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Engineered Wood Siding: Installation Cost, Pros & Cons, What is it?

What is engineered wood siding and what does it cost?

Those are some of the most common questions we get regarding the material, which is why we finally decided to make an article on the topic to help you get a better understanding of those different queries.

We will also include a comparison with fiber cement siding since that is one of the other types of siding material homeowners are often in between when choosing.

Some of the other names that are commonly used for this type of material include synthetic wood siding, manufactured wood siding, composite wood siding and engineered siding. When you hear one of those different names, you now know what it is they’re talking about.

Are you ready to start talking with siding contractors in your area? We’d love to help connect you with the 4 most relevant ones. Simply fill out the form below, and we’ll match you with the relevant companies so you can get the ball rolling! Otherwise, the article continues underneath.

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What is Engineered Wood Siding?

Engineered wood is an alternative often sold to homeowners that are interested in solid wood siding, although they may not be attracted to all the different consequences of having the real thing because it requires a lot of continuous maintenance that will add to the overall cost over the years it’s installed. For instance, you will need wood siding contractors to come by every 2-3 years to re-stain the material, if you don’t go for solid paint.

The engineered option is also sold as a cheaper alternative, both now and over time, that can be afforded by more homeowners, while still being easy to install. If you want to have the wooden look, but some of the other aspects of wood are less appealing to you, this might be a better option for you to consider.

For a lot of people, installing vinyl siding will simply not cut it, even though it may be made to look cedar siding. Let’s be honest. It doesn’t really achieve that if you’re less than 500 feet away from the house. You get the message.

The production of this material includes using resin composite material along with strands or fibers of wood. the wax that is added to the fibers help make them water-resistant, which is otherwise a big problem with wooden materials.

When the different binders have been added, everything is heat-pressed as this makes the material more dense, increases its strenght and thereby its durability.

Fungal decay and pest infestations is one of the things that natural wood will need to deal with, but by treating the material with zinc borate, it increases its resistance against those elements.

When that has been done, it can then be cut into the different desired styles to best match your wishes. There are a lot of different siding styles requiring that the material be cut in different ways, which is why engineered wood comes available as panels, shakes and planks as well as the trim for corners and around windows.

The final step is for an overlay to be added which provides a moisture barrier, protecting your home from water damage, and protecting the material from deteriorating.

Pros and Cons of Engineered Wood Siding

All different siding materials have pros and cons. Here are the pros and cons related to engineered wood siding.

Pros

  • Good warranties provided for quality materials – you may be able to get a warranty that is as good as 30 years and transferable, which is one of the things that will help increase the value of your home too since a potential home buyer will know that even if they experience problems, those will be covered.
  • It’s easy to cut – materials such as fiber cement are difficult to cut, whereas traditional wood is easy to cut too. Engineered wood cuts like wood despite the fact that all these different things were added to it.
  • A lot of the material that go into it is waste material being recycled – the company Maibec uses its waste from producing cedar siding to produce engineered wood. Instead of either throwing it out or selling it, they can make use of the product locally and limit the amount of transportation that it needs before being repurposed.
  • The production process makes it able to withstand elements that cause natural wood to warp and deteriorate – warping boards are likely to cause water leaks, and you simply won’t be experiencing that to the same extent with this material.
  • Vinyl can get damaged upon impact – engineered wood doesn’t get damaged nearly as easily as vinyl when impacted.
  • Mold, mildew and insects are more likely to leave it alone – natural wood needs to constantly be discouraged from infesting the wood, which requires continuous staining of the material. Engineered wood is more resistant to these elements.
  • It beats vinyl in terms of looking like real wood.
  • It’s cheaper than getting the real thing.

Cons

  • While it does give waste product new life, it also contains binders that aren’t necessarily eco-friendly
  • Make sure to get good quality product, or you might find it deteriorating – getting a product that has a good warranty should ensure that it’s not too much of a worry.
  • It’s not natural wood – stained natural wood may be able to provide a more desired look than this, so if that’s what you want, engineered wood simply won’t cut it.
  • The slightly too perfect look – you don’t get the natural variation that the real wood will bring.
  • Still a relatively new siding option – with new siding options come problems, and this material has been through class-action lawsuits too, however the product has also been improved over time and has definitely gotten better. With its incredibly good warranties, I’d personally still bet on it!

Engineered Wood Siding Cost

We already mentioned that this material is usually cheaper than traditional wood, making it one of the reasons why a lot of homeowners go with it instead. It’s been reported that you can save as much as 50% by choosing engineered wood instead of solid wood. These are the engineered wood siding costs that we have been able to find, although they don’t include installation. It’s simply for the material itself.

Lap siding costs $1.2 – 2.2 per square foot for engineered wood.
Shakes cost $2.3 – to $3.3 per square foot when made in engineered wood.

Cost to Install Engineered Wood Siding

The cost to have engineered wood siding installed is usually between $1.7 and $6 per square foot without the material included, but it depends on different factors you should familiarize yourself with.

  • The style – it is more expensive to get shakes installed than is the case with lap siding. It simply takes longer to install. The process of installing lap siding is simpler, and you get more material installed quicker since each board has more square footage.
  • The general cost to hire siding contractors where you live –  siding contractors in certain parts of the country are simply more expensive to hire since the general cost level is higher there. If you live in California, you can expect to pay more than someone living in Connecticut.
  • How big your house is – the bigger the house, the more material and the higher the labor cost too.
  • Are you removing old siding – did you know that vinyl siding can be installed on top of wood siding for instance, which is a way to save money by not having to remove the existing material.

One website reported that engineered wood costs $6 to $10 per square foot to have installed.

Engineered Wood Siding Options

What are the different options you need to be aware of as you’re buying this material? We’ll briefly cover it here so as to give you a better understanding, and so you can make a more informed decision.

The finishing – Finishing the material yourself might be able to save you a bit of money, but then you can look for the planks that have already been primed by the manufacturer. It could also allow you to finish it with the exact finish you want.

Fascia, trim and soffit – these different elements all help make your installation look complete and will be installed to avoid any loose ends looking unsightly.

The style: The availability of long boards is great when it comes to engineered wood siding because it’s simply a material that can artificially be made as long as it’s required to be. Therefore, you can find boards up to 16 feet in length.

Engineered Wood Siding vs Fiber Cement

Fiber cement is a type of material that has gained a lot of popularity lately since its production techniques have come a long way since its humble beginnings. Its predecessor, asbestos siding, has obviously gotten in a lot of trouble given the findings that the airborne fibers cause a range of problems including various sorts of cancer. To truly honor how far this material has come, we dedicated an article to the pros and cons of fiber cement, as well as a bunch of other goodies included in it too.

While still being a relative new invention, engineered wood is gaining popularity whereas fiber cement has been around a little bit longer, which is always an advantage since you’re less likely to experience some of the early production issues, like lawsuits like these, although that was for a floor material, it still just shows how products improve over time.

Engineered wood has more impact-resistance tan fiber cement. A good thing if you’re planning on playing golf in your backyard. In tests, engineered wood was significantly better than fiber cement.

Both materials need to be properly installed to provide good protection against moisture.

Fiber cement is also an extremely heavy material, that absolutely must be installed by professionals. Cutting it is not nearly as easy as any wooden material, real or manufactured.

Engineered Cedar Siding

engineered cedar shingles
Photo credit: Culsonmanufacturing.com

Engineered cedar shingle panels are some of the popular types of this material, and if you find the different manufacturers, they boast impressive warranties, sanded products using no Urea-Formaldehyde to improve your home’s air quality. The material in the image below has obviously been used in a fashion so as to create a contemporary look.

Engineered Cedar Siding
Photo credit: weekesforest.com

Getting Prefinished Boards or Not?

While you might be able to save a tiny bit of money going for prefinished boards, it’s likely not going to be anything noticeable and factory finishes generally tend to last longer than the one you would be applying yourself too. Our recommendation is therefore usually to go for the prefinished option if you don’t have a specific reason not to.

Manufacturers and Brands for You to Consider

There are mainly a couple of different producers of engineered wood that you ought to look into.

TruWood by Collins

Collins makes a line of engineered wood that goes by the name TruWood, and while you can agree or disagree with their products’ naming conventions, they’re available in 60 or so different styles, that include everything from shakes to lap siding. They pride themselves on making their products more green with the recycled materials that go into their production methods. Go nature! A full line of their products can be found on their website.

LP SmartSide by LP Building Products

The other big player, and bigger one is LP Building products whose product goes under the name LP SmartSide. Their product range includes everything from trim, fascia and soffit to shakes and board and batten. However, they also carry lap siding.

engineered wood siding colors

engineered wood lap siding

Engineered Board and Batten Siding – Should You Choose it?

Board and batten is a siding style that installed vertically unlike the traditional lap siding. Two broader boards are placed vertically with a small gap between them, and a more narrow board, the batten, is placed on top of them. The photo below shows what wooden board and batten looks like.

shed in the middle of winter

It’s often referred to as barn siding, since that is a place where it has traditionally been installed, although not limited to barns. If you like the look, board and batten planks are also available in engineered wood. As previously mentioned, LP SmartSide produces them. A manufacturer like Woodtone also makes panels for this style of installation.

Maintenance of Engineered Wood Siding

Here’s one of the advantages it shares with both vinyl and fiber cement – engineered wood siding requires barely any maintenance to stay beautiful. While you may want to wash it on occasion, that will basically be the only thing that you need to do, which is amazing for busy homeowners that don’t want to worry about having to paint or stain the exterior of their home.

Engineered Wood vs Wood Siding

In this final section, we’re going to make an engineered wood vs actual wood comparison, so that you can once and for all decide if this is the right option for you.

You’ve read it through the different sections so far and seen that the engineered material in fact has a lot of advantages, but we just want to summarize everything so you’re 100% sure you make the right choice.

They both come available in the same styles that include the shingle-style and clapboard ones that we’ve constantly been talking about here. Redwood and cedar are the typical siding materials homeowners go for when choosing wood. These types of wood are generally preferred because they offer affordability while still providing good protection against decay and insects. They also receive both paint and stain extremely well, allowing you to customize their looks.

While real wood comes milled into actual shiplap and nickel gap, the same feeling can be recreated with engineered wood, although we weren’t able to find any manufacturers that actually provided this specific type of sawing, despite claiming to do so. We came across one website claiming that shiplap and tongue and groove are the same – which they’re not, although they can very easily be made to look the same if cut correctly or during the installation.

The reason for wood’s decline in popularity, among other things is that engineered wood is simply more durable with less need for maintenance.

In humid environments or environments that experience extreme weather conditions, real wood will be put to the test since wood naturally expands and contracts with weather changes. During the dry winter, moisture gets sucked out of the boards, causing it to shrink, and in the summer and more humid periods, the material will expand. It’s the same process that can cause your floors to become squeaky, because the nails that were previously keeping the floor and subfloor, or subfloor and floor joists together, have loosened.

Rotting and warping is simply one of the things you will learn to live with if you install real wood, while a lot of engineered options come with at least a 15-year warranty.