A House Siding Story, a Rant, and an Exploration of the Options

In Which I Ramble on About Walls, but Eventually Discuss House Siding, The Real Subject of the Article

Walls serve many functions. They support the roof, keep out the elements, and separate the space we call in from the space we call out. They hold in place the insulation that keeps us warm. They serve as a decorative backdrop on the inside. They add texture and definition to the outside.

Let us consider this last point, specifically the house siding we use to cover our walls. The aesthetics of our houses siding helps determine our attitudes toward the house. Like stripes on a dress it creates an illusion of what is contained within.

If all you want to do is to find out what I think about specific siding, click on one of these links below, otherwise skip and keep reading:

The Story

There is a house I sometimes pass on my journeys. Someday I will post a picture of it here. It has unusual proportions, a relic of its original purpose. It started out as a barn.

Part of its exterior is concrete block, but it is saved from an industrial appearance by the fancy masonry employed. It is no ordinary run of block. The rest of the house is covered in a siding that I found particularly appealing to the eye.

I was considering doing something different with my house, and I wanted to investigate what they had used. From the road I had the impression that it was some kind of fiber-cement siding with a stone look. I had even searched the internet trying to find something that matched what I saw. I finally decided to take a closer look on my next pass by the house.

I lucked out and the owner was in, and in a generous mood. She showed me the house and told me its history. I was surprised to find out that what had a stone-like quality from a distance was actually a rustic-looking vinyl shingle. In the narrow confines of a sub-division this would have been apparent. Down a country driveway the shingles lost their distinctive shape and what was left was only a general impression of texture. Whether planned or not, the effect was pleasing.

The owner had chosen well. Clapboard siding would not looked nearly as good. There where quite a few poor choices she could have made, and several other that also would have complemented the house. She had the taste to understand that what she chose had to work with the exposed block, the roof material and the houses unique profile.

The Rant

I think most siding these days looks pretty good. Most the times that I find siding that looks bad in and of itself it is a very old product, now discontinued, like the composite shingle siding they used to use back in the ‘40’s. Perhaps it looked modern then, but it looks awful now. However, most of that has long since been covered up. So what is my big rant about house siding in today’s world? Its really about uniformity, and it has to do more with choices than with product.

Go into your typical suburban development these days and you will find the same siding in two colors, or three shades of the same color. Perhaps that is an exaggeration, but you understand what I am talking about. A new home development has its issues, but most of them will go away with time. Trees will grow. People will landscape. The rough edge will wear away. The house siding, however, will remain the same.

So, if you are a spec builder, this is for you. Pflllth! That was a raspberry. Unless you are trying to reform, in which case I take it back.

The House Siding Challenge

What about the rest of you who aren’t builders? You still have time. If you are building a new house, consider your neighbors and consider your options. Find out what is available and choose something that your neighbors didn’t. Be considerate. Pink may bring out a welcoming committee armed with torches and pitchforks, but don’t be afraid to be the only house in the hood that isn’t taupe.

Consider texture. If its appropriate maybe a shingle will help you stand out. Or simply choose a material with a different texture to relieve the monotony of the neighborhood.

In conclusion I encourage you to be bold, but do your homework. You might start by checking out these options below:



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