Siding 101: An Overview of 5 Popular Home Siding Materials

There are many different siding materials on the market today, from traditional wood or brick siding to cost-effective materials like vinyl and aluminum. It can be difficult to decide what's best for your home exterior, but a side-by-side comparison may be helpful in narrowing down your search.

Vinyl siding, made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), remains a best seller because it is inexpensive, long lasting, and low maintenance. Vinyl siding usually costs $1-$6 per square foot, before installation. Some of its main benefits include:

  • Lasts about 40 years
  • Never needs paint
  • Easy to clean with soap and water
  • Comes in a wide variety of colors and styles
  • Foam backing can increase energy efficiency

Fiber cement siding is made of cellulose fiber, cement, and sand. Although designed to look like wood, fiber-cement siding is actually more durable and affordable. A square foot, uninstalled, costs about $2-$6. More facts about fiber-cement siding:

  • Available in a variety of widths, textures, and colors
  • Holds paint for up to 15 years
  • May be under warranty for up to 50 years
  • Resistant to fire and termites

Wood siding is a classic siding option, but does require some regular maintenance. As prices have increased, some homeowners prefer lower maintenance material. Cedar shingles generally cost $1-$4 per square foot, and redwood shingles about $5, before installation.

Some basics about wood siding:

  • Offered as clapboard or lap siding, shakes, or shingles
  • Can be treated to resist flammability and termite infestation
  • When properly maintained, can last up to 30 years
  • Requires staining or painting every few years
  • Easy to replace damaged pieces

Aluminum siding is one of the more cost-effective materials on the market, and it is long lasting and low maintenance. At $2-$5 per square foot, aluminum siding includes pros and cons like:

  • Lasts 40 years or more
  • Weather and corrosion resistant
  • Can be painted
  • Available in different finishes
  • May dent or scratch somewhat easily
  • Relatively simple self-installation

Brick siding should be installed only after you've ascertained that your home's foundation can support it. Although slightly more expensive, at around $6-$12 per square foot, brick siding offers attractive features like:

  • No maintenance required for the first 25 years
  • Wide variety of sizes, textures, and colors available
  • Often lasts for a century without rotting or fading
  • Offers excellent sound and temperature insulation

This list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to home siding materials. Make sure you investigate all the options before making this important choice for your home exterior.

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