Comparing the Quality and Costs of Siding

You may be itching to swap out your home’s tired vinyl siding for a classic red brick, or even a sleek aluminum—anything to give your home’s face a fresh new look. But choosing your siding is a decision that will last for years, so it’s important to give it some careful consideration first. After all, siding is the protective barrier that shields your home from extreme weather and drastic temperature changes, which adds value to your home. It can also be beautiful, adding color and visual interest as curb appeal for the exterior of your home. With the addition of siding, you will see the value of your home increase, but by exactly how much? Well, that all depends on the type you choose and the quality of the product.

When it comes to choosing the right siding for your home, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The truth is, what is best for your home depends largely on your budget, your design needs, and the skill level of the person installing the siding. The best way to select a siding option is by comparing each of the most popular choices side by side.

shutterstock- Vinyl Siding 5

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is the preferred choice for residential homes in the United States. This is largely due to the fact that vinyl is durable, lasting between 20 and 30 years. Vinyl requires very little maintenance, and can be easily cleaned with soap and water. Homeowners also choose vinyl for its affordability—depending on the brand, it costs between $.65 and $2.00 per square foot. Since vinyl siding is easily installed, many homeowners will install it themselves, saving additional money on labor costs.Yet another perk of vinyl siding is that it’s also incredibly customizable, available in countless color and design options.

After installing vinyl siding, homeowners can recoup up to 83 percent of the initial cost if they choose to sell their home. As far as the disadvantages of choosing vinyl, homeowners may not be pleased with the plastic appearance of this option and will need to pay an additional cost for extra long siding to eliminate the appearance of seams between panels. When compared to vinyl available in standard sizes, extra long siding is an estimated 30 percent more expensive.

Another downside of choosing vinyl is knowing that vinyl is not an environmentally friendly option for siding. The same components that make vinyl so durable, give it the ability to last decades in landfills. If you do choose this option, we suggest working with a contractor who is committed to participating in vinyl recycling programs created by vinyl manufacturers.

Wood siding

Wood Siding

Wood siding is a favorite among homeowners who are looking for a more natural and rustic appearance. And while wood siding is the champion of durability, lasting up to 100 years, it is high maintenance. In order to maintain the durability and longevity of wood siding, homeowners must perform regular care and upkeep of the siding including repainting, restaining, or resealing every few years. It’s important for homeowners to commit to maintaining their wood siding, as the cost of completely refinishing wood siding can cost as much as $5,000.

Wood siding is among the more expensive options, costing between $2.50 and $8.00 per square foot. Since wood is easy to work with, many homeowners can save on labor costs by installing it themselves. And since the wood can be stained or painted in any available color, it’s an incredibly customizable choice of siding.

When it comes to choosing sustainable building materials, it doesn’t get much better than wood siding. Wood breaks down very easily in landfills. To increase the sustainability of your siding, choose Forest Stewardship Council certified wood siding, which is harvested without creating an undue burden on our forests.


Stucco Siding

Stucco is a well-loved siding option because of the energy efficiency it brings to a home. Stucco siding is created by layering cement or earth, lime, and silica, creating a case around the home. This provides added insulation, and homeowners who choose stucco siding typically rely far less on their heating and cooling systems. Other advantages of this option include blocking sound from entering your home, and being naturally resistant to fire. Stucco siding is easily maintained, and will last for up to 50 years with the proper care.

One limitation of stucco is that it only performs well in certain climates. The materials used to create stucco do not react well to excess moisture, so stucco should not be used in especially humid climates or regions that receive above average rainfall each year.

When it comes to cost, stucco siding is among the most expensive siding options. Stucco costs between $6 and $9 per square foot. Still, because of it’s longevity, durability, and energy efficiency, many find that stucco pays for itself over time.

The sustainability of stucco siding depends largely on how it is manufactured. When making a purchase, look for stucco created from lime and earth instead of cement, since cement has been found to be responsible for carbon dioxide emissions.

stone siding

Stone Siding

In general, stone siding is largely a manufactured stone veneer. While natural stone siding is an option, it is difficult to obtain, incredibly difficult to install, and quite costly. Because of this, many homeowners who are looking for the look of stone choose to have a manufactured stone veneer installed instead. Typically, a stone veneer is not used to cover the entire home, but instead as an accent wall paired with another type of siding.

Stone veneer is popular because of its uniquely rustic look, and for its long lifespan—typically 25 years or more. Veneer is easy to install, and some homeowners choose to do the installation themselves to save on the cost of labor. Manufactured stone is easy to maintain, and very resistant to mold or mildew caused by excess moisture in the air. Although easy to maintain, owners of a home with a stone veneer should be careful not to expose this siding to pressure washers, as it can damage the veneer.

The cost of stone siding varies: natural stone costs as much as $18 per square foot, and manufactured stone veneer costs between $4 and $10 per square foot. Neither of these estimates included the added cost of installation, which can be high for such a labor-intensive material.

As long as stone veneer is manufactured using non-toxic materials, it’s an incredibly sustainable option. While some may think a veneer doesn’t look as authentic as natural stone, manufactured stone is a greener option, as harvesting stone can be disruptive to the environment.

Aluminum Siding Modernize

Aluminum Siding

While the durability and affordability of aluminum siding once made it a top choice for residential homeowners, it was eventually overshadowed by the cheaper and easier-to-find siding choice—vinyl. Regardless, aluminum is still a very durable option, and can last up to 50 years with proper care.

Aluminum can be an energy efficiency option, but the thickness of the siding plays a role in just how efficient the siding will be. Homeowners should commit to the added expense of a thicker aluminum siding that will provide added insulation to the home. One drawback of aluminum is that is may be easily dented or scratched in severe weather.

Aluminum siding is moderately priced, costing between $2.50 and $5 per square foot. Due to decreasing popularity, aluminum siding can be difficult to find and only available in a limited number of color and style options, so keep this in mind while shopping.

Since aluminum is recyclable, it’s a more sustainable choice for siding a house. Manufacturing vinyl requires very little energy, and any waste can be melted down and easily reused.

Mod-brick siding

Brick Siding

If you’re the type of person who likes a timeless design aesthetic, brick is the siding choice for you.  Although it does require occasional maintenance, the work is worth the effort, because it can last for 100 years or more with proper upkeep. For different budgets and needs, choose between brick veneer, which is placed on top of the wood structure of the home, or full brick siding. Potential buyers love the look of brick siding, and the addition of brick to a home is shown to increase the selling price of homes.

Because of the weight of brick, to installation cost of adding brick siding to your home can be significantly more costly when compared to other options. If budget is an issue, consider a lighter, brick veneer that still provides the classic look you desire.

A brick veneer costs between $4 and $6 per square foot, and full brick siding costs between $6 and $10 per square foot. Neither of these estimates include the cost of installation, and properly installing brick is not a do-it-yourself project—it typically requires a homeowner to hire a contractor with specialized skills.

Firing brick uses a lot of energy, but the environmental impact of this siding can be lessened by using salvaged brick or working a local manufacturer who is committed to more sustainable methods of firing bricks.

Fiber Cement Siding

Fiber-Cement Siding

Fiber-cement siding is unique because it can mimic the look of wood, brick, or stucco at a much lower cost. Fiber-cement siding is created from a mold, using a mixture of wood fibers, cement, clay, and sand. Although heavy and difficult to install, it is very durable and with occasional maintenance it lasts up to 50 years.

Because of the unique makeup of fiber-cement siding, this siding easily expands and contracts, performing very well in regions with high humidity, above average rainfall, or extreme fluctuations of temperature.

Fiber-cement siding is affordable, typically costing between $1.25 and $2 per square foot. Homeowners who choose to sell their home in the future can expect recoup 79 percent of the initial cost their siding. Since fiber-cement is heavy and requires specialized skills for shaping and installing, it’s important to find a contractor who specializes in installation of this particular type of siding.

There is some debate on just how sustainable and “green” fiber-cement siding is. While it has been found to be very durable, it is a new product and there is no real evidence concerning how long it will last. Additionally, cement has been found to release carbon dioxide emissions.


8 Responses

  1. Olivia Sherwin

    This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that vinyl siding lasts between twenty and thirty years. My wife and I are going to be installing new siding on our home, and we want something durable that won’t take a lot to maintain. We’ll definitely look into getting vinyl to fit our needs. Thanks for the great post!

  2. Nathan Johnson

    Thanks for going over the most popular options for siding and their benefits. My wife and I are planning on building a house soon, so we are looking into some different things. Because we are building our house in a dry and hot climate, it seems like stucco might be a really great option for us. I love the look of the stone exterior, though. Thanks for the info!

  3. Hani Faouri

    Thank you! I found the information with regards to the different siding options very useful.

    • Lauren Pezzullo

      We’re glad this helped you, Hani!

  4. Luke Yancey

    Thank you for all of your comparisons! I was thinking about getting brick siding. I changed my mind when I saw you mentioned the affordability and durability of vinyl siding. I was under the impression that vinyl siding only lasts 10-15 years, not 20-30!

  5. Rockford Johnson

    We are planning on remodeling our home soon. It was cool to learn that siding can help to increase the value and curb appeal of your home. I hope that sharing this article with my family can help to them to know the benefits of having siding installed.

  6. Would you consider Houston area suitable for stucco? Average rainfall per year is about 6″ per year. Of course, a non-average rainfall may be like 8″ to even 10″ at times. Please advise as I am considering a home with stucco simply from the looks. The other option I like is stone front…

  7. Puja Shah

    We live in Minneapolis and are very torn between how cedar wood siding looks and how much cheaper aluminum siding with a wood finish is (thinking long board in dark fir)
    What are your thoughts on the two?
    I have heard cedar is a bit of maintenance and I am worried the long board won’t look enough like wood.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

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