In this article we will describe the most popular types of house siding options that homeowners have in North America and also in many other places of the world.
Specifically, we will describe each siding material, discuss the pros and cons of each one etc. Make sure to read the whole post for getting an overall knowledge of the best house siding materials and options in case you are planning to replace or install a new siding for your home.
Once upon a time, homeowners were too concerned about keeping their homes tightly sealed, closed to weather elements and structurally sound to spend time worrying about appearances.
It hasn’t been that many years since houses were clad and finished with anything homeowners could find in the way of free materials, and there was a time a coat of paint was all that was necessary to completely change the look of a façade.
Time has passed. Home exteriors have changed. Trends have come and gone and even the attitudes of homeowners have changed.
Exterior appearance grew more important in terms of status within communities and complied with changing attitudes by trying new materials, including siding.
It’s a necessary solution to many problems and in some cases, a lifesaver in terms of resale benefits and maintenance requirements. Even the history of home siding is fun to read.
Table of Contents
- A short history of different types of house siding
- Types of House Siding: Which is right for you?
- Vinyl siding
- Metal siding
- Fiber-cement siding
- Wood siding
- Aluminum Siding
- Brick Siding
- Stucco Siding
- Stone/stone-veneer siding
- How to make your Decision for the Best House Siding Material
A short history of different types of house siding
Wood Prevalence in 18th and 19th Centuries
During the 18th and 19th century, the U.S. was awash in wood, thus the ability to make one’s own paints using old world recipes remained the only decorating option for homeowners.
Tour Colonial Williamsburg, vintage homes and historic neighborhoods and you’ll spot some of the finest examples of the wood-exterior era: “painted ladies.” These classic houses were decorated with many vivid paint colors, giving every home a unique and distinct personality.
But for all of it’s virtues, wood construction had limitations (fire; insulation; bugs) and from time-to-time, lumber availability became problematic. Add all of these factors into the equation and you can see why the availability of clay and construction of kilns and molds capable of producing bricks became a popular alternative for homeowners eager to have their houses stand for generations.
From airplanes to homes – Metal and Aluminum Siding
According to home historians, materials capable of turning the exterior of homes into beautiful and distinctive residences became old school in the eyes of homeowners from the moment they saw early examples of pre-fabricated siding.
This revolution is credited to Jerome Kaufman. The serviceman learned how to bake colors into sheets of aluminum that was cut into sections to make airplane sections. Why not try this same approach for houses, he thought?
Kaufman worked on prefabricated aluminum sheet ideas, started a siding company and it took next to no time before metal cladding swept across post-WWII America.
Kaufman’s metal siding delivered benefits over wood frame exteriors. From better insulation to affordability, his siding gave homes distinct looks so homeowners no longer had to choose between wood and brick.
Siding materials become more diverse
Despite the acceptance of aluminum siding as the efficient, attractable and affordable alternative to wood, innovators continued to work with new materials.
Vinyl siding arrived on the scene in the 1960s and became a low-cost way to give houses facelifts. Twenty years later, fiber-cement was introduced by a clever Australian. Known for its durability and the material’s versatility–it could be patterned to resemble wood–fiber-cement joined brick, wood, aluminum and vinyl as another option for homeowners.
In 1973, U.S. Census Bureau statistics named brick veneer the most popular home exterior material. Wood returned to favor around 1980 and held its own until vinyl siding began to turn the tide and overtake it. By the year 2000, vinyl was king as fiber-cement grew in popularity. These days, homeowners may also opt for metal, stucco and stone. And you thought siding was dull and boring!
Types of House Siding: Which is right for you?
Making a siding decision for your home is no easy job. It’s a major investment, but in return, you enjoy a beautiful exterior, expanded home value, your power bills could be lowered and there’s no putting a price on the pleasure you get from having a home that garners lots of admiration from passers-by and envious neighbors.
The following represent a range of materials. Match them to your budget, taste and future plans.
Types of Vinyl Siding:
- Board and Batten
- Dutch Lap
- Solid Core
Description of Vinyl Siding:
Vinyl siding is made of heated polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to which pigments are added during the blending stages. Once the resin mixture is bonded, it’s extruded through a die or poured into sheets using a mold. Those sheets are then subjected to embossing which gives them texture and patterning.
Pros of Vinyl Siding:
- Vinyl comes in many colors and it’s durable.
- It isn’t susceptible to rot or termites unless the exterior sustains damage.
- Since color is baked in, even if it’s scratched, color isn’t compromised.
- Vinyl withstands temperature and climate extremes.
- It a highly-affordable solution for home exteriors in need of help.
Cons of Vinyl Siding:
- Vinyl is not always watertight; poor application can compound the problem.
- Colors can fade over time despite being baked in.
- Extreme weather could trigger dents and cracks.
- May not be the best option if you’re going for a high-end look.
- Not the best choice in extremely cold climates. Other materials insulate better.
Types of Metal Siding:
Description of Metal Siding:
While aluminum launched the metal siding industry, steel has become a material of choice for homeowners wishing to avoid the signs of wear exhibited by a soft metal like aluminum.
The biggest selling point of steel is that it’s recyclable and its long-term life expectancy surpasses that of other types of siding.
The fabrication process includes melting raw materials in a crucible, pouring molten product into a mold and cooling it. The remaining “ingot” is rolled through a press to desired thickness and shipped in flat sheets or coiled rolls.
Pros of Metal Siding:
- An excellent choice if pests and termites are prevalent in your area.
- Made of recycled materials so this type of siding is 100-percent renewable in most cases.
- The paint on metal siding may not crack, peel or fade for up to 50 years.
- Sheets won’t rot or twist over time and steel holds color better than aluminum.
- The perfect solution for homeowners who are eager to go green.
Cons of Metal Siding:
- Steel siding could be susceptible to rust, even if treated with rust-repellent coatings.
- Doesn’t stand up to coastal assaults: salt sprays, dampness and fogging accelerate rusting.
- Metal is usually more expensive than aluminum and vinyl.
- While thicker, it’s harder and more time-consuming to install.
- Metal doesn’t offer the best insulating properties and it can expose occupants to more street noise.
Types of fiber-cement siding:
Description of fiber-cement siding:
According to experts at This Old House.com, fiber-cement siding is the great equalizer because it offers durability, good looks, affordability and maintenance-free benefits.
This siding material is made by dissolving wood pulp in water, mixing the pulp with Portland cement (limestone, clay, iron or a mix) and either fly ash or silica. Growing popularity is likely to make it homeowners’ first siding choice down the road.
Pros of fiber-cement siding:
- Termites don’t attack this material due to the presence of cement.
- Fiber-cement won’t rot over time.
- Easily sustains the highest winds and extremes in cold.
- Available in so many styles, colors and designs, you may not be able to choose.
- Despite having many design options, fiber-cement remains affordable.
Cons of fiber-cement siding:
- Requires expert installation by professionals due to the nature of the material.
- This siding is extremely heavy; averaging about 2.5-pounds per square foot.
- Some manufacturers only offer 15-year warranties against flaking and fading.
- If you don’t regularly prune plants around the home’s periphery, this siding can dry out at the foundation.
- Caulked joints must be inspected every few years for deterioration.
Types of Wood Siding:
- Board and Batten
Description of Wood Siding:
Traditional wood siding is made by selecting lumber for uniformity and thickness and installing individual boards over a pre-built frame, starting at the base of the exterior. These sections can be mounted vertically or horizontally to produce different looks.
Manufactured wood is a cheaper alternative made by extracting wood chip fibers, adding wax and resins and using molds, heat and pressure to craft panels.
Pros of Wood Siding:
- Readily available domestic and imported lumber gives homes a nostalgic, vintage look reminiscent of the past.
- Quick installation means the job is done faster than other siding choices.
- It’s easy to replace one area without removing an entire wall if damage occurs.
- Real wood siding is preferred by environmentalists who seek materials that are sustainable.
- Engineered wood is versatile, less expensive and it won’t attract termites like real wood.
Cons of Wood Siding:
- May crack, warp and/or rot if a painting or staining schedule isn’t adhered to over time.
- Most likely to sustain water damage of all the sidings on the market.
- Insects—especially termites—gravitate to wood, so expect to keep pest control specialists on speed dial.
- A volatile lumber market is constantly being subjected to price and supply fluctuations.
- This siding is the most likely to catch fire and burn quickly.
Types of Aluminum Siding:
Sold by thickness that range from 0.4-inches to 53-gague. The standard thickness is 44-gague.
Description of Aluminum Siding:
As the original metal material used to make siding for residences, aluminum has held its own over the years as new materials have entered the home siding market.
Originally crafted by smelting raw aluminum and then hammering it into sheets, siding panels may be joined together by welding. Today’s aluminum siding manufacturing process is faster and less labor intensive, yet the original fabrication idea remains the same.
Pros of Aluminum Siding:
- Available in so many grades, there’s an affordable option for every home cladding project.
- Opt for 53-gague aluminum and you may not have to re-side for 35 years; possibly longer.
- Insulates better than vinyl, so cost savings on power bills could be appreciable.
- Forget water and moisture issues; aluminum won’t swell, rot, rust or promote mildew growth.
- Aluminum is lightweight, easy to install and recyclable.
Cons of Aluminum Siding:
- Because color must be baked into aluminum, the potential for fading is higher than other metals.
- Exposure to extreme elements may leave a dull, chalky coating over the exterior of the home.
- Use extra-thin aluminum and your siding may be subject to unsightly scratches.
- This metal isn’t as aesthetically pleasing when compared with other metal sidings.
- High winds can cause aluminum siding to “ping” as the metal expands and contracts.
Types of Brick Siding:
Bricks fall into two classes: unburnt/sun-dried or burnt.
Description of Brick Siding:
Despite the passage of thousands of years, bricks are still being made in much the same way: raw materials and clay are crushed and ground together with liquid agents to produce a smooth slip that is then put through an extrusion process before being poured into molds and fired in a kiln.
According to the website How Products are Made.com, “by the year 2025 brick manufacturers may be firing their brick with solar energy.”
Pros of Brick Siding:
- Maintenance-free, brick never needs painting or frequent cleaning.
- Brick won’t rot, fade, peel or dent like other siding types.
- Save cash on power bills; brick is a natural insulator so you can maintain affordable thermostat settings.
- You could get a homeowner’s insurance discount if you add brick siding.
- Brick exteriors tend to have higher resale value than houses clad with other sidings.
Cons of Brick Siding:
- Masonry can deteriorate over time so you must inspect mortar joints as brick ages.
- Heavy brick can stress foundations; always ask the contractor to assess this chance.
- If brick siding is damaged, replacing the entire wall may be your only option.
- Brick siding is expensive in terms of both materials and labor.
- Imitation brick siding alternatives could make you regret having spent so much on real brick!
Types of Stucco Siding:
Description of Stucco Siding:
For homeowners seeking a classic southwest architectural look, stucco siding can’t be surpassed.
Natural stucco is made by mixing Portland cement, limestone, water, sand and additives to produce a thick adobe clay.
Proper installation requires both a vapor barrier and wire mesh to prepare the surface for stucco in three coats: scratch, brown and finish. Each serves a specific purpose making it a labor-intensive process.
Texturing can be added after the third coating is applied. Manufacturers have begun to make one-coat synthetic stucco that saves time and money.
Pros of Stucco Siding:
- If the shape of your home suggests “southwest adobe,” stucco makes the perfect siding style.
- Application is shorter than brick and stone so you get an all-natural look that’s less expensive.
- Durable and requiring little maintenance, stucco stands up nicely to weather fluctuations and extremes.
- Stucco fireproofs a home and rebuffs insects so a building is safer on both accounts.
- In general, it costs less than brick and stone as well as some wood, vinyl and aluminum sidings.
Cons of Stucco Siding:
- Because stucco never has to be painted, you could get bored with your exterior look over time.
- Not recommended for areas of the country where structures expand and contract, leading to cracks.
- Application is not for the DIYer; to achieve a proper finish, it’s wise to pay for a stucco professional.
- Painting stucco could make the surface susceptible to water intrusion and premature peeling.
- Shouldn’t be considered for areas of the country with consistent, heavy rainfall.
Types of Stone Siding:
Description of stone siding:
Expect long and pricey installation and material costs if you opt for natural, solid or cultured stone because it takes precision and time to properly complete a stone siding job.
Poly-based stone starts as a liquid amalgam poured into molds that produce panels for fast, relatively inexpensive installation.
Stone veneer is produced by mixing lightweight concrete with polymers and pigments. The mix is poured into rubber bas relief molds and attached to exteriors using mortar.
Pros of Stone Siding:
- Nothing is more dramatic, rich-looking and classic than an elegant, natural home stone exterior.
- Quarried stone is the highest-grade of material but the finished look is well worth the price.
- Opt for a cultured or veneer product to get a great, high-end look that costs less than real stone.
- Thick and weighty real stone stands up to the worst Mother Nature can deliver.
- Real stone siding can drive the value of your home up by impressive numbers.
Cons of Stone Siding:
- Prepare to spend a bundle on material and labor for real stone and a hefty sum for high-end veneers.
- Natural stone requires precise installation so it takes longer to finish the job and costs more.
- Like brick, the home’s shell must be assessed to make sure it can handle the weight of real stone siding.
- Stone veneer must be properly installed or moisture can collect leading to the potential for frame rot.
- Veneer costs from 40- to 70-percent less than real stone but it’s still not cheap.
How to make your Decision for the Best House Siding Material
Based on the information in this article, you may already be leaning toward one siding type over others, but just in case you’re still in a quandary, use these 10 questions to help you narrow down your choices:
- How much exterior surface will you have to cover to side your home?
- Are there weather restrictions in your area that make it wise to eliminate one or more of these siding types?
- How long will you remain in your home–for many years or are planning to put it on the market?
- What’s your budget? Do you intend to pay for the job upfront or finance it?
- How important is it to you that the siding you choose increases your home’s property value?
- Would some siding styles be out of place on your block or in your neighborhood?
- Are you willing to spend time on upkeep or do you want siding that requires very little maintenance?
- Do you intend to do the installation yourself or do you plan to hire a professional?
- Have you already determined a deadline for siding your residence?
- Does your homeowner’s insurance cover liability issues that could arise during installation?
We hope all of this information helps you make an informed decision. After all, you’re going to have to live with that decision for a long time to come!