Did you know that the average homeowner spends about 3% of their home’s value on maintenance each year?
The good news is, there are things you can do now to keep future maintenance needs from spiraling out of control and cut down on your costs.
It’s important to fix small problems before they turn into big problems, and if you’re looking into a remodel, consider maintenance and upkeep when making decisions about materials and products.
In either scenario, your home’s exterior is a good place to start—it’s the protection that stands between your family and the outside elements.
Caring For and Maintaining Exterior Siding
As a general rule, you’ll want to make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance and care of your siding, no matter what type of material it is. Keep in mind these additional tips for cleaning:
- Follow the manufacturer’s approved cleaning guidelines and products so you don’t void your warranty by using the wrong product or method.
- Be sure to wear protective eye-wear, clothing and gloves if you’re working with cleaning solutions.
- Clean your exterior by washing away grime and debris, rinsing your siding from the top down to the ground.
- When rinsing off your siding, spray clean water from the top of the siding and work your way down.
- Be sure to cover any landscaping around your house to prevent damage to shrubs or plants.
There are a few additional guidelines for cleaning your siding, depending on the material used.
Brick is a popular choice due to its classic elegance and reputation for being energy-efficient.
In many cases, you can get by with just hosing a brick home down about once a year. Aside from that, monitor shaded areas for mold or mildew growth.
If you do have mold or mildew, make a solution of one gallon of water and one cup of bleach, and scrub the area with a bristle brush (not wire). Be sure to rinse after scrubbing, and cover any shrubs and plants to protect them from bleach overspray.
While brick itself is extremely durable, the mortar holding the bricks together isn’t. When mortar starts to deteriorate, your bricks become vulnerable, which can lead to both interior leaks and damage to the brick itself.
Conduct regular inspections and repair any areas where mortar is soft, cracked, or missing. About every five to 10 years, you’ll need to remove all of the old mortar and replace it with new mortar in a process called repointing (sometimes called tuck pointing).
Wood is best known for its traditional appeal and its variety of looks and species. However, wood can be maintenance-intensive compared to other materials.
Just like any other type of siding, wood needs an occasional cleaning to look its best. Don’t use a pressure washer, though: wood siding calls for a gentler approach. One good option is to buy a garden hose attachment that includes a scrubbing brush—be sure to follow any manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning solutions.
A fresh coat of paint, stain, or varnish every few years is essential for warding off cracking, warping, and rot. Regular inspections are necessary for spotting insect and water damage early enough to prevent major problems.
Vinyl siding is known for being economical, low-maintenance, and coming in a variety of textures and colors. The low price point makes vinyl siding an attractive choice for homeowners who want to give their house a facelift without making a huge investment.
Vinyl siding lasts about 10-12 years, but it can last up to a couple of decades, depending on the quality of the siding and the climate where it’s installed.
Cleaning is easy: just spray it once a year with a hose or pressure washer to get rid of accumulated dirt as well as any insects or other creatures that have taken up residence in the cracks and crevices.
Pressure washing will also remove stubborn stains, mildew, and mold. Double- and triple-check to make sure all stains are effectively removed.
While vinyl siding is extremely durable, it’s not indestructible. Run-ins with lawnmowers, toys or balls, edgers, etc., can leave visible damage. It’s possible to patch up any damage, but if it’s extensive, you might need to replace the whole panel.
Siding that wasn’t properly installed can become loose over time, especially when exposed to frequent, strong winds or rain storms. It’s important to make repairs right away, before the panel becomes misshapen, and to avoid potential for water damage or decay.
Fiber Cement Siding
Fiber cement siding is best known for being aesthetically pleasing and low-maintenance.
Since it’s resistant to mold and mildew, fiber cement siding doesn’t require a lot of cleaning. Hosing off visible dirt will help your siding look like new for years.
Fiber cement also stands up to everything from termites and other insects to extreme temperatures. While routine inspections may not be as important as they are with other types of siding, fiber cement does need to be repainted every five to ten years. It’s a tradeoff: fewer small jobs in exchange for one big job every few years.
Repair any chips to prevent water infiltration. This will save time and resources in the long-run. It’s also important to check the caulking and replace when needed.
Steel siding is best known for durability and ease of maintenance. Steel can cost more upfront, but can last for up to 50 years. If you plan to be in your home for a number of years or are looking for a long-term solution, steel siding provides the best overall value.
Steel siding doesn’t need much in the way of cleaning: if you see dirt, hose it off.
Siding doesn’t come much more durable than steel, but it’s still a good idea to inspect your home now and then. Steel also stands up well to cold temperatures, so you don’t have to wait until spring to take action if you see the beginnings of an issue.
Different situations call for different solutions. Your local climate, budget, appearance, and maintenance requirements are all important factors in your decision—taking all of these into consideration will help you find your best siding solution.