While appearance and budget are important considerations when selecting the right siding for your home, the deciding factor should be climate. The most obvious climatic condition Pacific Northwest homes have to endure is rain. But when you add high winds, humidity and warmer air temperatures to the mix, some types of siding will protect your home better than others.
A natural choice for siding in the Pacific Northwest is cedar. It has a warm, organic appearance that only improves with age. Because exposed wood is vulnerable to dampness, cedar siding must be treated with a moisture/mildew retardant and installed with the proper sheathing to keep it safe from mold, mildew and rot. It might seem counter-intuitive, but wood and composite wood siding do well in wet climates when produced to meet specific climate conditions.
Vinyl siding is strong and durable, although it is prone to impact and severe wind damage. It is water-resistant but not waterproof. Water can get in between the siding and the surface of the outer wall. Of all the different kinds of siding, vinyl siding expands and contracts the most.
For Pacific Coast climates, aluminum siding is a good choice. Aluminum siding expands and contracts less than vinyl; it is durable and low-maintenance; and can be repaired if damaged.
Hardiboard or fiber cement board is becoming increasingly popular because it is built to withstand a number of environmental factors including rain, wind, hail and insects. Hardie board, like most siding made from composite materials, can be made to resemble other siding materials including stone, wood or brick.
Types of siding least compatible to the Pacific Northwest climate include cement siding (not to be confused with fiber cement board) and stucco.
The sole function of siding is weather protection. When choosing siding, it is important to take climate into account. Also consider the microclimate of the building itself: if your home surrounded by trees, gets too much sun on the southwest corner of the house or water collects by the back steps whenever it rains, these are all environmental conditions that might indicate which type of siding that is best for your home.