Canada, being a country of extreme weather – intense summer heat paired with blistery winters – faces unique challenges when it comes to materials for home building. All materials must be carefully chosen to withstand humidity and heat at extreme temperatures, as well as precipitation and severe cold.
During the winter months, the elements can wreak havoc on our homes, with so many different types of things to be conscious of. Things that would impact your siding (the protective barrier between the outside elements, and the interior framework of your home), include intense cold, winds, ice dams from gutters , flying debris, ice, moisture, hail, and salt.
A poor choice in siding can result in poor insulation (a cold house paired with high energy bills), siding that can’t withstand freeze and thaw cycles of nature, cracks and breaks. With each having their own effects when contact is made, the type of siding you choose should be one that works with the climate you reside in.
Within Canada itself there are so many drastically different climates, that the following siding materials should be chosen based on your needs specifically, with the underlying understanding in mind that you are choosing a siding that will withstand a harsh winter.
Commonly known as the most popular siding choice, vinyl is appealing because of its low cost and low maintenance. For those who prefer to live a lower maintenance lifestyle, vinyl is ideal. It doesn’t require frequent exterior painting, it’s easy to install, and it’s available in a wide range of colours.
Vinyl is also water resistant and sturdy. To clean, a good power-wash is all that’s needed to remove dirt, discolouration, mold or debris. The only caveats are to ensure it is properly installed. Although easy to do, if not done right, vinyl siding can buckle and contort. It can also get brittle after a few years, making it susceptible to cracks and breaks if it gets hit. But overall, it stands up well next to other popular options like brick, faring well in most Canadian climates.
With a high aesthetic appeal, brick is also durable and long-lasting, making it a very popular choice. If done right, brick siding will last the life of the building, and all that is really required for maintenance is an occasional wash-down with a hose. Coming with a higher price tag than some of the other options, brick withstands the elements with ease, making it an excellent choice for Canadians.
While not water-resistant, bricks are unique in that they don’t become weak when they absorb water, allowing them to maintain their durability and reliability. Salt is the only element that might weaken the brick and mortar, corroding it over time. For anyone who might live along a coastline or in an ocean-side area, brick might not be a smart choice.
A material that’s been around for quite some time, aluminium presides even vinyl. One of the major drawbacks with this material though, is the fact that it dents very easily. Because of higher ground level traffic, contractors sometimes choose to only put it on the second floor, rather than all around. Despite the fact that it can dent easily, aluminium isn’t as sensitive to weather fluctuations, like vinyl.
Because of its ability to retain temperature control better, energy-conscious homeowners often opt for aluminium. Providing an even larger scale of options when it comes to colours, aluminium siding holds its shade and finish longer than vinyl, and it can also be painted to suit one’s personal taste. Standing up very well to damp areas, this type of siding will last a long time.
Wood is classic and rustic, giving your house a timeless appeal. With the finish changing with the wear and tear of time, wood naturally weathers and ages gracefully. Wood siding can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some being vertical like board and batten, or horizontal like clapboards, shakes and shingles.
Shakes are installed in rows that overlap each other, making them extremely weather-tight and long lasting, especially when made from cedar. Clapboard siding is placed in vertical or horizontal rows in varying lengths. They often come untreated, making them easily susceptible to rot over time, so ensure that you have them finished or sealed (unless they are made from cedar or redwood, then just priming is fine).
The beauty of your wood siding doesn’t come easy though, as the maintenance is much higher than with other siding options . Things to think about are rot resistance, splitting, checking or cupping. Additionally, not all types of wood work for your climate, so choosing between pine, spruce, fir, cedar, and redwood can be a bit more limited.
Wood siding should most definitely be primed before installation, as this will prevent moisture from getting in behind the siding. If the wood isn’t sealed, snow removal from the surface will be an absolute necessity, even though not at all convenient. Moisture is extremely damaging to your home’s framework, and fixing it is very expensive. With the right installation methods and proper steps taken to ensure utmost protection, wood siding is a great option for Canadian homeowners, and one that will last the test of time.
Wood fiber is a wood-composite product, such as MDF or molding. When used in siding, it is made from wood fibers, glue, and other fillers. The product is then molded into clapboard and then textured like real wood, with options to be painted as well. A very cheap and easy to install option, wood fiber is available in a range of colours and makes for a good siding option for homeowners.
The downfall with this type of siding material is that the ends have to be sealed, otherwise moisture can cause swelling at the joints. Additionally, any bumps or nicks present in the surface can also cause this problem, making maintenance higher than what is ideal.
So, while the material and installation process is relatively cheap and easy, the long-term maintenance might not be. Not ideal for wet environments, wood fiber can withstand winter conditions, but won’t fare well if damaged.
Made to appear like wood or brick, fiber cement is easy to install. With similarities to wood clapboard, fiber cement siding cuts, nails and installs just the same way. Made up mostly of cement, this type of siding is fire and insect-proof, strong, and will not twist, warp or rot. Fiber cement also reflects and diffuses heat, meaning that in the hotter months, your home will be cooler, and in the colder months, your home will be warmer.
Fiber cement fares very well in fluctuating weather conditions, as the swelling of freezing and thawing won’t affect it. With the ability to hold paint longer than wood siding, your fiber cement siding will look cleaner and fresher for longer.