (mostly vinyl), I encouraged a quality vinyl.
4- ALL VINYL IS NOT CREATED EQUAL. Recent years have brought about the newest trend in vinyl siding: Solid-core vinyl siding. Until as recent as ten years ago, it could be counted on vinyl siding to curve, bend, warp, fade, chip, crack, and simply take on a rather unsightly appearance after only a few years. Enter solid-core vinyl. The concept is simple; install an expanded polystyrene (or other) foam backer that form fits to the panel, allowing the foam to bolster the strength of the panel, while adding an R-value of up to 5.3. The result is a high-end panel with sharp looks that adds insulation value and much-needed strength. This also allowed manufacturers to increase the lap size of the panel to 6 and even 7 inches, thus creating a look that mimics cedar (very well, I might add). Recent years has also brought about new technology in regards to fading. You are now able to choose darker colors than ever before without the threat of a faded panel three years down the road. The simple addition of acrylic in the capstock of the panel makes this possible. Siding thickness is another factor in vinyl that can determine quality. A "builder's grade" panel will usually carry a thickness of .038 or .040 (measured in mils). Higher quality panels will range between .044 and .048. Always ask your MN contractor what the thickness is of the panel he is suggesting.
5- INSTALLATION IS CRUCIAL. The crew that installs your siding should be skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable as to the product installed. Understand this: Your warranty is only as good as your install! Some warranties are actually nullified if the siding is improperly installed. We recently met a homeowner in Shoreview that had to literally hold up his entire West wall of siding until help arrived to secure the siding back to the wall. We have since remodeled his siding and roof and were keenly aware of the glaring mistakes made by the previous crew. Our references reflect our (one) siding crew that we have had for over a dozen years. Ask your contractor who their crew is. Where they are from. How long they have worked with them.
6- BEWARE OF STORM CHASERS. I am the first to admit that I enjoy a good hail storm with the rest of contractors, but understand that when a storm hits, the country knows about it. There are contractors and crews from all over the U.S. flocking in to get their piece of the Minnesota insurance pie. Fortunately, we happen to live in a state that guards the homeowner by requiring stringent licensing guidelines. In other words, it is NOT easy to get a Minnesota general contractor's license. So do your homework and ask for a copy of a contractor's Minnesota license as well as insurance. One more thing; almost anyone can apply for a single-trade license and get one (in Minnesota). If you were to choose a contractor with a single-trade license (just roofing or just siding), know that this person did NOT take the Minnesota general contractor's licensing exam.
7- INTERVIEW A CONTRACTOR WITH EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE OF ALL TYPES OF SIDING. At Northern Exteriors MN Inc. we have installed cedar, cedar shakes, vinyl, solid-core vinyl, vinyl shakes, steel, LP SmartSide, James Hardie, & Masonite. We would be more than happy to check out your home and explain the multiple choices with you as well as share photos and testimonies from customers.
We are a licensed Minnesota general contractor serving the Twin Cities metro area. We specialize in siding, roofing, and window replacement. Work with a trusted MINNESOTA SIDING CONTRACTOR.
Remember, your siding job (& siding warranty) is only as good as the installation! Experience matters.