Best Exterior Home Siding Materials: Pros & Cons, Types, Options, Manufacturers, and IdeasContractorQuotes.us
Do you want to make your home or building as impressive as it possibly can?
One of the first things that people would notice in any building, whether they are residential homes, mobile homes, or commercial establishments, is the external siding. They take up a huge chunk of the building and you can see it whether you are looking at its front, back, or even its sides. It is that prominent.
On this page:
- Factors to Consider When Choosing Siding for Your Home
- Which Exterior Home Siding Material to Choose?
- Insulated Vinyl Siding
- Engineered Wood
- Fiber Cement
- Which Siding Should You Use?
- Siding Manufacturers
Not a lot of people realize that exterior siding can make or break your home. Even if you use the best roof there is with lots of skylight, shiny copper gutters that were seamlessly made, and windows and doors that look like works of art, they would go unnoticed if you use home siding that do not match the overall look of your home.
Here’s an extensive infographic we made on the topic. You can also read the remaining part of the article by scrolling below it.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Siding for Your Home
With so many materials and color options to choose from, it may feel overwhelming for homeowners like you to select the best siding. If this is one task that you are not looking forward to, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.
To help you decide on the perfect exterior siding in your home, you first need to consider these factors:
- Cost – your budget is always a factor, and the installation of exterior siding will have you shell out a lot of money.
Always remember that striking a balance is important when it comes to choosing which siding to use – go for what suits your home but also fits your overall budget. You don’t want to splurge on it, only to be met by bare walls inside your home because you ran out of money to get your walls painted or have floorboards installed.
You also need to consider the installation. The rates of professionals will vary, depending on the material.
- Durability – how long do you expect to use your external siding? Will it be permanent, or do you have plans of changing it in the future? Do note that some siding materials last longer than others. Also, go for one that can withstand the elements that your area experiences. Choose the most weather-appropriate, not necessarily the most durable.
If you live in a neighborhood that only gets a lot of sun and a bit of rain, pick the siding that can withstand them the most. You don’t need to get the most durable one that prides itself with its capability to withstand harsh winters.
- Maintenance – some exterior siding options are low maintenance, while some require frequent cleaning and paint touchups. Proper maintenance is something that is required of exterior siding. Note that the simpler the design, the less the need to maintain it regularly.
Also consider the possibility of doing repairs or minor improvements in the future, even if you plan to install the siding permanently. Wear-and-tear is inevitable, and some materials are much cheaper to repair and maintain than others.
- Insulation – did you know that exterior siding also serve an important purpose, aside from looking pretty? That is, they also help keep heat in your home. Some siding materials have better insulating properties compared to the others.
Exterior siding, plus a good insulating foam, translate to better energy efficiency. This is because more heat is trapped inside your home and as a result, you don’t have to increase the heating in your home during cold days.
- Warranty – home siding materials generally come with warranties, but their coverages vary. Make sure to check what is covered by your warranty, such as fading of the color and damage due to extreme weather, and if they will cover only the materials or labor as well.
If you plan to eventually sell off your home, check the warranty coverage if it can be transferred to the new owner or not. Also, some manufacturers will void the warranty in case of damage caused by certain factors.
But if you are unsatisfied with the warranty coverage of your chosen exterior home siding material, why not opt for homeowners insurance instead of settling for a material you don’t want just because the warranty coverage is something you like?
- Style – above all others, this is what homeowners like you tend to focus on. A common mistake that homeowners make is choosing the siding that looks the best, but is actually inappropriate for their home or their neighborhood. You need to go for what suits the overall look of your home, as well as your neighborhood in some cases.
Among the different factors we enumerated, this is probably where most homeowners will find difficulty in. The best way to make it easy for you is to seek the help of professionals. They will be able to tell which siding material would best suit your home, not to mention what will look good.
All these factors, not just one or two, should be considered by homeowners like you in selecting the exterior home siding that would work best.
Are you now ready to learn about the many siding options available for you to choose from?
The abundance of exterior siding materials may seem overwhelming to homeowners. But aside from choosing the material, you also have to consider its style. All these styles we will mention apply to vinyl siding but some styles may also apply to other siding materials as well, such as wood.
Do note that siding styles are different from siding types. Siding types refer to the siding’s appearance, while the siding styles consist of the texture, color options, profile, or properties of a specific siding type.
To start with, the three types of siding are:
- Horizontal – the most used siding style. You might recognize it by its appearance that consists of horizontal lines that seem to run continuously or all over the house. This is also commonly referred to as the ‘clapboard siding’ or ‘horizontal lap’.
Most siding materials can be installed horizontally, that’s why this is the type that you often see not only in homes but also in commercial buildings that choose to install siding. Horizontal siding offer more versatility than the other types, due to the wider range of materials and designs you can use.
- Vertical – the opposite of the horizontal type, vertical siding have lines that run from the top of your house to the bottom. This is also another popular type and is known to be much more weather-resistant, especially during winter. This is because the board & batten siding, which is the sole vertical siding style, is installed very securely.
Vertical siding also give off an impression that a house is taller than it actually is. And if your concern is maintenance, this type is better than the traditional horizontal siding because dirt and grime will come off faster when you wash it, thanks to gravity.
- Shake or Shingle – reminiscent of the look of the typical roof shingles, this type seems to combine the look of the horizontal and vertical types. While wood, particularly redwood and cedar, are commonly used for it, you can also use fiber cement, vinyl, and engineered wood.
Often used interchangeably, the shingle or shake type have some minor differences. Shakes are thicker than shingles but are not uniform, which gives it a rougher look. Shingles are uniformly made and look neater overall.
Although this type is also installed vertically, it is not considered a vertical siding type due to its appearance. This is because this type considers both horizontal and vertical alignments.
There are 8 general siding styles for you to choose from, which are classified under the types of siding available. For horizontal siding, you can choose from log, Dutch lap, traditional lap, and beaded. The vertical siding type only has one style, which is the board & batten style, and the shake or shingle type has cedar shakes and scalloped or half-round shakes. Read our specific article on lap siding right here.
From the name itself, the log siding style is something that mimics the look of actual logs. Using real logs for an external siding can be costly to maintain, not to mention more prone to rot, so using artificial materials that imitates its appearance is the next best thing.
Reminiscent of wooden planks, the Dutch lap style of siding may confuse you with the traditional one that is much more common for horizontal types of siding. It may not be that obvious because they look a lot similar to each other but the detail of the Dutch lap distinguishes them.
Their biggest difference lies in the appearance of a decorative bevel cut or groove that is found on top of the panel. A shadow line is then created by both this groove and the panel that overlaps, and this shadow gives the illusion of depth. This is something you cannot see in the traditional type.
The most basic style among horizontal siding, the traditional lap is the most commonly used style in classic residential homes or older homes with a Colonial theme. It is smooth all throughout and no shadow lines are present. This is why it is also commonly referred to as the ‘smooth lap style’ or ‘ship-lap siding’, which is due to its plank-like appearance similar to that on wooden ships of the past.
Similar to the traditional lap, the beaded style of horizontal siding is also smooth, except for the bottom edge that has a rounded curl or groove that is referred to the ‘bead’. Like the Dutch lap, the groove also creates a shadow line on the plank.In the past, this was a sign of wealth because the grooves were handmade and take some time to create. As a result, they were sold at a much higher price than other siding styles.
Board & Batten
Like we mentioned, the board & batten style is the sole vertical siding style. What makes it a favorite of many is because of its excellent weather-resistance, even during winter. This is the result of how this siding style is crafted – two wider boards are joined together by a ‘batten’ or smaller board, which is placed over the seams of the wide boards.
Even if this is much more complicated to install, a lot of homeowners prefer the board & batten style due to its weather-resisting properties. This style also veers away from the more traditional horizontal siding style without making a drastic change.
Usually coming in either vinyl or actual cedar, this style is closest to the look of roof shingles that a lot of homeowners prefer to incorporate in their homes.
Using actual cedar for the cedar shake siding is something that you should think twice about. Cedar requires regular upkeep, which will cost a lot in the long run. Improper maintenance will result in faded spots, damages, or even missing portions. As an alternative, those who want this look can opt for vinyl.
Half-round or Scalloped Shakes
A style more associated with coastal homes, the half-round or scalloped shakes have also gained a following among homeowners who live far away from any sea or ocean. This style is best described as ‘charming’ and is often used as a design element or statement piece that is placed on the upper portion of a house.
When having your exterior siding installed, you are not limited to just using a single style for your home. A trend nowadays is to mix and match these different siding styles to add character. The usual combination consists of half-round shakes on the upper part of the house and the lower part is either made up of horizontal or vertical shingles.
But of course, you are free to choose what you want – whether to combine different styles or stick to a single style for your entire home. What matters most is that it will complement your home and serve the right function for it.
Which Exterior Home Siding Material to Choose?
Now that you have a general idea of the different types and styles, the next step is to learn about the different siding materials available for you to choose from. Again, it is always important to keep in mind the numerous factors we mentioned. Don’t just focus on what looks good.
If you’ve ever went around a residential area and look at the different external home siding, more often than not, you’re looking at vinyl siding.
Looking for cheap options? Vinyl tops the list. On average, the cost of labor and materials will range from $4 to $9 only per square foot, with the material costing just $2 to $4.
- As maintenance-free as possible
- Durable and will last decades
- Cheap cost of material and installation
- Not really environment-friendly
- Dangerous, since PVC will emit toxic chemicals once exposed to extreme heat.
- It can still be blown off
- Not that great at withstanding extreme weathers
- Cracks may appear, allowing water to seep through it and cause rotting or the growth of mold
- Poor thermal blocking because of its low R-value.
But before you can get your vinyl siding installed, there are some accessories that should first be placed or installed and vinyl trims are on top of that list. These trims are installed at the very top and bottom because they help hold the vinyl siding in place, as well as serve as decorative elements. They are also necessary if you are installing siding that will surround a window, door, or entryway.
Fortunately, there are a number of vinyl siding trim options that you can choose from to complement the look of your home, including:
- J-channel (the most common)
- Undersill trim (specifically for windows)
- Frieze molding
- Drip cap vertical edge
- Quarter round
- Crown molding window trim
Insulated Vinyl Siding
For homeowners who want to use vinyl but do not want the hassle of installing a layer of insulation, the insulated vinyl siding would work. This siding material is made up of the usual PVC, but it is also backed by an insulator, usually foam or expanded polystyrene (or EPS), which is permanently fixed to the back of the vinyl.
- Presence of insulating layer means you no longer have to install a separate insulation.
- Much easier to install
- Appears to be much more solid because the insulated vinyl’s entire back is glued to the insulating layer. Ordinary vinyl, when installed, has some gaps or spaces behind it because of the irregular back.
- Less chance of warping, as the additional layer helps retain its shape even with strong winds.
- Increase in R-value is not that high
- Slightly more expensive than plain vinyl
- Limited color options and designs
Before vinyl entered the picture, wood was the siding material of choice of most homeowners. It can’t be denied that it has a certain rustic charm to it that is not replicated by other materials, that’s why a lot of homeowners still choose wood siding over the cheaper vinyl.
There are several types of wood that are normally used for external home siding, namely:
- Engineered Wood
And if you decide to go for wood siding, also known as ‘claddings’, there are several styles you can choose from:
- Horizontal or lap
- Split log
- Drop channel, which can be done horizontally, vertically, and even diagonally
- Board & Batten
- Tongue-and-groove, which is quite similar to the drop channel
Depending on your chosen type of wood, each piece can cost as low as $2 to as high as over $7. Labor rates are nearly in the same range, bringing the entire cost to have this material installed somewhere along the range of $4 to $14 for every square foot.
- Easier to do repairs on, because only the damaged or missing portions will need replacing
- Installation is easy
- Much more customizable, as you can install it to your home in whatever shape or size you want, and keep it in its natural color or stain or paint over it in whatever color you want.
- It will increase the value of your home
- Has one of the highest R-values among siding materials
- High-maintenance – you’re looking at repainting wood siding every 4 to 5 years and re-staining them every 2 to 3 years. Not to mention doing regular checks and cleaning
- Susceptible to rot, mold, and pest infestation, as well as water damage
Engineered wood is an ideal choice for homeowners who aim for the rustic or wood-look but do not want to spend much and hate the idea of using vinyl.
If you are not familiar, engineered wood is made up of sawdust, castoff wood, woodchips, and bonding agents. Aside from using wood-based components, it is also deliberately made to look as close to real wood. In fact, it looks more natural compared to the wood-look of vinyl siding.
It costs less than $3 per square foot of material and labor charge is usually lower than that of wood siding, making it a cheaper alternative.
- A lot of the benefits of using wood siding also apply for engineered wood, such as being environment-friendly, customizable, and easier to install
- No more dealing with infestations and rot, since it is pre-treated and infused with chemical compounds to prevent these
- May look too perfect to the point of looking artificial or fake
- Risk of moisture issues due to improper installation
- Not fire-resistant
Another alternative siding material to the popular wood and vinyl is fiber cement. Just like engineered wood, fiber cement is comprised of different materials, namely Portland cement, fly ash, and pulps of wood. And if it isn’t obvious yet, these components are why fiber cement siding are named as such.
This material is also fast becoming a popular choice for residential siding. This is because aside from imitating the appearance of wood, brick, or stucco, you can also get it installed in different ways. Fiber cement options normally used are:
- Clapboard or Horizontal Lap – average cost of $1.60 for every square foot
- Shingle – ranging from $2 to $8 for each shingle
- Stucco or Brick – $4 per square foot on average
- Sheet Form – amounting to $3 to $3.50 on average
It takes inspiration from the appearance of stucco, wood, and brick, yet it generally has a lower price. The major difference would lie in labor rates, owing to the fact that more workers are needed for installation because of its weight. Installation costs normally range from $4 to $7.
- Can withstand harsh weathers
- Slim chance of rot or insect infestation
- Considered as a ‘green’ material
- Repainting is needed after some time
- Not for irregular shapes
Used for both residential and commercial buildings, metal siding are commonly thought of as belonging to an either modern or retro-themed structure. But with the right implementation, you can use it in other themes as well.
Metal siding are often made up of either steel or aluminum. Each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages, such as:
- Aluminum is much cheaper
- Steel is much more susceptible to rust, with Corten siding being a specific type of rusted steel siding.
- Aluminum is thinner and lighter than steel, making it less resistant to the effects of different weather conditions and normal wear-and-tear
- Steel retains its color longer
The price of materials and cost of installation of metal siding is not that far off from vinyl siding. Each square foot ranges from $5 to $11, while the material itself ranges from $3 to $6 per piece.
- No issue with mold and pest infestations
- Water damage is hardly an issue
- Has a cooling effect because metal reflects heat coming from the sun
- Not immune to damage
- Not completely weatherproof
- It gets noisy when struck by rain or hail
- Poor heat retention
Do you prefer the wood-look but want to use steel siding? You’re in luck because a more recent innovation is the steel log siding, which was developed in 2014. This will help you achieve a cabin feel, minus the high maintenance associated with using real logs. The downside is that the material itself is quite expensive, with each square foot averaging $4 to $6. Labor costs would also be higher.
Another pricey siding material is stone. Those who choose this normally use stones like limestone, slate, and granite, which gives off a very natural and rustic vibe to any home. In fact, it is one of the best-looking siding materials out there. This explains why it has been used all over the world for centuries, and has even become a status symbol of homes.
It is the most expensive siding material, costing as much as $18 per square foot. This normally doesn’t include the cost of installation, which can reach more than $10 for every square foot.
- No resources needed to manufacture, making it an environmentally sound choice
- Presence of thermal mass that absorb heat from the sun and slowly expel it helps in insulation
- Difficult installation
If you are looking at stone siding but find it too costly, there are some cheaper alternatives for you. These include:
- Foam panel stone
- Manufactured stone
- Stone veneer
- Natural stone cladding
Among these four, stone veneer is the alternative used most often. This is due to the fact that it resembles the look and feel of natural stone closely, yet only costs half the price. Unfortunately, its downside is in terms of moisture retention. As a result, mold can grow.
Another siding material that has been used for the longest time is brick. In fact, it is even considered as one of the oldest. You have probably seen this siding in old residential buildings and commercial ones, like schools.
Unfortunately, brick is another expensive material to use. The range of each square foot of material is from $6 to $10. And because it can only be installed by qualified professionals, you can expect the labor charges to be high as well.
- Long lasting
- Less maintenance is needed
- Resistant to fire, pests, and harsh weather
- Customizable and you can apply any paint color you want
- Not immune to damage, particularly loose mortar and brick spalling
- Thorough cleaning can be a pain
- Gaps can retain moisture, which can lead to all sorts of problems
Fortunately, you can still achieve this look without spending too much by using imitation bricks siding. The downside is that it can get damaged due to water exposure or retention and its longevity is not as good as actual brick siding.
Normally made by mixing cement, sand, or lime, stucco is another siding material that has been in use for a long time. What makes it unique is how it is installed – you can go for the traditional method similar to the application of plaster or use the EIFS or Exterior Insulation and Finish System.
Stucco is also a costly siding material, ranging from $4 to $9, and its installation can set you back even further by $3 to $9 for every square foot.
- Easily repairable
- Very durable
- Quickly dries up
- Can be customized to your preferred color option
- Excellent insulator for both heat and noise
- Is breathable, reducing the buildup of moisture
- Attracts dirt and will require frequent cleaning
- Ideally installed only on arid areas that get little rainfall
- Cracks can easily form when the ground moves or settling occurs
- Complicated to install
Stucco will easily blend in and complement most homes, but homeowners often take it up a notch by adding timber boards. Also known as half-timbering on stucco, this look is often used on white stucco and is associated with the Tudor style.
Would you believe that concrete is now also becoming a popular choice of siding? Made up of sand, gravel, water, and cement mixed together, concrete siding are often compared to fiber cement. Their difference lies in the fact that fiber cement is typically used to imitate wood, stucco, or brick, while concrete is installed plain or as is.
Concrete siding is a fairly affordable material and it will only cost you around $3 to $5 for every square foot of material. However, its weight makes installation tricky, and this is where you will spend a lot. Concrete is also made to resemble logs with the advantages of concrete, and without the disadvantages of wood.
- Durable and will last decades. This durability can even help lower the premium of your homeowners insurance
- Almost maintenance-free
- Can survive harsh weather, even floods, storms, and tornadoes
- A good insulator
- Customizable, since it can be formed into whatever shape you like and painted with any color
- Will resist fires
- Complicated to install
Although not technically a siding, those who want a truly modern look for their home forego installing siding. Instead, they make use of a lot of glass that serve as the walls.
Unfortunately, getting this installed is going to cost you – a lot. For every linear foot of glass, you need to shell out roughly $700 to $1600. The price depends not just on the glass but also the frame. Installation is only done by professionals, so the labor cost is also pricey.
- Lets a lot of light in, helping you save on your electrical bills
- Uses sealant that prevents water from getting in, making it waterproof
- Good at keeping heat and the cold inside the house, due to it being airtight
- You get hardly any privacy
- Regular maintenance is a must, since cleaning needs to be done every now and then
Which Siding Should You Use?
If you noticed, some siding materials are only recommended to be installed in certain conditions. You need to keep in mind that just because you can get any siding material you want doesn’t mean you should. You need to consider if the siding you want is appropriate or not.
While homes in general can use almost any kind of siding you want, there are certain structures or buildings that have limited suitable siding options. Here’s a list to help you out with that:
- Engineered Wood
- Fiber Cement
- Faux or imitation stone (real natural stone will be too heavy)
- Metal (specifically aluminum)
- Metal (namely steel log and aluminum)
- Wood (particularly in a board & batten style)
- Fiber Cement
- Wood (whether horizontal, board & batten, or shingle style)
- Fiber Cement
- Metal (particularly steel that looks aged)
- Fiber Cement
- Wood (especially log and any suitable wood in a drop-channel style)
- Engineered wood
- Metal (particularly steel log)
Tiny House (ideally in a board & batten style)
- Fiber Cement
The available siding options for these given structures may sound limiting for some, but these are the ideal ones that consider both the theme or style and function.
If it sounds too plain for you, why not mix them up? Use both cement and engineered wood in a cabin, combine stone and wood in a tiny house, have your garage installed with brick and cement siding, the list goes on.
A rule of thumb when it comes to construction and home improvement materials is to go for those that are produced by reputable manufacturers. That way, you are assured that what you used for your home will last for a long time, even a lifetime.
siding are not an exception to that. It is important that you go for not what is the cheapest but those that are crafted by reputable companies. You don’t want to experience getting the cheapest engineered wood siding out there, only to see it immediately get destroyed by a short rainshower.
To make it easier for you to pick your home siding, here are some known manufacturers of the different siding materials:
- Vinyl – Georgia Pacific (GP), CertainTeed, ABTCO, Timbercrest, Mastic, Alside, Kaycan, and Mitten
- Wood – WoodTone, Revere Building Products, Exterior Portfolio by Royal, Advantage Trim & Lumber Co., LP Building Products, and Cedar Creek
- Metal – ALSCO, Rollex, Reinke Shakes, Mastic, EDCO, TruCedar, BridgerSteel, and Gentek
- Stone (including stone veneer and manufactured stone) – Cultured Stone, Stoneyard, Eldorado Stone, Urestone, Silvermine, GenStone, Ply Gem or Durata, AirStone, M-Rock, VeneerStone, and LiteStone.
- Brick – Flexi-Brick, Z-Brick, Brickweb, Old Mill, and Brick It
- Engineered Wood – Celect, Masonry Technology, Inc., James Hardie, Roseburg, Exterior Portfolio by Royal, and Lester Building Systems
- Stucco – Stucco Masters
- Fiber Cement – Finex, GAF WeatherSide, American Fiber Cement Corporation, Nichiha, Woodtone, James Hardie, and Allura Plycem
- Insulated Vinyl – CedarBoards Insulated Siding, CraneBoard Solid Core Siding, Haven Insulated Sinding,CedarMax Insulated siding, Structure Home Insulation System, and Prodigy Insulated Siding
Both cement and stucco siding are normally mixed or crafted by the professional hired to install them.
Now that we’ve tackled the different types and styles of siding, as well as the numerous siding materials you can choose from not just for your home but also for other structures as well, it makes choosing what exterior home siding to install much easier. Don’t worry if you’re still confused – it’s normal. Professional siding contractors can definitely help you with your decision-making.
Are you now ready to transform your home?