SIDING

Best Types of House Siding: Pros & Cons

 

We’ve put together a comprehensive residential siding guide to assist you in researching your options for replacement and new construction projects.

 

What’s Included: Seven possibilities ranging from affordable to upscale – Vinyl, steel & aluminum, fiber cement & composite, genuine wood, stucco, brick & stone, and faux stone.

Note: Each siding type is normally available in a wide range of quality and style options that affect material costs. Installation ranges from easy to difficult due to onsite factors that affect installation cost. Your project’s geography and the local economy will also have a major impact on costs.

 

Types of Siding Material

 

This table summarizes the information in this section:

The next section provides more details for each siding type, including its options and pros and cons.

 

Vinyl Siding

 

This is an extruded plastic material made from PVC resin for durability and resistance to the elements. The material is tinted in the production process, so the color goes all the way through.

 

There are three appearance options: Horizontal, vertical and shingle/shake panels.

  • Horizontal siding comes in Dutch lap, smooth and beaded styles. Panels are typically formed into single, double and triple board profiles.

  • Vertical siding in board & batten, cedar plank, beaded and additional styles are produced in a more limited range of options.

  • Vinyl shake and shingle panels feature 2 or 3 rows with up to 6 shakes or shingles per row. These panels are used either as the primary siding or accent siding in gables or above brick or stone.

Shake & Shingle Polymer Vinyl Siding Cedar Shake Impressions via CertainTeed

 

You have a wide array of colors to consider from white and light shades to deep reds, greens, blues and charcoals. Complimentary trim colors allow you to customize the look you want for your home.

 

Pros and Cons

The appeal of vinyl siding is its relatively affordable cost and low maintenance.

 

Pluses of Vinyl Siding:

Affordability

Style and color options

DIY-friendly installation

Moisture and insect resistance

Good fire rating, though it will melt in high heat

Reduced fading with new color technology

Very low maintenance

Insulated (R2 to R3) options, though not a good value compared to attaching siding to wall sheathing beneath the siding

 

Minuses of Vinyl Siding:

Shingle and shake styles cost up to 100% more than panels

Brittleness and cracking with age/impact

Falls short of “genuine wood” look

Potential leaks, buckling and cracking with faulty installation

Warranties of 25 years to “lifetime,” but expected longevity of 18 to 30 years

Recyclable – but few locations accept it

Top Brands: CertainTeed, Georgia Pacific (GP), Alside / ABTCO, Kaycan, Mastic, Mitten, Timbercrest

Metal Siding – Steel and Aluminum

After being pushed out of the market by vinyl a few decades ago, aluminum is making a comeback and bringing with it steel siding in several interesting styles. Various coatings including Kynar, Galvalume, PVC and zinc help prevent corrosion of steel siding and eliminate the chalking common to the last generation of aluminum siding.

There are three styles/types of aluminum and steel siding:

  • Horizontal siding mimics traditional wood siding. You have good color and style options, though not as many as with vinyl.

  • Vertical steel and aluminum siding are produced in board & batten styles for a traditional look. Vertical grooved panels, usually steel, have a modern appearance. Standing seam metal wall panels

  • Steel shingles have a genuine wood appearance with a high profile.

 

Pros and Cons

The appeal of aluminum and steel siding is that it is easier to maintain than wood siding and is more durable than most vinyl.

Pluses

More affordable than wood

Very low maintenance

Resists fire, insects, weather, mold

Improved coating technology to eliminate chalking

DIY-friendly installation but heavier than vinyl

Green building material

Help keep homes cool

Minuses

Shingle styles cost 50% to 80% more than standard panels

Steel siding will rust if scratched and not touched up

Louder than vinyl or wood in rain or hail

Higher installation cost than vinyl

Some finishes may fade

Susceptible to dents

Top Brands: Mastic, Rollex, Revere, BridgerSteel, TruCedar, Gentek, EDCO, ALSCO, Reinke Shakes

 

Fiber Cement and Wood Composite

The use of wood fiber is common to these materials. The fibers are mixed with cement materials to form fiber cement brands like James Hardie. Fibers are coated with wax and blended with resin to create wood composite like LP SmartSide. Both siding types are sold either primed for paint or prefinished. Lap, vertical, panel and shingle siding is available in a good range of colors and styles with matching trim.

 

Pros and Cons

The appeal of fiber cement and composite siding is that it costs less than genuine wood and requires less maintenance, but it is an upgrade in quality and looks from vinyl.

 

Pluses

Designed to last up to 50 years, twice vinyl’s lifespan

The look of wood at a lower cost and with less maintenance

Class A fire rating

Resist insects, mold, and rot

A good range of style options, though not as wide as vinyl

Minuses

Shingle and shake styles cost 25% to 50% more installed

Must be painted after 10-15 years and then every 3-10 years based on your climate

Will absorb moisture if scratched and wood fiber core is exposed

Scratches show

Fiber cement is hard to cut, and cutting creates hazardous dust

Will crack if improperly installed

Not recyclable

Top Brands: James Hardie, LP SmartSide, GAF, Allura, Cemplank, Nichiha, MaxiTile.

Wood Siding

 

There’s a reason so many siding types mimic genuine wood – the real thing has a beauty that is unsurpassed. Pine, spruce and fir, cedar and redwood are most common. Any of the woods can be finished with a clear sealer or with pigmented stain and sealer in one. Wood siding options include traditional clapboard in various widths from about 3” to 12”, vertical board & batten and wood shingle siding. Wood shake and shingle siding are available too, but at a significantly higher cost for materials and installation. There are many wood siding producers, most of them local or regional. With wood siding, the installing contractor is more important than the specific wood manufacturer.

 

Pros and Cons

The appeal of wood is that it is the real stuff with all its valued qualities. None of the faux woods have the look of sealed and stained wood siding.

 

Pluses

Siding styles and stain/paint colors to customize the look of any home

Lifetime siding when maintained

Green and sustainable

Excellent curb appeal and good market value ROI

Minuses

Must be painted or stained every 3-5 years ($1.50-$2.50/sq. ft.)

Susceptible to insects and moisture damage when not maintained

Poor fire rating

Top Brands: Cedar Creek, WoodTone

 

Stucco Siding

Stucco is a classic siding that can be formulated in several ways. Traditional stucco is made with cement, sand, and limestone and applied like plaster to a metal lathe system.  Newer exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) feature stucco made from polymers and acrylics applied over insulation and a water barrier to help eliminate common stucco moisture problems.

EIFS Siding

While EIFS are an improvement, stucco is not generally considered suitable to for wet climates. Moisture trapped behind traditional stucco and improperly installed EIFS causes serious damage to a home’s sheathing and leaks to the inside.

Pros and Cons

The appeal of stucco is the historic or old-world look it gives a home.

Pluses

Handsome, tidy appearance with good curb appeal

Material can be formed to create architectural styling and designs

Lifetime siding when maintained

Resistant to insects and fire

Minuses

Costly siding

Higher maintenance and repair costs

Improperly installed stucco susceptible to moisture damage

House settling or shifting ground can cause cracks

 

Genuine Brick and Stone

 

Stone and brick are premium sidings. While full brick is still available, most brick and stone installed today is veneer – .5” to 1.5” thick.

Natural stone tile siding

Brick is produced in a spectrum of colors and blends. Stone also offers good style options from large fieldstone to smaller pieces of ledge stone in a range of color tones.

 

Pros and Cons

The appeal of brick is a sophistication no other siding matches, while stone exudes a natural strength and beauty.

 

Pluses

Considered the finest siding options for high-end homes

Lifetime siding

Impervious to weather, insects, and fire

Blends well with wood and stucco siding

Very low maintenance

Brick can be painted

Minuses

Expensive

Brick spalling and loose mortar can occur with age and is very costly to repair

Installation is not DIY-friendly due to skill level required

Potential for trapped moisture problems

Top Brands: Stoneyard, Brickweb, Brick It, Flexi-Brick, Old Mill, Z-Brick

 

Faux Stone

 

This siding looks authentic enough to be mistaken for the real thing. Sometimes called manufactured or cultured stone, it is made from cement blends with iron oxide pigments. Every type of genuine stone siding is mimicked in faux stone products. The material is installed using the same methods and mortars. Mortarless faux stone is available too.

 

Pros and Cons

The appeal of faux stone is its good looks without some of real stone’s negatives.

Pluses

Good variety of styles and colors

Long-lasting

Competitive in price to mid-range siding types

Half the weight and easier to work with

Complements wood, vinyl, and metal siding

Resists weather, pests, and fire

Mortarless stack stone options

Minuses

Cheap faux stone scratches easily

Susceptible to cracking with repeated freeze/thaw cycles

Easily stained by harsh chemicals like paint thinner, herbicides, chlorine

Drainage and moisture problems from improper installation

Top Brands:  Eldorado Stone, GenStone, LiteStone, AirStone, Urestone, M-Rock, Silvermine, Nextstone, Ply Gem / Durata, VeneerStone.

Choosing Your Siding Material

These buyer’s summaries are designed to pull the information together in succinct form to assist you in compiling a short list of options or to choose the one that is right for your home.

 

Vinyl siding: If the homes in your neighborhood are sided with vinyl and your goal is to freshen up your exterior, this is an affordable way to do it. Homeowners considering a move use vinyl to enhance curb appeal. Depending on your budget, you can choose all standard panel siding or mix in vinyl shake and shingle siding in gables or on an upper floor.

 

Aluminum and steel siding: Standard aluminum siding is considered a moderate upgrade from vinyl. Steel siding gives you enhanced durability and stylistic choices with low maintenance. Top of the line steel will last 40+ years. It’s a greener choice since most contain recycled material and is more easily recycled than vinyl.

 

Fiber cement and composite siding: These materials are a good option in neighborhoods where homeowner’s association guidelines rule out vinyl and aluminum siding. Both fiber cement and composite siding offer better durability. Their firmness gives them a feeling of greater quality. Fiber cement and composite work well in a home exterior with wood, brick and stone veneer and faux stone.

 

Wood siding: This is the siding of choice for purists, though not recommended in dry areas prone to wildfire. Natural wood siding is ideal for homeowners who want the look, texture and aroma the wood offers and are willing to give it the maintenance it needs. Wood often works well in combination with stone and faux stone.

 

Stucco siding: This material remains popular in old neighborhoods with vintage homes in the drier regions of the country. It is gaining market share in newer neighborhoods with homeowners that enjoy this classic style. The key to success with stucco is finding an experienced stucco specialist that fully understands how to install it properly to allow for drainage.

 

Brick and stone veneer siding: Homeowners preferring a distinctive siding gravitate to brick and stone. The higher cost is repaid with lasting durability and good looks. As noted, stone and wood make an attractive combination. Brick and stucco are often used together in very appealing combinations.

 

Faux stone: Whether you side your entire home with it or pair it with most of the other types, faux stone is a more affordable alternative to genuine stone veneer. The tradeoff is shorter longevity and the potential for increased maintenance and repair. We recommend staying away from the low-cost faux stone since it likely won’t hold up well.

 

How to Save Money and Get Beautiful New Siding

 

The first tip is to consider the most affordable siding in the look you want – vinyl rather than steel, aluminum rather than wood or faux stone instead of genuine stone.

 

Secondly, as we’ve suggested, consider a combination of materials. Complement an expensive option with siding that is more affordable.

 

One path to saving money we don’t suggest you take is hiring the cheapest labor you can find.

 

You really do get the installation quality you pay for, and installation is the key to how good your siding looks and how well it performs. As you shop around for price, consider cost as secondary to the proven experience of the siding contractors.

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