Know The True Cost of Painting Your Home

If your home has wood shingles or clapboard siding, or stucco or cement siding, you know the drudgery and routine of scraping and painting the exterior of your house every few years. Paint and stains simply cannot hold up against the ravages of the weather.

But do you know what it really costs you to maintain your home’s exterior? The truth may shock you!

Real estate and construction experts agree that your home’s exterior should be painted at least every 7 years, and more often in a harsh climate. It is amazing how quickly the costs of painting your home can add up.

Can you afford to spend more than $50,000 just to keep your home’s exterior looking good? Durable, low-maintenance siding is an excellent option! That’s why every day more and more American homeowners are choosing siding to protect the investment they have made in their homes.

Siding Glossary

When choosing siding for your home, make sure you know the following terms and phrases. They will help you make better choices for protecting your home and family.

  • Backer Tab – Provides support for non-insulated 8″ siding at panel overlaps (joints), and behind panels at corners to ensure a smooth installation.
  • Butt Edge – Bottom edge of siding/soffit panel or accessory piece opposite the nailing slots.  Locks onto the preceding panel.
  • Channel – Area of accessory trim or corner post where siding/soffit panels are inserted.  Also refers to trim itself, and named according to letter of alphabet it resembles (i.e., J-channel, F-channel, etc.).
  • Course – Row of panels running the length of the house.
  • Face – Side of siding/soffit panel that is showing once panel has been installed.
  • Face Nailing – Action of fastening directly onto the face of panel, rather than using the nail hem slot.  Generally not used in siding installation.
  • Fascia – Vertical finishing edge usually fastened to ends of rafters or trusses.  Most commonly found where the gutter is attached.
  • Flashing – Thin, flat material – usually aluminum – positioned under or behind J-channels, corner posts, windows, etc., to keep water drainage from penetrating house.
  • Individual Outside Corner Cap – Possible alternative to outside corner post when installing 8″ horizontal siding.  Maintains continuity of siding courses in traditional clapboard style.
  • Inside Corner Post – Provides a means of joining at inside corners where siding butts both sides.  Deeper posts are for insulated siding, and narrower posts for non-insulated siding.
  • Insulated Siding – Available with factory-laminated polystyrene backing.  In addition, separate drop-in backer board is available which can be combined with the siding panels at the time of installation.  Laminated and drop-in backer board thickness vary from 3/8″ to 1/2″, and can be used with 8″, Double 4″ or Double 5″ siding.
  • J-Channel – Used for receiving siding on all sides of windows and doors, at rake edges of gables and in other miscellaneous situations.  Deeper J-channels are for insulated siding, and narrower J-channels for non-insulated siding.
  • Lap – To overlap ends of two siding panels to allow for expansion and contraction of siding product.
  • Lug/Crimp – Raised tabs on siding panel created by a snap-lock punch.  Can be used to lock siding panel into place when the nailing hem has been removed.
  • Mitre Cut – Diagonal cut, beveled to a specific angle (usually 45).  Sometimes applied to an overlapping siding or soffit panel surface for a neater appearance.
  • Nailing Hem (Flange) – Location of nailing slots on siding panel or accessories.
  • Outside Corner Post – Provides neat appearance outside corners for vertical and horizontal sidings.  Receives siding from both sides.  Deeper post is used with insulated siding, and narrower post with non-insulated siding.
  • Snap-Lock Finish Trim – Used to finish off (trim) job-site cuts on siding, as under windows, at eaves, and at porch door locations.  May also be used to receive vertical siding at corners and window jambs.  The snap-lock design allows siding to be notched and locked into place without face nailing.
  • Soffit – Vinyl or aluminum material used on the underside of eaves between the exterior wall and overhanging edge of the roof rafters.
  • Starter Strip – Baseline accessory which secures the first course of siding to the wall.  Used with horizontal and vertical siding.
  • Trim Coil – Painted aluminum and steel material commonly used to case around windows.  Allows remodeler to totally enclose house.
  • Underlayment – Weather-resistant material placed under siding panels.
  • Weep Holes – Openings cut into siding or accessories to allow water runoff.
  • Window Head Flashing – Alternative to J-channel to receive siding over doors and windows and as a base flashing on vertical siding installations.


  • Beaded – Authentic 17th century horizontal Colonial beaded ridge in a 6.5″ design with graceful shadow lines.
  • Clapboard – Classic horizontal design with stepped beveled boards and bold shadow lines.
  • Dutch Lap – Traditional horizontal design with stepped sculpted boards to maximize horizontal shadow lines.
  • Vertical Board & Batten – Vertical siding with deep shadow lines created with raised batten strips.

Siding Comparisons

You have several choices when it comes to siding your home, from traditional wood siding to more advanced and high performance materials like fiber cement. The decision on which is best for your home depends on many factors, including how long you plan to remain in your home, weather conditions, desire for insulation properties, budget and maintenance issues. Here are summaries of the most popular siding materials.

Introduced to the market in the early 1960s, vinyl siding has grown in popularity because of its durability, versatility and ease of maintenance. Manufactured with polyvinyl chloride, vinyl siding is impact resistant, rigid and strong.

Vinyl siding is available in a broad palate of colors, as well as a limited range of patterns. Vinyl siding also is available in many profiles, including horizontal and vertical panels, shakes, scallops, shingles, fishscales, traditional lap, Dutch lap and beaded designs in various widths.

With the ability to withstand high winds (certified up to 110 mph or higher) and a composition that resists heat, cold and moisture, vinyl siding retains its looks over time. The only maintenance it requires is a simple wash with a soft cloth and garden hose.

One of the biggest problems of using low-grade vinyl siding is its lack of insulation value. Newer styles of vinyl siding are now being manufactured with greatly enhanced insulation backing that provide an effective layer of protection for your home.

The fastest growing siding material in the country, fiber cement siding is composed of cement, sand and cellulose fiber that has been cured with pressurized steam to increase its strength and dimensional stability. The fiber reinforces the product and prevents cracking. This siding product will protect your home from rot, fire, wind and insects.

Fiber cement siding can have an embossed wood grained texture, stucco or smooth finish. These products are combined with various types of vinyl trim to block the weather. Ventilation accessories may also be utilized and painted as desired.

Fiber cement siding comes in a variety of colors which are “through and through” the material, or may be painted using water-based acrylic paint, which grips these products very well and doesn’t peel because the products do not expand and contract like wood. Stains may also be applied to fiber cement.

An alternative to vinyl, aluminum and wood, fiberglass siding gives your home the look of freshly painted wood without the hassle of scraping and painting, and is virtually maintenance free. Available in a variety of color options and produced in continuous lengths, fiberglass siding features clean, crisp lines with seams that butt tightly together instead of overlapping.

Fiberglass siding can be applied any time of the year without worry of buckles or splitting, even in the most dramatic temperature changes. It is resistant to oxidation, rust and the corrosive effects of harsh environments making it a good choice for homes in any climate.

Wood is a traditional siding material, either in shakes (shingles) or clapboard form. While it isn’t as common in recent years, wood siding was used on houses for hundreds of years. Wood siding used to be made of raw hardwood such as yellow poplar, red oak, hickory, beech, sycamore and soft maple, but are now more often made from common softwoods like cedar and redwood.

While nice to look at, wood siding generally comes without a warranty, requires frequent scraping and painting, and regular maintenance, particularly in regions with extremes of moisture and temperature. Other issues associated with wood include warping, chipping, termites, wood rot, moisture damage, flammability, and limited insulation value.

Once the most common replacement siding, aluminum has rapidly lost ground to more modern materials. Though it can dent and even fade, it won’t crack. Aluminum siding is fireproof, and comes in a variety of styles and colors.

Aluminum siding doesn’t rot, offers low maintenance, and it’s relatively easy to keep clean. It’s ideal for wet climates. However, aluminum siding tends to chalk, fade and dent. One of the greatest disadvantages is the difficulty of replacing damaged sections should your siding receive a major dent. It provides very little to no insulating properties, can be a bit noisy, and aluminum lacks the ability for detailed trim work.

Because of the variety of ways to apply it and formulate it, stucco siding has been utilized for hundreds of years. Typically seen in Mission or Spanish-style architecture, stucco can be smooth or course, raked or swirled. It can contain sand, lime or pebbles. Depending upon the climate and the desired texture, different types of cement are used in the stucco mix.

Advantages of natural stucco include fire resistance, a high degree of energy efficiency and low maintenance. It also expands and contracts with the weather, which minimizes cracking. Stucco can last up to 50 years before it needs to be replaced. Synthetic stucco has been developed to overcome the moisture issues. However, stucco can crack and stain and offers little or no insulating value.

Is Siding A Good Value?

1. Siding Looks Great On Any Home
The first thing visitors see when approaching your home is the siding. So it makes sense to keep your home’s siding looking good. Vinyl, fiber cement, fiberglass or aluminum siding can be shaped and patterned to fit the architectural style of any home. It creates a whole new look that retains its beauty for years with very little maintenance. Today’s siding can have a smooth grain or wood grain finish. Whether you have a modern home, ranch style home, Craftsman or Victorian, there is a siding that is perfect for your needs.

2. Siding Lasts For Decades
Siding stands up to rain, sleet, ice, sun, wind and snow for years and years. It doesn’t peel, crack or fade, and never needs to be painted. The tough materials of modern siding can take quite a beating without showing signs of wear and tear. And it is easy to keep clean just using a garden hose.

3. Siding Can Reduce Home Energy Costs
Siding can save you money on your energy bills. An extra layer of insulation keeps heat in during the cold winter nights and keep your home cooler during the warm summer months. This can translate into lower monthly energy bills that over the life of the siding can add up to significant savings. And if add insulated siding, the savings are even greater!

4. Siding Is A Relatively Inexpensive Home Improvement Project
Compared to the cost of painting your home every few years – which can run into tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your home – siding is a bargain. With a service life that is counted in decades, the initial investment you make in siding your home will be paid back quickly. Plus you’ll gain the peace of mind of knowing that your home’s structure is better protected and you are saving money on heating and cooling costs.

5. Siding Adds Value To Your Home
Recent studies have shown that siding projects are among the top home improvement projects in terms of return on investment. By enhancing your home’s “curb appeal” new siding adds value to a home when you sell it. Even more important, siding adds value to your home while you still live in it, with improved looks, convenience and comfort.

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