By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When it comes to home improvements, it’s a good idea to focus on jobs that will give you the most return on your investment.

New siding is one of them. And it doesn’t just make your home look better. It protects it too. In this week’s Angie’s List, Jim Donovan shows you some things you should consider when it comes to siding your home.

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New siding can do wonders — making your home look years younger.

“But it’s also the main line of defense against weather and pests that might try to deteriorate your house. So letting it get out of hand and then not taking care of it can lead to problems down the road,” said Angie’s List founder, Angie Hicks.

So how do you know when your home is ready for new siding?

“Go around your house and look for any signs of deterioration. If you have siding that’s coming off in sections, that’s looking worn are signs that you potentially want to invest in new siding and you have a lot of choices for types of siding whether it be vinyl siding, wood siding, even fiber cement are all popular choices,” said Hicks.

The job typically costs about $10,000. But that varies depending on the material you choose and whether or not you hire somebody to do the job, which is a good idea if you’ve never done it before.

“Siding can look like a pretty easy project, but it’s actually a lot harder than you think. Being able to get the siding cut properly, using your ladder. Falling off ladders is the most likely cause of injury around the house so not having the proper tools can cause problems. And also, if it’s installed improperly, you could void the manufacturer’s warranty,” said Hicks.

More advice from Angie:
– New siding typically returns at least 80 percent back. Angie’s List, the nation’s premier provider of consumer reviews asked highly rated siding companies for advice on picking out a siding material.

• Replacing old or damaged siding on your house with new siding will greatly improve your home’s curb appeal if you’re trying to sell it. It will add long-term value if you’re planning to stay for several years.

• Homeowners can choose from a variety of siding options to fit their needs. Wood, vinyl, and fiber cement are popular choices. The key is to choose a siding material that best fits your personal taste and budget.

• If your homes siding is showing signs of deterioration or rot, don’t put off this project – replacing siding will help give your home another shield from the elements.

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• It’s a good idea to take a walk, once a year, around your house and check your siding. Look for signs of deterioration, rot, or missing pieces. For vinyl siding, check for fading and cracking. If it’s time to replace your siding, don’t put it if off – replacing siding will help give your home another shield from the elements.

Popular siding materials:
Maintenance-free exterior products are one of the most desirable aspects for homeowners and prospective buyers alike.

• Homeowners can choose from a variety of siding options to fit their needs. Wood, vinyl and fiber-cement are the most popular choices. The average price of a job varies between $10,000 and $18,000. The price is determined by the material and size of the house.

• Wood offers a nice aesthetic appeal to many homeowners but can be pricey, inviting to insects and requires more maintenance than other siding types.

• Vinyl is an easy-to-maintain, low-cost option and doesn’t rot or wear like wood, but it can crack, chip and fade over time, all of which is unsightly and can detract from your home’s curb appeal.

• Fiber cement, which has more of a wood appearance and is more durable than vinyl, has become the preferred choice of homeowners in recent years, but typically costs more than vinyl.

• Ultimately, homeowners must weigh the pros and cons of the different siding types and choose what best fits their personal tastes and budgets.

Hiring a siding company:

Adding siding is a risky do-it-yourself venture. It poses physical dangers, mostly from ladder falls, and potential health hazards from inhaling the residual dust.

• Avoid any companies with inexperienced installers. Adding siding is more difficult that it looks. Installed improperly or in conflict with manufacturer’s instructions may void your warranty.

• When hiring a pro, avoid contractors who market their work door-to-door and always verify insurance and references before you hire.

• Ask for before and after photos, and go visit sites of other jobs so you can see your contractor’s workmanship. A good siding company will be knowledgeable about the product and the installation.

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• Check that contractors are using lead-safe practices on all homes older than 1978.
Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS 3