How to Care for Siding

Your siding is one of the very first things people notice about your home—but how often do you consider the importance of siding maintenance? Most people don’t think about maintaining their siding until they notice visible issues, such as the buildup of mold, mildew, and dirt, missing or broken pieces, or cracks or holes. And while it’s generally okay to wait until you see a problem to perform certain siding maintenance, there are some measures that should be undertaken regularly. It’s also important to understand how to maintain the different types of siding, such as vinyl, brick, and fiber-cement siding, as proper procedures vary. The good news is that your home’s siding is made to withstand the elements, and generally requires very little care compared to the rest of your home.

First thing’s first: Every type of siding needs to be protected from water damage, so it’s important to ensure your gutters and downspouts are in proper working order. It’s also good siding maintenance practice to keep trees, shrubs, and other vegetation trimmed back from your home’s siding.

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl is practically maintenance-free, but you’ll want to look out for cracked or broken siding on a regular basis and replace the damaged areas as soon as possible to prevent water from seeping under the siding. For the same reason, you’ll want to carefully inspect your siding and repair damaged areas BEFORE using a hose or pressure washer to clean your siding.

Vinyl siding maintenance generally involves a good cleaning once or twice a year to remove dirt and debris. You can use a pressure washer on vinyl siding, though it’s important to read instructions for the equipment before using it. When spraying, do not aim the nozzle upward—doing so can cause water to penetrate the insulation behind the siding panels. Instead, aim the nozzle straight ahead, using a tall ladder to reach high areas and working your way down the sides of your home. You can also use a soft cloth or long-handled soft bristle brush to scrub away tough stains. To clean specific stains that don’t come over during regular washing, it’s best to consult your manufacturer.

Fiber-Cement Siding

To understand how to care for your fiber-cement siding, you’ll first need to grasp the important role caulk plays. Caulk is used in areas where the siding meets trim, flashing, or other materials, and these areas are particularly vulnerable to water damage. This means it’s critical to check these areas once a year (and especially before washing your siding). If you notice any signs of deterioration, you’ll need to reapply caulk to the areas. James Hardie recommends using “permanently flexible” high quality, paintable latex caulk. Re-caulking helps to prevent water damage.

You’ll also want to regularly keep an eye out for damage to the boards themselves. If you notice cracks, chips, or peeling areas on the planks, contact your manufacturer to find out if the product is protected under warranty.

Fiber-cement siding requires regular cleaning just as other types of siding do. It’s particularly important to understand how to maintain fiber-cement siding, which can be damaged by aggressive cleaning measures. Do not use a high-pressure washer on fiber-cement siding, as the blast may damage the surface. A low-pressure washer or a garden hose will help loosen debris, and you can use a soft-bristle brush to scrub away tough stains. Clean your siding this way about once every six to twelve months. To clean specific stains that don’t come over during regular washing, it’s best to consult your manufacturer.

Brick Siding

Like vinyl and fiber-cement, brick should be cleaned with water at least once a year. Use a garden hose with a spray nozzle—not a pressure washer. If you see moldy or mossy areas, scrub them away with a natural- or synthetic-bristle brush. Wire brushes should be avoided, as they can leave traces of metal in the brick that can cause discoloration. You’ll also want to inspect the siding carefully and regularly for cracked or damaged bricks or mortar. Contact a bricklayer to assess and repair any damage that you see.

An Ounce of Prevention…

Whether your home has a vinyl, fiber-cement, or brick facade, understanding how to care for and maintain your siding will ensure it lasts—and looks good—for many years to come. While every type of siding is a bit different, the most important thing to remember is the importance of preventing moisture from damaging your siding and shortening its lifespan. If you skimped on siding maintenance in the past, and now you aren’t sure whether your siding already has water damage and needs to be replaced, contact us. We’ll be happy to come out and do a free assessment to determine how your siding is functioning. And if we recently installed new siding on your home and you have specific questions about how to care for your siding, just give us a call at 973-927-0963!