This blog is the first of a series that will address home improvements in the Centennial, Colorado area. See our other post about window replacement solutions in Centennial.
Centennial, Colorado is just south of Denver, and has expanded further east in recent years, but most of the town runs west of the I-25 highway between County Line and Orchard. The city has become well known as a great place to raise a family because of its great schools, low crime, recreation trails, great shopping centers and a short commute/access to Denver. Because of this, Centennial has experience dramatic increases in home values. Most of the homes were built between 1960 and 1990, but values in this area now range from $350k up to $700k.
When you are looking to improve the siding of your Centennial home, it’s important to understand what you currently have and what upgrade options are available. Here is a brief description that will help guide you.
All About Centennial Siding
Most of the siding on homes in Centennial is some form of engineered wood that made up of wood fibers and covered with a “skin” on the exterior facing portion of the siding. Engineered wood siding has strong architectural characteristics and cladding options. On the quality spectrum, it’s a higher quality than vinyl, but below fiber cement siding, also known as James Hardie siding.
The drawback to engineered wood is primarily its high maintenance. In order to prevent weathering damage, the siding should be prepped and painted every 7 years, based on the degree of sun/moisture exposure. Engineered wood can absorb moisture on the backside of the panel that faces the sheathing where frost condenses during a freeze-thaw session.
The sheathing on a home is the exterior covering over the studs. In Centennial, some variation of Celotex board is predominately used. This board has a black coloring to its exterior surface and is considered a fiberboard. This fiberboard sheathing does tend to be more vapor-permeable than other sheathing materials, but the disadvantages tend to outweigh the vapor-permeability advantage.
Fiberboard has a strong tendency to bow or “belly out” between the studs, especially when densely packed insulation is used. This can cause the siding installed over it to have a “wavy” appearance. Lastly, fiberboard has poor fastening strength, so all fasteners must penetrate the studs a minimum of 3/4″. More recently, OSB, plywood or rigid insulation has been adopted and the preferred sheathing material.
As a result of when most homes were built in Centennial, CO, unless the siding has been replaced, there is no air/moisture barrier on the home. Moisture barriers – TyVek is a well-known brand – are now required by local building codes and help prevent water from entering the wall cavities and improve the home’s air infiltration.
Additionally, flashing is not required by building codes during the initial builds, so most homes in Centennial do not have the correct flashing over horizontal trim boards or ledges. This means that metal flashing, or z-flashing, above header trim and horizontal, accent trim boards are missing from the siding. This results in premature paint peeling and, eventually, irreversible water damage to the trim boards or adjacent siding. Correcting this issue is typically only resolved with full replacement of the siding.
How Do I Know if I Need to Replace my Siding?
Replacing your siding can be a big investment, so it’s important to understand when it’s time to replace it instead of paint it.
There are some local siding experts or inspectors that utilize moisture meters to test if the water content is within typical perimeters or not. There are other aesthetic traits you can inspect yourself. Some strong indicators that your siding is damaged beyond repair would be that the nails appear over-sunk (typically, the nails were not “over-shot”, but rather the siding is swelling beyond the nail head), warping or “waviness,” or soft or dry-rot areas or swelling at siding joints.
If you find any of these pieces deteriorating, there is no use in painting damaged engineered siding. Most, if not all, paint manufacturers will have exclusions in their warranties if paint is applied to sub-straights with high moisture content, such as these damaged pieces. In short, at this point, it’s worth the investment to invest in new siding
How is My Siding Replaced?
If you’ve identified any of the siding deficiencies mentioned above, its time to start the process of replacing your siding.
First, the old siding is removed; the sheathing can be inspected to see if its replacement is required. Building code does not require the replacement of the sheathing, but it is recommended if there is ”waviness” or damaged/rotted areas. The amount of sheathing required depends on the degree of damage. To clarify, some form of sheathing is required by building code; you might find that certain areas of your home do not have sheathing, and sheathing will need to be installed prior to the new siding.
After the sheathing, rigid insulation can be installed for overall improvement in your home’s energy efficiency. Over top of either the sheathing or rigid insulation, the house wrap can be installed. Next, the trim boards, flashing above horizontal surfaces and clearances, and, lastly, the siding is installed and sealant applied.
James Hardie Siding: Best Bang for Your Buck
Generally, siding is divided into four categories: vinyl, insulated vinyl, engineered wood, and fiber cement. Centennial has strong home values, so in order to maintain and improve the selling price of your Colorado home, fiber cement, or James Hardie Siding, is usually recommended.
Specifically, in Centennial, some home owner’s associations do not allow vinyl siding, preferring stucco, engineered wood, or James Hardie siding.
The primary benefits of fiber cement siding are it’s low-maintenance, and its impact, wood born insect, woodpecker, and flame spread resistant properties. Additionally, fiber cement siding is eligible for homeowner insurance discounts and provides a high return on investment at resale.
Call your local siding experts for further information on the siding available in Centennial, Colorado.