Siding in Colder Climates

Siding in Colder Climates

If you are looking for new siding, cost, style, and color are probably the first three factors that come to mind. However, the elements should actually be at the forefront of your thoughts because you want to choose siding that is well suited for any type of weather. As we rapidly approach the official start of the winter season, it’s especially important to ensure your home’s siding is durable enough to withstand freezing temperatures.

Your home’s siding is the first line of defense against inclement weather conditions. Since we live in a climate that experiences very cold weather, it’s natural to have some concerns about the material you’re putting on your home. If they aren’t installed or maintained properly, any siding material can experience issues caused by the cold weather.

A primary concern when selecting siding for cold climates is insulation. You want to ensure that your siding can help keep out the winter elements that can drive your utility bills through the roof. Products like composite wood siding paired with rigid foam board insulation or premium insulated vinyl siding are made just for this purpose and create an excellent barrier against the cold. Most types of insulation used with these siding options are formed to fit perfectly behind the siding, leaving no gaps where air or moisture can infiltrate your home. Installing a rigid insulation board under the new siding will also reduce “thermal bridging” where cold temperatures can pass through conductive materials such as wall sheathing and more importantly, wall studs, causing considerable heat loss and discomfort.

Another concern most people have is the freeze/thaw cycle. In cold climates, any moisture that seeps into a material can freeze very quickly when temperatures drop. When water freezes, it expands, which can do serious damage to siding and the structure of a home. While most siding in good condition is fairly watertight, products like cedar wood that is losing its paint or mortar that has some cracks in it can become problematic because water can seep in just enough to freeze and expand. Composite wood siding and premium insulated vinyl siding are made up of elements that are water resistant. These products don’t absorb water, swell, or expand, so you don’t have to worry about how a freeze/thaw cycle will affect your siding over time. In addition to these products, the installation of a weather-resistant barrier, otherwise known as a house-wrap, will minimize moisture intrusion and ensure the materials behind the wall cladding remain dry.

Be sure your home’s defenses are up this winter with proper insulation and siding. Remember, even though the exterior style, color, and look of your home is important, protecting your home from the elements using high quality, durable materials should be number one on your list. Not only will new siding extend the life of the exterior of your home and increase curb appeal, but it can also save you money on your energy bills.



Siding Options and How to Choose Siding Colors

Siding allows you to add definition and color to your home. Nowadays, there are numerous options to help you create your desired look, and a great deal of consideration goes in to making an informed choice.

“While aesthetics are important, you will also want to consider durability, maintenance, and energy efficiency,” said Christopher Wittmann, CR, a NARI Certified Remodeler, Senior Sales Representative, and Exterior Product Specialist with Callen. “From a functional standpoint, siding offers protection. From an architectural standpoint, it is common to utilize an array of materials to highlight particular features on a home.” Keeping this in mind, Christopher provides an overview of the six most popular types of siding available today.

“Insulated and non-insulated vinyl siding has become the most popular choice for homeowners in the United States,” said Christopher. Available in horizontal, vertical, and shake-styles, vinyl can either retain certain architectural elements of a house or dramatically change the overall appearance. “Although the ‘plastic look’ of certain vinyl siding products deters some design professionals and homeowners, the wide selection of colors and styles and its low investment price explains the siding’s status. If energy efficiency is desired as part of the upgrade, insulated vinyl siding reduces ‘thermal bridging’ where energies can transfer through the siding and framing materials, reducing the thermal insulation properties of the building.”

Fiber-cement siding offers the natural look of wood, stucco, or shake. In addition, it’s fairly low-maintenance, non-flammable, termite and woodpecker-resistant, and typically lasts at least 25 years or more. “Available in a range of styles and textures, factory painting or finishes are highly recommended,” he said. “Since fiber-cement siding can experience moisture-related issues if not installed properly, special care is needed for certain areas on the house to ensure the materials remain sustainable.”

Engineered, composite wood siding has gained popularity through the years. Like fiber-cement, this product also shares some of the same characteristics. One of the benefits of composite wood siding is that it is more impact resistant than fiber cement and vinyl. It’s also light-weight and easy to install, which can lower labor costs.

“While more costly than vinyl or composite siding products both initially and long-term, wood siding offers a rich look and is quite durable when maintained properly,” said Christopher. When contemplating this option, note that it does require regular maintenance (painting or staining to prevent weather damage) and can be susceptible to insect and rodent attacks. Depending on maintenance, wood siding has a varying life expectancy, lasting anywhere from 10 to sometimes 100 years. “Wood siding comes in clapboard as well as shakes and shingles. Western red cedar and redwood are known for being attractive and durable and are considered the best choices if real wood is desired,” added Wittmann.

Callen Blog - Siding Options and Color 011617The final option is brick, stone, and stone-veneer siding. “Homeowners who prefer siding that adds texture and visual interest to their home are drawn to the natural beauty and durability of brick or stone,” said Christopher. Because brick or stone requires certain installation requirements and is more labor intensive, cost concerns should be taken into account. Brick or stone-veneer siding is more lightweight and less expensive than natural brick and stone and is available in both natural and synthetic materials. There are several styles available to help enhance a home’s curb appeal. If properly maintained, these options can last a home’s lifetime.

In terms of siding color, “Changing the color not only has the ability to affect how a person views their home, but it can impact the home’s value as well,” he said. If unsure about what siding colors to choose, Wittmann suggests contemplating the following questions to help in the decision making process:

  1. 1.  What is the neighborhood like? Although you may want to put your stamp on your own unique siding color scheme, you also want to consider your home’s location when making a selection.
  2. 2.  What is the home’s architecture style? The type of home can offer visual cues, but don’t feel restricted to these when it comes to siding color selection. “For example, although Colonial homes are notably painted in a single color (usually white), unusual accents can offer a subtle, yet modern twist to a classic scheme. If you live in a cottage or country style home, you may have more freedoms when it comes to siding color,” said Wittmann.
  3. 3.  How big is the house? A dark color may look diverse and rich, but when painted on the exterior of a mid- to large-scale home, it could seem gloomy and overbearing. On the opposite spectrum, colors that are too light may cause a smaller home to blend in to its surrounding landscape, preventing it from standing out. “Keep this in mind: lighter colors neutralize features that you wish to de-emphasize, while darker colors draw attention to places you want to highlight,” said Wittmann.
  4. 4.  What color is the roof? Although siding colors have a varying lifespan, a roof will probably last from 20 to 30 years. As a result, roof color should be an element considered when choosing siding colors. “If your roofing material is dark, you may want to utilize a lighter color scheme for your siding,” Wittmann said. “If you have a more neutral roof hue, this may give you a broader selection of color schemes from which to choose.”
  5. 5.  What landscaping style is in place or is planned? A contemporary landscape combined with a candy-colored exterior color scheme may not be the most complementary choice, especially in a conservative neighborhood. It’s just one instance of how landscape plays an important role when determining siding colors.
  6. 6.  What is the climate? The look of a particular siding color can change based on the weather. For instance, a siding color may look different on a sunny day than it does on a snowy afternoon. It’s considered a rule of thumb that the intense sunlight during the summertime makes colors feel brighter.
  7. 7.  How do favorite paint colors look at different times of the day? Apply sample swatches of the desired siding colors on different sides of the home and look at them closely in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Be sure to paint the swatches close to items on your home that won’t change color, such as brick foundations.
  8. 8.  Have you considered complementary colors? One siding color does not constitute a color scheme. A main hue requires lighter or darker accents. Choose two or three shades to update window trim, doors, and railings. “If you’re unsure, pick one complementary color that offers a bright focal point and one hue that’s a shade or two lighter or darker than your main siding color,” said Wittmann.


“Once you understand all the siding materials and color options and you’ve weighed the pros and cons of each, you are sure to make an informed decision that you can be confident in and proud of,” said Christopher.

For more information or to arrange an initial showroom consultation, call Callen at 414-529-5509.





Fall Maintenance Checklist

Changing colors, football games, and moderate weather – it’s hard not to love Wisconsin in the fall. Before it gets too cold outside, take advantage of getting your house in shape for the winter months ahead.

Callen Blog - Fall Maintenance Checklist 092815Exterior Maintenance

  • Check the foundation for cracks and caulk around the areas where pipes or wires enter the house and around window and door frames to prevent heat from escaping.
  • Install storm windows and doors.
  • Inspect the roof for missing or loose shingles.
  • Check the exterior walls of the house for chipped paint, which is a sign that it can no longer protect the siding of the building.
  • Clean out the gutters.
  • Weather-strip your garage to prevent drafts and keep out small animals.

Interior Maintenance

  • Schedule an appointment to have your furnace checked and serviced to avoid potential problems when you need your heat the most.
  • Test and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon dioxide detectors.
  • Check basement windows for drafts, loose frames, or cracked panes.
  • Clean your humidifiers to prevent bacteria growth.
  • Clean out your air conditioner to prevent rusting.

Yard and Garden

  • Rake the leaves from your lawn.
  • Prune plants and trees.
  • Organize your garage and clean and store your summer gardening tools.
  • Check to see that your snow equipment is up-and-running
  • Drain garden hoses and store them inside.
  • Turn off your sprinkler system.
  • Inspect and fill bird feeders.

Porch and Deck

  • Check the supports, stairs, and railings to make sure they can support someone when it’s covered with snow or ice.
  • Clean porch and deck furniture and store it in a protected area.
  • Empty soil from all pots and planters.

If you come across a problem and need assistance, call Callen at 414-765-2585 to schedule a no-obligation consultation for window or door replacement, gutter protection installation, roofing and siding updates, or any other service.



Fiber Cement vs. Vinyl: Which Siding is Best for Your Home?

Callen Blog - Fiber Cement vs Vinyl Photo 030915Choosing the best cladding material for your home involves many considerations, the most common of which are durability, maintenance, energy efficiency, and cost. Two of the most popular siding choices today are vinyl and fiber cement.

The Characteristics of Fiber Cement & Vinyl

In recent years, fiber cement has taken some market share from vinyl siding, which remains the preferred choice for exterior siding. Fiber cement is made from a mix of wood fiber and Portland cement, then formed into planks or shingles and cured at high temperatures. Many homeowners prefer the wide reveal, woodgrain appearance and sturdy feel of fiber cement siding in comparison to vinyl.

Vinyl is manufactured from PVC, a strong plastic resin that is not affected by moisture. Its color is part of vinyl’s composition. This means that vinyl cannot rot and requires almost no maintenance. Vinyl siding is lightweight and easier to install than fiber cement products, which usually translates to lower labor cost for the homeowner.

Fiber cement is highly durable – James Hardie® fiber cement siding is warranted to last 30 years with proper maintenance – but must be protected from moisture with paint. Although it holds paint better than wood, expect to repaint fiber cement an average of every 10 years. If adding to your home’s energy efficiency is important, insulated vinyl siding is the way to go. Manufacturers have introduced foam backed insulated vinyl siding such as Mill Run™ from Crane®. This type of vinyl siding has a layer of foam adhered to the back to increase the R-value of the walls.

When compared by cost, fiber cement is more expensive to install than vinyl siding, but in some instances – especially with insulated vinyl siding – the cost can be very similar. To learn more about the pros, cons, and costs of these types of siding, call Callen at (414) 765-2585. We install a full line of siding materials, including James Hardie fiber cement siding and trim, Mill Run insulated vinyl siding, Mastic vinyl siding, and CertainTeed polymeric decorative siding.

Callen is the exterior remodeling company Lake Country homeowners have trusted since 1986!