Lily Dittschlag & Dennis Dittschlag
EXTERIOR WALL FINISHES: PROS & CONS OF MATERIALS
When you think of the outside of a house, many different styles and materials come to mind. Oftentimes, it comes down to personal preference as exterior sidings are for the most part decorative. Common siding materials are brick, metal, stucco, stone, and wood in our Toronto climate. Each varies in style and has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Let's check them out!
Nowadays, when brick is used in new construction, it is often in the form of brick veneer. This means that the brick is decorative. This should not be confused with solid brick, which was commonly used in homes built prior to1970, where the brick functions as a load-bearing wall.
Brick veneer comes in a wide range of color and style choices that can provide a beautiful and timeless appearance.
An advantage of brick is durability. It is fire-resistant, can withstand extreme weather conditions, and does not dent or break easily. It is ideal in Toronto's harsh winter climate where the exterior is exposed to snow and ice.
Brick is also low maintenance and does not require much upkeep to preserve its appearance.
A disadvantage of brick is that it is a porous material that allows water to pass through. Therefore, weep holes must be created to allow water and moisture to escape.
If weep holes are blocked by debris or if homeowners mistakenly fill them in, water can become trapped and possibly lead to mold.
Metal siding is typically made of steel or aluminum and is installed vertically or horizontally. Although it is more commonly seen in commercial and industrial buildings, it is gaining popularity in residential homes, offering a range of colors, finishes, and patterns that can certainly add curb appeal.
There are several advantages to metal siding. Similar to brick, it is durable and low maintenance. However, unlike brick, metal is non-porous, which offers the added benefit of preventing water from seeping into the house.
Metal is relatively strong, lightweight, and thin. This is ideal for a narrower wall profile.
The main disadvantage to metal siding is denting. Heavy hail or forceful impacts from objects could cause dents in the metal material of the wall panels, especially if a thinner or lighter gauge panel is installed.
Similar to metal roofs, noise can also be an issue with metal siding. Rain may sound louder when water lands on metal.
Stucco is a fine, durable plaster that consists of a mixture of cement, lime, aggregate, and water. It is applied wet to the exterior wall, then hardens naturally. In our neighborhood of Mimico, you can see that a lot of new homes are constructed with stucco on the exterior.
The main advantage of stucco is cost effectiveness. It is one of the least expensive materials to use for exterior siding.
Stucco is highly customizable in terms of color and texture. Since it is a plaster applied by hand, creative embellishments and decorative moldings can often be incorporated.
The main disadvantage of stucco is cracking. Stucco can shrink and crack easily, particularly in climates like Toronto where there are freeze-thaw cycles. Cracks can lead to water penetration, which can cause damage to the wall if not detected in time. Stucco can also crack when the foundation of a newly constructed house shifts and settles into the ground.
Natural stone carved from granite, sandstone, and limestone are popular materials used in stone veneers. Synthetic stone made from cement and natural or artificial colorings is molded to closely resemble natural stone and is a popular choice as a less expensive alternative.
Stone veneer is versatile in terms of the shapes and sizes that can be formed. A classy and elegant appearance can make a great first impression and add curb appeal.
Natural stone veneer is relatively low maintenance. It is a very sturdy material and can hold its own against harsh weather and everyday wear and tear.
There are some disadvantages to natural stone. It may be difficult to work with, has limited natural color choices, could be porous, and may require resealing and grouting. Natural stone siding is quite costly and can be expensive to repair. An option for synthetic stone may be less expensive, but it's more susceptible to fading over time compared to natural stone.
Wood siding has been around for many years, and one of the oldest siding materials available.
It is often installed horizontally using overlapping joints.
Wood siding is aesthetically appealing with its natural look. It can be stained or painted in a variety of colors and finishes.
Wood is one of the most sustainable siding options. Not only does it require less energy to produce, but it is biodegradable and a renewable resource. This makes it one of the most environmentally friendly siding materials.
The main disadvantage with wood siding is the likelihood of rot and water penetration often occurring at the joints.
Also, if the wood siding is in contact with soil, it promotes rot and provides an ideal environment for wood-boring insects, such as
Mix and match different siding materials...
If you are thinking about which exterior siding to choose, the good thing is that you don't have to necessarily choose just one, you can often mix and match to your taste. For us, we opted for a combination of brick veneer and metal siding. We like the classic red brick exterior with a touch of modern gray aluminum. But you can discuss with your builder to see what works best for you.
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