Part 2: Types of Siding
Thanks to having several years of experience selling real estate in the greater Lake Norman area after 15 years selling in California, I can not only tell you exactly what to look for regarding earthquake safety (okay, not terribly useful here) but now I can also explain the benefits and shortcomings of different types of siding, how to mediate moisture in your crawlspace, what levels of radon are considered acceptable, how to test septic systems, private well-water and what to do if your double-pane window seals break.
Part 2 of this series will focus on the types of siding commonly found on homes in the Lake Norman area.
I must admit, we didn’t even use the term “siding” in California and I was really shocked to find out they used vinyl rather than real wood for not just siding but shutters and even deck railings. But, that was before I fully grasped the importance of controlling moisture in and around our Lake Norman homes.
Siding: Siding is simply the material that covers the exterior of a home. In the Lake Norman area, you will find
- All Brick (veneer or full)
- Stone (veneer of full)
- Stucco (hard coat or synthetic)
- Fiber Cement
- Any combination of the above
Briefly, brick is durable, never needs painting and is quite popular here. It is one of the most expensive siding options so if you are buying new construction or building a new home plan on paying an additional amount for all brick or even partial brick exteriors. When we first moved here in 2005 brick was extremely popular however there is a move now towards a more Craftsman look using a combination of shingles, planks and even stucco.
Vinyl was completely new to me but is extremely common here in Lake Norman homes. I was shocked when I discovered that this siding, which I thought was wood from far away, actually feels like plastic as do their companion shutters. Vinyl is very low maintenance, cost effective (affordable!) and common in the lower to middle price ranges of homes in Lake Norman. There are many different grades of vinyl siding. See The Pros and Cons of Vinyl Siding
Stucco is both good and bad and inspires lots of controversy. This is because of a product called “synthetic stucco” or EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems). In 1996, 90% of homes tested in Wilmington NC that were clad with synthetic stucco were found to have high moisture levels in the wood components of the walls. As you learn quickly living in Lake Norman, high moisture levels can lead to the damage of wood and mold. Since this discovery, the use of synthetic stucco plumetted and now builders use primarily “hard-coat” stucco. You can usually tell if a stucco is hard-coat by the existence of seams.
There are companies that do elaborate testing of stucco homes to determine if there are any high readings of moisture behind the walls. The key is to keep all areas around windows, chimneys etc. sealed properly so that moisture can not seep in. For more information go to the North Carolina Department of Insurance and select Engineering and Codes, then NC Building Code Council and finally Exterior Insulation Finish System. Or, the EIFS Industry Members Association , or The EIFS Alliance. By North Carolina law, Sellers may disclose the existence of synthetic stucco and listing agents must disclose it. I have a great stucco expert who can inspect and provide a very comprehensive report about existing synthetic and hard-coat stucco.
There are also some very popular cement fiber sidings that look similar to vinyl but are more durable and more expensive. Hardieplank is highly recommended by contractors. It is a fibrous concrete that termites can’t eat, is impervious to moisture, comes in different colors but can be painted.
Wood is most common in older homes and higher-end custom homes but is not used extensively in new construction because of the regular maintenance and painting required. I still love real wood and hope someday to replace our current siding with wood. But, that’s probably because I am used to maintaining wood and love the look and feel.
If you do a Google Search on the pros and cons of siding you will get myriad results that will help you do further research if desired.
Part 3 of this series on Lake Norman real estate will discuss moisture issues.
MORE ARTICLES ABOUT BUYING A HOME IN LAKE NORMAN