Tips to Maintain Your Siding in the Windy City
Anyone who lives in the tumultuous weather of the Midwest understands the importance of shelter. And for those lucky enough to shelter in a house, upkeep for said shelter is just as imperative. Many homeowners (and renters) worry about the inside of their house, such as appliances, but the outside is just as important! Roofing, siding, irrigation, and more can affect the life of your home. Did you know that with proper maintenance, siding can protect your home for up to fifty years? But improper upkeep can cut that time frame drastically.
Siding is one of your home’s top protectors. It is essential for maintaining structural integrity and exterior appearance. What some folks don’t consider is siding’s effect on energy efficiency. Just like insulation, your siding can affect how well your home holds temperature; if your siding is reaching the end of its lifespan, this can affect your heating and cooling as well. With Chicago’s Midwestern winters and summers, temperature control plays a big part in keeping you and your family safe. With this in mind, let’s take a look at maintaining your siding.
If you don’t know how old your siding is, it’s best to start with an inspection. You can call a trusted Chicago home siding installer to come and take a look at your siding. Based on their inspection, you may find you need new siding entirely. Don’t panic! Replacing siding is a fairly simple process— if a bit of a budget bender. Be sure to ask your inspector to document any damage; you may be able to file an insurance claim to help with the cost. Regardless, siding installers are used to working with a homeowner’s budget. They can help you make the best decisions for your wallet and home.
The installer can also help you understand the type of maintenance best for your siding. While the below are general instructions, siding comes in a variety of materials that may have more particular tips.
Top Four Steps to Protecting Your Siding
Cracks, holes, and pests– oh my! Surface damage to your siding can open a host of problems for your home, including water damage. Even concrete siding can be damaged, especially in strong weather. Many installers recommend inspecting your siding at least once a year, and insurance will often advise doing so after any storm event or impact against your home. Just like you would check your roof after a hailstorm, you should check your siding for damage.
Washing and Cleaning
Algae, mold, and dirt can affect the appearance of your home, but they can also affect your health! Vinyl, in particular, can quickly sprout black mold without proper maintenance, especially when humidity is high. To upkeep your siding, you should have it washed regularly. While some homeowners choose to do this themselves, others prefer to hire a cleaning company. If you rent, then speak with your landlord about which they would prefer— they may have a company they work with often to send your way.
Banging trashcans, scratching branches, clinging vines…external forces can be the biggest threat to your siding. Now, we’re not saying to get rid of everything around your home in a bubble, but it is a good idea to trim your bushes a good inch or so from your walls and keep an eye on those tree branches to ensure they don’t grow too close. Note that branches can be hazardous for roofs and windows, as well.
Painting When Needed (or Wanted)
Sometimes you just want a change. Others, there has been a scratch to the siding material that is just surface damage but still affects the value of your home. Before you find a painter— or buy the buckets yourself for some DIY time— make sure you know what material your siding is made of. Some paints won’t work on some materials, and you may have specific processes you need to follow. If you hire out the work, make sure the painter of your choice has examples of painting your material so that you know they have experience.
Any time you want to paint, be sure also to use a sealer. This helps add a layer of protection against water damage and chips or scratches.
An Ounce of Prevention…
If you are lucky enough to choose your own siding, there are steps you can take to help ensure your exterior lasts. For one, research your installers in depth to ensure your siding is installed correctly. A bad installation can easily shave off ten years of your siding’s lifespan. The material also matters.
Hiring a Trusted Chicago Installer
Home improvement projects like new siding can seem overwhelming, especially when researching installers. If your siding was damaged, start with your insurance; they have to deal with contractors often and may have recommendations. Next, it’s time to hit the internet. Reviews, websites, testimonies— these will help you pick the perfect installer for you. It’s important not to trust just the reviews on the installer’s website. Let’s be honest: contractors have businesses and want to paint themselves in the best possible light. Meanwhile, sites like Angie (prev. Angie’s List) and Google also provide a place for customer reviews so you can get a fuller picture. Home Improvement Blogs may also have suggestions for your particular Chicago neighborhood.
Selecting the Right Siding for Your Home
Once you have chosen an installer, work with them to determine what siding material will work best for your home. After all, the best siding for Chicago won’t match what’s recommended for Texas. One possible hiccup is if you are part of an HOA. You’ll want to check the by-laws (or just talk to the board) about any limitations they have for siding. Sometimes colors and materials are restricted.
Talking to Your Landlord
If you rent, your landlord will play the biggest role in choosing siding unless they explicitly give you control. If you have a good relationship with your landlord, don’t hesitate to reach out and discuss contractors or siding with them. They may welcome the assistance, especially if they aren’t local, and give more weight to your opinion on color and material.
By taking the above steps to protect and maintain your siding, you’re preventing a potential financial disaster. Overpaying heating and cooling bills or having to deal with water damage that seeped past a crack in your siding can drain your savings quickly. Start protecting your home today, so it can protect you for years to come.