Siding is actually an important component of your home, what engineers call the ‘building envelope’

By Ian Harvey, Toronto Star

You probably spend more time fussing over the finish and paintwork of your car than the siding of your home – and that’s a mistake.

Your house represents a much more sizable investment and damaged siding can be a harbinger of massive repair bills.

First, your siding isn’t there just to look pretty. Sure, it adds some “fashion” sense and signature to your home, but it’s actually an important component of what engineers call the “building envelope.”

The envelope wraps around the skeleton structure like skin and keeps the bad stuff out and the good stuff in. Aside from wind and temperature, the most important job of the envelope is to stop water penetrating the structure because mould and rot usually follow.

Each type of siding product has a life cycle and is prone to damage from a host of factors including weather, age, ultra-violet radiation, knocks, scratches, dents, friction from tree branches and even accidents.

So it’s important to inspect and maintain your siding, says, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation senior researcher, Ken Ruest. He suggests taking a walk around the perimeter of your house periodically, inspecting the siding for damage, ensuring large trees aren’t banging against it, look for signs of failure and note what might need to be addressed at least once a year.

A good wash wouldn’t hurt either, though Ruest advises caution.

“Don’t use a high pressure washer because you’ll do more damage than good, and even with a hose, be careful what angle you’re spraying water from since the siding is designed for rain falling down not coming from the ground up and you don’t want to get moisture in behind it, ” he says.

From an esthetics viewpoint, he says, updating the siding is one of the fastest ways to change the entire signature of a home and instantly add curb appeal.

There are other reasons to change the siding too. One is that it’s reached the end of its lifecycle. Nothing lasts for ever.

Finally remember, the siding is but one component of an exterior finish. When you get quotes for the job, remember how you integrate the material with window and door treatments, shutters, gables, eaves troughs and soffits.

First published in the Toronto Star on October 20, 2011.

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