Learn How to Maintain the Siding on Your Home


Building exteriors are exposed to all the elements of nature, such as sun, rain, wind, and ice. The primary function of the external siding is to keep out the elements, as well as critters. Different types of the country present different challenges. The hot sun on the south and west faces of a building will cause greater wear, while the north and shady sides are more susceptible to moss, mold, and other moisture related problems.

Wood siding

Common problems with wood siding:

– Rot behind window flower boxes.

– Sidings covered with plants, ivy and other vines.

– Improper distance from the ground(should be 6″ – 8″, if not the siding is likely to rot from the bottom over time)

– Fading and peeling paint

– Splitting wood and nail pops.

It is recommended to inspect your siding ones a year. Look for rot, and cut back plants, ivy’s and other vines. The are very likely to trap moisture and eventually your siding could rot. If you find any rotted wood, you should replace it before it spreads. You should also look for dirt, mold, and moss and try to wash it off. If the paint on your wood siding is peeling off you should scrape off the loose particles and repaint to protect it from exposure.

Vinyl siding

Common problems with vinyl siding:

– Siding becomes buckled or bowed( caused by improper nailing )

– Becomes brittle in temperature at or below freezing and can break on impact

– Loose or missing planks

– Bad installation causes joints to separate

The most common problem with vinyl siding is actually defective installation procedures. You want to make sure there is no buckling or bowing, that the overlaps are big enough, and that the corner molding is overlapped by the one above. Its not unusual to have installers overlap them with the lower molding overlapping the one above, which will cause that water to enter the inside of the siding. You should never have to paint your vinyl siding, although you should clean it annually.

Metal siding

Common problems with aluminum and steel sidings:

– It will oxidize over time

– Color will fade

– It will dent

Aluminum siding wears well, although it can become dented, and it can be noisy. Because of expansion, it is not uncommon to hear it bang and pop when sunlight warms a side of the house. Aluminum siding has a baked-on enamel surface that stands up over time. It can fade over the years, and some homeowners paint the siding. If the siding has been painted, then it will require repainting on a regular basis. Caulking is sometimes used with aluminum siding. Often in the corners around windows and perhaps at overlaps or corners on the house. The caulking should be replaced when it is starting to tear off. Another thing to watch out for is the siding’s inability to allow moisture to escape through the wall to the outside. Aluminum planking is waterproof, and that’s good, but it should not be a moisture barrier. To keep it from becoming a moisture barrier, small holes appear along the bottom of each plank. If there aren’t enough holes or if the holes are blocked, the siding can trap moisture inside the wall. You should check for these holes and look for rot behind the siding by examining the header joists in the basement and along the outer floor edge in the living areas. As with the vinyl siding, you should watch the corner moldings, and clean it annually.


Common problems with Stucco:

– Cracks in the surface

– Bulging from wall

– Separation from lath

Stucco is water resistant and weatherproof, but is permeable to water vapor to let moisture escape from the wall. If water does penetrate the stucco finish through cracks or there is moisture buildup in the wall, stucco can deteriorate. Watch for defects in gutters and downspouts, flashings, and drip edges that cause water to leak down behind the stucco.

There is a number of reasons why Stucco cracks, framing members in the wall can shrink. Especially at the floor levels where there tends to be the most shrinkage. Vertical and horizontal cracking can take place when there is foundation settlement. Cracks in random directions can appear during the curing of the stucco. These types of cracks may be hairline cracks in the outer surface only or be deeper, involving the undercoats as well. It is very important to seal the cracks, and have them repainted, otherwise water and moisture will seep in the cracks. It is recommended to have a stucco contractor to take a look at it.

Stucco can become detached from the wall due to trapped moisture. Bulging and sagging can be a sign of it. Often, homeowners will paint stucco after repairs are made using an impermeable paint. Stucco paint should be a permeable masonry paint which allows moisture to escape.

Brick exterior walls

Common problems:

– No weep holes for veneer brick

– Mortar joints crumbling on older brick structures

– Brick pulling loose from walls

– Spalling

– Cracking

If your siding is brick veneer you should be a aware of weep holes. Your wall will have an air space of about 1″ left behind the brick veneer to allow water passing through the brick to run down the wall. This water exits through the bottom row of brick through weep holes which are openings every foot or so along the bricks. You need to make sure that these holes are not clogged. Bowing, leaning, or distortion of the wall can be caused by mortar deterioration, interior framing problems, rafter spread, and foundation movement.

The most important thing to look on a brick veneer wall is detachment or separation of the veneer from the house. The brick ties can be improperly installed or can come loose. Sight along window and door openings where you might see the lean of detached veneer. A detaching veneer may have a decided bow to it or can show signs of cracking as it pulls loose and separates from the house. Spalling mostly happens to low quality bricks. When moisture enters the brick, and the moisture freeze, it is causing the brick to split or crumble.

Cracking in the wall can indicate foundation settling and movement. Step cracks on adjacent walls at a corner is a sign of footing failure at that corner due to soil weakness. Vertical cracks that run down to the foundation often signal settlement. Jagged, sharp edged cracks are an indication that movement is active. Distortion of the window framing can also indicate settlement of the structure. Are you having cracks above your window, that is most likely a sign of a rusted lintel. If the cracks are underneath the window it is very likely a settlement issue. Are you having any of those problems you would want to contact a contractor.

Composition boards

Common problems:

– Absorbs moisture if not properly protected.

You should pay particular attention to the condition of composition board and hardboard, as both are likely to absorb moisture if not properly protected. Boards can expand and bow out, causing a wavy appearance in the wall. They may be swollen at the edges and bottom from moisture absorption. The boards can swell, warp, and disintegrate. Repainting of hardboard siding needs to be done more often than wood siding due to the material’s lesser ability to hold paint.

Plywood siding

Common problems:

– Joints

– Improper distance from the ground

– Low permeability for water vapor

You should take a closer look at the joints for tightness, both vertical and horizontal. Horizontal joints are particularly vulnerable to water penetration and should have a flashing behind them or be scarfed rather than butted to prevent water from getting in.

Exterior plywood can expand and contract at different rates than the framing, causing joints to be pulled apart from the movement. Nails can be pulled out and panels can actually fall off. Relief joints may be provided to counteract this problem. Plywood siding has low permeability for water vapor and can absorb a great deal of moisture into the siding. The siding can easily warp if surface finishes are allowed to deteriorate. The distance from the ground should be 6″ – 8″.

Wood shingles and shakes

Common problems:

– Warping and cracking

– Buckling

Cedar, redwood, and cypress will weather naturally, but different exposures to sunlight and moisture causes uneven aging and coloring. Discoloration is not a problem, although some homeowners may be concerned when it’s uneven. Shingles and shakes may be stained for a uniform look and should be renewed periodically. They can also be painted, although once that’s done; they’ll always have to be painted.

Shingles and shakes can warp and crack from age. Shingles also cup and split when they’re not allowed to dry out. That is why it is important to cut off trees and plants that are shading ares of the siding, causing them to never be dried out.

Buckling shingles caused is by joints too tightly spaced, leaving no room for shingles to expand.