Exterior siding has multiple purposes. Considering each of these will help you find the right option for your home.
The most noticeable purpose is aesthetics. The material you choose for the exterior of your home largely influences its overall architectural style.
Siding also protects your home from weather and improves insulation. Different materials work better for different climates, such as those that are very hot versus those that are very cold.
Finally, the right type of exterior siding influences your home to resell value. Choose the right type, and the curb appeal will skyrocket.
According to Wikipedia, there are nine different types of siding. Some of them look quite exotic and are rarely used — you can even guess where. Others — such as plastic siding — are very popular for the ease of assembly, a huge variety of styles and colors. In any case, the choice is yours, but we will be happy to help you with this!
But we believe that there are not nine, but twelve kinds of siding, which we will now talk about.
The first and most important factor to consider is the type of exterior siding for the home.
Select the option that looks best on your home and otherwise benefits you most. We discuss the pros and cons of each type in more detail below.
The type you choose also dictates the additional design options that are available.
Wood is perhaps the most traditional and the most commonly used type of exterior siding for homes.
It’s extremely versatile and available in many different styles. Every style is beautiful and adds a sense of traditional charm to any home.
In addition to species and color/stain, you can further customize the overall look by choosing the profile in which the wood is applied to your home.
The most common profiles for wood include:
- Board and Batten: One of the classic exteriors, board, and batten or barn siding is comprised of wide boards joined together and a batten, which is a thin piece of wood put at the joint of two boards to cover the gap, creating a vertical design.
- Log: Built with logs so the exterior is logs stacked on top of one another in an interlocking design.
- Shingles: Also known as shakes, these are thin, lightweight pieces of wood with a tapered shape.
- Horizontal Boards: Also known as bevel, lap, or weatherboarding, these are long, thin boards installed horizontally with a slight overlap.
- Vertical Boards: A series of wide boards are placed vertically with a series of narrow boards in between them.
Each of these sub-types has its own set of pros and cons. More information about each sub-type of wood siding can be found on the Cedar Siding page.
Benefits that all sub-types of wood share are their impact resistance, natural beauty, and almost infinite customizability (with paint colors and stains). Wood is also relatively quick and easy to install.
Unfortunately, wood isn’t without its cons. In addition to the regular maintenance it requires, it’s also susceptible to damage from termites, woodpeckers, and rot. Finally, wood isn’t fire resistant. This can be a major deciding factor if you live in an area with a dry climate where forest fires are common.
Metal has long held a curious reputation as an exterior siding material. People tend to associate it with retro and modern type of buildings only.
Metal actually works well with any home. Do your research, choose the right type and installation profile, and you’ll be more than happy with the results.
Two main options are available when it comes to metal siding. First is the version that looks like metal. Those that prefer a more natural look might prefer imitation wood made from metals.
As for the metal itself, the most common varieties are steel and aluminum. Each type has its set of pros and cons.
- Metal is long lasting and durable, a feature that makes it outlive most of the other home exterior materials. It does not rot or mold due to water damage though some types of metal may rust if not well finished and maintained.
- It retains color without fading and it can be painted.
- It is not prone to pest attack, does not warp or buckle.
- Metal is fire resistant.
- It keeps the home cool during summer by reflecting sunlight.
- Some of the metals such as weathering steel and copper may change due to exposure to weather.
- Aluminum is soft and may dent if hit by rocks or hail while it may also fade.
- Steel is heavy and may take time to install thereby increasing the cost.
- It does not retain warmth in winter and so it increases heating bills.
- Metal needs to be repainted after a few years when the paint wears off.
The reason why many people compare fiber cement and vinyl is that fiber cement is also man-made. It’s made from a special combination of wood fibers, sand, and cement.
Unlike vinyl, fiber cement siding is almost always created to mimic another material, usually natural wood. It’s rare to find it taking a form that’s all its own.
Fiber cement is a great option for those that love the look and warmth of natural wood but want something cheaper, more durable, and easy to maintain. It’s quickly becoming the number one wood alternative in North America.
Two main types of fiber cement are available. The first is pre-coated or pre-painted. It comes out of the factory looking like it will on your house. The second type is painted or stained after it’s installed.
In addition to its realistic wood look, people like fiber cement because it’s fireproof (with a Class 1A fire rating), water resistant, and insects can’t live inside of it.
Though it’s not as durable as brick or stone and doesn’t come with a warranty ranging from 30 to 40 years like vinyl, most fiber cement siding does hold up well and does come with a warranty of around 15 years.
Finally, fiber cement is a very versatile exterior building material. It can be manufactured in almost any color or design you want. On top of that, it’s even available in lifelike textures such as imitation brick or stone.
The biggest con of fiber cement is its weight. It’s not as heavy as brick or natural stone, but it’s still heavy enough to warrant increased installation costs. If you’re looking to go the DIY route, be prepared to buy or rent special cutting tools.
It’s also worth noting that fiber cement, while much cheaper than real wood, is still at least double the price of vinyl.
4. Vinyl (Plastic) Siding
Vinyl is a synthetic home exterior material that has become popular due to its low maintenance, versatility, durability and low cost. It is available in many colors and in different forms such as shakes, vertical panels, shingles, horizontal panels, fish scales, beaded designs and lap. It can be made to look like other natural materials such as stone and shingles.
- It is low maintenance and only requires washing every now and then.
- Vinyl does not require to be installed by a professional and a DIY can manage, which reduces the cost of installation.
- It can be customized into different designs and colors.
- The color does not fade.
- It has a synthetic look that may be a discouraging factor to natural enthusiasts. To reduce the plastic effect, homeowners can use vinyl with long siding so that seams do not appear between panels.
- Vinyl degrades the environment after disposal because it is not biodegradable and ends up in landfills for a very long time unless recycled.
- It can be damaged by extreme weather conditions such a winds and high temperatures causing cracks, rot and mold.
5. Brick Siding
People love brick siding for its classic good looks. It’s one of the most traditional building materials used on the exteriors of homes. Thanks to brick’s remarkable durability, brick homes, and buildings that were built over a century ago are still standing and in good condition.
- A brick exterior does not need a lot of maintenance and can do with occasional washing.
- The exterior can last even more than 100 years with proper maintenance.
- The cost of materials and installation are high. One of the cost contributors is the labor-intensive process of installation. In this case, you may consider a brick veneer.
6. Stone Siding
Limestone, granite, slate and other natural stones are used in creating this home exterior. Although the initial cost may be high, it is long lasting and it requires less maintenance. What’s more, it features the natural look, with limestone and granite being more suitable for those who want to add texture to their home exterior. Due to the high cost of natural stone, some homeowners opt for stone veneers which are cheaper and easier to install.
- It does not require a lot of maintenance after installation.
- The exterior bears the natural look of stone.
- It is not prone to weather.
- The initial cost is high due to the cost of material and the cost of installation especially if it requires a professional.
Stucco is normally a mixture of cement, lime or sand although it can be made using different recipes. The exterior is created by layering the mixture all over the house. There are also various ways of applying it, can be given different shapes and textures which makes it easy to produce different architectural styles. It can be applied on stone, brick and even wooden surfaces.
- It is long lasting if there is proper installation and maintenance.
- Due to the casing it provides, stucco insulates the home, reducing the need for cooling or heating thereby saving energy costs.
- It is resistant to fire and so there is no need to add fire retardants.
- Stucco does not do well in areas with excess moisture and therefore not suitable for use in humid areas.
- It is expensive to install with a high initial cost.
8. Imitation Stone/Brick
Imitation stone and brick siding are precursors to today’s modern vinyl imitation versions.
Though they’re not as popular as they once were, they’re still available for those that search for them. They’re especially common on outbuildings such as sheds and garages.
The main benefit of imitation stone or imitation brick is their low price. These materials cost much less than the real things and look almost as good. In fact, it’s very difficult to tell that they’re imitation versions unless you note the caps on the corners.
The downside to imitation stone and brick is that they’re not as durable. They don’t last nearly as long as real stone or brick. They’re also much more prone to water damage.
9. Engineered Wood Siding
Engineered wood siding looks almost exactly like the real thing, yet it’s made from composite materials.
Unlike wood-look vinyl or fiber cement, engineered wood actual contains real wood. Various fibers and strands are combined to create an authentic looking finished product.
The main benefit of engineered wood is its low price. It costs much less than natural wood, only around $1.50 to $3.00 per square foot.
Engineered wood can also be customized to your personal preferences. It’s available in a wide variety of styles that mimic different species and stains. Not only does it look like real wood, but it’s also created with a convincing texture.
Another benefit of this material is its durability. Expect your engineered wood to last for at least 20 to 30 years. In fact, warranties of such lengths are common.
Engineered wood holds up well to extreme temperatures, moisture, fire, and insects. It requires little maintenance and suffers very little from normal wear and tear.
The only real disadvantage to note, other than the fact that engineered wood is not quite the real thing, is the fact that you can’t repaint or restain it.
The finish you initially select is the finish you’re stuck with unless you replace all of the sidings. [source: modernize]
10. Insulated Siding
Insulated siding is an improved version of vinyl. It comes with most of the same features with the exception of a special insulating layer made from expanded polystyrene foam (EPS).
The EPS is fused on the backside of the vinyl. This provides a snugger fit between the vinyl material and your actual home for vastly improved insulation.
This insulating material provides more than 20 percent more energy than the best-insulating vinyl materials on the market.
It also comes with all the same advantages as vinyl siding, including incredibly durability and warranties of up to 40 years or more. [source: washingtonenergy]
Concrete comprises a mixture of cement, gravel, sand, and water. The ingredients are mixed in various proportions to produce a paste that hardens when dry. This characteristic helps to create a durable concrete home exterior.
- A concrete home exterior is long lasting, up to hundreds of years.
- The maintenance cost is low.
- The concrete exterior is strong and can withstand calamities such as floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes. It is also fire resistant.
- Concrete has insulating properties, which reduce costs related to cooling and heating.
- Various shapes can be molded using concrete to create design solutions and attractive finishes.
- The only one — the cost of installation is high.
12. Glass Exterior
And finally Glass Exterior! Glass is a suitable home exterior where a lot of natural light is needed. Glass used should be strong enough to withstand elements such as wind and storms. It should let in light while blocking the ultraviolet rays.
- It allows light into the home creating a beautiful effect.
- The home becomes energy efficient because glass provides an airtight environment such that there is no loss of heat during winter and the home remains cool in summer.
- The home becomes water resistant since sealant does not allow moisture in.
- It does not provide privacy.
- It needs regular cleaning.
- The cost of glass and that of installation is high.