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Designing your siding

Written on 03-01-2015

When choosing siding materials, there are a few simple rules to follow to fit in with expert designers. After you know these rules you'll start to notice the difference between beautiful buildings and buildings with wonky exterior materials.

Vertical transitions at inside corners

All vertical material and color transitions should happen at inside corners. This isn't just because visually it makes more sense, but it's also for water proofing. Material transitions have the potential for water permeation if not installed correctly.

Sometimes people attempt to improve the appearance of their home by slapping some masonry veneer on the front of their home. To save money the veneer is only placed on the street facade with no veneer is added to the sides. You aren't fooling anyone and it looks amateur. Wrap that veneer around the corner and continue it to an inside corner. If no inside corner is available, extend the veneer no less than 6 feet from the front face.

Colors follow the same rules even though a color transition obviously has no affect on the waterproofing. Make all color transitions at inside corners.

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Heavy on the bottom

Make sure to place all your visually and physically heavy materials below the lighter materials. Siding above stone. Board and batt above brick.

This rule also applies to vertical changes in materials. For instance, if a vertical element on your building has masonry that reaches 2 or more stories high, but the rest of the building only has veneer going up 2 feet, the building will look unbalanced. One method of keeping the materials balanced is to find common transition points. For example, you may keep all the stone veneer below the base of the windows for consistency, than raise the height of the stone veneer to the top of the windows, top of the bearing point, or base of the soffit in a few key areas you want to highlight.

Safety in numbers

Stick with 2-3 materials. Only one material and your project will look bleak and uninteresting. Four or more materials and it will look too busy and unplanned. Two to three materials is a safe number. If you really feel confident about your design, try for four but be prepared to explain your process.

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You can increase the texture of the building by applying a variety of colors, instead of a variety of materials. I still recommend 2-3 colors. And as always, follow manufacture's installation recommendations.

"Acrylic paints are long lasting and durable but change the permeability of stucco (make it non-breathable) which in some climates may have adverse effects on the long-term performance of the system." [1]


One heavy material. One to two light materials.


Aligning materials around the entire building is very important. It's one of those mistakes you'll be incapable of unseeing once it's been seen. Horizontal lines should line up around the entire building, around every corner and be level. [2] Start your alignments at the most prominent face of the building, most often the entrance.

Choose for your climate

Know what materials work well in your climate and how they should be installed. For example stucco needs to be applied at a minimum of 40 degrees Fahrenheit and should not freeze within 48 hours of installation [1]. Weather and sunlight are murderous on your home which it's always wise to choose materials built to withstand mother earth.


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