We lived in a 100 year old house with clapboard siding for 8 years. We loved the look of painted clapboards, but we quickly tired of the upkeep and expense of the exterior paint job. 2 years ago we bought a new home, with Hardie Plank siding. The exterior paint has shown no signs of wear and tear since it was painted. In fact, the paint job looks new!
Here in the Northampton area, we realtors sell a mix of +/- 100 year old homes with clapboard siding (or clapboards covered over with vinyl siding, aluminum siding and, sometimes, asbestos shingles), as well as mid-century homes with aluminum or vinyl siding, and, lastly, some new construction which usually has vinyl or Hardie plank siding. The Daily Hampshire Gazette recently ran a special section on homes, including this interesting article about choosing the right siding for your home. If you are a homeowner who is thinking about residing your current home, or you are building a home and wondering what siding might be best for you, this article should come in handy.
Here is an example of Hardie Plank siding.
Vintage Farmhouse, www.jameshardie.com
Deciding on siding
GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING
Tim Uhlig, pictured in photo at left, from Wilcox Builders in Hatfield, primes a new edge on a fiber cement soffit
board being installed on a home in the Village Hill development at Northampton. At right, and below, Michael
Cendrowski, works on the soffits while Uhlig cuts the siding, shown above right.
4 HOME MAGAZINE, Wednesday, September 14, 2016
By LINDA ENERSON
For the Gazette
Siding is just one element of a home, but it’s an important one, as siding is often the first thing people notice when
they walk up to or drive by a home —and there’s a lot of it. If, for some reason, you don’t like the siding you’ve picked
out for your new or renovated home, it’s pretty hard to overlook it. Siding is made from a variety of materials,
some of them time-tested, like vinyl and wood, but there are also some newer products on the market, such as
fiber cement and OSB. With so many options to choose from, it can be a confusing task for homeowners to pick the siding
option that will serve their needs best.
Wright Builders constructs new homes and commercial buildings around the Valley using all kinds of siding. Roger Cooney, vice president
of design, sales and estimating, helps customers make decisions about what siding they want based on price, environmental impact,
aesthetics, durabilityand maintenance. According to Cooney, the key to picking
the right siding is for homeowners to understand their own priorities. For example, how critical is it for their home’s
siding to be eco-friendly, and what price point will their budget allow?
Vinyl is the least expensive siding option. When it comes to the environmental impact, “it’s pretty nasty,” Cooney said. Vinyl siding is largely
composed of PVC (polyvinyl chloride). During the manufacturingprocess of PVC, dioxin (a carcinogen) and other toxic gases are
produced, which are harmful to the health of workers, as well as people and animals in the surrounding area. Dioxin and other toxins are
also released when vinyl begins to break down through the natural weathering process or when the siding materials finally make their way
to a landfill. And Cooney said that in the unfortunate circumstance of a house fire, vinyl can actually melt, releasing more toxic chemicals.
Fiber cement siding is a composite material made from cement, cellulose and sand. It is produced in a variety of styles, including shingles,
lap siding, vertical siding, and panels, and like wood, can be easily painted or stained, though unlike wood, it is impervious
to water and termite damage. Cooney said his company is installing fiber cement on many of the homes and commercials they build
because it is very durable, reasonably priced (about $3 per square foot at R.K. Miles), and more aesthetically pleasing than vinyl, as well
as fireproof. Fiber cement siding is used on all of the homes that Wright Builders recently constructed at the Village Hill developmenton the
old State Hospital grounds in Northampton. In terms of the environmental impact of fiber cement, Cooney said that while it is inert once
produced, fiber cement siding does require a fair amount of energy to manufacture. During installation, workers must wear a respirator to
prevent inhalation of silica dust when they cut the product.
OSB (Oriented strand board)
(OSB) is a siding product made of many glued layers or strands of wood. The price point of OSBproducts is similar to fiber cement siding
materials. According to Cooney, when it comes to durability and environmental impact, OSB scores less favorably than fiber cement. “It’s
has a lot of formaldehyde and glue in it,” he said.
The old standard, wood clapboard siding is still among the most environmentally friendly siding available, as long as it is sourced from
companies that practice sustainable forestry. Cooney said consumers should look for The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo, which
certifies that responsible forestry standards have been maintained in the production of wood products bearing that label. Consumers
should also be aware that FSC certification adds cost. While not FSC certified, most locally harvested wood products are managed
suitably and sustainably, according to Cooney. Pine and cedar are the two types of wood siding. Both can be sourced locally, as Eastern
cedar and Eastern white pine grow in the Northeast. Pine is relatively inexpensive. Clogston says pine clapboards run between $1.50 and
$2 a square foot at R. K. Miles. Cedar, which Cooney said holds up to the elements better than pine, showing less discoloration from
weathering, is the most expensive of all siding. Clogston said cedar runs in the range of $5 to $7 per square foot. The problem with wood
is that it requires a new coat of stain or paint about everydecade. According to Cooney, the best way to preserve wood siding is to paint or
stain all sides of it including any cuts made during installation, and install it over a drain plane to allow rain and other “bulk water ” to exit.
But maintaining wood is only a problem if you don’t like to paint. Cooney recentlypainted his own house over Labor Day weekend.
“Personally, I find it meditativeand satisfying … I’m sure I’m unusual in enjoying that type of work!” he said.