Siding, Stucco, Brick, and Stone

Since the material on the outside of your home should have visual appeal as well as long lasting durability to protect the structure and interior, consider the advantages and disadvantages of: Wood (lumber) Siding, Vinyl Siding, Fiber Cement Siding, Cedar Siding, Stone Walls, Stucco Walls, and Brick Walls.

Choosing the right building material for the outside your home is one of the most important aesthetic decisions you will have to make, when building or remodeling your dream green home. The exterior construction material you chose determines the outward appearance of your home. Whether it be siding, stucco, brick, or stone, make sure you pick something that fits in with your style; and something that looks natural on your landscape. For each aspect of home design and remodeling, you can also strive to make choices that are 1) Functional, 2) Stylish, 3) Cost-Effective, and 4) Environmentally Sustainable. These are four key guiding principals in the GREENandSAVE strategy. You will find that in certain cases, one or two of the criteria take precedent over the others. However, as you review the home improvement options that are right for your home, you may be surprised to learn that reaching all four is more achievable than you thought.

Selection Tips:
In choosing an exterior building material for your home, make sure you consider using local materials, and chose a material that will blend well with your surroundings. If you live in a highly wooded area, lumber could be an obvious choice. If you live in a rocky, mountainous area, maybe you should consider building with stone. Suburban homes tend to lend themselves easily to siding options, which can be done using vinyl siding, fiber cement siding, or even cedar siding, for that ‘woodsy’ look and feel. And stucco is a popular choice, mainly in warmer climates, by the ocean. It all comes down to your personal preferences. Plus, if you choose an exterior building material that is abundant in your local area, it will not only cut down on transportation costs, but it will also cut down on the greenhouse gas emissions associated with its transportation. The most important things to look for in environmentally friendly exterior home building materials are: 1) Durability, 2) Weather-Resistance, 3) Local Accessibility or Abundance in nature 4) Ability to Regenerate or be Reused or Recycled Quickly, 5) Low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds that release chemicals into the air), and 6) Microbial Resistance.

This overview covers: Lumber, Vinyl siding, Fiber cement siding, Cedar siding, Stone, Stucco and Brick

Material definition: Standard cuts of timber wood that have been sawed or split into boards or planks to be used in building construction. Tips for selection: Look for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood products, to ensure that your wood comes from a responsibly managed forest. Responsibly managed forests are forests which harvest trees to be environmentally sustainable. Every time a tree is cut down for lumber, a new tree is replanted in its place, to regenerate the forest and never deplete it. Another option is to use wood that is made out of a high percentage of recycled materials.

  1. Highly abundant
  2. Can be found locally
  3. Natural look and feel

  1. Must be treated with flame-retardant and water-proofing products.
  2. Requires extra added insulation for optimal temperature control.

Vinyl siding HIGHLIGHTS:
Material definition: A siding material composed of resin compounds made of plastic concentrate. Tips for selection: When choosing vinyl siding for your home, the thicker the panel, the better. Thicker panels work better for temperature control, and can increase the energy efficiency of your home by reducing heating and cooling costs.

  1. Little-to-No maintenance required
  2. Won’t dent, warp, or crack in extreme weather conditions
  3. No scraping, painting, patching, or replacing necessary

  1. Made out of plastic, which is not the most environmentally friendly building material
  2. Lighter colors tend to fade over time

Fiber cement siding HIGHLIGHTS:
Material definition: Fiber cement siding is a durable mix, comprised of cement, sand, and cellulose fiber for construction building materials. Tips for selection: Try to select a type of fiber cement siding that is made of close to 90% cement and about 10% sand and cellulose fiber. The higher the percentage of cement in the siding, the more resistant your fiber cement siding will be to not only weather, but fires, and even pest problems as well.

  1. Super durability
  2. Naturally weather, fire, and pest resistant
  3. Looks and feels like real wood

  1. Not highly recyclable
  2. Product does not exist in nature

Cedar siding HIGHLIGHTS:
Material definition: Coniferous, fragrant wood that is cut into planks or boards to be used as a building construction material. Tips for selection: When choosing the type of cedar wood siding that is right for your home, make sure that your cedar siding comes with flame-retardant chemicals ‘baked’ in to the wood. Some companies use heat and pressure to compress these chemicals into the wood, which is a good idea when building with otherwise highly-flammable substances.

  1. Naturally resists decay
  2. Does not absorb as much moisture as other woods
  3. Very good at retaining its beauty over time

  1. Highly flammable without flame-retardant
  2. Needs additional insulation

Material definition: A hard, natural mineral substance formed as rock, and quarried into a particular size and shape to be used as a building material. Tips for selection: Make sure that the stone wall building materials you select for the exterior of your home have been built in a way that reduces pollution.

  1. Enduring life cycle
  2. Abundant natural resource
  3. Low maintenance

  1. Heavy
  2. Can look weathered over time

Material definition: A building plaster comprised of cement, sand, and a hydrated lime-and-water mixture. Tips for selection: When selecting a stucco finish for the exterior of your home, make sure that there is water and vapor-resistant building paper layered in with the plaster when it is being applied. This will ensure that it will never rot or produce fungus, and it will also improve the indoor air quality of your home.

  1. Durability
  2. Breathability
  3. Versatility in design

  1. Not good for extreme exposure to water
  2. Better for warmer, more temperate climates

Material definition: Blocks of hardened, sun-dried or kiln-baked clay, used for building materials. Tips for selection: Brick is available in a variety of non-fade colors, so make sure you choose the shade of brick that is right for you. If the time comes when you want to change the color of your brick home, brick can be painted over, but it takes many coats to do it right.

  1. Great insulator
  2. Blocks outside noise
  3. Sturdy and durable

  1. Not breathable
  2. Difficult to replace

The right home improvement products, techniques, and services:
Contractors, home improvement stores, and specialty shops in your area may not yet have a complete familiarity with the ‘green’ opportunities, products, system integration, and overall savings potential. So, you may get some resistance, since people in general are typically more comfortable recommending something that they are already familiar with rather than something new. To help break the inertia, use the information across this website like our Return on Investment Master ROI Table. Also feel free to post a question in our forum on the message board about a particular need for your home relative to your area. Our team has spent multiple years aggregating research from public and private sector performance reports and from manufacturers and homeowners across the country in order to provide you with the perspective you may need to see the initial payback and long term advantages. Environmental enthusiasts and leading institutions like the American Institute of Architects and the National Association of Realtors, see the value and link into our resources to support their members.

The Green Home:
For your overall home improvement, you can save money, improve your family’s health, and save the planet. Find out for free how much it will cost to do different types of home improvement in your home from a qualified and member approved contractor in your area. Get a FREE Quote . Plus, regardless of the size and scope of your home improvement project, save money and keep your home clean with the top rated chemical free and concentrated Green Home Cleaning Products.

Home Improvement Basics:
When it comes to home improvement basics, look for interior home improvements like creating a clean, safe, and healthy home through sustainable ‘green’ furniture, home décor, zero VOC and Interior Paint, plus ENERGY STAR Appliances and Electronics. For energy and utility savings you can focus on insulation and air sealing, windows, doors, lighting and skylights, water saving plumbing opportunities, and high efficiency heating and air conditioning systems. On the outside of your house, look for exterior home improvement opportunities through landscape design and gardening plus solar energy, wind and other power sources. If you are undertaking a major home renovation, an additions, or building a new home, then take the lead to ‘go green’ in as many ways as possible to save money and the environment.
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