Author: Matthew R. Darden

Siding Options Home Owners Choose the Most

Siding Options Home Owners Choose the Most

If you want to make sure you’ll be able to pull the look of your property together, then you can only achieve it by going with the right siding material. With the right type of siding, you’ll be able to add a lot of definition and also color to your home and the good news is that these days there are many types you can choose to create an amazing looking facade everyone’s going to compliment you about.

But even though aesthetics are essential, it’s a good idea that you give some good thought to the material’s versatility, ease of installation, ability to resist water and of course, durability.

If you look at it from a functional point of view, siding gives you a lot of protection, while from an architectural point of view, people these days are using a lot of materials since this is the best way of highlighting special features on a property. For instance, a lot of people are using Western red and stone in order to highlight entries.

The 6 Most Popular Types Of Siding Countdown

6. Stone veneer and stone siding

Stone veneer sidingIf you want a type of siding that’s going to add visual interest and texture to your house’s exterior, then this type is definitely the one to consider. Keep in mind that stone is a lot more expensive though and if you want something cheaper and lighter, then stone veneer siding is the best choice you can consider. Maintenance is also minimal and in terms of cost, you’re looking at ten to thirty dollars per sq. ft. installed.

5. Stucco siding

Stucco SidingStucco siding is generally made form water, lime, Portland cement and building sand. Even though you can easily apply it to properties with stone and brick surfaces, it is very rigid, so you need to make sure that you install it carefully to reduce the chances of cracks. If properly installed, it can last a lifetime.

4. Fiber-cement siding

Fiber Cement SidingFiber cement siding looks very much like wood and masonry and it’s termite resistant, nonflammable and requires very little maintenance. You can also get it in a wide range of textures and styles, yet factory finishes or painting are highly recommended.

If you decide to use it though, you should know that fiber cement siding is prone to moisture related issues, yet resistant to fire. Other than that, it’s price per sq. ft. installed ranges between six and twelve dollars and it can last between two and a half and five decades.

3. Brick siding

Brick Veneer SidingGenuine brick is made of clay and it generally comes in various textures and sizes. Most of the times, brick is found on English, Tudor, and Colonial cottage exteriors and provides a classic and amazing look that’s been used across the centuries. However, nowadays, it seems that brick siding is generally veneer built on the exterior of a property’s wood frame structure using mortar so that the bricks are held together properly.

One thing about brick veneers is that they can be easily penetrated by water, so in order to properly protect the structure, a membrane should be installed between the house and the brick veneer. If installed properly and under regular conditions, brick siding can last for a lifetime.

However, if you do want to install brick, you should know that this is going to take a lot of work, meaning that compared to other types of siding, the work is going to be on the higher end. In general, the price of brick siding ranges between six to fifteen dollars per sq. ft. installed.

2. Wood siding

Wood SidingWood siding is a popular choice for many people and it’s generally used for cottage exteriors, Cape Cod and bungalows because with little maintenance, it offers a durable and rich look that stands out. Keep in mind that maintenance wise, you’ll need to make sure that you paint and chalk this type of siding in order to protect it against the damage from the elements, but also against rodent and insect attacks. If you maintain it properly, then your wood siding can last anywhere between ten years and a hundred years.

Wood siding is available for sale either as shingles, shakes or clapboard. The latter make use of wooden planks which are installed horizontally by using an upper piece that’s overlapping the lower one. If you want to consider the best choices, then you should go either for redwood or western red cedar wood.

If you want something thinner, but without having to sacrifice appearance, then you can always consider using shingles since they give you that nice consistent and smooth look. If you want to add more visual interest to your exterior, they can also be cut into shapes as per your requirements. There are manufacturers that can also sell shingles which have been previously treated with fire retardant chemicals, so look for them if you live in a high risk area.

In terms of price, wood siding is going to set you back between five to ten dollars per sq. ft. installed. Staining and painting come at an extra cost.

1. Vinyl siding

Vinyl SidingVinyl siding is by far one of the most popular types of siding in the country and that is not only because it is simple to maintain, but it’s also extremely versatile. Even though the plastic look doesn’t seem to be everyone’s favorite, given the fact there are many styles and colors one can choose from is a solid enough reasons for a lot of people to get it.

The technology for making vinyl siding has changed very much in the last five years and what this means is that there are currently a lot of manufacturers who are competing to offer the best possible product out there.

In terms of installation, installing vinyl requires the use of only a few tools and the good news is that the majority of them can be found in home improvement stores. However, given the fact that making a mistake when installing it can be quite expensive in the long run, it’s best that you either watch online videos about how to install it, read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully or just hire a professional to help you out.

How to Choose the Right Window Contractor

How to Choose the Right Window Contractor

Comparing prices and looking at estimates is certainly not a good way to choose the right window installer in Chicago. To do this, you need to be patient and dedicate some time for researching online to learn more about the best such professionals in your area, their prices and other details that can help you take a great decision.

Keep in mind that a contractor worth hiring is someone that takes pride in his work and so should the salesperson that represents him or the company that he works for.

When talking to a salesperson, he need to:

  1. Know a lot about the types and number of projects the contractor completed.
  2. He should also show enthusiasm and pride when discussing other jobs.

Top 7 Questions You Should Ask Any Window Contractor Prior To Hiring Him

  1. Seven questions you should a window installer before hiring himWhat’s the company’s address and full name?

If you want to learn more about how long a company has been in business, then getting its name is the first step to achieve that. If you get a PO Box, make sure you also get the street address, too. It’s always better to go with a contractor that has an office in your area, since you’ll get better services and faster response times.

  1. What’s your workmanship warranty?

In general, contractor workmanship warranties are going to be for 1 year or even more sometimes. Keep in mind that even if you get a longer warranty, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be better in any way. Also, make sure that you get customer referrals and then call and ask a few people the following questions:

  1. Did the contractor perform his work in a timely manner?
  2. When asked for changes and info, was he responsive?
  3. Did you feel he acted in your best interest?
  4. Can you call the contractor trustworthy?

It’s very important that the contractor you plan on working with does indeed warrant his workmanship. However, keep in mind that it’s the manufacturer who is going to warranty the windows against manufacturing defects. As a result, there are going to be 2 types of warranties that protect your windows.

In general, issues regarding material or workmanship are going to show very fast. In this case, the near-term warranty that the manufacturer or contractor provides you with is a lot more important than other types of coverage. The good news is that even if you will experience issues after the warranty on the workmanship has passed, if the contractor is reliable then he is going to stand behind his work.

  1. How many years have you been in business?

The longer a contractor has been in business for, the better. If he’s been in business for less than 3 years though, then you may want to think twice before hiring him. But hey, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s bad at what he does. To double check any business, be sure to get as many references as possible. This way, you’ll have the peace of mind you’ve made the right decision when you’re finally going to decide on hiring one.

  1. Is the company insured?

Window contractor insuranceAny contractor worth hiring for your project should have workers’ compensation insurance and comprehensive liability insurance. How can you verify if the one you want to hire has both? Well, just ask for his certificates of insurance and inform him that you’d like these to be sent to you prior to the project’s inception.

If a contractor does carry insurance though, you need to keep in mind that their prices are also going to be a bit higher than what you can expect to get from others. Never hire a contractor that doesn’t carry insurance since if something goes wrong, then you’re going to be the one footing the bill, not to mention that you can also get in other types of trouble.

In general, there are quite a few reasons why some contractors don’t want to carry full insurance, including:

  1. They don’t stand behind their work.
  2. They cannot afford insurance premiums.
  3. They are new in the business.
  4. They operate as a self employed or partnership with no employees.
  5. They’re not a full time contractor.
  6. Are you going to provide references or referrals from past jobs?

It’s very important that you request for photographs of past projects the company has completed. If the contractors doesn’t have photographs, then you should consider requesting a list of ten names and phone numbers from recent clients over the past year. You don’t really need to call all of them though, but you do have the advantage of randomly picking the ones you want.

  1. Is the company a credentialed or licensed contractor?

This question asks whether the contractor you plan on hiring is licensed by your city or state. Keep in mind that licensing is not required in every state, but if the state you live in requires the contractor to have a license, then make sure he has one. Some cities also require that contractors have professional licensing. For more details on this, it’s recommended that you check with the local licensing authority.

It’s not uncommon to hear a few contractors you’ll talk to answer this questions by telling you they have a business license. Don’t be fooled by this though, since a business license is basically a tax requirement and it says nothing about the contractor’s competence.

There are many window manufacturers out there for instance that offer a wide range of programs to professional contractors which helps them establish them as an authority in their field. As a homeowner, you can view the credentials of contractors as a great indicator of their dedication, professionalism and knowledge to the construction trade.

  1. What’s your track record for dealing with client complaints?

Last but not least, it’s very important that you learn more about the way your contractor handles issues when they arise. In this regard, it’s best that you get a referral from a job that had one or more complaints. Ask if:

  1. The contractor’s license has ever been suspended and the reason behind that.
  2. The contractor lost one or more jobs due to court cases.

You should also learn more about whether the contractor had complaints filed against him by checking the BBB. If they did had disputes field against them, inquire about how they dealt with them to get a better idea of the contractor’s reputation.


What are the Benefits of Cement Fiber Siding Installation

One of the main attributes of cement fiber siding lies in the fact that it can easily mimic wood based siding materials and wood in general. On top of that, it also requires very little maintenance.

Unlike wood, you won’t have to worry about the color fading with the passing of time or rot as well.

What’s Fiber Cement Siding Made of?

Fiber-cement-claddingIf you were wondering what cement fiber siding is made of, then you should know it’s basically a combination of:

  • cellulose fibers
  • sand
  • cement

Since the fiber siding is made in layers it is available in a variety of exposures. Given the fact that it’s available in a wide range of textures and colors, it makes the material an incredible solution for those who want to adapt it to various architectural styles.

Here is a short Discovery Channel’s video that shows how the cement fiber siding is made:

A Great Choice for Harsh Climate

On the other hand, it could be that you’re living in a harsher climate, such as New England for instance and if that is the case, then you’ll be very happy to know that the cladding holds up a lot better compared to many other types of materials out there.

For example, the cement fiber material can easily withstand the effects of UV rays and it’s also resistant to rotting under salt spray. Many builders seem to use it in historic preservation areas where the use of any other external housing materials is not recommended.

Better yet, cement fiber siding can hold up paint extremely well and therefore ranks as a great choice for matching the amazing colors of historic homes.

Top Siding Types Cost Comparison

Currently, there are 3 main types of sidings you can choose from and each of them have their own pros and cons and are available for a certain price.

The least expensive of the bunch is vinyl siding which requires no or very little maintenance and can last between ten to fifteen years. Its durability is lower than that of fiber cement and it also doesn’t attract animals and insects.

On the other hand, it seems that cement fiber has all the benefits we’ve discussed earlier and it costs between tent to forty percent more than good grade vinyl siding.

However, the most expensive type of siding is definitely brick siding or natural stone siding. The main advantage of this type of siding is that you don’t need to worry about performing any maintenance throughout its lifetime. Unfortunately, when it comes to natural stone, it rarely really fits the style of standard properties.

In terms of affordability, it seems that cement fiber siding is somewhere in the middle. As a homeowner, the benefits will depend on the type of siding you consider, your region’s climate and the maintenance you want to consider.

At the end of the day, whether you want to get siding for a historic property or not, choosing the right siding materials is directly influenced by the style of your home. Therefore, take a very good look at it and then choose the siding material that you think will best complement it.


If your Wood Siding Requires Too Much Maintenance Do Vinyl Instead

Maybe you are aware of the fact the majority of homeowners are going to choose vinyl siding when updating their home exterior. There area a few reasons behind their decision:

  • vinyl siding never requires painting
  • it resists rot and insects
  • it’s very simple to install for DIY-ers and…
  • it’s also quite affordable

When it comes to using it in new constructions, it’s generally installed with a moisture barrier and rigid foam insulation over wood wall sheathing.

If you’d consider installing vinyl over old wood siding you don’t have to worry about removing wood first, you just might need to adjust the door frames and windows to compensate for that extra wall thickness.

Existing wood siding must be in serviceable condition

Existing wood siding must be in serviceable condition

Existing wood siding must be in serviceable condition

What that means is the existing wood siding cannot be falling apart, it needs to be properly fastened to the wall studs or sheathing, there should be no mold on its surfaces and if there are any bad, rotten boards, then they’re going to have to be replaced.

On top of that, you’ll also need to remove any trims like corners, wood and / or door trim so the only thing left are siding boards.

Furring Strips if Necessary

For your vinyl siding to be properly installed it needs to be applied against a flat surface. If your existing wood siding boards are either lapped or beveled, you’re going to need to use vertical furring strips spreader sixteen inches apart on centers. The space created between the strips should be filled with rigid foam board which is the same thickness as the strips.

Moisture Protection


House wrap under the vinyl siding

If there is no moisture protective membrane installed beneath the wood siding, one will have to applied before vinyl siding installation.

Polyethylene or other house wrapping material with similar characteristics tacked over the rigid foam and broad headed nails will do the job.

All of the house wrap seams must be sealed with a tape designed for this purpose.

Frame Width Adjustment

In order to accommodate a thicker wall, you’re going to have to adjust the door and window frames. For this, you need to assess the size of the vinyl panels, that of the existing wall and then add the thickness of any foam insulation.

To extend the depth of the door frames, windows any any other openings, you should make use of brick molding to accommodate the new vinyl siding panels.


Vinyl siding trim boxes

Proper flashing / trim boxes should be installed at any wall penetrations such as electrical receptacles, gas pipes, water faucets, remote water meters, etc. Those are available at a variety of colors to mach your siding.

Starter Strips

For a proper vinyl installation, starter strips are essential. Around the bottom of your home, make sure to snap a level chalk line approximately 1” above the bottom edge of the old wood siding. This is where a starter strip responsible for holding the bottom of the 1st row of vinyl siding should be secured. At the house corners, you should leave about a quarter of an inch gap and then proceed with driving nails in the middle of the nailing slots.

Utility Trim and J-Channel Installation

The vinyl siding panels are held in place by the j-channel strips and the utility trim has it place beneath the windows and as a strip at a top of all walls / right under the soffit. When it comes to the fastenings, keep in mind that all of them need to have room for expansion on both ends and nails have to be carefully placed in the middle of the nailing slots.

Snap Panels

Vinyl panels should be installed one strip at a time starting from a back corner of your property. To go about this, you’ll need to consider snapping the bottom of the 1st panel tightly into the starter strip and then push its end into the J-channel.

To ensure it’s level, you’re going to have to use a level and then use board headed nails in order to fasten it. Next, panels need to be overlapped from the front by approximately four inches. At each opening, corner or end, you need to also leave a gap of a quarter of an inch.

Differentiate Seams

Starting a second row is easy and you need to use a shorter section of a full panel to do that so the seams of each row are not aligned. Use a power saw, a utility knife or any other tool you can in order to cut the panels to the required size so they fit around the windows, doors and other openings. To ensure the panels are level, each row needs to be carefully checked with the level.

Use Lugs at Tops and Windows

Lastly, the panels should be fastened at the wall top and under windows by using a snap lock punch. To fit the punch lugs and the space the panel should then be carefully cut lengthwise and the lugs pushed into the utility trim.

It wasn’t that hard, wasn’t it? This video below shows the entire process of vinyl siding installation, although, it isn’t over the wood siding. However, except for a few items at the beginning of this manual everything else in this video applies. Enjoy!

Picks and Tips for House Replacement Windows

frosted window

Frost covered window

It’s really not rocket science to assess when your house windows require some repairs or replacement. Frost is present on the interior layer of the glass during the cold season, water damage can be clearly noticed and you can also see the drafts blowing the curtains.

While all these things are very apparent, what’s more difficult to ascertain is the type of windows you should get and the proper installation method to consider for installing them.

In general, you’ll find that there are 3 types of replacement options you can use, including complete unit replacement, frame and sash, or just sash replacement. As expected, there are positive as well as negative aspects of each of those methods.

Window sash replacement

Window sash replacement

Sash Replacement

If the opening is still true and square, the windows has no signs of water damage and its frame is also in good standing, then sash replacement is a solid choice to consider. This method basically involves removing parting stops and old sashes in order to install new jamb liners.

Since the majority of replacement sashes are going to be compression fit into the liners, installing them is going to be a breeze. If you want to improve energy efficiency without breaking the bank, then this is probably one of the best methods you should consider.

On the other hand, performance is not going to be as great as it’s the case with the other 2 options. On top of that, the look may make the sash and frame look bulky.

Sash and Frame Replacement

This type of replacement is a good choice if air leaks through the frame and sash, if the windowsill shows signs of damage or moisture and if everything else is still in great shape. Usually, one unit will be fit into existing jambs and against the external or internal stops.

After that, it’s going to be either nailed or screwed into the jambs. While out of the 3 options available this is the priciest, there are still a lot of homeowners who get them since it helps them save a lot of money in labor cost. On top of that, compared to a simple sash replacement, this particular option can dramatically minimize the daylight opening.

Full Window Unit Replacement

As you can already imagine, this means that you’ll need to get a new window with new insulation, caulking, sealants and of course, flashing and it’s the best option to consider if your openings or windows are severely damaged or compromised.

Entire window unit replacement

Entire window unit replacement

Since it requires removing old trim and casings, this project is responsible for causing major disturbances to external and internal finishes and siding. Whilst it’s obviously a very invasive method, it does offer the best performance compared to all other options.

If you’re currently looking for the right windows for your house, it’s recommended that you consider these essential areas:

  1. Tilt sashes for easier maintenance and cleaning.
  2. Easy to use and smooth sashes.
  3. Locate the weep system and make sure it’s going to drain moisture outside the specific siding system where it’s going to be applied.
  4. All mechanisms and hardware are properly attached and rugged.
  5. Installation aids like jamb liners and adjustable screws to fine tune the squareness of the frame.
  6. Caulking should play mostly aesthetic role and flashing be responsible for proper water shading.
  7. A rugged frame with many chambers for proper thermal resistance and support, but also reinforced corners (completely welded on vinyl units).

Accessories such as snap in screens or grilles and between the glass blinds need to be very durable. On top of that, it’s recommended that you get the best possible windows your budget allows you to get, regardless if this means you’re going to have to do an entire house replacement in 2 or 3 stages instead of all at the same time.

Framing Options

There are a few options you can consider when it comes to framing, such as:

Aluminum clad:

The most maintenance free of all materials. Aluminum exteriors can be painted in any color, while the wood exteriors can be stained to the color of your existing decor. However, for those living in coastal areas, aluminum clad window may not be the best choice due to salt saturated air.


A great choice for those who appreciate classic approach, yet it’s a bit pricier than vinyl. Can take any color or stain, it’s available in many species and requires good maintenance.


It’s a lot pricier than vinyl or wood, but has great durability. Faux wood grains are available, it can be painted in any color you want and requires no maintenance.


The main positive attributes of a vinyl window are that it’s maintenance free and very affordable. It’s generally available in light colors. Although you may be able to order dark colors from some manufacturers, we do not recommended do to deformation issues when exposed to sunlight for extensive periods of time.


House Remodeling Projects

First impressions are everything in the world of real estate, and if your home is starting to look a little tired, it might be time for a little help from a contractor you can trust with all your home improvement needs

Replacement Window installations
House Vinyl Siding
Kitchens & Bathrooms
Patio Rooms
House Additions

Installing only top of the line windows because customers demand beautiful results. Some of the most popular brands are Harvey and Anderson Windows. Both have high reputations of quality and customer satisfaction, so not only will they beautify every room in your home, but will also provide low maintenance up keep and quality performance. They are sure to please you and every room in your home.

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding has many advantages, but perhaps the biggest advantage of vinyl siding is its low maintenance. Vinyl siding provides all the beauty of wood siding, but will never warp, chip, split, or need new paint. Vinyl siding is constructed to withstand the elements of even the harshest environments so your home will look its best in rain, snow, or sunshine.


It happens to the best of us, we turn around one day and discover that many rooms: kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom we once loved is tired and ready for a redo. Kitchens and bathrooms are the most used and abused rooms in a house, so it’s no wonder that over the years the kitchen and bathroom begin to wear down and need to be replaced. When you notice that your kitchen or bathroom is ready for a major overhaul, trust the experts here at McNeil to help you every step of the way. We can help you plan the kitchen of your dreams with top of the line products and beautiful design. Our bathroom specialists will help you design a space that will not only be functional, but also tranquil.

When considering an addition there are plenty of rooms that might be included. Some families go with a simple bathroom or kitchen addition to add functionality to their home, while others opt for a patio room addition that offers more space and light.

House remodeling by Ashton Kutcher

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