Upgrading or replacing your exterior siding can be a daunting decision. Mainly because of the all the choices you have to make on the different types of siding for homes. Insulated vinyl, fiber cement, or wooden shakes are just a few of the siding options and materials you have as a homeowner. Education is key to making a comfortable and calculated decision that will allow you to sleep well at night.
The good thing about all these types of siding is that for every style of house and budget there is a suitable siding option waiting for you!
Issues to Consider
Before you decide on what material you would like to use there are several factors you should consider that will help you make a sound decision.
Depending on the material some types of siding will be more water resistant than others. This will prolong the life of that material as well as prevent decay due to water or moisture.
Siding material comes with an R-value that measures the energy efficiency of the material. The higher the R value the better the thermal insulation. For example, stucco siding has an R-Value of .4 while insulated vinyl has a 2.0-3.0 R value.
Aesthetics & Texture
The color, texture, and overall aesthetics of the siding is all about appearance. How your siding will look and what colors are available are probably one of the most important decisions that will affect your siding purchase. Brick or stone have limited color options and focus on texture while vinyl siding color options are limitless.
The structure of your home and exterior can play a role in what type of siding your wish to install. A complex 3-story Victorian home may not be best suited for stone veneer siding.
Eco-friendly siding is found in many current materials; fiber cement is made of sand, cement, clay, and wood-pulp fibers. Others such as wood are naturally biodegradable & green, and come straight from nature. Green siding is also related to the energy efficiency of the home and how well it insulates the heat.
How long will your siding last before it has to be replaced, maintained, or painted? Some siding such as stucco, if done right can last a lifetime of the home and will only need to be repainted every 6-7 years. Resistance to mother nature, rot, and insects can all play a role in the how your siding will last.
Installing siding is not cheap and can run anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000+ very quickly depending on what you want. Determining a budget beforehand on what you can afford is prudent. Check out our siding calculator to get a rough estimate on how much you can predict to spend.
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Vinyl siding is by far the leader boasting the majority market share of new home siding installations. Vinyl siding is attractive due to its combination of durability, color options, and low cost which make it attractive to the budget-conscious homeowner.
There are many different profiles of vinyl: horizontal and vertical panels, dutch lap, shakes, shingles, board n batten, beaded, and fish scales or scallops. Vinyl siding sits alone at the top and continues to be one of the best siding options available. Below are the pros and cons of vinyl siding:
- Vinyl siding is durable and typically is under warranty for 30-40 years after installation
- The color options of vinyl are endless, with hundreds of color palettes to choose from
- It is versatile and can be textured like wood without the disadvantages of decay or termites
- Simple and easy to clean, vinyl siding just needs a power hose and some water
- Wide range of quality of the vinyl materials, you can even get insulated vinyl if you live in colder climates to increase energy efficiency.
- Insulated vinyl siding has the potential to raise your energy efficiency R value from 2 – 5.5!
- Finally, vinyl siding in probably the cheapest option when upgrading your exterior siding
- Although it is water-resistant it is not waterproof. Poor installation can lead to water seeping behind the paneling which leads to mold and other issues
- It is known to warp and bend under extreme weather conditions of both heat & cold
- The color you choose is permanent. Unlike other siding that can be repainted different colors, vinyl siding color choice is here to stay.
- Compared to something like brick siding; hail, baseballs, tree limbs, etc … can leave dents and gashes in the side of your home.
Metal siding is usually associated with retro and modern style type buildings. Installing metal siding for your home can give it a unique appeal if done properly. The most common types of materials are aluminum and steel siding.
Aluminum siding is more popular in the coastal areas due to the salty air and its protection against that. Steel on the other hand is more prone to rust but is resilient to hail damage. The following are the pros and cons of metal siding.
- Metal cannot mold or rot unlike other siding with the potential for water damage
- Very low maintenance even in harsh winters unlike other siding prone to mother nature
- No fading of color with steel siding unlike vinyl
- Eco friendly and green product since each panel is precisely cut with little waste material
- Fire resistant & resilient, good for dry areas or locations with frequent lightning storms
- Insects cannot find a home in metal siding, while other siding requires periodic spraying of insecticide
- Metal siding if not properly sealed and finished can lead to rust and discolorization
- With ever newer materials, metal has lost appeal and some still see it as a ‘shed’ like
- Aluminum siding is a soft metal and is prone to dents from hail, rocks, baseballs, etc ..
- Aluminum siding is more prone to fading and at times difficult to match pre-colored panels
- Steel siding is heavy and requires more time to install thus driving up the cost
- Metal siding is more easily scratched exposing the metal beneath which can rust very quickly if not resealed and re-painted.
Everyone likes wood, this type of siding can add a natural & beautiful exterior to your house. The changing colors and tones of wood instantly make a home feel warm and inviting. There are several species of wood to choose from such as: spruce, pine, fir, cedar, and redwood.
Apart from the kind of wood you choose you will also have the choice of 4 different profiles: bevel (clapboard), shakes or shingles, board and batten, or engineered wood. This type of siding is particularly dominant in the west, and continues to be a top choice for homeowners with its classic & timeless look. Below are the pros and cons of wood siding:
- Wood has the advantage of being easily replaced in small quantities if damaged. Other types of siding have to replace whole panels and sides
- No question this is the most green siding you can find on the market.
- Wood can be stained and painted in limitless colors, there are no bounds
- Wood siding has a higher R-Value than most of ~.8 making it more energy efficient
- It’s lightweight feature makes it faster and easier to be installed. Reducing overall labor cost and time
- Can be stained/painted limitless colors, but this also is a drawback. It must be maintained
- Damage to wood can come from insects or water. Termites and other wood eating insects can wreak havoc on a home with wood siding
- The cost of maintenance adds up: stained every 2-3 years, and repainted every 4-5 years
- It’s not fire resistant which can play a factor in dry climate areas
On the heels of vinyl siding, another popular siding option is fiber cement. This is a mixture of wood fibers, sand, and cement. It is built to mimic the look and feel of natural wood siding, with less hassle of maintenance, insects, and cost.
The most popular brand of fiber cement is James Hardie Siding Manufacturer from Australia. The interest of this type of siding has risen dramatically due to its durability and low-cost wood alternative. Fiber cement is often compared to vinyl, for an in depth review of the two check out the infographic: vinyl siding vs. fiber cement. Below are the pros and cons of fiber cement siding:
- Get the look and feel of real wood without the high cost or susceptibility to wood insects
- Fiber cement is extremely fire resistant with a class 1A fire rating
- Not prone to rot or decay like wood as well as resistant to salty air for coastal areas
- Easy to maintain and is guaranteed up front for 15 years not to fade or chip
- Very versatile in its finish and texture offering many design and color options such as brick and stone textures
- For DIY (self installation) the material is quite heavy requiring 2 people as well as special cutting tools
- More costly than its synthetic cousin vinyl siding by 2-3 times as much.
- Although not as often as wood, it does have to be repainted every 12-15 years.
- Some evidence of delaminating or gapping of the material, although not frequent
- Color is not all the way through the product like vinyl, so touch ups will be required for chips and damage
Brick siding is an attractive choice mostly because it is considered to last a lifetime. This coupled with its rustic, elegant, and pleasing aesthetic have many homeowners returning to brick exterior siding. You can find houses and buildings over 100 years ago with the brick siding still in good condition.
Brick siding comes in regular brick masonry (solid brick) as well as brick veneer which is a finished exterior that sits on the house as opposed to solid brick which holds up the house! Brick veneer is usually a thinner layer on the exterior of the home like traditional siding. Below are the pros and cons of brick siding:
- Brick can easily last a lifetime, 100+ years, with just a general wash every now and then
- Brick siding is highly fire resistant
- No termites or wood ants will be found inside of brick siding
- Brick never needs to be repainted or finished, weathers beautifully, and will not fade or decay
- Because it’s fire resistant, termite proof, and durable, home insurance is usually lower for brick siding homes allowing you to recover your investment faster
- Brick siding is definitely one of the more expensive options for siding, ranging from $10 – $15 per square foot.
- Color choice is set once you decide on the type of brick, no repainting allowed
- Overtime the mortar joints can deteriorate and need to be replaced
- Long installation time if you are doing this yourself
Stucco siding is more traditional Spanish style exterior made up of a lime mixture, sand, and cement. Although you can paint stucco, it does not hold well and requires often repainting.
A stucco exterior starts with a wooden wall, covered by a wire mesh to hold the final layer of stucco mixture. On the market there are 2 options: traditional stucco (3-coat) or synthetic stucco or EIFS (Exterior Insulation & Finish System). 3-coat consists of a scratch coat, brown coat, and then finish coat. Below are the pros and cons of stucco siding:
- Durable can last 50 – 100 years with minimal maintenance and upkeep
- Damage done can be repaired with negligible costs as opposed to replacing whole panels
- Stucco can be mixed to specific color options giving you the look you want
- No insect or rot problems with stucco siding
- Very breathable material which allows for quick drying in areas with normal rainfall
- If a home’s foundation begins to move, the stucco can easily crack
- Weathering and dirt show up more easily on stucco siding
- Although breathable, heavy rainfall areas are not suitable for stucco
- Once color is chosen, you will not want to repaint and repaint
- From a distance, it looks like a plain flat finish
Stone siding is the grandaddy of all siding and comes with a highest cost of siding to install. The 2 options are real stone siding and faux stone siding (stone veneer).
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- Stone is impenetrable by mother nature and will last a lifetime
- The look and feel of real stone is unmatched and is considered the Rolls-Royce of siding
- Stone veneer gives you a similar look of stone but about half the cost
- Resistant to moisture, extreme temperatures, insects, and fire
- Zero maintenance other than being cleaned with a pressure washer
- Installing natural stone requires heavy labor and installation time driving up the cost
- Stone veneer can have the same moisture problems as stucco
- Faux Stone does not adapt well to extreme temperatures, freezing and thawing
So there you have it, I hope this comparison guide gave you the pros and cons of the different types of siding for homes. Understanding the market and siding options along with your budget is the first step in making the right decision for your home.
Remember to use our siding estimator to get a rough pricing guide on how much it will cost to install new siding.