Cedar vs. Vinyl Siding

a triangular yellow house with a person standing on the roof
  • 24-40 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 1,800-7,000

The choice between cedar or vinyl siding may not be as easy to make as you think. On one hand, you may have the money in your siding budget and feel that cedar is not only appropriate but a superior product. However, when you factor in installation requirements and maintenance, you may feel differently.

Before deciding, weigh the various factors involved including cost, options, maintenance, and lifespan. While cedar is a natural product and certainly very attractive, vinyl is more versatile. Both materials have their strong points and their drawbacks. Ultimately, after looking at the pros and cons, it may be practical considerations that decide it for you.

Cedar Siding

Cedar siding naturally repels insects, insulates well and absorbs sound better than synthetic siding. With proper care, it can last 75 years. However, it must be coated with water repellent, primer, and either stain or paint to protect it from weather damage. This must be done twice a decade in order to ensure a long life. Cedar siding comes in a number of different styles each with a corresponding cost. It can be purchased rough sawn or beveled and sanded. Thanks to the different choices, you can give your home a variety of looks.

Cost of Cedar

One of the most important considerations is cost. Depending on the type of cedar siding you purchase and transportation costs factored in, it can cost as much as $4 per square foot, and it is usually not found for less than $2.50 per square foot. You must add, on top of this, the cost of the water repellent, primer, and stain or paint and installation if you hire somebody to do it for you.

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding requires less time to install. Although it has the ability to last much longer than cedar siding, it is prone to fading in the direct sun after as little as a decade. Vinyl is also an absorber of heat and will buckle given too much. Once the vinyl siding is installed, there is never any maintenance required to save for periodic hosing down and scrubbing. Unlike cedar, vinyl won’t chip or dent. It is installed in segments. If ever a piece needs to be replaced, simply pop off the segment and replace it. Vinyl also comes in numerous colors and textures, but painting it later can be problematic. Thus, changing a house color is not really an option with vinyl siding.

Cost of Vinyl

High-end vinyl siding can be expensive, but quality vinyl usually costs less than $2 per square foot. There are no added expenses such as primer, sealant or paint. Installation costs apply if you hire the job out. Vinyl siding can even be made to resemble cedar. Truthfully, it is must less than cedar in terms of initial cost and maintenance.

Cedar vs. Vinyl

Cedar is naturally attractive, but it is high maintenance. It lures woodpeckers and requires somewhat frequent repair and refinishing. On the other hand, vinyl is intrinsically cheaper. If you want authentic siding and can afford the cost of buying and maintaining it, go with cedar. If, however, you are interested in siding with the lowest amount of work required to keep it looking nice, vinyl is definitely the way to go.