Choosing the right siding for your house is all about knowing what you want out of the material, what you're willing to put into it, and what you can spend. Cedar shingle siding offers stunning traditional beauty with higher cost and maintenance, while vinyl siding offers a more modern, less unique look for less money and almost no work at all beyond installation.
If installed correctly, cedar siding can give a house a remarkably unique look, and as the shingles can vary in their size and finish, your range of aesthetic choices are great--just remember that there is a greater price to pay. Cedar has been used as siding for centuries in part for its natural resistance to insects. It is naturally more water-resistant than most woods, but in order for cedar to last more than 5-10 years without losing its visual appeal, it must be given a fresh coat of water repellent, paint, or stain once every five years or so.
Cedar siding is rarely found for less than $3 per square foot, and depending on where in the country you live, it may be significantly more than that. Installation costs can be relatively high, and beyond the material quality, the skill of the installation team is the most important factor in how the finished job will look—if you skimp on this step, you’ll be paying for it for years to come.
Vinyl siding is by no means unattractive, but it does not offer the same authentic look offered by cedar. Vinyl requires almost no maintenance after installation; it will need to be hosed down and scrubbed occasionally depending on the local climate, but will not require painting or sealing. Installation of vinyl siding is much easier for an amateur to accomplish than cedar, and is also much less expensive to hire out.
If you just want to side your house and never have to worry about it again, vinyl is a great option. However, if you’re looking to make your house look as good as it possibly can, and you can afford the regular maintenance (or do it yourself), cedar shingles are the way to go.