3 ways to protect home exteriors: Most siding materials require little or no upkeep. Brick, engineered wood, stone (natural & manufactured), and fiber cement are thought to last for the life of the home, according to a report released by the National Association of Home Builders and Bank of America, "Study of Life expectancy of home components". But Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors, offers pointers I thought I would share:

1. Keep foliage away. "Make sure no plants are growing on the siding. Plants can trap moisture and allow insects and animals to infiltrate." - Lesh says. "You want the siding to be exposed to the elements."

2. Watch where water may be getting in. Check areas around windows & doors to see if water is getting in. Moisture can linger and eventually cause rotting or fungal growth. Make sure those areas have been properly caulked or tuck-pointed to prevent seepage.

3. Keep the Gutters clean. Many homeowners think they only need to check for clogged gutters in autumn when leaves are falling. A neighbor's baseball, bird's nest, or even squirrels stocking up for winter can quickly become a serious problem. If water gets backed up in your gutter, it could damage your siding too, Lesh notes. Have your gutters checked at least twice a year. Or better yet, clean them four times per year to prevent back-ups.