Choosing a new siding for your home can be a dizzying experience. There are a number of options to sort through, each with pros and cons, from cost to maintenance and more.
If you’re thinking about tackling a home improvement project that will beautify your home and add resale value, you’re going to have to do your research, and that starts with understanding what the different siding types have to offer and which options best fit your personal aesthetic, lifestyle and budget.
7 Points To Consider As You Choose New Siding
Before delving into the pros and cons of each type of siding, it is important to understand the criteria with which each was evaluated on, and how these points may impact or dictate your home’s needs. These qualities include:
Water Resistance: how well the siding holds up in the presence of water or moisture. Maybe not as important in sunny Arizona but certainly a consideration in New Jersey, especially near the coast.
Energy Efficiency: the level of thermal insulation each option offers, not just from howling winter winds but from summer heat, too.
Appearance: the number (or lack thereof) of options when it comes to color and style.
Eco-Friendliness: the degree of environmental consciousness found in the makeup/function of each siding type.
Durability and Versatility: how well each type will hold up before it has to be replaced, repaired or maintained, as well as how the structure of your home plays into the type of siding you should choose.
Aesthetic: the different vibes (i.e.: rustic, Victorian, modern) each siding gives off and how well that plays into your personal taste, your neighborhood and even the type of house you live in.
Cost: everyone has a limit!
Feeling the vertigo yet? No worries, we’ve got you covered! Here’s how a few of the most common siding types stack up so you can begin to narrow your choices down to what fits your needs best.
Natural Wood Siding
For wood die-hards, the natural warmth and character of wood is its strongest selling point. Wood advocates insist that nothing brings the same charm as a natural wood siding, and as it ages, wood changes in color and tone, giving it a one-of-a-kind look.
On the plus side, wood comes in a variety of colors and species to please your aesthetic eye. It also rates high on the eco-friendly scale. A word of caution though – if you’re going natural, be sure to source your siding from sustainable forests or your eco-friendly advantage takes a dramatic hit.
On the other hand, wood siding requires regular staining, sealing and cleaning, is susceptible to damage from insects and water, and is not fire resistant. No matter how much you love the look, if you’re not prepared to maintain wood siding diligently, you’re not going to enjoy it for very long.
The cost of wood siding can also be a drawback, as it is one of the most expensive materials. Plus its intensive maintenance needs make it more costly over time, because it must be stained every 2-3 years or repainted every 4-5 years.
Finally, you cannot install insulation behind wood siding, which means you lose the added protection from the heat and cold that you may get with other types of siding.
Want a siding you’ll (almost) never have to worry about? Both fire and insect proof, stucco can last a lifetime (from 50 to upwards of 100 years) with minimal maintenance and upkeep. Damage can be repaired quickly easily with little cost, and its base of lime, sand, and cement allows for an array of customizable color options.
Although stucco absorbs water, it also evaporates out quickly, even in rainier locations. It can also help keep a home cool.
Aesthetically, stucco gives a home a unique look and can add dimension and depth to an otherwise bland building.
On the down side, stucco can be one of the most costly options to install. While your maintenance costs tend to be low over time, finding a qualified professional can be tricky and the labor to install it is intensive, making your investment a comparably big one, even when compared to wood.
As a side note, stucco cannot be applied to wood, so this may be a consideration depending on your home’s construction. It is also a specific aesthetic and typically used to complement other features like a terra cotta roof or wrought iron elements.
Natural Stone Siding
The oldest type of siding, stone’s look and feel exudes class, and is often referred to as the “Rolls-Royce of siding.” It is resistant to moisture, extreme temperatures, insect damage, and is fireproof.
For the most part, stone siding requires absolutely no maintenance. If a homeowner feels as though dirt or dust is taking away from their home’s appeal, a simple clean with a pressure washer can remedy the situation.
It is also available in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes, giving you a varied, natural and unique look.
Unless you happen to win the lottery, however, stone presents some serious drawbacks. Installing natural stone, for one, requires heavy labor and has a notoriously long installation time. This drives up the cost to an amount that can break the bank. Depending on where you source the stone, transportation costs also become a factor.
It’s also incredibly heavy and may requires structural modifications to your home and foundation to support its weight.
Nor is it an ideal insulator. It can let too much heat escape in winter and not enough in summer.
Synthetic Stone Siding
Synthetic stone gives you some of the upsides to natural stone and negates many of the drawbacks. For one, synthetic stone comes in a variety of shapes and styles, ranging from granite to round river rock. The siding is lightweight and doesn’t require reinforcing foundation, meaning that it is both easier to install and less costly than its natural counterpart.
Synthetic stone is fire, water and insect resistant, and considered environmentally friendly since it can be recycled over time.
However, synthetic stone siding more effective as an accent and not as a full-home cover. While it may be less costly than real stone, synthetic stone will still set you back a pretty penny compared to more budget-friendly options like vinyl.
Insulation also tends to take a hit, as synthetic stone needs a hard backing, which prevents insulation from being installed behind it. You’ll also want to stay away from the power washer and certain cleaning chemicals, which can damage and discolor the surface.
And while it may seem counterintuitive, synthetic stone may actually ding your home’s resale value because some people feel it looks fake and unappealing compared to the real thing.
This option gives a home a rustic, elegant, and warm aesthetic that has seen a resurgence in popularity the past few years.
Brick proves attractive to homeowners for its durability and aesthetic. Brick siding can last over 100 years, and requires little maintenance, a direct result of being fireproof, insect proof, and weather resistant. It never needs to be repainted or finished, and will never fade or decay.
Brick is also incredibly eco-friendly as it is made of some of the most abundant substances on earth – clay and shale.
However, brick is definitely one of the more immediately expensive options for siding. Like its stone cousin, brick is also very heavy and can require a major overhaul to maintain the structural integrity of your home.
It also tends to hold moisture, making it an ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew, which can be a problem for the allergy-prone.
It’s permanence can also be a drawback, as your color choice is limited and literally set in stone. You can paint brick, but that tacks on a whole lot of maintenance and can tend to succumb to the elements, negating its ease of maintenance and making a home look shabby over time.
While brick itself is virtually indestructible, the mortar joints holding it together are not. Over time, these can deteriorate, and must be replaced – another task that can be time consuming and expensive.
Statistically vinyl siding is the most popular option for homeowners — and for good reason.
Weather resistant and insect proof, fade resistant, non-porous, non-absorbent, and virtually indestructible under normal circumstances, vinyl siding offers myriad color options, many different profiles (horizontal panels, vertical panels, scallops, etc.) and high versatility in texture.
Aesthetically, vinyl is clean and elegant, and versatile enough to be added to homes from the classic to the modern. It is easily combined with stone or brick accents, adding a natural touch without the headaches, hassles and cost of a full stone or brick siding.
It also rates well on energy efficiency since insulation can easily be installed beneath it.
Vinyl siding remains one of the most budget friendly materials to purchase and install. It is easy to clean, durable, and requires little maintenance. A seasonal pass with a good brush is about all you need to keep vinyl looking like new for years to come.
While water-resistant, vinyl siding is not water tight and can be vulnerable to weather damage. Failure to install this siding correctly can allow for water buildup and damage behind the panels.
Keep nearby trees trimmed or you could be looking at some dings and dents after the next storm. Thrown rocks (as from a lawnmower) also present a problem and can crack or damage the siding, requiring repair or replacement.
The Siding Wrapup: Which One Wins?
Each siding type has its pros and cons and like everything in life, nothing is perfect. What works for you may not work for someone else, so the siding that “wins” is the one that fits – for YOU.
If you understand your budget, your aesthetic preferences, the needs of your home and your tolerance for ongoing repairs and maintenance, you’ll be better equipped to choose the right option for your home.
And if you think vinyl siding may be it, let us know! We’ll visit your home, answer all your questions and give you a free estimate. Plus if you choose to work with us, we promise to treat your home like it was our own.