If you are like many of our customers, practicing sustainability is an integral part of your lifestyle.
You may need to replace the siding on your home, but first, you want to find out if any types of exterior siding are good for the planet.
It turns out there are many factors that determine if a siding is eco-friendly, and they are available if you know what you’re looking for.
This guide will explore the most “green” sidings and explain what makes them that way.
Table of Contents
- What Determines Eco-Friendliness When It Comes To Siding?
- Where It’s Sourced From
- The 5 Most Common Eco-Friendly Siding Options
- #1: Vinyl Siding
- #2: Fiber Cement Siding
- #3: Sustainable Wood Siding
- #4: Metal Siding
- #5: Stucco Siding
- Is Hardie Board Eco-Friendly?
- Why Is It Important To Use Eco House Siding?
- Not Sure if Any of These Eco-Friendly Siding Options Are Right for Your Home? Elite Home Exteriors NW Can Provide a Free Consultation and Estimate to Help You Decide
What Determines Eco-Friendliness When it Comes to Siding?
There is a lot of talk about which things are environmentally friendly these days, but what does that mean with regard to home exteriors?
All types of siding take energy and natural resources to produce, creating waste at the end of their life cycle, so the trick is to find materials that have less of an impact on the earth overall.
Here are five main factors that will tell you if a siding is eco-friendly. Let’s look at each one in-depth.
There are several questions we can ask concerning home siding materials in order to find the most eco-friendly option:
- What is the siding made of? You don’t want to put materials on your home that might contain toxins. Remember all the trouble caused by asbestos siding in the past.
- Is it biodegradable? After your siding has outlived its useful life, will it be difficult to break down or stick around in a landfill for years to come?
- Is the material man-made or does it come from nature? In this case, one isn’t necessarily better than the other. For instance, wood siding is natural, but an entire acre of trees may be cleared to create it. Consider the source in combination with other factors.
If the material you use — such as natural stone — is…
- Heavy; and/or
…it will take a lot more energy to install, thus it is not the most sustainable siding.
The best sidings are those that will insulate your home to prevent lost energy through excessive heating and cooling. This will not only save you money, but it’s also better for the environment.
Using siding that comes from recycled or salvaged materials is an excellent start in being more environmentally friendly with your home renovation project.
You will also want to know if any leftover materials from the project can be reused in different ways.
Where It Is Sourced From
If your siding materials have to be transported across the country before they get to you, the fuel used will create quite a large ecological footprint.
Using locally-sourced siding is a greener choice when it comes to energy usage.
The 5 Most Common Eco-Friendly Siding Options
Considering all the above factors, what will be the best siding in creating an environmentally-friendly home? Here are your top options.
#1: Vinyl Siding
- The material itself is highly recyclable.
- It has a long life, thus eliminating the need for replacement materials.
- There is little to no manufacturing waste in its creation.
- Its lightweight nature makes transportation more efficient and installation less labor-intensive, which saves energy.
- Insulated vinyl siding reduces home energy costs by retaining heat or cold as needed.
In this case, the good seems to greatly outweigh the bad.
#2: Fiber Cement Siding
Another green choice for your home’s exterior is fiber cement siding. Here are some of its environmental benefits:
- It generally lasts even longer than vinyl, so not as much energy is needed to create a new material to go in its place.
- It is also extremely low maintenance, so energy won’t be wasted on cleaning and repairs.
- Fiber cement gets high marks for sustainability. Unlike regular cement, its production doesn’t require a lot of water. Its creation relies on recycled materials and consumes fewer resources.
- The versatility of fiber cement is beneficial to the environment because builders can achieve many different looks while using fewer materials.
- It is made up of neutral components and not toxic VOCs.
One negative of this type of siding, at least in the case of Hardie Board, is that it is more expensive than vinyl.
#3: Sustainable Wood Siding
Since wood is a renewable resource, it seems like a naturally eco-friendly choice. But chopping down trees to create your siding creates a larger environmental footprint.
However, there are still ways to get the wood look you want without deforesting the earth.
One type of recycled house siding that will achieve this look is reclaimed wood, such as barn board.
You can also create a wood look using vinyl or fiber cement siding, whose environmental benefits are listed above.
On another note, if you insist on using new wood for your project, make sure it is as locally sourced as possible to reduce energy use in its transport.
New cedar siding can also run on the pricey side, so consider that if budget is a factor for you.
#4: Metal Siding
You may not automatically think of metal siding when you’re considering environmentally friendly materials for your home. But it can be a good green choice because it is most often created from recycled materials.
However, not all metals are created equal. Steel is a much better alternative than aluminum when it comes to recyclability.
Some negatives with steel siding, however, are that it:
- Can become chalky over time
- Can rust
- Is heavy and difficult to work with; and
- Is a poor insulator, which would lead to greater energy costs.
#5 Stucco Siding
Stucco siding is considered to be an eco-friendly construction substance because it consists of all-natural materials, such as:
- Lime; and
- Portland cement.
Stucco can be made even greener by leaving out the cement and replacing it with lime plaster, which reduces greenhouse gasses while producing a product that is just as durable.
Since stucco is brittle, it can crack over time, especially as a foundation settles. So consider the age and condition of your home if you want to use this type of siding.
Is Hardie Board Eco-Friendly?
Hardie Board is fiber cement siding that is popular because it is designed to mimic the look of real wood with less maintenance, better wear, and a long life. Since it contains crystalline silica, great care must be taken when working with this material.
Although it is a harmless mineral, building practices such as drilling, high-speed cutting, and abrading can release fine dust that can lead to health hazards such as silicosis and lung cancer if inhaled.
Why Is it Important to Use Eco House Siding?
Going green gets a lot of hype these days, but there are concrete advantages to using environmentally friendly building materials. Using eco house siding can help you in several ways.
Reduce Environmental Impact
Using energy-efficient, renewable, or recycled materials will lessen your influence on resource use and pollution.
A green home…
- Is energy-efficient and thus creates fewer carbon emissions
- Keeps trash out of landfills; and
- Eases the burden of new construction on the world’s finite resources.
Using the right eco-friendly materials can save construction time.
Buying locally-available materials when possible…
- Supports small businesses
- Keeps money in the local economy; and
- Reduces your carbon footprint by minimizing fuel used in shipping.
Using recycled or reclaimed materials can save money during construction.
Long-lasting alternatives also keep waste out of landfills while saving money that would have been spent on repairs or renovations. By using eco-friendly siding options, you can save up-front and long-term.
Protect Your Health
Many traditional building materials have components that can lead to wellness issues.
Some of the problems with such materials are…
- Exposure to volatile organic compounds such as carcinogens, irritants, or toxicants
- Moisture buildup, which can lead to mold and mildew problems; and
- Outdoor pollution issues.
As the number of landfills in the United States has risen to well over 10,000 and our oceans continue to choke with plastic, it has become apparent that each of us needs to do our part to reduce waste in whatever ways we can.
Choosing recyclable and sustainable building materials may not be choices we make often in life, but they have a great impact when we do.
Did you know that more than 1 billion pounds of vinyl are recycled in the United States and Canada each year? Just think of the impact that amount of material would have if manufacturers hadn’t created the technology to reuse it.
As more and more companies work toward zero-waste manufacturing, we can begin to feel more comfortable in our choices as consumers.
These factors should be enough evidence to convince you that looking for the most environmentally-friendly siding options is an important use of your time.
Not Sure if Any of These Eco-Friendly Siding Options Are Right for Your Home? Elite Home Exteriors NW Can Provide a Free Consultation and Estimate to Help You Decide
You are probably relieved to learn that there are so many environmentally-friendly siding materials that can help you keep your carbon footprint small. We’ve laid out the benefits of vinyl, fiber cement, wood, metal, and stucco siding; but maybe you still aren’t sure which is the right one for you.
We are highly trained to install each of these types of siding to make your home look its best — and are ready to help you decide which styles and colors will fit best with your home’s aesthetic and your budget in your home renovation plans.
Contact us at Elite Home Exteriors NW and we will schedule a free consultation, then give you estimates for your project. It is possible to stay green and make your home look fantastic at the same time.