2020 Home Siding Buying Guide

Siding is the part of the home we see every single day, but it can be very difficult to know when it is time to replace your home’s siding. There are so many different brands, materials, colors, styles, and options that it can be difficult to navigate the market and make the right decision.

At GreenTex, we believe the best way we can serve our customers is to provide a comprehensive education about replacing their Austin home siding. In many cases, homeowners look into replacing their home’s siding when they see the beautiful, modern siding that is becoming more and more prevalent across the Austin area. But all too often, when they request an evaluation, the contractor will overwhelm them with pushy sales tactics, buying pressure, and conflicting information.

We understand that a business exists to sell products. But too many companies seem to forget that ultimately, they are there to educate homeowners. In a specialized industry like this, most homeowners do not know the differences between siding styles, materials, and options beyond the price tag.

We believe if we don’t close the deal, then we are either not the best fit or we need to get better. We don’t believe the solution is to resort to shady sales tactics and high pressure!

The purpose of this buying guide is to provide homeowners in the Austin area and beyond with the information they need to plan and evaluate their home siding project.

Home Siding Buying GuideShould I Repair or Replace My Siding?

With any siding project, the first decision to make is whether the best option is to repair or replace the siding. Repair is the most popular option due to the lower cost, but repairs can add up quickly. Knowing whether you should repair or replace your Austin home siding can help save money in the long run and avoid costly repairs and maintenance every year.

Repair is not always the most cost effective option. We typically recommend repairing your home siding if you notice:

  • Minor chips and cracks. Minor cosmetic damage like this can typically be fixed without having to completely overhaul the exterior of the home. If the damage is affecting multiple areas of your siding, the more cost effective option might be replacement.
  • Minor dents can often be repaired or fixed with the replacement of one or two siding panels as long as the damaged area is minimal.
  • If a panel or two is loose, this can often be caused by strong storm winds or other weather factors. This is usually a quick and simple fix, but if there are multiple loose panels, your home’s siding might be reaching the end of its lifespan.

While there are many considerations to take into account, these are our top signs that it is time to replace your home’s siding:

  • Rot of any kind, even minor, is a clear sign that your siding is beginning to fail and needs to be replaced.
  • If you find yourself performing excessive maintenance like cleaning, repainting, or repairing your home siding every few years, now is a good time to think about replacement siding.
  • Mold and mildew is another clear sign of failing siding, and both can be damaging to the integrity of your home and the safety of your family.
  • Fading siding worn out by the sun is a clear sign the lifespan of your home’s siding has ended.
  • The outdated appearance from old siding can seriously diminish the curb appeal of your home. Fresh, modern siding can transport your home from the 1970s into the 21st century!\

Consider Your Insulation!

Walls are responsible for about 35% of the energy loss in a home, more than any other structural element of the house! This makes siding replacement a huge opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of your home. While most modern siding materials are more energy efficient than their past counterparts, siding on its own will not make a drastic improvement to the energy performance of your home.

The US Department of Energy has stated that “when new siding is to be installed, it is a good idea to consider adding insulation under new siding.” There are several different types of insulation that can be installed underneath replacement home siding. The most common types are blown insulation like fiberglass or cellulose, and continuous flat board foam insulation. Another option for insulation under replacement siding is insulated vinyl siding. This is vinyl siding with insulation that is permanently adhered to the siding panels, however this does come with significant added cost compared to traditional insulation underneath replacement siding.

Finding the Right Siding Contractor

Like with any home improvement project, the most important decision a homeowner can make is choosing the right siding contractor to revamp the exterior of their home. Because home improvement is such a specialized industry, it can be tough to determine which contractor will do quality work and respect your home, and which contractor is just looking for a quick buck.

Always check their online reviews on websites like Google, HomeAdvisor, Yelp, and the BBB. The best way to tell what kind of work they do will be listening to the customers who have worked with them before. A truly great contractor will have near 5 Stars on every review platform, because a great contractor understands there is no room for error in any project!

Always make sure your siding contractor has the proper insurance! Many contractors have either none or not enough insurance. This means if they get injured in your home, you’re going to be stuck with the bill!

Make sure your contractor has the necessary licensing and certifications for the products they install. If you are having James Hardie siding installed, they should be certified to install James Hardie products!

Cost vs. Value

By far the biggest cause of confusion, misinformation, and dissatisfaction among homeowners comes from the most important question in almost every siding replacement project: “How much will it cost?”

Customers frequently ask us to just give them a ballpark estimate for how much each window costs. The problem with this is that each project is very different. One customer might need replacement on just one side of the house; another might need siding around the whole house.

When searching for a home siding contractor, look for a company that fully assesses YOUR needs for the project, and presents a product and price that fits YOUR needs. At GreenTex, we fully assess your needs, wants, and desires, show you the possibilities, and present multiple product options that offer varying levels of efficiency, material choice, and cost.

The number one priority in your consultation and the project as a whole should be the value and benefit this will bring to your home. When home siding replacement is done properly, it’s one of the best investments you can make, for both your everyday expenses and the value of your home.

Home Siding MaterialsHome Siding Materials

Vinyl Replacement Siding

Vinyl siding today is significantly better than the vinyl siding we see on homes from the 70s and 80s. Innovations in manufacturing and design have improved the quality, durability, and efficiency of vinyl over the years. Vinyl is the best option in terms of energy performance and does not need to be repainted. The improvement in energy performance will be small if the vinyl siding is installed over existing insulation, so make sure your insulation is in good condition if you are not opting to install new insulation or insulated vinyl siding. Vinyl does have several drawbacks as a siding material, however. Vinyl performs very poorly in the event of a fire, and will melt under extreme heat. The material does not hold up particularly well in extreme climates either. In hot environments like Central Texas, vinyl siding can warp and fade over time, especially if it is low quality or recycled vinyl.

Wood Based Siding

Wood siding, such as cedar plank siding, provides a beautiful and authentic appearance to the exterior of your home. While wood is the classic material of choice for home siding, it does come with some significant sacrifices for appearances. Wood siding comes with significantly more maintenance than other materials, requiring routine repainting and cleaning to maintain an attractive appearance. Wood is obviously not resistant to fire and can put your home at a much higher risk of significant damage in the event of a fire. Wood also offers poor resistance to the weather and elements.

Fiber Cement Siding

Most of the time, James Hardie fiber cement siding is our material of choice for Austin and Central Texas home siding. Fiber cement replacement siding offers a near identical appearance to wood siding, with many more benefits at a significantly lower upfront and long-term cost. Fiber cement siding is available in many different styles and color options, making it a dream come true for design focused homeowners. Fiber cement siding acts like a suit of armor for your home, protecting against the most extreme weather events and fire. The material is resistant to moisture and pests as well, keeping your home insulated and protected from all outside elements. Fiber cement siding does need to be repainted, but significantly less often than other materials like wood. It is an extremely durable material and the James Hardie brand performs rigorous testing on all of its products to ensure its fiber cement siding will last the test of time.

How Does Climate Affect Siding?

When deciding which siding material to choose, the first consideration should be the climate where you live. Some siding materials, like fiber cement, are suitable for all climates, but others should be avoided in certain climates.

Vinyl siding is a great choice for a stable climate. The material can handle hot and cold weather fairly well, but what vinyl does not handle well is extreme weather patterns. If you live in an area like Central Texas where intense storms and hail are prevalent, vinyl siding will take a beating from the elements. This requires significantly more maintenance and an increased risk of damage to your home.

Wood siding is a very traditional home siding choice, and when taken care of it can last a lifetime. Wood siding does not hold up very well in a hot humid climate like Central Texas, however. Wood is prone to warping and rotting over time, and the extreme elements of Central Texas will accelerate the wear and tear, requiring increased maintenance over time.

If your home is in an area where climate is a concern, James Hardie fiber cement siding is the best choice for your home. Hardie products are rigorously tested in all climate conditions, and the product is specifically manufactured for YOUR climate. The HardieZone system is an incredibly innovative approach to siding manufacturing that takes into account different climate factors. Central Texas is in HardieZone 10, so our products are manufactured to handle extreme UV exposure and intense storms.

Home Siding StylesHome Siding Styles

One of the most exciting parts of replacing your Austin home siding is just how customizable the process is! Modern replacement siding, especially James Hardie siding, comes in any combination of styles, colors, and options you could want.

Lap Replacement Siding

A traditional and timeless style, lap siding is the most popular style in North America, and looks great on all architectural styles. The term comes from the way that the planks overlap one another, and is commonly referred to as simply horizontal siding. This style is often combined with other siding styles like vertical plank to create unique designs and a home exterior that stands out from the neighborhood.

Vertical Replacement Siding

Vertical home siding adds depth, height, and distinction to the exterior of the home. It is another of the most popular siding styles in North America today. The design functions of this style are achieved with distinct shadow lines that look like authentic tongue and groove cedar planks. This style is an excellent choice for those looking to add a dramatic curb appeal to their home, or to add a unique accent piece to complement other siding styles.

Shake & Shingle Replacement Siding

Most often associated with a Cape Cod-style home, shingle siding adds character and quaintness to any style of home. This is an extremely versatile siding style, due to the detail oriented shingle design. Shingle siding can add a unique look to craftsman or cottage style homes, and comes in several different shingle styles.

James Hardie Artisan Replacement Siding

This innovative new style of siding was created by none other than the industry Titan James Hardie. This style is very similar to traditional lap siding, but the boards are specially manufactured to be extremely customizable. This allows for custom, highly detail oriented designs that are impossible with traditional siding. The Artisan Collection is a staple on contemporary, California style homes we see all over the Austin area today.

Check out James Hardie’s Design Center to explore ideas to revamp the look of your home.

Home Siding Installation

The highest quality siding in the world is useless without the proper installation, that’s why it is so important to find a contractor that is certified to install siding based on manufacturer dictated guidelines. If you are replacing your home siding with James Hardie products, make sure to ask if your contractor is a member of the Contractor Alliance program. A James Hardie certified contractor MUST:

  • Comply with Installation Best Practices
  • Have a professional sales approach
  • Satisfy credit requirements
  • Possess the proper State and Local Licensing
  • Possess a MINIMUM of $1,000,000 General Liability Insurance
  • Possess Workman’s Compensation Insurance
  • Complete a background check with at least 6 past clients

We hope this guide has been a helpful tool in planning your home siding project! If you are considering replacing your Austin home siding, give GreenTex a call and let us come out and give you a Free Design Consultation and Project Evaluation!