Tag: Aluminum Siding

  • New Year's Resolutions for Your Home


    Now that 2013 is almost here, discussion about New Year's resolutions and top-10 lists are right around the corner.  While you probably have more personal resolutions,  you can make the same type of resolutions for your home.

    Here is a list of New Year's resolutions, courtesy of House Logic, that are based on the top 10 resolutions gathered by Time magazine.


    1. Lose weight (cut energy use)
    2. Quit smoking (purify indoor air)
    3. Get out of debt (budget for improvements)
    4. Learn something new (educate yourself on home finances)
    5. Get organized (de-clutter)
    6. Volunteer (support your community)
    7. Drink less (curb home water use)
    8. Spend more time with the family (share home improvement projects)
    9. Get fit (exercise your DIY skills)
    10. Be less stressed (use maintenance-free materials)

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your pennsylvania roofing, siding, gutter repair and window needs. Call us today at 215-453-9180 for your FREE estimate.


  • How to Clean and Care for Your Siding

    Courtesy of Houselogic

    Maintaining your siding is an important to the overall value of your home.

    “A good first appearance on a home can add as much as 5% to 10% to the value of the home,” says John Aust, a past president of the National Association of Real Estate Appraisers, via Houselogic.

    It will also save you money in the long run.  By taking care of your siding at least once a year, you'll be able to avoid larger repairs.

    Here are some tips from HouseLogic on cleaning and caring for your siding:

    Cleaning wood, vinyl, metal, stucco, brick, fiber-cement siding

    All types of siding benefit from a good cleaning once every year to remove grit, grime, and mildew. The best way—whether you have wood, vinyl, metal, stucco, brick, or fiber-cement—is with a bucket of warm, soapy water (1/2 cup trisodium phosphate—TSP, available at grocery stores, hardware stores, and home improvement centers—dissolved in 1 gallon of water) and a soft-bristled brush attached to a long handle. Divide your house into 20-foot sections, clean each from top to bottom, and rinse. For two-story homes, you’ll be using a ladder, so keep safety foremost.

    Cleaning an average-sized house may take you and a friend every bit of a weekend. If you don’t have the time—or the inclination—you can have your house professionally cleaned for $300-$500. A professional team will use a power washer and take less than a day.

    You can rent a power washer to do the job yourself for about $75 per day, but beware if you don’t have experience with the tool. Power washers force water through a nozzle at high pressure, resulting in water blasts that can strip paint, gouge softwoods, loosen caulk, and eat through mortar. Also, the tool can force water under horizontal lap joints, resulting in moisture accumulating behind the siding. A siding professional has the expertise to prevent water penetration at joints, seams around windows and doors, and electrical fixtures.

    Inspect for damage

    Right before you clean is the ideal time to inspect your house for signs of damage or wear and tear. A house exterior is most vulnerable to water infiltration where siding butts against windows, doors, and corner moldings, says Frank Lesh, a professional house inspector in Chicago and past president of the American Society of Home Inspectors. For all types of siding, look for caulk that has cracked due to age or has pulled away from adjacent surfaces, leaving gaps. Reapply a color-matched exterior caulk during dry days with temperatures in excess of 65 degrees F for maximum adhesion.

    Other defects include wood siding with chipped or peeling paint, and cracked boards and trim. If you have a stucco exterior, be on the lookout for cracks and chips. For brick, look for crumbling mortar joints. Repair defects before cleaning. The sooner you make repairs, the better you protect your house from moisture infiltration that can lead to dry rot and mold forming inside your walls.

    Repair wood, vinyl, and fiber-cement siding 

    Damage to wood, vinyl, and fiber-cement horizontal lap siding often occurs because of everyday accidents—being struck by sticks and stones thrown from a lawn mower, or from objects like baseballs. Repairing horizontal lap siding requires the expertise to remove the damaged siding while leaving surrounding siding intact. Unless you have the skills, hire a professional carpenter or siding contractor. Expect to pay $200-$300 to replace one or two damaged siding panels or pieces of wood clapboard.

    Repaint wood, fiber-cement 

    Houses with wood siding should be repainted every five years, or as soon as the paint finish begins to deteriorate. A professional crew will paint a two-story, 2,300 square foot house for $3,000-$5,000. If you’ve cleaned your house exterior yourself, you’ve done much of the prep work and will save the added cost that a painting contractor would charge to clean the siding before painting.

    Fiber-cement siding, whether it comes with a factory-applied color finish or is conventionally painted, requires repainting far less often (every 8-10 years) than wood siding. That’s because fiber-cement is dimensionally stable and, unlike wood, doesn’t expand and contract with changes in humidity.

    It’s a good idea to specify top-quality paint. Because only 15% to 20% of the total cost of repainting your house is for materials, using a top-quality paint will add only a nominal amount—about $200—to the job. However, the best paints will outperform “ordinary” paints by several years, saving you money.

    Repair brick mortar, stop efflorescence

    Crumbling and loose mortar should be removed with a cold chisel and repaired with fresh mortar—a process called repointing. An experienced do-it-yourselfer can repoint mortar joints between bricks, but the process is time-consuming. Depending on the size of the mortar joints (thinner joints are more difficult), a masonry professional will repoint brick siding for $5-$20 per square foot.

    Efflorescence—the powdery white residue that sometimes appears on brick and stone surfaces—is the result of soluble salts in the masonry or grout being leached out by moisture, probably indicating the masonry and grout was never sealed correctly. Remove efflorescence by scrubbing it with water and white vinegar mixed in a 50/50 solution and a stiff bristle brush. As soon as the surface is clear and dry, seal it with a quality masonry sealer to prevent further leaching.

    Persistent efflorescence may indicate a moisture problem behind the masonry. Consult a professional building or masonry contractor.

    Remove mildew from all types of siding

    Stubborn black spotty stains are probably mildew. Dab the area with a little diluted bleach—if the black disappears, it’s mildew. Clean the area with a solution of one part bleach to four parts water. Wear eye protection and protect plants from splashes. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

    Repair cracked stucco

    Seal cracks and small holes with color-matched exterior acrylic caulk. Try pressing sand into the surface of wet caulk to match the texture of the surrounding stucco. Paint the repair to match.

    Take time to inspect and clean your house siding, and you’ll be rewarded with a trouble-free exterior.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your siding, siding repair and siding installation projects.  Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate!

  • A Guide to Types of Exterior Siding

    courtesy of houselogic

    If you are thinking about replacing your siding, there are a variety of options, but which ones are the best for you?  Here is an overview of your options when it comes to siding, as well as what they generally cost and what their pluses and minuses are, courtesy of Houselogic.



    Vinyl is the most popular choice for home siding on new homes in the U.S., according to 2008 U.S. Census Bureau data. It is tough, durable, and widely available in many styles and colors. Color permeates the material and won’t reveal nicks and scratches.

    Today’s standards ensure that vinyl siding will maintain its shape in extreme temperatures, provide resistance to high winds, retain its color, and meet or exceed other manufacturer claims. Labeling should indicate if it conforms to the American Society for Testing and Materials‘ standard, expressed as ASTM D3679. Or ask you contractor to confirm.

    Benefits: Light weight makes for speedy installation; can be retrofit over existing siding; little maintenance; top-quality brands offer transferable lifetime guarantees to subsequent buyers.

    Drawbacks: Seams will show where the ends of standard 12-foot panels overlap. Extra-long panels virtually eliminate seams for an additional cost of about 30%.

    Green factor: Vinyl has a long replacement cycle of 30 to 50 years, but the same ingredient that makes it durable—polyvinyl chloride or PVC—doesn’t degrade in landfills. Byproducts of PVC production may include dioxin and other toxins.

    Cost: Material per sq. ft., installed: $2-$6

    Average two-story, 2,300 sq. ft. house, including building wrap and insulating backer board: $7,000-$14,000


    The popularity—and availability—of steel and aluminum siding is waning because vinyl has evolved as the better low-cost option. Metal siding comes in many prefinished colors and features styles that mimic wood. Modern metal sidings are dent-resistant, insect- and fire-proof, and require little maintenance. With proper care, steel and aluminum siding will last more than 50 years.

    Benefits: Light weight speeds installation; baked-on paint enamel finishes won’t need periodic repainting.

    Drawbacks: Not readily available in all areas; dents are permanent; scratches should be touched up with a quality, color-matched house paint.

    Green factor: Aluminum siding products may contain up to 30% recycled content.

    Cost: Material per sq. ft., installed: $3-$5

    Average two-story, 2,300 sq. ft. house including building wrap, insulating backer board, and aluminum trim: $9,000-$14,000


    Fiber-cement siding is made from a mixture of wood fibers, Portland cement, clay, and sand. It’s slowly gaining market share as consumers become more aware of its rugged durability, low maintenance, and weather-resistance. Because it’s made from a liquid cementitious mixture, it can be molded to closely resemble painted wood, stucco, or masonry. It’s also termite-proof, fire-resistant, and doesn’t rot. A 30-year warranty is standard. Most home improvement stores carry samples.

    Benefits: Pre-finished fiber-cement siding eliminates the need for painting after installation, yet the material accepts repainting easily when you want to change colors. It resists thermal expansion and contraction, so paint and caulk hold up well; in some areas, fiber-cement is considered to be masonry and may qualify you for lower home insurance premiums—check with your agent.

    Drawbacks: Fiber cement materials are heavy. Installation requires specialty tools and techniques, adding to labor costs (about 50% more than vinyl). Search for bids and find an installer who’s familiar with the product. Check contractor services, such as HomeBlue or ServiceMagic. Retrofits require a complete tear-off of the old siding, a job that requires one or two days for a 2,300 square-foot house and adds about 5% to the total cost of the project.

    Green factor: The production of Portland cement is associated with CO2 emissions, which are probably offset by the material’s extreme longevity. However, because fiber-cement is relatively new, that longevity has yet to bear out.

    Cost: Fiber-cement horizontal board siding per sq. ft., installed: $5-$9

    Average two-story, 2,300 sq. ft. house including building wrap, wood trim, primer and paint: $14,000-$21,500


    Wood siding comes in many species and grades, and what you select—and pay—depends on how you plan to finish the material. If you want the natural beauty of wood to show through a clear or semi-transparent stain, you’ll need to opt for more expensive grades with fewer knots and other defects.

    If you plan to paint or use an opaque stain, you can select less expensive grades of wood. Lumber yards and home improvement centers may stock only one or two examples, so view styles and compare prices at an online store, such as BuildDirect.

    Benefits: Easy-to-shape-and-cut material requires few specialized skills for installation, reducing labor costs; with proper care, wood will last 100 years or more—longer than synthetic materials; superior aesthetics.

    Drawbacks: Can be expensive; requires repainting every 5 years, re-staining every 3 years, or applying a clear finish every 2 years, for which a professional painter will charge thousands; retrofitting with wood means a complete tear-off of existing materials; non-moisture-resistant species, such as pine and fir, are susceptible to rot.

    Green factor: Wood siding biodegrades in landfills; the finest grades come from old-growth timber. Ease logging pressure on diminishing old-growth forests by selecting repurposed material or wood certified by the Forest Service Council. FSC-certified wood comes from sustainable forests.

    Cost: Wood clapboard (associated with fine homebuilding) per sq. ft., installed: $6-$9

    Average two-story, 2,300 sq. ft. house including building wrap, wood trim, primer and paint: $15,000-$22,500

    Wood shingles (prized for cottage-style appearance) per sq. ft., installed: $3-$6

    Average two-story, 2,300 sq. ft. house including building wrap, wood trim, primer and paint: $10,500-$15,000

    With so many options and variables to consider, spend some time researching various materials in regards to your budget. A good starting place is a list of siding manufacturers who attended the 2009 International Builder’s Show.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your siding needs.  Call us today at  (215) 773-9181 for a FREE estimate!

  • Choosing your siding -- Vinyl or Aluminum?

    When deciding on what is best for you house, it is important to know the advantages and disadvantages of all the options.

    In the case of your house's siding, the choice often falls between vinyl siding and aluminum siding. Both have their advantages, but vinyl siding comes out on top.

    Aluminum siding's main advantage, many say,  is the fact that it offers better insulation for your house. However, it has many disadvantages whereas vinyl siding has many more advantages.

    Vinyl siding, for instance, maintains it's color throughout the material. This means that if your vinyl is scratched, it won't necessarily show. This is in contrast to painted aluminum siding, which is just, as you would have guessed, painted aluminum. This makes scratches prominent.

    Another, and perhaps more prominent, problem is denting. While vinyl siding will often bounce back into place immediately, aluminum siding tends to dent -- making your house look like a dented car. Combined with the difficulty in replacing aluminum siding, this is often the dealbreaker that pushes most homeowners (as some point out).

    In the end, it's the homeowner's call. Contact Exterior Specialties of PA today for a free estimate on either!