Top 10 Siding Materials: Costs, Pros & Cons and ROI

Today, you have more attractive house siding options than ever before. This buying guide details the top 10 siding materials to help you decide which type will give your home the look and durability you want, while staying within your budget.

1. Vinyl Siding
2. Fiber Cement Siding
3. Aluminum Siding
4. Natural Wood Siding
5. Engineered Wood Siding
6. Brick Siding
7. Brick Veneer Siding
8. Genuine Stone Siding
9. Stone Veneer Siding
10. Stucco Siding

Did you know? Most other online estimates of house siding costs are unrealistically low. Many only resources take the cost of the basic material and add “base” installation costs to reach their total. — This approach fails to consider accessories like trim, supplies and fasteners that can add $1.50 to $2.50 per square foot.

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is made from polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, a plastic. It is blended with pigment to give the siding color. Acrylics are added for strength and fade protection.

The material is extruded into panels. Most panels are textured like rough-hewn wood siding, but smooth panels are produced too.

What we like:

Vinyl siding is known for its relatively low cost and durability. — That combination produces good value. The material lasts 20-30 years depending on its quality.

Vinyl offers excellent styles and color options:

Horizontal vinyl siding is made to look like wood boards from 3” to 8” wide in Dutch lap, beaded and clapboard styles.

Vertical panels are produced in board & batten and flat styles.

Architectural panels are formed like wood shingle and shake siding. Most products are offered in colors from white to deep browns and dark grays.

Vinyl siding is light and easy to install. — This helps cut down costs when hiring a professional and makes a DIY option more viable for handy homeowners.

Maintenance is minimal: Lightly power wash it to remove dust and dirt.

What we don’t like:

Vinyl lacks the authenticity of wood: In neighborhoods where homes are sided with wood, stone and brick, vinyl often looks inferior.

Plastic isn’t eco-friendly: While vinyl siding can be recycled, most of it ends up in landfills.

Warping, cracking and water penetration are frequent problems with bad installation.

Cost:

The installed cost of basic vinyl siding is $4.25 to $7.50 per square foot when horizontal and vertical panels are used.

Architectural vinyl siding panels cost $2 to $3 more per square foot. Cost factors are the quality of the siding and the complexity of the house on which it is installed.

ROI:

Vinyl siding has an ROI of 80%. The ROI is the percentage of the cost homeowners recoup when selling their home while the siding looks new and is in good condition.

Did you know? Vinyl siding is the most common house siding in the US and Canada. It accounts for nearly 30% of siding jobs. However, vinyl’s market share is slipping as other siding materials gain popularity and homeowners want a greener siding solution.

Fiber Cement Siding

Next-generation fiber cement siding is good looking, tough and becoming more common. It is embossed to look like wood, stone, brick and stucco siding.

HardiePanel vertical fiber cement siding on a house

The material is a blend of Portland cement, wood pulp and fly ash or sand (silica) mixed with water. The mixture is pressed into sheets and cut into planks and panels.

Finish options include unfinished and factory primed or painted.

What we like:

Durability is excellent: Fiber cement siding lasts 40-60 years with proper maintenance. Factory coatings last up to 15 years.

It has good value: Fiber cement costs more than vinyl, but since it lasts longer, its lifetime cost is comparable.

Fiber cement siding handles the elements: It resists impact from hail, won’t burn and isn’t harmed by moisture when kept painted.

It’s environmentally friendly: Fiber cement is recognized by the US Green Building Council for sustainability and the use of recycled wood. It can be recycled and doesn’t contain harmful materials.

What we don’t like:

Maintenance is high: Once the factory coating, if applied, begins to wear, fiber cement must be repainted every 3 to 7 years depending on your climate.

A lack of maintenance is costly: Paint and caulk on seams must be kept fresh because raw fiber cement absorbs moisture and quickly deteriorates.

Installation cost is higher than vinyl because the material is heavy and difficult to cut.

Cost:

The cost to have fiber cement siding installed is $6.50 to $12.50 per square foot. Factors include the style, thickness of the material and the installation degree of difficulty.

ROI:

Fiber cement has an ROI of 77% in the latest national survey.

Did you know? Fiber cement is used in about 15% of siding jobs. That percentage is rising each year, and fiber cement is taking more market share from vinyl than other materials.

Aluminum Siding

Once largely replaced and made virtually obsolete by vinyl siding, aluminum is making a strong comeback thanks to its durability and green building related advantages.

Alsco Aluminum Siding

Aluminum siding is extruded from rolls of material into lightweight panels that are easy to install. It is available in the same styles as vinyl siding, though in fewer colors.

What we like:

A good variety of looks: These include horizontal and vertical panels in a range of profiles with rustic, traditional and contemporary styles.

It’s corrosion-free: Aluminum won’t rust like steel.

Maintenance is easy: Occasional washing is all that’s required.

Aluminum is environmentally sustainable: Most aluminum siding has high recycled content and is recyclable.

It is cost-competitive: Initial cost is lower than many materials and it has a lifetime cost over its 30-40 years equal to or lower than vinyl.

What we don’t like:

Dents and scratches happen: If large hail is common in your area, this isn’t your siding material. Falling and blown debris might dent or scratch it too.

It isn’t wood: While formed with wood texture, the siding has a distinctly metal appearance.

Aluminum coatings can be chalky: New coatings have reduced but not eliminated this issue that typically appears after 10 to 15 years.

Cost:

The cost to install aluminum siding is $5.85 to $10.25 per square foot, based on the specific material and installation factors.

ROI:

Aluminum is considered a midrange siding and has an ROI of about 77%.

Did you know? Not only is aluminum recyclable, the most aluminum siding options contain 65% or more recycled material.

Natural Wood Siding

Wood is a versatile exterior cladding choice for most architectural styles of homes and cabins.

Maibec natural wood siding

Wood siding produced from fir, spruce and pine is affordable. These woods are usually painted.

Cedar and redwood siding cost more but their appearance is preferred by some homeowners. They are typically stained or just sealed to take advantage of the wood’s natural beauty.

What we like:

Wood siding is beautiful and natural. — It is the siding mimicked in many other types.

Most wood is affordable: Many homeowners are surprised at how little plank wood siding costs, though cedar shake siding is more expensive.

Wood siding can last indefinitely when properly maintained.

Vertical and horizontal siding in many widths and styles plus shake siding give you options for customizing the look of your home.

What we don’t like:

Maintenance is costly and persistent: The wood must be stained or painted every 5-10 years to keep it in top condition.

It’s susceptible to the elements: When not sealed, moisture will cause rot. Insects and woodpeckers are drawn to wood. Wood burns. These are the reasons so many siding types have been developed to look like wood without its drawbacks.

Cost:

Installed wood plank siding costs $5.50 to $9.25 per square foot. Cedar and redwood costs $8.00 to $10.50 per sq. ft. Cedar shake and shingle siding costs up to $15 per square foot and is often used in combination with other siding types.

ROI:

Most wood siding is considered a midrange project with the average cost-to-value return of about 77%. The higher cost of cedar shakes and shingles siding slightly reduces its potential return on investment.

Pro Tip: For the lowest cost, choose a wood common to your region. For example, redwood costs less in the West where it is common. Fir costs less East of the Mississippi for the same reason.

Engineered Wood Siding

Also called composite wood siding or manufactured wood siding, it costs less but doesn’t last as long as genuine wood.

LP SmartSide lapside siding

Engineered siding is made with wood fibers or strands coating with wax to waterproof them. Zinc borate is added to make the wood less susceptible to rot.

A resin binder is used, and a resin overlay improves weather resistance.

The material is pressed to form planks, panels and shakes. Most products are textured to look like wood grain, but smooth siding is available.

The siding is either primed or factory-finished.

What we like:

Generally speaking, with the exception of vinyl, engineered wood siding costs less than most siding types. — This makes it a cost-effective siding option for giving your home an attractive makeover.

Engineered wood looks more like real wood compared to vinyl and aluminum.

Composite siding resists the elements: Impact resistance is better than aluminum, and it isn’t as brittle as fiber cement.

Recycled content is used in most composite wood siding.

Warranties up to 50 years are offered, though some are shorter. Most are prorated either immediately or after 5-10 years.

What we don’t like:

The maintenance demand is high: Like any wood siding, engineered wood must be regularly painted.

Scratches can be costly: When the weatherproof layer is penetrated, the wood content will absorb water. Damaged boards will require replacing.

Longevity is shorter than wood: Even when maintained, composite wood will likely need replacing in 20-30 years.

Cost:

The installed cost of engineered wood siding can range from $4.85 to $11.00 per square foot.

Cost factors are the brand and profile you choose, whether it is painted or just primed, and how difficult it is to install on your home.

ROI:

Cost-to-value return at resale is estimated between 75% and 85%.

Brick Siding

Brick is classic siding and lasts indefinitely.

Genuine brick is made from clay formed in molds and fired in kilns for hardening. Mortar is used to hold the bricks in place.

The siding is typically sealed to prevent moisture penetration which can eventually cause deterioration of the material.

What we like:

Genuine brick is beautiful: It gives the home an impressive look of distinction. Brick is used as the sole siding and as complementary siding to wood, stucco and vinyl.

It is very durable: Brick buildings last 300+ years, so it’s the last siding your home will need.

Brick resists everything: Weather and insects can’t penetrate brick. It won’t burn.

You have color options:

Clay brick is available from light, almost white brick to deep reds with mottled gray and black.

What we don’t like:

The initial cost is high: This is the second most expensive siding behind natural stone.

Keeping it sealed is important: As brick ages, moisture can penetrate it and cause spalling, the flaking off of the surface. In freezing climates, freeze and thaw cycles cause deterioration more rapidly.

The bottom line is that if the brick isn’t maintained with a good seal, expensive repairs can result.

Footing support is needed: This adds extra foundation cost.

Cost:

Solid brick siding cost is $16.00 to $22.00 per square foot.

ROI:

Because of the high initial cost, a return on investment is estimated at 65% to 75%.

Brick Veneer Siding

Brick veneer provides many of the benefits of full brick at a much lower cost. Because brick veneer is more affordable, it has a higher return on investment.

Brick veneer on the front of the house

Brick veneer can be made by cutting full brick to veneer thickness. Reclaimed brick is often used for this purpose

The second manufacturing option is to press clay into molds to form brick veneer panels several feet wide and high.

What we like:

It offers genuine brick appearance: Thin-cut clay bricks cannot be visually distinguished from full brick.

You have many color options: They range from very light to quite dark. Many homes use a blend of complementary brick colors.

Veneer resists weather and fire: Your home will be well protected.

The cost is a fraction of genuine brick siding.

What we don’t like:

Poor installation will cause problems: As with full brick, stone and stucco, a vapor barrier and drainage system must be properly installed. Mistakes will cause moisture to be trapped behind the veneer where it will produce rot and mold.

It lacks full brick’s durability: Brick veneer is a 40-50 year siding.

It must be sealed: Clay is absorbent. Without a seal, moisture will slowly destroy it.

Cost:

Genuine brick veneer cost is $8.00 to $12.50 per square foot. That cost includes the moisture protection system installed first.

ROI:

Brick veneer has a cost-to value-return of 90% to 95%. It nearly pays for itself when used as the sole siding or as an accent siding.

Pro Tip: Manufactured brick is available too. It is produced like faux stone – made from lightweight concrete blends. It is considered inferior to genuine brick veneer but costs less too. Concrete faux brick veneer might last 30 years when diligently maintained.

Genuine Stone Siding

Stone siding exudes luxury and strength. It’s a high-end siding with permanence and natural good looks. It can be used as the sole siding and in combination with wood, stucco and other types.

Natural stone tile siding

Genuine stone siding is produced by splitting or cutting natural stone into appropriate sizes. Many different stone types are used, and the appearance of each is unique.

Installing stone siding requires a foundation wide enough to support its weight. It is usually used in new construction because retrofitting a home for it is very costly.

What we like:

Stone is gorgeous: Combined with other aspects of the architecture, stone works with styles from rustic to traditional to contemporary.

You have many stone options: Many types of stone are used in stone siding. Fieldstone, ledgestone, riverstone, granite, slate, limestone and colonial wallstone are among the most desirable.

Stone is the most resilient form of siding: It checks all the boxes for durability and performance – It won’t burn, resists impact and insects, is weatherproof and lasts for centuries with minimal maintenance.

100-year cost is low: While most homeowners don’t plan a century in advance, stone will last that long and beyond. That means no siding replacement costs for generations.

What we don’t like:

The upfront cost is staggering: Natural stone siding is the most expensive siding available.

The price includes not just the siding but also foundation that is wider than standard because the siding’s weight must rest directly on it.

Moisture can be a problem: Before the stone is applied, the home must be protected from trapped moisture. A vapor barrier, flashing and a drainage system are installed.

Cost:

Genuine stone siding cost is $15 to $24 per square foot. It increases foundation cost by up to 35%.

ROI:

Return on investment in terms of cost-to-value recouped at resale is estimated to be 60% to 70%.

Stone Veneer Siding

Also called manufactured stone and faux stone, stone veneer is a mix of lightweight concrete, polymer resin and pigments.

Stacked Stone Stratford

The material is poured into molds that are produced with real stone for authentic appearance. Individual faux stones and panels of stones are available.

Stone veneer can be used exclusively and in combination with wood, vinyl and other siding types.

Did you know? Faux stone veneer has the highest ROI in terms the cost-to-value of any siding type. In fact, no home upgrade has a higher return on investment.

What we like:

Faux stone offers the benefits of real stone for much lower cost: It is resistant to weather and won’t burn.

It offers a broad range of options: Faux stone siding replicates most natural stone siding types including those listed above.

Stone veneer is durable: Expect to get 40-50 years of use from it.

Concrete is recyclable: The siding can be recycled for many purposes.

It doesn’t require foundation support: Most homes have sufficient structural support for manufactured stone siding.

What we don’t like:

Appearance varies: Some products look more authentic than others.

Moisture problems are possible: As with other materials on this list, measures must be taken to protect the house structure from water that might be behind the siding.

Freeze/thaw cycles can be damaging: When moisture gets into the veneer and freezes, it expands and cracks the material. Over time, it can cause the breakdown of the siding.

Cost:

Manufactured stone veneer cost is $8.00 to $12.50 per square foot.

ROI:

The cost to value return is 97%.

Pro Tip: Some faux stone is painted rather than pigmented throughout. When painted stone veneer is scratched, the underlying color shows, making the scratch visible. We do not recommend painted faux stone siding.

Genuine Stucco Siding

Stucco is a timeless siding option that lasts centuries when done right.

Stucco siding on a house

Full stucco homes and homes with a combination of stucco and other siding are common in warm climates. Various textures can be applied.

The stucco is a combination of Portland cement, limestone, sand, additives for flexibility, water and colorants. It is applied to lath fixed to the home’s sheathing.

Did you know? Stucco is the second-most common siding type. It dominates with more than 50% of market share in warm regions of the country.

What we like:

Stucco has a classic and versatile appearance: While common on Mediterranean style homes, it looks great on traditional and contemporary homes, too.

It is durable: Genuine stucco can last indefinitely.

Stucco is resistant: Fire, insects and bad weather pose little threat to stucco.

It costs less than brick and stone: Stucco offers good lifetime value

What we don’t like:

A moisture control system must be installed: If a vapor barrier, flashing and drainage aren’t properly installed, trapped moisture will wreak havoc behind the stucco.

It’s not a good cold-weather siding: Harsh winter weather and freeze/thaw cycles will reduce stucco’s durability.

Stucco’s paint or seal must be maintained: Because the material absorbs water, it should be painted or sealed every 4-8 years.

Cost:

Genuine stucco cost is $7.50 to $11.75 per square foot.

ROI:

Stucco siding return on investment in terms of cost-to-value return is 70% to 75%.

Pro Tip: Exterior insulation finishing systems (EIFS), also called synthetic stucco, have different pros and cons. Be sure to research EIFS and moisture issues before choosing one of these systems.


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