Builder Focus: Making Architectural Details Pop

2013-10-19T11:45:00Z Builder Focus: Making Architectural Details PopMichelle Krueger Times Correspondent
October 19, 2013 11:45 am  • 

When it comes to pulling the look of your new home’s overall curb appeal together, choosing the right siding material is key. While the aesthetics of color and definition (especially where trim is concerned) are important, you need to carefully consider durability, water resistance and the ease of installation/replacement if necessary over time.

According to the data from the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction (SOC), the most common exterior wall material on homes started last year was vinyl.

The SOC specifically collects data on whether the principal exterior wall material in a new home is vinyl siding (including vinyl-covered aluminum), brick or brick veneer, stucco, fiber cement siding (such as hardiplank or hardiboard), wood or wood products, stone, rock or other stone materials, and concrete block (not including stucco).

In 2012, Vinyl siding was used on 32 percent of new homes, followed by brick on 25 percent. Stucco was the principal exterior wall material on at least 20 percent of homes started.

Looking more closely at the data from nine distinct census divisions, it’s interesting to note that vinyl is the most widely used exterior wall material in the northeastern and north central part of the country. The southeastern and south central states still favor vinyl but brick or brick veneer, stucco and fiber cement are clearly preferred. The entire western region favors stucco and fiber cement exclusively, and wood was the second material after vinyl in New England, the only division it was mentioned in the top two.

Since most homes today use a variety of materials to highlight special features from an architectural point of view, you should be aware of the pros and cons of the most popular types of siding.

Starting with vinyl which gets its appeal from being a low-cost, versatile and easy-to-maintain option, there’s no denying that this option gets a bad rap for it’s less than natural appearance. However, technological advances have broadened both the colors and styles available in vinyl so this product is always worth a look when budget is a concern.

Brick siding comes in variety of different sizes and textures that can be mixed and matched for a beautiful look. Be sure and find out if you are getting the real thing, which can be labor intensive, or veneer, which is more common today.

As indicated above, stucco is best suited for dry, warm areas. An affordable option, stucco siding requires periodic cleaning and may crack if not installed properly.

Fiber-cement siding offers the look of masonry, stucco or wood at a fraction of the cost. With a variety of factory paint colors and finishes available, fiber-cement is a low-maintenance choice.

Wood siding is durable and gives any home a rich look when properly maintained (painted and/or sealed) to prevent weather damage. Options range from clapboard to shakes and shingles.

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