Updated: May 17
Few home improvements or repairs can enhance the performance, curb appeal, and value of your house like new home siding. Various siding materials have come and gone over the years, but a handful of standards have remained, along with the occasional newcomer. No one uses asbestos siding anymore, and fiberglass and hardboard composite siding have been largely replaced with vinyl and a new standard, fiber cement. Here's a look at those popular materials, as well as the timeless options of wood and metal to learn about their features, pricing, and maintenance considerations.
Few would disagree that wood siding is the most attractive of home siding options. Common types of wood siding include wood planks, boards or panels, and shingles. Wood clapboard siding is one of the oldest types of house siding, and you can see its beauty in many historic homes. The main drawbacks of wood siding are its high cost and relatively high maintenance needs.
Available in a wide variety of styles, textures, and finishes.
Wood clapboard or beveled siding is horizontal and has overlapping joints.
Wood plank or board siding is vertical and comes in board-and-batten, board-on-board, or channel-groove or tongue-and-groove styles.
Board siding also comes in a plywood version, often called T-111, which is simply exterior plywood with various face treatments and groove patterns to emulate a traditional board-and-batten design.
Fairly easy to repair but difficult to install over existing siding.
Requires an exterior finish, such as paint or stain.
Can be damaged by sun exposure, rot, and insects; subject to warping and splitting.
Moderate to very high.
Cost varies widely by type of wood species and style of siding and exterior finish.
T-111 is the least expensive type.
Painted finishes tend to require higher maintenance and require good exterior house painting preparation.
Wood siding is prone to paint problems if the home is not properly ventilated.
Stained finishes usually require somewhat less maintenance than paint.
Metal Siding - Aluminum or Steel
The maintenance associated with wood siding brought a desire for an alternative. Aluminum siding was the first to fit the bill and has evolved over the years into a very low-maintenance and popular siding choice for newer homes. In recent years, the availability of low-cost overseas steel has led to an emergence of steel siding. Horizontal aluminum and steel siding comes in strips that include a mounting flange at the top for nailing into and an interlocking edge along the bottom to seal against weather. Galvanized corrugated roofing also is used for siding on modern-style homes.
Comes in a broad range of styles, including horizontal and vertical strips and panels as well as shingles.
Typically includes a factory-applied finish for maximum corrosion-resistance. Plain, unfinished panels are usually galvanized for corrosion protection.
Commonly used as "retrofit" siding and has sometimes been applied over wood siding when the desire for low maintenance has won out over aesthetics or when the wood siding is severely damaged.
Durable material, but prefinished painted finishes have been known to fade, chalk, and bleed onto brick walls often below the siding. Newer versions tend to be more color-fast than their predecessors.
Available with special plastic or vinyl coatings for additional resistance to fading and weathering.
Prone to denting and can be noisy.
Vinyl- or plastic-coated aluminum is expensive.
Plastic- or vinyl-clad aluminum siding can carry a 35-year warranty.
Standard pre-painted aluminum siding may be prone to chalking.
Denting is a common problem with aluminum or steel siding.
As the search for low-cost, low-maintenance siding continued, the next evolution after aluminum siding was the advent of vinyl siding. Like aluminum, vinyl siding comes in strips with interlocking edges. A special tool called a zip tool is used to join and separate the siding strips.
Comes in a range of styles, including horizontal and vertical panels and a range of colors.
Available in a variety of textures, including wood shake/shingle style.
Commonly used as a retrofit siding, often applied over old wood siding.
Prone to cracking in cold weather if subjected to impact.
Proper installation is critical, or siding will warp or buckle.
Fiber Cement Siding
Cement fiber siding is the latest development in a residential siding. It's durable, very low-maintenance, and made from recyclable materials, so it's resource-efficient and beautiful to boot. It cuts and installs like wood siding. Some of the major manufacturers of this product include Allura (formerly CertainTeed), JamesHardie, and Cemplank.
Comes the closest to emulating a natural wood grain and is virtually indistinguishable from some wood siding products.
Like wood, trim and millwork pieces are also available to provide design detail for the home.
Comes primed or pre-finished.
Available in beveled planks, shingle or shakes, and stucco-panel styles.
Moderate to high.
Not subject to rot or insect damage.
Warranties of 50 years are common from the major manufacturers.