Walls Windows and Doors
For the Northwest Environment
Considerations for Stucco
Although stucco is beautiful in arid climates, it is not inherently suitable for the Northwest. Unless you are willing to pay for real, top quality cement stucco with an expert installation, we recommend you consider other materials.
If stucco is the look for you, use care in your design and materials choices.
Synthetic stuccos, banned in most Canadian jurisdictions, are dangerous because they are installed on top of Styrofoam panels. The building will sweat from the inside out even if the system is installed correctly. If it is installed improperly, it will leak from the outside in. Either way, moisture becomes trapped in the stud bays and causes wall rot.
Large roof overhangs are highly recommended with stucco. These will help protect the stucco from exposure to water. Use only real, troweled-on cement stucco with a drainage matt, installed by a top notch stucco contractor.
Brick and Stone
Brick is a good alternative to stucco. The expense of high quality stucco is about the same per square foot as brick. The other option is natural or man-made stone, but be sure to choose carefully as some man-made stone does not look appealing when installed over the breadth of a wall. The key to doing successful brick or stone veneers is the attention to details. Capping details for wainscot, post plinths, and window sills are important both for the look and for keeping water out.
Positive Lap Siding
Horizontal lap siding is the best at keeping water out because it gives a positive lap. In contrast, a vertical style wood siding typically has a small tongue and groove or overlap, but after the siding shrinks, it leaves only the tar paper behind it for protection. Cedar siding is becoming a thing of the past, although we often match the existing siding for remodels. The Hardi-Plank type concrete/gypsum siding is the best of the synthetic sidings on the market. Vinyl siding is also an alternative, however you must buy a premium type for a good look.
Vinyl frame windows work well and have almost entirely replaced aluminum frames. If your home, tastes and budget allow for a premium window, the clad wood windows are superior, both in terms of look, operation, and weatherability. However, avoid all-wood windows. Wood windows do not last, are maintenance intensive, and, with some exceptions, they are not fabricated to the high quality standards they once were.
Doors should have a good weather-stripping system. Like windows, door frames should not be made entirely of wood unless a good porch roof covers them. Consider using a three-point latching system, as they are superior in both security and feel, and will keep your door straight and well-sealed.