The storms that lashed the South last week were a reminder of how we depend on the strength and integrity of our homes to keep us safe. Although my small neck of the woods was spared major damage, many of my fellow Georgians were not so lucky. The tragedy made me think about the exterior of my home - my first defense against nature's fury.
A home's siding can last anywhere between 25 and 50 years, but if it's not properly maintained, its life can be cut short. To keep your siding looking nice and to get the most life and protection out of it, there are some simple maintenance tips to keep in mind.
First, keep your siding clean. Often, a garden hose with a sprayer attachment is sufficient to wash off dust, cobwebs and debris. A pressure washer can be used to remove stubborn dirt and grime, but don't get carried away, and go easy on those window seals! Eliminate stains such as tree sap and bird droppings immediately to prevent damage to the paint or protective coating. Making routine cleaning an annual task should guard against long term damage and definitely improve your home's aesthetics.
When cleaning only goes so far, it may be time to repaint. A worn, faded look is inevitable for siding exposed to continuous sun, rain, wind and snow. Consider repainting every 5 to 15 years, or as often as your taste changes.
Most importantly, don't delay repairs. If some of your vinyl siding becomes loose in a rainstorm, reattach it. If pieces of your wood siding begin to rot, replace them with new boards, and prime, paint and caulk. If aluminum siding is bent or dented, fix it or replace damaged sections. If steel parts begin to rust, clean to the bare metal and reseal.
Make siding inspection an annual chore - early Spring would be a good time. Repair of small blemishes will eliminate major repairs later on, and will help to keep you safe inside when you need it most.