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HomeAdvisor's Guide to Hiring a Siding Contractor

Since it is the first thing you see when looking at your home, choosing siding which suits your personal style is important. Quality siding makes a dramatic statement, and adds much to the curb appeal and value of your home. It protects your home from the effects of sun, rain and insects and provides insulation from temperature extremes. By eliminating excess moisture from your home exterior, siding reduces the likelihood of dry rot in your walls. These benefits make it one of the most important home investments you can make.

Licensing and Qualifications for Siding Professionals

It is important to confirm licenses or certifications that your contractor may have. Licensing requirements vary from state to state, so be certain to check your state’s requirements beforehand. Having a licensed, bonded, and insured contractor protects you in the event of problems that arise on the jobsite. Insurance should include both general liability and worker’s comp.

A siding contractor may have several certifications. National organizations which certify siding contractors include:  National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Certified Contractors Network, and Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI). Siding manufacturers also have certification programs for contractors who install their specific products. For instance, The James Hardie Company has a Contractor Alliance Program that certifies contractors that meet its standards and Mastic Home Exteriors has certifications for Mastic Preferred Contractors and Mastic Elite Contractors.

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Questions to Ask Your Siding Contractor

  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
  • Will you obtain any needed permits for the job?
  • Are your technicians certified by any organizations?
  • How long have you been installing siding?
  • Is siding installation your main business?
  • Can you provide three recent references?
  • Will you provide an itemized written estimate?
  • Will you ensure that landscaping is protected as you work?
  • Will you remove the old siding and dispose of it?
  • What type of guarantee do you offer?
  • What type of warranty does the manufacturer offer for my chosen product?
  • When can you start work, and how long will the project take to complete?
  • What type of payment schedule is expected?
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Average Cost of Siding Jobs

Because siding materials vary greatly, the cost of repairing or replacing them varies as well. Overall, the cost of siding repair ranges from $100 to $1710, with most homeowners spending approximately $574 for repairs.

Breaking that figure down by material type, here are some general approximations:

  • Vinyl is the cheapest to repair, and can often be a DIY project. To repair a small damaged area, you need a piece of matching vinyl (around $40, if you do not have an extra piece already lying around), a zip tool to remove the damaged vinyl for around $8, tin snips to cut the vinyl at about $20, and screws or nails to attach the new vinyl.
  • Wood requires a little more carpentry skill than most homeowners have. A professional carpenter may charge anywhere from $40 to $50 per hour, or may charge by section of wood that must be repaired, at a rate of around $100 to $150 per 6-foot section.
  • Aluminum: Most professionals will likely advise replacement if your aluminum has any significant issues, as it is extremely difficult to match colors for aluminum patchwork. If you do find a pro who wants to take on a repair, expect to pay $500 to $900 for any substantial patchwork.

Mold and mildew issues can generally be handled as a DIY project if there is no underlying structural damage. With a strong bleach solution, protective goggles, gloves, and proper clothing, you can get rid of most mold and mildew problems with a lot of elbow grease, time, and about $20-$50 of materials. However, mold and mildew may signal a more significant problem with moisture, which should be examined by a siding professional.

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Related Siding Jobs

Sometimes, your siding professional may find that there are problems under your siding that must be addressed. These jobs can bump up the total cost of repairs significantly, or signal that total replacement is in order.

  • Replacing the vapor barrier between your walls and siding costs $1.25 to $1.65 per square foot.
  • Soffit and fascia replacement under the eaves of your home averages $4.50 to $6.50 per linear foot.
  • If old siding must be removed entirely, removal and disposal of the old siding may cost $1000 to $3000, depending on the material and amount of debris involved.

If you decide to replace your siding, get a written estimate from your contractor.

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What is included in the estimate?

A well-written estimate will give you a general idea about the cost of your siding replacement project. Keep in mind that if your contractor will be removing old siding, other issues may be exposed that will add to the total cost of the project. Estimates are a best guess, of sorts, of what the expected cost of your project will be. Actual costs may vary once the job gets underway. To prepare an estimate, your contractor will measure your home, and discuss your options. Based on your choices, your contractor will provide an itemized list of materials and labor costs.

Material costs include:

  • The siding itself
  • Materials used to prepare the space between your walls and your siding, such as vapor barriers or studding
  • Materials used as fasteners, such as nails, screws, etc.
  • Soffits, fascia boards, and corner trim
  • Flashing or other special materials as dictated by your siding type
  • Labor costs include:
  • Hourly or flat rate for installation services
  • Cost of labor for removal and disposal of old siding, if applicable

Additional costs include fees for any permits or licenses required by your municipality for the project.

The estimate should also include a time frame for the project, with a firm start date and an estimate as to when the project will be completed.

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Types of Siding

Common types of siding include vinyl, wood, aluminum, and fiber cement. Each type has its pros and cons, including substantial differences in costs and maintenance. Here is a breakdown of what you can expect with each type:

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  • Cost: $2 to $3 per square foot.
  • Maintenance: No ongoing maintenance is required other than power-washing once a year.
  • Benefits: There is a large variety of available designs and color options to suit your tastes. Also, vinyl siding boasts a longevity of about 50 years. It does not attract insects and will not rot.
  • Drawbacks: Vinyl does not fit snugly against the house and moisture issues may develop. If you live in colder climates with frequent freezing temperatures, vinyl can become brittle and crack. Exposure to sunlight over a long period of time may also fade its color. Vinyl can also crack or dent if struck with force, and seams are visible, reducing its beauty.
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  • Cost: $5 to $10 per square foot.
  • Maintenance: Wood should be power-washed once a year, and will need to be re-stained or painted about every four years. Keep an eye out for mildew or flaking paint to make a decision about when to perform more extensive maintenance.
  • Benefits: Wood is beautiful. Certain types of wood, such as redwood, cedar, or cypress, are especially well suited for siding, as they can withstand moisture, insects, and seasonal climate fluctuations. Wood is long-lasting and can be shaped in a variety of elegant siding designs. It can be painted any color desired and harmonizes with its surroundings well.
  • Drawbacks: Initial installation of wood is fairly costly, and maintenance required over time must be considered. If you are not handy with a paint brush, expect to pay a professional painter a tidy sum for painting or staining every few years.
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  • Cost: $3 to $4 per square foot.
  • Maintenance: Aluminum should be cleaned every couple of years. Inspect for dents and scratches to keep it looking its best.
  • Benefits: Aluminum can last for 30 to 50 years, is fireproof and rustproof, and is extremely energy efficient. It also comes in a variety of colors. If you change your mind about the color of your aluminum siding, it can be repainted easily.
  • Drawbacks: Aluminum is considered to be of lesser quality than wood or brick, making it an unpopular choice in upscale neighborhoods. It is difficult to repair dents that may occur from things like rocks slung from under a lawn mower. In high winds, it can also be quite noisy.
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Fiber Cement/James Hardie Siding

  • Cost: $4 to $8 per square foot.
  • Maintenance: Power washing once a year is usually sufficient. Lasting about 50 years, fiber cement will need a fresh coat of paint in approximately 25 years.
  • Benefits: It is resistant to both moisture and insects and it will not rust. It looks and feels like wood, and is available in many styles like clapboard siding, wood shingles, and vertical panels. It withstands weather issues like hail and high winds with ease.
  • Drawbacks: Fiber cement can be very difficult to install because it requires special tools and a good deal of installation experience. It is heavy, and produces a lot of dust during installation. Visual similarity to wood may vary, depending on the type of fiber cement chosen.
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Repairing or Replacing Siding

If you are having problems with your current siding, you must decide whether it makes more sense to repair or replace it altogether. The main thing to evaluate is whether your siding is performing its two primary functions: protecting and beautifying your home.

If the problem is functional and your home is at risk because your siding has major areas of damage, you will need to replace your siding, and possibly even replace or repair underlying structures.  If the problem is largely aesthetic in nature, you might be able to repair small problem areas, or change the look of your siding with less drastic means than total replacement.

To decide if repair or replacement is needed, here are some general guidelines:

  1. Inspect your home from a distance. Take note of missing sections of siding, significant discoloration, or other obvious damage.
  2. Looking more closely at your home, see if there are signs of mold or mildew. Pry away a small, unobtrusive spot of your siding. If it bends easily or crumbles in your hand, it is time to replace it.
  3. Further in-depth inspection can reveal holes, dents, or cracks in your siding. If more than half of the siding on your home has issues like this, it is time for a total replacement job.

Some common issues that may arise with siding are:

  • Dents, scratches, and holes
  • Warping or buckling
  • Mold and mildew growth
  • Deterioration due to moisture issues or exposure to the elements and/or dry rot
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Common Siding Terms

  • Backerboard: Flat material used between the studs and the siding of the house to provide a surface for nailing the siding.
  • Board and Batten: A style in which a narrow strip of siding appears to cover the seam between two wider boards.
  • Channel: The area of the accessory trim or corner post where siding or soffit panels are inserted.
  • Course: A row of panels, one panel wide, running the length of the house from one side to the other.
  • Double wall siding: Siding in which sheathing is installed and then covered by exterior siding.
  • Fascia Board: Board attached to the ends of the rafters between the roofing material and the soffit overhang.
  • Flashing: Type of sheet metal used to prevent water penetration at the intersection of building parts.
  • James Hardie: Manufacturer of fiber cement siding.
  • Soffit: Material used to enclose the horizontal underside of an eave, cornice or overhang.

Siding for Satisfaction

The variety of available siding options makes it possible to find a siding material that fits your budget, environmental views, and personal style. Since many options last for decades, making a wise choice now will bring you satisfaction for years to come. When choosing siding, it is wise to compare durability, ease of maintenance, and general aesthetic preferences. A professional siding contractor can ease the process, and ensure your satisfaction with a job well done.

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