Category Archives: Home Design

Top 10 Siding Materials: Costs, Pros & Cons and ROI

Today, you have more attractive house siding options than ever before. This buying guide details the top 10 siding materials to help you decide which type will give your home the look and durability you want, while staying within your budget.

1. Vinyl Siding
2. Fiber Cement Siding
3. Aluminum Siding
4. Natural Wood Siding
5. Engineered Wood Siding
6. Brick Siding
7. Brick Veneer Siding
8. Genuine Stone Siding
9. Stone Veneer Siding
10. Stucco Siding

Did you know? Most other online estimates of house siding costs are unrealistically low. Many only resources take the cost of the basic material and add “base” installation costs to reach their total. — This approach fails to consider accessories like trim, supplies and fasteners that can add $1.50 to $2.50 per square foot.

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is made from polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, a plastic. It is blended with pigment to give the siding color. Acrylics are added for strength and fade protection.

The material is extruded into panels. Most panels are textured like rough-hewn wood siding, but smooth panels are produced too.

What we like:

Vinyl siding is known for its relatively low cost and durability. — That combination produces good value. The material lasts 20-30 years depending on its quality.

Vinyl offers excellent styles and color options:

Horizontal vinyl siding is made to look like wood boards from 3” to 8” wide in Dutch lap, beaded and clapboard styles.

Vertical panels are produced in board & batten and flat styles.

Architectural panels are formed like wood shingle and shake siding. Most products are offered in colors from white to deep browns and dark grays.

Vinyl siding is light and easy to install. — This helps cut down costs when hiring a professional and makes a DIY option more viable for handy homeowners.

Maintenance is minimal: Lightly power wash it to remove dust and dirt.

What we don’t like:

Vinyl lacks the authenticity of wood: In neighborhoods where homes are sided with wood, stone and brick, vinyl often looks inferior.

Plastic isn’t eco-friendly: While vinyl siding can be recycled, most of it ends up in landfills.

Warping, cracking and water penetration are frequent problems with bad installation.

Cost:

The installed cost of basic vinyl siding is $4.25 to $7.50 per square foot when horizontal and vertical panels are used.

Architectural vinyl siding panels cost $2 to $3 more per square foot. Cost factors are the quality of the siding and the complexity of the house on which it is installed.

ROI:

Vinyl siding has an ROI of 80%. The ROI is the percentage of the cost homeowners recoup when selling their home while the siding looks new and is in good condition.

Did you know? Vinyl siding is the most common house siding in the US and Canada. It accounts for nearly 30% of siding jobs. However, vinyl’s market share is slipping as other siding materials gain popularity and homeowners want a greener siding solution.

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Rain Chains Cost, Materials, DIY Options & Styles

Rain chains demonstrate a beautiful blend of decorative form and useful function. Instead of water traveling from your roof through a closed downspout, rain chains allow you to enjoy rainwater’s pleasing sound and aesthetics, like a babbling brook cascading downward.

Rain Chains DIY Installation

via Hallmark Channel

In Japan, where rain chains had their origin, they are a common element of traditional building design. Gutters are viewed as too utilitarian to use when the function can be handled by something that also enhances the beauty of the structure. — That view is spreading, and the popularity of rain chains is growing in North America and around the world.

This buying guide provides a comprehensive overview of rain chain styles, materials, options, installation methods, costs, and DIY options.

The Basics

If you’re unfamiliar with rain chains, or kusari doi in Japanese, lets discuss their anatomy.

  • An adapter or bracket is attached to the gutter in place of a downspout
  • The rain chain hangs from it
  • The chain is anchored by a basin, stake or weight

These three essential components might be sold separately, but many top manufacturers produce kits with everything included.

Cost

There is a wide range of rain chain prices, but they can be loosely grouped into these four categories that have some overlap:

  • $15-$50 | Cheap rain chains, fine chains, small design elements spaced widely, most often painted or coated steel or aluminum.
  • $45-$90 | Good-quality rain chains, larger and more design elements, most often copper, but some are brass, aluminum or stainless steel.
  • $80-$215 | High-quality rain chains, large, complex design elements, most often copper or stainless steel, a bottom bowl might be included.
  • $200-$700 | Best-quality rain chains, quite ornate, copper and stainless steel designs, often with a basin and stake included. The very finest rain chains are imported from Japan and cost in the upper end of this range.

How Much Do Accessories Cost?

The accessory options are weights, basins and stakes:

  • Rain chain stakes: $10-$16
  • Rain chain weights: $25-$50
  • Rain chain basins: $35-$150 depending on the size, material and whether they’ve been handcrafted

Most Popular Styles

  • Chain links are interspersed with artistically designed cups or other features such as birds, leaves or flowers at intervals of a few inches to as much as a foot apart.
  • Most rain chain cups have holes in the bottom to allow water to pass through. Other chains are produced with shallow cups, and the rainwater fills the cup and spills over into the cup below.
  • Single links or another type of connector are used to hold each cup to the one above it, so that the rain chain is really a series of cups with little or no chainwork.
  • The rain chain is a series of decoratively fashioned links or loops, often of varying size and artfully interwoven, with no cups at all.

Because of the artistic nature of rain chain design, these three basic styles are produced in nearly limitless variations and combinations.

via Eichler Network

Traditionally, rain chains were crafted from metal, and most still are.

Most Popular Materials:

  • Copper: This is the traditional material choice of rain chain artisans. The copper must be polished regularly if you wish it to maintain its gleam. Most copper rain chains are allowed to develop an appealing patina finish that changes as the copper ages.
  • Steel: This is another traditional metal. Make sure any steel rain chain you consider is coated or painted to prevent rust, though corrosion is probably inevitable.
  • Stainless steel: This corrosion-resistant metal is often used by itself or in a rain chain design with copper.
  • Aluminum: More affordable than stainless, aluminum is durable and will develop a light patina too.
  • Brass: This material is a staple of plumbing fixtures because it resists corrosion. It’s an attractive choice for rain chains too.

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Tamko vs. Owens Corning Roofing Shingles: Cost, Pros & Cons, ROI 2019

Owens Corning and Tamko are two asphalt shingle manufacturers sharing the adage, “we’re second-best, so we try harder.” CertainTeed is the consensus leader for overall asphalt shingle quality.

GAF is the largest producer of shingles, and its products get high marks. Right behind those giants are Owens Corning, certainly one of the most recognizable names in roofing products, and Tamko (or TAMKO), a brand that has its fans, too.

The Bottom Line from the Beginning

The bottom line, which all the details in this guide lead to, is that the Owens Corning vs. Tamko comparison is about as even as it gets in the roofing products industry.

Owens Corning Roofing Shingles Display

Both get ratings in the “good” to “very good” range from roofing contractors who install them every day and from home inspectors who have seen their share of durable shingles and shingles that have failed before they should.

What it comes down to is the quality of the installation. You’ve got two above-average shingle brands that can deliver superior durability for 20+ years, fail in just a few years or perform somewhere in the middle.

What makes the difference is how well the installers do their job.

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More on the installation below. Along the way we’ll address where each brand has bragging rights. While OC and Tamko are close to equal in total score, each brand has strong and weak points.

OC vs. Tamko: Quality and Reliability

Quality is a product of the materials used and the production process. Here’s an overview of Owens Corning and Tamko shingle construction.

  • Owens Corning: OC makes three tiers of shingles in basic (Oakridge, Supreme), better (Duration, OC’s best-seller) and best (Devonshire, Woodmoor, Woodcrest, Berkshire) categories.
  • Tamko: This brand makes a very similar lineup with basic (Elite Glass-Seal), better (Heritage, Heritage Woodgate) and best (Heritage Premium, Heritage Vintage).

All shingles from Owens Corning and Tamko feature fiberglass mat bases saturated with asphalt and dressed with coated granules to resist the sun’s UV radiation. Each shingle is constructed with fused layers.

When installed, less than half of each shingle is exposed. The result is that 3-tab roofs (OC Supreme and Tamko Elite Glass-Seal 3-tab) have 2-3 layers of coverage at any given point on your roof.

All other shingles from both brands are architectural style shingles with 4-5 layers of coverage. The result are shingles with wind ratings of 60mph for 3-tab products and 110/130mph for all others.

The two brands have the same ratings in most ASTM materials and fire rating tests. Both are on par or superior to most other brands including CertainTeed and GAF.

Bad shingles are often the result of production rather than the materials used. The production processes for these brands are similar. The processes are slightly tweaked, even from run to run (runs of shingle batches).

When errors occur, a bad batch of shingles, such as layers that don’t properly fuse, are produced. What makes a brand worth considering is the consistency of the quality from run to run. Owens Corning and Tamko deliver good consistency.

Advantage—Tie: We’re not afraid to take sides, but there’s no clear winner here. These brands are rated about as equal as you will find in terms of quality and reliability, especially the two most-popular series, the Owens Corning Duration and Tamko Heritage.

Owens Corning vs. Tamko: Cost

Since these brands compete aggressively head to head, their prices are comparable across all products (and are very competitive with GAF, too).

Here is a breakdown of the shingle series and their costs from both brands:

Prices are per square, which is 100 square feet of coverage (and 3 or 4 bundles of shingles, so check product specs for the bundles-per-square).

3-tab shingles:

  • OC Supreme: $70-$85
  • Tamko Elite Glass-Seal: $72-$77

Average architectural/dimensional shingles:

  • OC Duration: $110-$120
  • Tamko Heritage: $84-$100

Best-selling architectural/dimensional shingles:

  • OC Duration Designer, STORM & COOL: $105-$135
  • Tamko Heritage Premium: $90-$105

Premium, architectural/dimensional shingles:

  • OC Devonshire, Woodmoor, Woodcrest, Berkshire: $175-$280
  • Tamko Heritage Woodgate, Heritage Vintage: $180-$205

Advantage – Tamko: As you can see, Tamko offers better value in each tier of products. It always makes sense to get written estimates on the specific roofing materials you’re considering, to get a direct comparison of cost.

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