Size Up Your Siding

Ways to Invest in Your Home

(Family Features) Power washing ... sanding and scraping ... painting ... keeping a home's exterior in good condition can take a lot of time, effort and money. And it often leads homeowners to wonder if there are ways to improve their home without all the work. If this sounds like you, low-maintenance siding may be the answer you're looking for.

In fact, a recent American Institute of Architects report showed that 75 percent of the residential architects surveyed are seeing growing interest in low-maintenance exterior materials such as fiber-cement board and stone.

Re-siding can be a very good investment. According to the 2009 to 2010 Cost vs. Value Report conducted by Remodeling magazine, replacing home siding has one of the highest returns-on-investment among home improvement projects. Re-siding with fiber cement, for example, gives 23 percent more return-on-investment than a garage addition and 15 percent more than adding a second story.

How do you know if it's time to re-side your home?

Paul Gentzel, National Repair & Remodel Business Manager of James Hardie Building Products, says homeowners should ask themselves these questions:

What's the siding's condition?
Is there evidence of deterioration, such as sagging, cracking, buckling, blistering or discoloration? As vinyl siding ages, pieces may become loose or fall off. "Keep in mind that individual vinyl siding pieces are difficult to replace and cannot be color-matched," says Gentzel.

How are the trim and soffit areas holding up?
These are often in high-exposure areas and are vulnerable to wear and weathering, so wood and vinyl in particular may need to be replaced entirely over a house's lifespan.

What's the maintenance schedule?
Siding materials have different life spans and maintenance requirements. "As siding wears out," says Gentzel, "the effort and cost of maintaining tired siding can add up to be more expensive than installing new siding."

How's the curb appeal?
If your home looks faded or is starting to look run-down, re-siding can be the quickest and most cost-effective solution to update and beautify it.

"In making a siding decision," says Gentzel, "it's important to weigh the look you like against its cost and upkeep. For example, homeowners may opt for vinyl siding over fiber cement because of initial sticker price - but not take into account that, unlike vinyl, fiber cement is resistant to minor impact and will retain its look for a very long time."

James Hardie Building Products, Inc. offers a wide variety of fiber-cement sidings, from boards that resemble wood to panels that look like stucco. Their revolutionary ColorPlus Technology comes with a multi-coat, factory applied, baked-on paint finish that is guaranteed not to chip, peel or crack, ensuring your home looks better, longer.

The Re-Siding Process

Step One: Covering up the old problem is rarely recommended. The way to do a job right is to remove the old siding entirely. This allows the new siding to be installed as if it were your original exterior.

Step Two: Before the new exterior is applied, the existing structure should be inspected for moisture damage, mold, termites or rot. Covering your old siding with vinyl siding can potentially prevent serious structural problems from being discovered.

Step Three: A weather resistant barrier, such as HardieWrap weather barrier, should be applied to create an extra layer of moisture and wind protection. Most building codes today require it, in fact.

Step Four: Your new siding should be installed according to the manufacturer's guidelines. If installing James Hardie siding, ask your contractor for a best practices installation guide.

For more information on siding choices, and to download the free guide, "Everything You Must Know Before You Re-Side Your Home," visit

Measure for Measure

An installer will calculate how much siding a home needs, but you can make a rough estimate yourself. Consumer Reports recommends this method:

  • Determine the area of each rectangular section of a house by multiplying the height times the width (in feet).
  • Multiply the approximate height and width of triangular surfaces, such as gables.
  • Divide each total by two.
  • Add all the totals.
  • Divide the total square footage by 100 to estimate how many squares of siding are needed. (Prices listed are per square, which equals 100 square feet.)
  • To allow for waste, don't subtract for doors, windows or other areas that will not be covered.

A typical 2,300 square-foot house will most likely use 20 squares of material.

Know Your Zone

Weather takes a toll on home siding. And because different regions of the country have different weather conditions, it's important to find a siding product that will weather the elements well, wherever you live.

The makers of James Hardie siding have developed the HardieZone System to help homeowners choose the right siding for the climate in their region. Go to to see what's right for you.

Learn More

  • Use an online design tool to see what your house might look like with different siding; find a remodeler; and get tips for finding a contractor.
  • Learn more about home siding options.
  • Find out more about remodeling, working with contractors and green remodeling resources.

Inspect your siding for signs of deterioration such as peeling paint or cracked vinyl.

Replacing worn siding reduces maintenance, raises curb appeal, and gives homeowners a higher return-on-investment than many home improvement projects.


James Hardie Building Products