Tag: fiber-cement siding

  • Siding Tips: Fiber Cement Siding

    Courtesy of BobVila.com

    Courtesy of BobVila.com

    Fiber cement siding has become popular for multiple reasons: it can be sustainable, it's low maintenance, inexpensive and long-lasting.

    Here is some more information on fiber-cement siding, courtesy of BobVila.com, to see if it is a good fit for  you.

    Maintenance and Longevity
    Each of the major manufacturers offers a line of fiber cement siding that meets or exceeds standards set forth by the American Society for Testing and Materials. The siding stands up, not only to the elements, but also to hazards like insects and noise pollution. After 15 years, refinishing becomes necessary, but maintenance duties are light otherwise. Indeed, manufacturers’ warranties attest to the product’s durability. 30- to 50-year warranties are the norm.

    CertainTeed, one of the leading manufacturers of fiber cement siding, says it only sources wood fiber harvested from managed forests. Another maker of fiber cement siding, Nichiha, joins CertainTeed in using fly ash—a waste residue of coal combustion—rather than silica. Nichiha also boasts of observing a host of best practices in their production process, sourcing material locally, recapturing 95% of the water used in its facilities, and recycling 100% of the scrap material it creates.

    James Hardie, the founder of fiber cement in the 1970s and world leader in the category, is equally committed to sustainability—sourcing 90% of their materials from regional suppliers, and employing waste minimization and solid waste recycling technologies to support Zero to Landfill initiatives.  While cement, water, sand and cellulose fibers are used for Hardie siding products, fly ash is not: the company believes that it adversely impacts the durability of fiber cement.

    Architectural Appeal
    Fiber cement siding comes in a variety of designs: Lap, plank, vertical, shake, curved-shake and geometric patterns are all available. A host of textures can be found as well, and the siding may be colored to virtually any hue the homeowner desires. Some fiber cement siding products are made to resemble wood, while others imitate the look of natural fieldstone, stacked flagstone, or brick.

    The upfront expenses associated with fiber cement siding are not inconsiderable, being that professional installation is a must. However, the ongoing maintenance costs are minimal. You can expect to pay out for refinishing work about every 15 years or so, but the lion’s share of the overall cost will come at the beginning of the product’s 50-plus-year lifespan.

    Versus Wood or Vinyl Siding
    Wood siding boasts a timeless beauty, and many homeowners value the way its appearance gradually changes in subtle ways. You can save on installation by doing the work yourself, but wood siding products are often expensive to buy, and over time, the material demands a high level of maintenance.

    Though colorfast and resistant to insects and rot, vinyl siding is not maintenance free: It’s vulnerability to weather damage makes occasional repairs necessary. The price tag is low enough to have enticed many, and another big selling point is its relative ease of installation.

    If your priority is good looks, then you can’t go wrong with wood. If budget is your main concern, look no further than vinyl. Consider fiber cement siding if you are looking for a long-lasting, low-maintenance material that performs well and doesn’t look half bad, either.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of you fiber cement siding, siding repair, and siding installation needs.  Call us today at 215.453.9180 for your FREE estimate!

  • Projects to Add the Most Value to Your Home


    HouseLogic did a photo slideshow recently on the home projects that will add the most value to your home.  not surprisingly, most of these projects involve your home's exterior siding, windows and entryways.

    Here are some of the projects they mentioned and how they will add value to your home:

    Vinyl Siding

    Famous for its durability and reasonable price, lightweight vinyl siding also is easy to install, which cuts labor costs. Manufacturers keep coming up with new colors that won’t fade, so there are more choices than ever. Good-quality vinyl siding will last 30 years or more.

    National average cost: $11,192
    Value at resale: $8,154
    Percent of investment recouped: 72.9%

    Fiber-Cement Siding

    Fiber-cement siding is a popular choice for replacement siding. Although its initial price is higher than many other types of siding (it’s heavy and labor-intensive to install), the durability and stability of fiber-cement means less maintenance in the long run. It takes paint well, so you can have your choice of exterior paint colors. It’s also fireproof and rot-resistant.

    National average cost: $13,083
    Value at resale: $10,379
    Percent of investment recouped: 79.3%

    Steel Entry Door

    Replacing an older entry door with a new steel model is the most cost-effective project in the 2013 Cost vs. Value Report. A steel door costs less than half of a similar fiberglass door. The steel outer layer is susceptible to denting; a brass kickplate (shown) helps protect the door from accidental dings.

    National average cost: $1,137
    Value at resale: $974
    Percent of investment recouped: 85.6%

    Wood Deck

    A deck is a cost-effective way to increase your living space and is a great way to enjoy the outdoors when the weather is nice. A simple deck using pressure-treated lumber is a good DIY project and saves up to 50% of a professionally built deck. Clean and seal your deck annually to keep it in great shape.

    National average cost: $9,327 (professionally built)
    Value at resale: $7,213
    Percent of investment recouped: 77.3%

    Wood Replacement Windows

    Swapping out older, leaky windows for new wood replacement windows is a style upgrade that saves energy. The Efficient Windows Collaborative says you’ll save up to $450 per year if you switch out single-pane windows for new double-pane windows in a 2,150-sq.-ft. house. Not in the market for new? Inexpensive weather stripping will keep out the drafts.

    National average cost: $10,708 (10 replacements)
    Value at resale: $7,852
    Percent of investment recouped: 73.3%

    Want to add more value to your home? Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your exterior siding, window replacement, and deck repair needs.  Call us today at (215) 453-9180 for your FREE estimate.







  • JELD-WEN Bifold Doors Recalled

    Courtesy of House Logic

    Some JELD-WEN Bifold Doors have been recalled.  Please check your brand of door to see if it is one of them.

    According to HouseLogic:

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission is recalling 170,800 Reliabilt Interior Bifold Doors manufactured by JELD-WEN. They can fall on home owners when a lower pivot pin breaks and doors disengage from overhead tracks.

    So far, JELD-WEN is aware of 12 incidents of falling doors, including three incidents involving minor injuries.

    The recalled doors, made in the U.S., were sold nationwide at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other building products retailers from February 2011 to March 2012 for $40 to $80.

    If you own a recalled door, stop using it and contact JELD-WEN to obtain free replacement hardware and technical assistance.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your door, exterior siding, and siding repair needs. Call us today at (215) 453-9180 for your FREE estmate!


  • Types of Green Siding For Your Home

    Courtesy of HouseLogic

    If you are thinking of investing in siding, you may want to consider green options.  According to HouseLogic "Many of the best sustainable choices are familiar materials that have been on the market for years."  A few of these products are comprised of recycled components and they don't increase your siding price by that much. Here is an overview of different green siding options, courtesy of HouseLogic so you can look at the pros and cons and figure out what works for you.


    Evaluate sustainability

    When choosing siding, consider its sustainability. Sustainability is an estimate of how long a material will last; if the material can be recycled; if it contributes to health concerns; and if it’ll readily biodegrade in a landfill. Maintenance, too, is a key consideration. High-maintenance materials that require regular upkeep, such as repainting, and use additional resources and energy over their lifecycle, are less sustainable.

    Improve energy performance

    A siding replacement project offers an excellent opportunity to boost your home’s energy performance and make your house healthier. Adding a house wrap (which prevents water infiltration and air leaks) and rigid-foam insulation is one of the best ways to reduce energy consumption and protect your home from moisture condensation inside walls—a major source of mold problems—no matter what type of siding you choose.

    Adding insulation increases R-value—a measure of insulation performance. A house with 3-1/2-inch stud walls filled with fiberglass insulation has an R-value of about R-12. Adding rigid foam and house wrap can boost insulating performance to between R-16 to R-20, reducing your annual energy costs 5% or more.

    Costs of green

    Siding replacement has proven value. A siding replacement project using foam-backed vinyl siding returns about 70% of its initial cost at resale, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report — one of the higher returns listed in the annual survey.

    Because many types of siding are extremely long-lasting, they can be considered green options, but without a premium price. However, improving thermal performance—and, therefore, boosting the siding’s greenness—with house wrap and rigid-foam insulation adds cost—about $1,800 for an average house, according to Fine Homebuilding magazine. Many green consumers feel that contributing to a healthier, sustainable environment is more important than higher initial costs.

    House wrap

    House wrap is a thin, tough, semi-permeable membrane that’s applied over the outside of wall sheathing and under the siding. It’s designed to block water and reduce air infiltration while allowing moisture vapor to pass through.

    Sustainability: Extremely durable and long-lasting, this flexible, plastic material is recyclable.

    Energy efficiency: Using house wrap, along with properly sealed joints at windows and doors, can reduce air infiltration and save on annual energy bills. Some varieties, such as DuPont’s Tyvek ThermaWrap and Low-E Housewrap from Environmentally Safe Products include heat-reflective layers that increase insulation performance by a factor of R-2.

    Cost: 25 cents to 50 cents per sq. ft., installed

    Rigid-foam sheathing

    Rigid-foam sheathing is lightweight, easy to apply, and comes in a variety of thicknesses. Unlike fiberglass insulation, which fits between studs, sheathing blankets the entire exterior wall. It can be applied directly over existing wall materials, such as hardboard, stucco, and wood, providing a smooth substrate for new siding.

    Sustainability: The manufacture of extruded polystyrene (XPS) sheathing is associated with the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which damage the ozone layer, although some manufacturers are researching CFC-free production methods. Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam sheathing doesn’t produce CFCs and is considered environmentally friendly. EPS can be recycled but doesn’t degrade readily in landfills.

    Energy efficiency: Insulating values of R-3 to R-7 per inch thickness.

    Cost: 20 cents-$1 per sq. ft., depending on thickness and thermal performance.

    Insulated vinyl siding 

    Insulated vinyl is similar to regular vinyl siding, except it includes a layer of EPS foam insulation. Its thickness makes it more rigid and easier to work with than regular vinyl.

    Sustainability: Vinyl requires little maintenance and will last 30 to 50 years, but it’s made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a chemical compound that doesn’t degrade in landfills. During manufacturing, PVC produces byproducts that include dioxin. Vinyl siding can be recycled.

    Energy efficiency:  Adds approximately R-3 to walls

    Cost: $3-$8 per sq. ft., installed; 15-30% more expensive than regular vinyl

    Fiber-cement siding 

    Fiber-cement siding is a low-maintenance product made from sand, Portland cement, clay, and wood pulp fibers. It’s termite-proof, fire-resistant, and doesn’t rot.

    Sustainability: Extremely durable and long-lasting, it’s available with low-maintenance finishes that last for decades. But fiber-cement carries high embedded energy—the energy necessary to fire the kilns that heat its raw materials. Any energy expended toward a material adds to its carbon footprint. The newest varieties are lighter and include more recycled material.

    Energy efficiency: Negligible R-value, but its superior stability helps keep the building envelope free of cracks and caulk failures.

    Cost: $5-$9 per sq. ft., installed


    Unmatched beauty makes wood a premier choice for siding.

    Sustainability: Although a precious natural resource, wood is a renewable product that can be recycled and readily degrades in landfills. To ensure the wood products you buy are harvested from sustainable, managed forests, look for certification stamps from the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and the SFI (Sustainable Forest Initiative). Wood siding is a high-maintenance siding that requires refinishing every two to five years.

    Energy performance: Wood is a natural insulator, but as a siding it offers a minimal R-value of about R-1.

    Cost: $6-$9 per sq. ft., installed


    Traditional stucco is made from sand and Portland cement mixed with water to make a workable plaster. Modern stucco often includes epoxies to harden the material. It’s tough, durable, and resistant to insects and fire. Well-maintained stucco will last for the life of the house.

    Sustainability: Eco-friendly varieties of stucco are made with an earth-and-lime mixture instead of Portland cement and epoxy, reducing the embedded energy and CO2 emissions associated with cement production. Painted stucco requires periodic touch-ups and repainting every 5-7 years.

    Energy performance: Negligible thermal performance, but effective at reducing air infiltration while remaining permeable to moisture vapor.

    Cost: $6-$9 per sq. ft., installed

    Engineered wood

    Engineered wood products are made from wood fibers, resins, and wax. They’re pressed in molds to create panels resembling real wood lap siding and shingles.

    Sustainability: The high wood waste content of engineered siding boosts its sustainability factor. Engineered siding comes with baked-on factory finishes that reduce maintenance, but warranties of about 20 years are less than for other types. It easily biodegrades in landfills.

    Energy performance: Negligible

    Cost: About $2-$4 per sq. ft., installed

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