Siding is an important part of your house. It’s a shell that protects, insulates, and decorates your home all at the same time. How well it does this depends on which siding you choose, and there are many options.
Vinyl is made of two PVC layers extruded and bonded together to form the planks. The outer layer is very durable while the inner layer is often a less-durable mixture to keep the cost down.
Cost: about $2.00 to $7.00 per square foot
Resistant to rot and insects
Color is blended into the material, it won’t flake and is very resistant to fading
Can be made to look like other materials
Low maintenance and only needs spraying off with a garden hose to keep it clean
Doesn’t do well in high winds
Extreme weather and temperatures can cause bending and cracking
Sustained heavy rains can get behind it and cause mold
Vinyl is easy to install and maintain. Installed correctly, the most common issues result from the siding being too tightly attached. It should have a side-to-side give of ½” to avoid warping and buckling. Mold and algae can form where high moisture areas are shaded, and poorly-installed flashing can allow moisture to leak in.
You Might Consider Vinyl If…
You don’t want to repaint your house every few years
You want a low-maintenance siding
You aren’t planning on selling (it will not increase home values)
Wood siding offers a lot of character. Most often milled from sustainable resources, it’s very versatile and can be stained or painted in any color desired. Installation and repair are easy, and it comes in shingles, clapboards, drop siding, vertical boards, and wooden sheet siding.
Cost: about $3.00 to $10.00 per square foot
Warm, natural look
Available in many styles and types
Takes staining and color easily
Easy installation and repair
High maintenance, requires regular sealing
Susceptible to insects, mold, and rot
Natural wood isn’t as insulating as other materials
Wood is easy to install and repair, but the maintenance can be costly and time consuming. It requires treatment every year or two, more frequently if non-toxic, eco-friendly products are used. However, many homeowners consider the warm, natural look worth the effort.
You Might Consider Wood If…
You want a warm, natural look
You want to keep the classic look of a historic house
Engineered wood is made of wood product such as sawdust and wood “flakes” held together by a bonding agent. This creates a strong but lightweight material that is less expensive than natural wood.
Cost: about $2.25 to $5.30 per square foot
easy to install and repair
very eco-friendly as it uses some reclaimed wood waste
low-cost option for the warmth of wood
Requires the same maintenance as natural wood
Prone to moisture issues if not properly installed/sealed
Susceptible to insects and mold if not maintained properly
Engineered wood is an affordable option to natural wood. You can get it pre-primed or pre-finished to save time on the installation. However, it requires the same maintenance as natural wood. Without this maintenance, it will deteriorate faster than natural wood.
You Might Consider Engineered Wood If…
You want the look of natural wood at a lower price
You want a more eco-friendly option
You want a material that is stronger than many natural wood materials
Metal siding is most commonly available in aluminum, but corrugated steel siding is not without its charm. A very durable material, it’s immune to many insects and can withstand weather extremes. It can be stamped into many shapes and styles.
Aluminum - about $2.00 to $4.81 per square foot, depending on market rates
Steel – about $4.00 to $8.00 per square foot, depending on market rates
Immune to many insects
Does very well in extreme climates
Aluminum withstands coastal conditions very well
Steel has a clean, modern look
Very low maintenance
Doesn’t hold paint well
Aluminum dents easily
Steel is prone to rust
Aluminum can be coated with vinyl, which can be textured to imitate other materials. Both steel and aluminum can be coated with vinyl instead of paint to give your siding color. Though often associated with industrial buildings or mobile homes, metal siding can make a home look both warm and modern, especially when combined with trim made of other materials (such as wood).
Fiber cement is made up of sand, cement and wood/cellulose fibers. It’s very durable and can withstand intense storms, but it is very heavy and requires special tools and knowledge to install properly. The most popular fiber cement siding is Hardieboard.
Cost: about $0.75 to $5.00 per square foot, shingles cost $2.00 to $8.00 each
Is likely to last the life of your home
Soffits, trim, and fascia are also available in fiber cement
Very fire resistant
Cracks can be easily patched
Very easy maintenance
Requires professional installation
Very heavy, about 2 ½ pounds per square foot
It may crack as the building settles if installed on new construction
Fiber cement requires professional installation that can cost as much as the material itself. Material produced before 1980 may have asbestos, which will require an asbestos abatement contractor. However, once installed, it is very durable and resistant to many factors that would destroy other materials, including fire.
You Might Consider Fiber Cement If…
You live in a high fire risk area
You want a durable and low-maintenance siding
You want the look of wood with the strength of cement
For durability and strength, it’s hard to beat brick and stone. As a naturally insulating material, it can help lower your heating and cooling bills. It is, however, very expensive and requires the skill of a mason to install.
Brick - about $6.00 to $12.00 per square foot
Brick veneer – about $11.00 to $15.00 per square foot
Stone – about $15.00 to $30.00 per square foot
Fire-, rot-, and insect- proof
Very heavy, it requires a very strong foundation
Can put strain on the joints of your house
Must be installed by a professional mason
Brick and stone have a classic, luxurious look. It can help keep your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. However, this long-term saving might not be enough to offset the up-front cost. Unlike other materials, it can’t be installed over the top of existing siding. However, unless you live in an earthquake zone, there is rarely, if ever, a need to replace it.
You Might Consider Brick or Stone If…
You want a luxurious but natural look
You want an incredibly durable siding
You want one of the best insulating materials available
Liquid spray on siding, or liquid vinyl as it’s called, is a spray of high-quality PVC polymers and resin used to coat the exterior of a house. It isn’t a siding itself so much as it is a coating for existing siding. It can be applied to any surface, but may not be suitable for wood as it won’t let the wood breathe.
Cost: about $3.00 to $6.00 per square foot installed
Rich colors that are resistant to fading
Virtually no maintenance is required beyond a regular hosing off
Excellent insulating properties
Flexible and resistant to cracking
Can facilitate mold-growth beneath wood surfaces
Still untested for longevity
Must be applied by a professional because any leaks could help mold growth underneath
Liquid spray on siding is as yet untested for longevity. Though many manufacturers offer a 25-year warranty, the truth is that the material hasn’t been around long enough to test this time span. Also uncertain is how it affects home values. However, aside from its unsuitability for wood coating, many people have been happy with it so far.
You Might Consider Liquid Spray On Siding If…
You like the lines of your current siding but want to improve its insulating qualities
You want color that will resist dulling and fading
You want an eco-friendly option to traditional vinyl siding
Insulated siding refers to siding material, usually vinyl, that has a polystyrene foam backing. This foam adds to the insulating value of the siding and helps it resist denting and cracking. It also provides a degree of soundproofing.
Cost: insulating foam adds another 30 to 50% to your total cost
Provides strength and rigidity to existing siding
Increases insulation qualities
Adds a bit of soundproofing
Adds 30 to 50% to the cost of your siding
Needs to be installed by a professional
Currently commercially available only for vinyl and, more rarely, aluminum
Insulated siding increases your insulation R value by about 3 points. This is a modest energy savings, but when combined with other measures, it can be the difference between good savings and great savings. Though it was first assumed to be a trap for moisture, it actually helps dry out moisture that gets behind your siding.
You Might Consider Insulated Siding If…
You want to get every ounce of energy savings out of your house possible
You live in a noisy area and want to reduce the noise levels a bit
You want affordable siding that is resistant to dents