Dear Jim: I’m tired of maintaining my wood siding and want to replace it with maintenance-free siding. I don’t like the appearance of vinyl. What other options are there? Can I add more insulation under it? – Mike O.
Dear Mike: You have many new attractive no-maintenance options other than vinyl siding, and an extra layer of insulation can be installed under any of them. Actually, some new vinyl siding with R-4 insulation backing, which makes it rigid and true, looks much crisper and nicer than you probably realize.
If you want to totally change the appearance of your house, consider installing maintenance-free simulated brick siding. It is easy to install and some types are virtually impossible to distinguish from real bricks. Use it on all the walls or just as accents. One common style for two-story houses is brick siding on the first floor and insulated vinyl siding above it.
Since you want to increase the wall insulation, installing one of the real brick siding kits that mount over special rigid foam insulation panels would be ideal. These bricks are the same size and surface texture of solid bricks, but they are only 1/2-inch thick, creating lightweight walls (only 6 pounds per square foot).
These kits include pre-designed panels with support channels to perfectly align the thin bricks. A 1-inch-thick layer of rigid polystyrene foam insulation is already attached to the back of the panel. The back of the panel has aluminum ties to secure it to the existing wall.
With another brick technique, each thin brick is attached individually to the wall sheathing or insulation with special mastic. The mastic is spread on the wall and the backs of the bricks. The bricks are pressed against the wall to fix them permanently in place and mortar is troweled in between them.
Installing synthetic stone is another attractive siding option. These naturally colored stones are made of cement and a lightweight aggregate. The molds are patterned from real stones, but they are thin with flat backs.
These stones are available in many styles: fieldstone, ledgestone, river rock, etc. The thin flat-backed stones are fixed to the wall in a similar manner to the thin bricks and finished with mortar in the joints. The airtight surface and the mass of the mortar with stones or bricks also help block outdoor road noise.
Lightweight, no-maintenance polypropylene plastic panels are an easy-to-install unique siding option. These panels can be installed over additional rigid foam insulation boards. Each roughly 3-foot-long panel interlocks perfectly with the mating panels so it appears to be one continuous surface. They are available in simulated brick, stone and cedar shake profiles.
Write for (instantly download – www.dulley.com) Update Bulletin No. 735 – buyer’s guide of 18 decorative and standard siding/insulation manufacturers listing surface textures, profiles, sizes, warranties, features, and installation details. Include $3 and a business-size SASE, and send to James Dulley, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.