Siding for Your Home: Which Should You Choose?

Realtor Susan Waddle says that siding is what got her home sold in one day. Opting to upgrade from vinyl siding to fiber cementboard made her home more aesthetically pleasing. In fact, the buyer told her that her pick of siding was the exact look that he had been searching for in a new home.

The days when wood or aluminum siding would be your only home-siding options are long gone. Here are tips and guidelines on the different types of home siding and accessories, what to know before installing it and how home siding can affect your home’s value.

Home siding is an outer covering of a house whose purpose is to shed water and protect it from the effects of all different kinds of weather. Making sure that your siding is in its best shape can preserve your house for much longer than if left to the elements. Drew Brandt, director of product marketing for CertainTeed Corporation, a global manufacturer of exterior and interior building products, says that siding is the best way to keep a home in shape and has had it installed on his own home. Also helping decipher the world of home siding is Tim Carter, an engineering geologist who began rehabbing houses in the 1970s, shortly after graduating college, and in 1993 was named one of the top 50 remodelers in the U.S. by Remodeling magazine.

Types of siding

  • Wood. The natural look this siding creates is appealing to many homeowners — not to mention the inexpensive pricetag. Types include clapboard, plywood, hardboard/composition, rectangular plank, cedar and wood plank. But wood siding is the least-used today simply because it doesn’t perform well in harsh weather conditions and is also at the mercy of outdoor critters, including insects and other animals attracted to it. Average cost: $1-$6.50 per square foot (depending on the type of wood).
  • Vinyl. This home siding is the most commonly known and used. Vinyl siding doesn’t provide insulation for the home unless an insulation is added (i.e. foam-backed vinyl siding). The low cost, ease of installation and the low maintenance required for the upkeep of this type of siding makes it one of the more popular choices. Today’s vinyl siding is in a greater range of colors and textures and resists heat and damage better than earlier versions. Average cost: $2-$3 per square foot.
  • Composite. This type of siding is available in different materials, including fiber cement, aluminium and asphalt. Composite siding, which comes in the form of shingles or boards, is installed like wood and there are many different types of trim. Because composite siding is manufactured in different shapes and can be used with different trims and accessories, the installer is better able to customize a look to the homeowner’s specifications. Average cost: $3-$5 per square foot.
  • Cedar impressions. This option is molded from real wood cedar shingles and provides the look of a natural wood shingle without the maintenance that wood normally requires. Considered a polymer-shake siding product. Average cost: $5-$7.50 per square foot.

Pros and cons

The three synthetic home siding types (vinyl, composite and cedar impressions) share one positive aspect — they are all sustainable. Each is made of at least 50 to 60 percent recycled products.

Wood siding has long been a popular choice for homeowners — but as other, more easily cared for siding materials have been introduced to the market, it’s become less so. Its drawbacks include its need for constant upkeep and maintenance, and its low effectiveness as insulation. Still, many homeowners are charmed by the natural beauty of wood.

Vinyl performs very well, regardless of the climate, and does not need much maintenance, which is something most homeowners are happy to do without. Experts say the material just needs cleaning once a year with soap and water. This option is the least expensive and definitely has its drawbacks. Often the look is not as sleek as homeowners would like, because of trim pieces that need to be placed at corners, windows and doors.

Composite siding requires painting, but there are so many options that it removes the need for a pocketed accessory item. It’s costlier than vinyl because of its shape, but it’s fireproof and rot-resistant and holds paint very well. It can be hard to work with, though, and requires special cutting tools.

Cedar impressions are the most expensive of these sidings, but it provides a great look and fits into more architectural styles. Carter, who runs in an effort to demistify the often confusing world of homeownership, says it’s the most beautiful, and is easy to work with. “Every other siding tries to mimic it, he says, but he cautions that this type of siding, which is already costly, will require maintenance.


Unfortunately, this is usually an afterthought with homeowners, something Brandt warns against. He says that, in the long term, homeowners don’t want to forget the accessory items because these, along with trim options, make a big visual difference. There are an array of accessories to add to your home siding that will give your home a more polished look: door and window trim, shutters, keyed corners (decorative trim for corners on your house), utility vents (stylishly covers for exterior vents) mounting blocks (which cover openings for faucets, lighting and other wiring) and many more options.

“In the nicest sided homes, a closer look reveals it’s because of these siding accessories,” Brandt says.

Home value

The big questions are, of course: What will home siding do for resale value? And is it the right option? The answer to both is a resounding yes. In an older home, siding rejuvenates the look of the home and adds even more appeal to buyers who are looking for homes with good insulation.

In Remodeling magazine, a real estate agent says, “Things like new siding and new windows will not add dollar-for-dollar value … (but) they will cause the house to sell quicker for more money.” Brandt says that if you choose to go with mid-range or higher end options — for instance foam-backed vinyl or composite siding — you could recoup up to 80 percent on your costs in your home resale.

Climate effects

Carter explains that all types of sidings work well in all climates if they are installed and maintained properly.

But it’s not always about looks and insulation, when it comes to choosing siding. Often, common sense will help guide you toward the type of siding to choose. Waddle points out that as a Florida resident, she chose fiber cement siding because it holds up well during hurricane season. She says that it will withstand 140 mph winds if the correct studs are used. And another incentive: “My homeowners insurance went down five to six percent when my insurance company found out I had installed fiber cementboard.” And for homeowners out West, composite siding often is fire-resistant.

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