Both Sidings Now: Mixed-Media Houses

house with fake brick siding patched with many different types of shingles
The Sistine Chapel of mixed-media DIY home repair. Etna

With apologies to Joni Mitchell,

I’ve looked at life with both sidings now
Fake stone, fake brick, anyhow
Clapboard slats and fish scale tile
Colored vinyl—go on for miles

Call it what you like—brick collage bricolage or asphalt aspirations, vinyl verité or aluminum assemblage. We’re going the refer to the unique phenomena of homes improved in multiple phases with multiple different exterior building materials as mixed-media houses.

side-view of row house exterior made up of many different building materials
Slanted and enchanted. Mixed-media with ghost house. Lawrenceville

However it worked out, there are a lot of Pittsburgh homes—specifically row housesthat ended up with an upstairs/downstairs division in after-market siding. Sometimes, the twofer becomes a fourfer or fivefer when we go around the corner, under the porch, or up to the mansard roof.

The choice of material sometimes seems like a very conscious design decision—let’s do the first floor in blue stucco, she might say, yeah, and we’ll have white aluminum on the second floor, he joins in—but that doesn’t explain everything.

detail of residential wall showing fake brick siding underneath tiled siding
Bustin’ loose / drink the Kool-Aid. Elliott

Way too many of these examples seem like accidents of time, as if one set of homeowners made an initial decision and a subsequent owner came along and flipped the script twenty years later. Some just feel like people went with bargain lots on leftovers that couldn’t cover the entire house. We’ll likely never know why things ended up the way the did.

The photos—hopefully—speak for themselves and we don’t have enough puns on exterior cladding or Joni Mitchell in-jokes to warrant too much jibber-jabber. Enjoy.

back sides of several joined row houses
Once, twice, nine times a lady. Lawrenceville
row house with collection of different types of siding
The grand buffet! Bloomfield
house with many different styles of siding
An even grander buffet! Allentown
older brick house with modern facade additions in many styles
Ain’t that America: brick, wood, steel, and glass. Mt. Washington
house wall showing multiple siding materials
Rocks Bottoms mixer-upper. McKees Rocks
garage wall showing multiple siding materials
Triple layer cake. Bloomfield
set of three row houses in mid-renovation showing many layers of different siding types
Mid-renovation mixed-media. Bloomfield
three-story house with different styles of siding at each level
Three stories for three storeys. Millvale
pair of row houses with different types of siding on first and second floors
Bloofer-Twofer. Bloomfield
house with multiple patterns of siding
Business in the front … a different type of business around the side. West Homestead
small building with multiple siding materials in Donora, PA
Off off-white and stone below. Donora
pair of row houses where wall siding of one matches porch siding of the other
Your porch, my wall. Neighbors sharing siding. Bloomfield
wood fence constructed with many different pieces of scrap wood
“That used to be a crack house,” the neighbor told me. Mixed-media fencing, Beltzhoover
older apartment house with wood siding on the first floor and fish scale shingling on the second and third
Upstairs/downstairs. Polish Hill
newly-constructed row houses with "ghost house" cutting through the aluminum siding
The ghost in you. Mixed-media ghost house. Duryea, PA
large older row house with multiple types of siding
Mansard multi-layer. Bloomfield
small building with multiple siding materials in Pittsburgh, PA
Old school/new school. Hazelwood
large older building using multiple types of siding
Multi-sided multi-sidings. Bloomfield