Tough siding options for severe storms

Tough siding options for severe storms

With onset of the annual hurricane season, homeowners along the Gulf Coast should take a few moments to consider what type of materials are used in the construction of their homes.

Your home's exterior always takes a beating during severe weather systems. Siding, particularly older shake cladding systems or lower-quality vinyl wall covering, may not stand the abuse of winds exceeding 100 miles per hour. This is also true for residences in "Tornado Alley," where homes are exposed to considerable danger from May to early June in the Southern Plains, and June and July for the Upper Midwest. However, tornadoes can occur any time of year, the National Severe Storms Laboratory says, and every state in the nation has recorded a tornado.

One way to protect your home from wind damage is to re-side your house using fiber cement siding, or high-strength vinyl cladding.

Cladding to withstand the storms

Of course, homes made from brick, stone or even clad with stucco are probably going to fare best during hurricanes or tornadoes. That's not to say they will bear up under a full-force assault, particularly with the severity of tornadoes and hurricanes in recent years. The Federal Emergency Management Agency acknowledges that residential cladding often is blown off during high-wind events, and wind-driven rain can cause moisture problems even if the material stays intact.

Fiber cement board and premium vinyl cladding are two of the more durable products available, and many manufacturers produce new siding with wind ratings that are designed to withstand most storms. For vinyl cladding, choose a product that has the highest wind rating and is made with a double nailing hem. The extra nailing helps the material stay attached during severe storms. Premium vinyl siding costs more than lower-grade products, though.

Fiber cement board contains real Portland cement and is extremely durable, making it a good choice for areas prone to high winds as well. In fact, James Hardie Building Products, an industry leader in cement board, says its products have been lab tested to withstand winds up to 150 mph.

For fiber cement, the Federal Emergency Managment Agency (FEMA) suggests using face nailing patterns rather than blind nailing for areas with winds exceeding 100 miles per hour. This means that instead of driving nails at the top edge of the siding, where it's covered by the overlapping edge of the next row (a "blind" pattern), contractors should nail through the overlap and penetrate the top edge of the lower course of cladding. This "double penetration" method provides a much stronger nailing pattern.

Be sure to mention this suggestion to your contractor during a remodel. Use the form on this page to find a certified, pre-screened contractor who understands the best type of cladding to use in your region.

Featured Articles