THE PROS AND CONS OF WOOD SIDING
Wood siding is so common and so popular in many parts of the country, especially in the West, that many homeowners never even consider any other type of siding. While there are many choices that homeowners need to acquaint themselves with, wood siding has certainly withstood the test of time and is still one of the top choices when it comes to residing a home. For many homeowners, wood is the real thing and nothing less will do.
And wood does have a great many advantages that make it seem appealing. However, as with any siding, wood does have its dark side, and homeowners need to weigh both the good and the bad when it comes to cladding their home with wood. This article does not attempt to sway any homeowner’s opinion, but rather simply to inform; because an informed homeowner is an empowered homeowner. What follows are simply: wood siding pros and cons.
Almost every type of siding on the market tries to imitate the look of real wood. Why? Because real wood has a timeless, classic look that simply makes humans feel secure and grounded. It is almost as if the look, the feel, even the smell of real wood is somehow imprinted on human DNA. Humans simply respond well to wood. So perhaps it would be a good idea to skip all the make-believe wannabes and stick with the real thing.
Real wood siding comes in a wide variety of wood types and styles, enough to fill the needs of virtually any homeowner. Some of the styles available in wood include hand-cut shakes, machine-cut shingles, clapboard and solid wood, plus many other choices. Cedar and redwood are common woods when it comes to choosing a wood for siding, because these types of wood are decay-resistant but many other woods can also be used if a certain look is desired. Wood cladding is available in both horizontal and vertical styles, ready to accommodate virtually any home remodeling plan. The choice of wood, the style and the color can all be combined in an almost endless array to create a plethora of siding choices for the discriminating homeowner.
A more practical advantage is that wood is readily available and can be installed quickly. Virtually any competent siding installer can install wood as siding. Wood is so easy to install that many homeowners, with only a modicum of carpentry skills, are able to install their own wood siding, saving both time as well as money.
Another advantage that should not be minimized is that siding made of wood is easily replaced should it become damaged. Many types of siding make small replacements difficult if not virtually impossible. With wood siding, however, parts can be quickly and easily removed and replaced. In many cases the homeowner can take care of repairs without needing to pay experts, saving the homeowner both time and money.
On a slightly different angle, wood is the ultimate choice for any homeowner struggling to go “green.” What could be more ecologically sound than renewable wood? Wood is the very definition of biodegradable. Wood never has to go into landfill but even if it does, it decays into a compost-like substance over time, making it one of the most ecologically friendly types of siding imaginable.
Wood is easy to paint and can be painted or stained almost any color imaginable. While this is a clear advantage of this type of siding, it is also one of its primary drawbacks. Wood must be painted, stained or varnished in order to protect it from the elements and from insects. Without regular painting, staining or varnishing, wood will crack, warp or rot. Also, without some type of regularly applied protection, insects will also damage wood.
Insect and water damage are two of the largest drawbacks of wood. Wood must be regularly maintained; this means that it must be painted or stained every few years. Regular maintenance is costly to the homeowner in terms of both time and cash. Without regular maintenance wood can rot, warp or twist, allowing water to seep behind the siding, potentially causing untold damage to the home’s structure. Repairing such damage can be both costly as well as inconvenient.
Lack of maintenance can also result in damage from a wide variety of wood-damaging insects. Termites are one of the most common and destructive of the insect pests that homeowners must guard against. A colony of termites left alone for even a single year can do unspeakable damage to the structure of a home, but termites are not the only danger facing the homeowner who uses wood siding on their home. Certain ants love to eat wood; and there are a wide variety of wood-boring beetles and even wasps that can cause unsightly holes in wood siding.
Some of these problems can be overcome by the homeowner’s choice of wood. Both redwood and cedar are two excellent choices which offer natural protection against both the ravages of weather as well as insects. While neither is absolutely guaranteed not to rot or warp, both cedar and redwood resist the effects of water better than most other woods, while remaining within the budget of many homeowners. Both redwood and cedar also offer natural barriers to most insects, which find certain chemicals naturally present in their cellulose to be distasteful.
Wood is classic. It is difficult to go too far wrong with the look and feel of real, genuine wood as opposed to all the fake-wood wannabe choices that the homeowner could make. The value of many older homes especially can be irreparably compromised by siding them with anything but real, genuine wood. So while it is true that real wood requires regular and often time-consuming maintenance to keep its appearance and its structural integrity, the bottom line is that in many cases the extra time and expense can be worth it in order to keep the timeless and classic look of the real thing.