A Guide to Siding Types

Carpenter installing siding
  • 30-80 hours
  • Advanced
  • 4,000-16,000

Today's home siding options are numerous. Knowing and understanding the aspects of various types of siding will help you ask the right questions and give you the confidence to make an informed decision. The style of your home will help to narrow the field. It’s doubtful you’d want to put wooden clapboards on a contemporary home.

On the other hand, vinyl siding may cover some of the most fascinating components of an Italianate home built in the late 1880s. Look at your home with a keen eye and determine its style and your lifestyle to come to a decision in regards to what siding material best fits your needs.

Siding is usually sold by the “square,” which is 100 square feet, with price tags that range from $60 to $2,400 plus. Measure your home and figure as close as possible square footage needed to side your home.

1. Aluminum

The world became interested in using aluminum as a siding material in the late 1950s. After hundreds of years of wood clapboards, which required sanding and painting to keep them in good condition, aluminum was touted as a durable, easily maintained alternative.

Unlike vinyl, aluminum does not crack. It works well to cover thin clapboard and is fireproof. It poses no health risks to the occupants and is considered fairly environmentally friendly. It’s inexpensive, but it does have some disadvantages to consider. A ladder set against it will dent it, making home maintenance such as washing windows and cleaning gutters something of a problem.

2. Brick

person carrying a stack of bricks

Brick homes have stood the test of time—many are still standing after hundreds of years of weathering the elements. Brick, which is fired clay, comes in more colors than just red, ranging within the earth tone palette, giving it more versatility than often thought of. Worrying about repairs is unlikely for a good 25 years or so, and that makes every homeowner smile.

The expense of a brick exterior may seem daunting, but should be somewhat alleviated by the knowledge that your house is here to stay. If the price is just too much, you might consider brick veneer; of course less money means less durability in this case.

3. Cedar Shingles

Cedar shingles look great in natural settings, and if the natural look is important to you, then cedar shakes may be the answer. The shakes or shingles are usually stained in earth tones, browns, or grays. This is a really great look with less upkeep than clapboard that needs periodic painting.

4. Engineered or Composite Wood

engineered wood siding

Made with wood products and other materials to look like wood, these engineered materials are far less expensive than using actual wood for siding. Engineered or composite wood comes in long panels that are easily installed and will give a neat, seamless look to your home.

5. Seamless Steel

Anything made of steel is going to be durable, and seamless steel siding is no exception. It can be manufactured to resemble wood textures. Unlike vinyl, it does not shrink or bulge when the temperature rises and falls. There’s no splicing done during installation, and you don't have to worry about peeling paint. It can be cut to the exact measurements of your home, giving it a sleek, finished look.

6. Stone

home with stone siding

Stone is the most enduring of all the various materials that can be used for siding. Besides the eye appeal stone gives to homes, rain, snow, ice, and heat have little effect on it. Just as stone is high in durability, it’s also high in price. You can opt for less expensive cultured stone, which is a pre-cast stone veneer.

7. Stucco

Stucco is cement combined with water and other ingredients like sand or lime. This method of creating a shell for homes has been around since the Renaissance because of its strength and durability. The rock hard surface created by stucco is solid and keeps moisture out. There are also synthetic stuccos available. Although they look authentic, the synthetic stucco offers less durability.

8. Vinyl

Vinyl siding is a plastic made from PVC, or polyvinyl chloride. The advantages of never having to worry about rot and flaking paint makes this exterior covering attractive to many consumers. However, with a lower price tag comes problems.

Vinyl siding has a tendency to crack, split, and look faded and dingy after a few years. Manufacturers have made improvements on these problems, but they still exist. The environmentally conscious may not want to choose vinyl due to the problems it creates when it is removed - PVCs release toxins when burned, making vinyl not environmentally friendly.

9. Wood Clapboard

Wood siding has been used for hundreds of years, and seeing a 300-year-old clapboard house is testimony to the durability of wood when properly maintained. Cedar, pine, spruce, redwood, Cyprus, or Douglas fir are the woods used most often. Pine holds finishes extremely well, giving it added value.

10. Fiber Cement Board

fiber cement board siding

Fiber cement board siding has become a popular product in home building and renovation because it offers the benefits of wood without the hassle of maintenance. Manufacturers roll a mixture of cement, sand, and cellulose fiber into sheets that are then pressed with woodgrain, stucco, and other various patterns.

Although it is designed for homeowners to install themselves, it is important to note that this material is heavy and can therefore be difficult to maneuver if not handled properly in accordance with manufacturer instructions. Fiber cement board siding is durable and great for all climates, as it is resistant to rot, swelling, and deterioration over time. Most products carry a 50-year guarantee and can be found in lap siding, panels, soffit, fascia, shingles, and trim.