Purchasing new siding for your home is a decision with major significance, both aesthetically and functionally. Unlike a fresh paint job or decorating scheme, new siding is something you’ll likely commit to for many years. By making the right decisions in terms of color and material, your siding will be a source of pride whenever you pull into your driveway. To that end, we’d like to give you a brief rundown of what to consider when purchasing new siding for your home.

When to Replace Your Current Siding
Here are a few tips to help you discern whether your current siding needs to be replaced:

- Perform a close-up inspection of any siding that appears warped. Using a screwdriver, poke beneath the warped siding and note how firm the layer under the siding feels. If this layer feels rotted in any way, it’s probably time to replace your siding.

- Surprisingly, a couple of signs that may indicate failing siding are noticeable from inside the home. If you’re experiencing peeling paint or sagging wallpaper, it may be because your aging siding is allowing moisture to seep beneath it and into your wallboard. This can damage your home’s interior walls, so it’s something you should get checked out as soon as possible.

- Another sign that your siding allows too much moisture into your home’s walls is mold or mildew formation on the exterior of your siding. While not always a sign of failing siding, mold or mildew often signifies additional issues and should be a cause for further investigation.

- Dry rot, one of the more common problems with wood siding, is not always visible to the naked eye. To detect it, tap various areas of the siding with the bottom of a screwdriver or hammer. This will expose an area that has succumbed to dry rot, as only the topmost layer of siding will be intact. If dry rot is discovered, you may be able to get away with just replacing the damaged sections, but oftentimes contractors will recommend a full replacement. Since dry rot may compromise the structural integrity of your home, it’s definitely an area where you’ll want to defer to the experts.

Color
While this dimension of your siding is almost entirely aesthetic, it carries with it several implications that you may not have initially considered.

- What colors predominate in your neighborhood? While that canary yellow might have looked sharp in a magazine, you may not want your home to stick out too much when seen in the context of your neighborhood’s palette. Also, your neighborhood or homeowner’s association may have rules on the book regarding color options.

- If you’re in a hot climate, you may want to consider a lighter shade that won’t absorb as much heat as a darker shade does. This will save you energy and money when trying to keep your home cool in the summer.

- Notice the colors of your doors and window frames, and try to imagine your new siding juxtaposed with those. Do they complement each other? Also, if you’re planning on changing those or other exterior features of your home in the future, consider how your home’s new color scheme will harmonize with your siding.

- Finally, think about how the material you select is related to its color. Wood siding, for example, can and will need to be repainted in the future. This means you’ll have the opportunity to change its color. Vinyl siding, on the other hand, is much more difficult to paint. While it can be done with specially designed paints, once you paint over the factory finish, the maintenance-free benefit of vinyl siding disappears.

Material
Obviously, one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make when choosing siding is selecting a material. There are many options to choose from, and the best choice will depend not only on what benefits you’d like to get from the siding but also on how much effort you’re willing to exert in order to maintain it. Here are some factors that should come into play when making your decision:

- What siding types are most common in your neighborhood? If all the homes on your block have the same type of siding, choosing a different type for your home might lower its value.

- Does your climate suggest one type of siding over another? You should ask your contractor what type of siding would be best suited to your climate, taking into account not only heat and humidity but the preponderance of termites as well. Also, you may want to consider insulated siding if energy efficiency is a top concern.

- How much upkeep are you willing to commit to? Wood siding will require the most amount of maintenance, while vinyl siding will require the least. Fiber cement siding falls in the middle; while it requires the occasional paint job, it resists insects and water damage.

- Of course, financial concerns often restrict a homeowner’s options when it comes to a project as large as siding a house. It’s important to keep in mind, however, how your new siding will affect your home’s value. What can seem at first like a lavish expense for high-quality material may be seen in retrospect as a wise investment.

Siding is often the first thing people notice about your home. With careful planning and a good contractor, you can ensure that your home’s siding is a source of pride.

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