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Angie's List: Siding

Putting new siding on your home not only updates its look, but can also protect it from the elements.
Your siding is usually the only thing standing between the elements outside and your interior drywall and insulation.  Each board works together as a complete system with nails, caulk, and a painted finish to keep out moisture and protect your home.

Homeowners have several siding options available today.
Wood, vinyl and fiber-cement are the most popular choices. Aluminum and composite are also available.
Painting your home’s exterior is a cost-effective option. Whether you paint the entire house or if you stick to the trim around windows and doors - painting can give your home a whole new look without having to spend a lot. You can also paint brick if you are looking for a new look.

Angie’s List, the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews, asked highly rated contractors about siding and painting options.

Often, homeowners can’t tell how much hidden damage has occurred until the siding is physically removed so they are able to see how much wood rot exists on the frame of their home due to years of moisture penetration behind the siding. 

Walk around your house and look for these signs that your siding may need repaired/replaced.
Is the siding wavy, warped, buckling, or rotting?
If your nails have popped out, it may mean your siding has experienced some sort of movement, or has been expanding and contracting. 
Over time, caulk can shrink, crack, or slowly wear away.  If seams have shifted and boards look uneven, your siding system will fail. Caulked correctly, your siding should look almost seamless.
Is paint faded? Check first before you paint vinyl siding - some manufacturers will void your warranty if the siding has been altered in any way.
Your siding may need to be replaced if rodents or other pests have been able to find their way in and live between your interior walls and exterior siding.
Water stains show up as discoloration or streaking on the siding.

Angie’s List Tips: Hiring a contractor
Homeowners must weigh the pros and cons of the different siding types and choose what best fits their personal tastes and budgets. For example, some products require more maintenance than others.
If you hire a painting contractor to do the job, be sure to talk to him or her about the products they use and the guarantee they offer. Many exterior paint manufacturers provide warranties for up to 25 years. Siding manufacturers are often very specific on how the product should be installed. If installed incorrectly, you could void your warranty. Check first before you paint any product, some manufacturers will void your warranty if the siding has been altered.
Get at least three estimates and thoroughly research the companies’ local reputations before you hire. And don’t skip on reading the contract – those details are important.
Is the contractor factory trained in the product? For example, special tools are required to install fiber cement, so you want to hire a contractor with experience in installing this type of siding.
Ask your siding installer for samples of grades, colors and textures and view them outside at different times of the day.
Before any siding goes up, make sure a quality moisture barrier is installed first to protect your home from water damage and provide insulation.
If you have to repair your siding in the future, you could run into issues of matching replacement siding to the color and material of your existing siding. Consider buying extra siding to avoid issues with mismatched siding, which could devalue your home.
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