Nov 2011 8

House Exterior Materials

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Materials by Lauren Manning Materials by Lauren Manning

Exterior home maintenance could become your nightmare if you don’t pick the right exterior finishing material. These materials are expected to both protect your home from any unwanted damage caused by the elements and give your home an attractive exterior.

Exterior protection depends on the level of external activity that can damage your house. The traditional enemies to protect your home from are rain, snow, and harsh temperatures. While rain and snow penetrating the defences of your house cause moisture damage, temperature changes have even greater potential for destruction, causing the building to lose its stability while it expands and contracts. In some parts of the country, the sun has an irrefutable effect — especially on the structural durability of outer façades.

It is crucial to pick the right material for your house. You have to take a great number of factors into consideration, such as the climate of your region and the accessibility and quality of materials. This article will help you pick the material that will best suit your house and answer some questions about insulation.

How to Approach a Renovation

If you’re thinking about exterior materials, you’re either buying a new house or you’re planning a renovation. Both have the same goal: to prevent the material from deteriorating and to improve the structural integrity of your house. Some failures, such as poor installation, might be caused by a human factor. These are very hard to prevent. The only way to do so is to make a background check on the firm that will execute all the installations. Other failures, like defective materials and components, are a much greater risk, and you need to be even more thorough when trying to prevent them. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation also published advice on how to make your housing healthy.

Exterior Materials Comparison


Vinyl siding by Mollystevens Vinyl siding by Molly Stevens


Vinyl is one of the most cost-effective materials on the market, this being one of the reasons for its popularity. A wide range of colour options and its high durability combined with its low cost make it one of the most popular options in Canada as well. It also comes in many different profiles (horizontal & vertical panels, traditional lap, Dutch lap, shakes, shingles, fish scales, etc.) Vinyl is also a low-maintenance material.


Vinyl doesn’t serve as very good insulation since it has to be backed with Styrofoam, and this lets the heat escape quickly. Another problem is that if one of the panels is damaged and you need to replace it, it might be quite hard to match the house colour since colours tend to wear out.


If you plan to install vinyl siding yourself, the cost may be as low as $1 per square foot. If you don’t have the means to do so and you need to hire a contractor, the cost may increase up to $2 to $7 per square foot. The average 1,800-square-foot exterior would cost between $3,600 and $12,600 to install.

Fibre Cement

Concrete by Joost J Bakker Concrete by >Joost J Bakker


Cement provides the very pleasing look of wood without any complicated maintenance and high prices. Unlike wood, it’s termite resistant and has a lifespan of more than fifty years, which makes it one of the most durable materials. The only problem that may arise is if you don’t install it properly and the moisture gets on the inner side of the fibre.


It has a slower installation time and higher cost than vinyl exteriors, and you have the professional installation option only since it is crucial to get it right. However, you need to close the gaps between windows and doors by caulking every year.


With a cheaper choice of materials, the cost of fibre cement varies between $4.50 and $9 per square foot, or $10 to $11 dollars per square foot for higher quality varieties.


Wood by Joost J  Bakker Wood by Joost J Bakker


Processes applied on wood nowadays can guarantee quite a long lifespan; even as the wooden exterior of your house gets older, it can only get more and more attractive and beautiful. Nowadays, wooden exterior materials are made from wood chips cooked with pressurized steam and refined into fibres. Resins are then added to bind the fibres and make the product stronger, and wax on the surface makes it water-repellant.


It is very hard to manipulate. To preserve it properly, you have to seal it with specially selected sealants. The maintenance is quite complicated compared to materials like vinyl or fibre cement. You have to be careful with what you put around the house when it has a wooden exterior. Your choice of decorations for a facade may damage it. Read more about it in an interesting article about how materials and facades affect each other.


It is best to look for the toughest hardwood you can find. This will, however, also affect the price of the material. The usual price range is between $4 and $8 per square foot.

Brick and Stone Veneer


Only a real expert can tell the real difference! Brick and stone veneer are a great choice when you want to combine stunning looks and lower price. They are approximately half the cost of natural stone and have even better qualities. They provided high quality insulation and durability. Both materials are also fireproof. They don’t require paint or staining of the house either.


Moisture can become a considerable problem since this type of exterior siding leaves a gap between two exterior walls. It is also more expensive than other types of siding. The cost really coincides with the quality of stone/brick authenticity.


Don’t be surprised by prices around $12 up to $15 per square foot! The price may vary according to the structural complexity of your house and the quality of material used.


Stucco by Christopher Hughes Stucco by Christopher Hughes


Easy to maintain, reasonably priced, and aesthetically pleasing, this type of exterior material has been very popular for many years in Canada. Stucco is very adaptable to climate change. It easily expands and contracts as the temperature rises and decreases without sustaining any damage. This type of material has up to fifty years’ lifespan and provides your house with fire resistance.


Unfortunately, even stucco is not stainless. It is very easily stained by water and dirt. This is a great disadvantage compared to other materials. If your foundations shift, stucco is very likely to crack.


If you decide to hire a professional to install stucco on your house for you, the average cost goes between $6 and $9 per square foot. The price may also vary according to the grade of stucco used.

For more exterior siding options, like wood clapboard, cedar shingle, seamless steal, aluminium, and cypress sidings, check or sites.

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