The Pros and Cons of Commonly Used Siding Products

From on December 06, 2011 in Siding


Choosing new siding can be a challenging process, given the wide variety of options available to homeowners. Today we will break down types of siding into four main categories—although in certain regions of the United States there is a wider selection.

The four main siding materials we will discuss here are vinyl siding, wood siding, fiber cement siding, and advanced composite siding. For each material, we will discuss the positive and negative aspects to help you as a homeowner determine which siding is best for your home. Let’s start with the most commonly installed siding.

For pricing on any siding types mentioned above, click here.

Vinyl Siding

Positive attributes of vinyl siding:

  • Low-maintenance: for the most part, vinyl siding does not need more than the occasional wash during its usable life.
  • Low initial cost: vinyl siding tends to have a lower initial cost compared to other siding products.

Negative attributes of vinyl siding:

  • Less curb appeal: vinyl siding tends to be considered less attractive than higher-quality alternatives. Most vinyl siding is installed with double overlap seams, and unattractive J-channel around windows, doors, and trim.
  • Lack of durability: since vinyl siding is very thin, it tends to break easily, warp, and even melt, especially in the presence of high heat, or reflected energy from windows with low-E coating.

Wood Siding

Positive attributes of wood siding:

  • High Initial Curb appeal: since wood siding is the real thing, homeowners tend to prefer the look of it over synthetic options.

Negative attributes of wood siding:

  • Requires significant maintenance: in most regions, wood siding needs to be painted or stained every 3 to 6 years. Rot replacement is frequently needed with each paint job, and pest damage is a problem in most climates.
  • Expensive initial cost: high-quality cedar shingles and clapboards are expensive, especially with the additional cost of staining and painting.

Fiber Cement Siding

Positive attributes of fiber cement siding:

  • Nice curb appeal: fiber cement manufacturers such as James Hardie, Certainteed, and Nichiha have done a reasonably good job of replicating the look of wood lap siding and shingles.
  • Lower maintenance than wood siding: although it’s not the lowest maintenance option and still requires painting after 10-15 years, fiber cement siding is lower maintenance than wood siding.
  • Pest resistant: fiber cement has no issues with ants, termites, bees, or woodpeckers.

Negative attributes of fiber cement siding:

  • Moisture problems in certain areas: since it still contains wood particles, fiber cement siding is not completely impervious to moisture. If installed in high-moisture areas such as against roofs, walkways, decks or driveways, the painted surface might peel and the product has been shown to delaminate in some instances.

Advanced Composite Siding

Positive attributes of advanced composite siding:

  • Nice curb appeal: since advanced composite siding is the most modern option, the appearance is the most authentic. An example of this is Everlast Polymeric siding which has a surface texture molded from real cedar.
  • No problems with moisture or pests: advanced composite siding contains no wood particles and therefore is impervious to moisture damage in most cases. Pests are uninterested in its inorganic construction.
  • Never needs painting: unlike older-technology-composites such as pressed board or fiber cement, advanced composite siding is warrantied to never need painting.

Negative attributes of advanced composite siding:

  • Minimal product selection: most siding brands only offer certain sizes shapes and colors.
  • Limited distribution: unlike more commonly used siding options available in local lumber yards, advanced composite siding is harder to get for the average homeowner or siding contractor.
  • Higher initial cost than most vinyl siding: advanced composite siding is a much thicker product than standard vinyl siding, which means the initial cost tends to be a little more.

To see samples of some or all of these siding options, consult your local siding professionals. When choosing new siding, it’s important to weigh out all your options and account for factors such as initial cost, lifetime cost, resale value, and durability. —

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author Peter Martino, a siding expert serving parts of New England. His company, United Home Experts, specializes in many types of siding installation, including all the options detailed in this article. For more information on advanced composite siding, visit: