Far more than being simply decorative, the siding on a home helps to protect it from weather and the elements as well as providing aesthetic appeal. There are many different types of exterior siding, each with its own advantages. This article will educate you on five of the most popular exterior siding options and help you to compare factors like price and environmental impact. First, let’s take a look at the different types of exterior siding:

1. Wood Siding

A classic, tried-and-true option, wood siding is beautiful and relatively easy to work with compared to other options. If you’re looking for a DIY project, installing wood siding can be a great choice because it is easy to cut and shape, while being extremely versatile. With wood siding, there are a wide variety of different tree species and siding styles available, so you have a lot of options to choose from to get the exact look you are going for. Wood needs to be painted or stained, so beyond the species and style, you have a multitude of ways to personalize your wood siding, allowing you to achieve virtually any look you want.

If you are concerned about the environmental impact of the siding you select, wood can also be an excellent choice for sustainability. When properly cared for, wood will last for many years. There are a few disadvantages, however, when using wood siding. For example, the cost involved can lean toward the high end. Natural wood siding can be more expensive up front than other materials and does require repainting and recaulking every so often.

2. Engineered Wood Siding

If you like the idea of wood, but want something that’s a little less expensive, engineered wood may be the perfect choice for you. The panels are made from wood fibers held together with waterproof resins and other artificial compounds.

Due to the compounds added during the production, wood composite siding can also have a measure of extra protection from factors such as insects or extreme weather. Although staining is not an option with composite, it comes in both a smooth and woodgrain finish and can be purchased pre-painted. It installs just like wood, which makes it easier than stone or fiber cement, but it also requires maintenance, just like wood. Because it is made from the scraps of other wood, engineered wood siding can be a great choice from an environmental standpoint.

3. Vinyl Siding

Another option that you can select is vinyl. While it may not have the aesthetic appeal that wood does, vinyl comes with a number of advantages of its own. The primary advantages when using vinyl are that it is lightweight and relatively tough and requires minimal maintenance. Because the panels used for the siding don’t weigh much, they are easy to install whether you are doing it yourself or securing the services of a professional. Pricing for vinyl siding can vary from one of the least expensive options up to one of the most expensive options.  Factors that affect price include the panel thickness, color and whether or not you elect to have a foam insulation backer.

Vinyl siding has many great options for colors nowadays. However, once you select your color, you cannot go back and repaint later like you can with other sidings. From a sustainability standpoint, vinyl is a plastic product and needs to be properly recycled, since it will take years to break down if it ends up in a landfill. If you are disposing of vinyl siding, make sure that it is recycled to avoid this problem. The cost of installing vinyl siding on an average home is generally lower than other options.

4. Synthetic Stone Siding

Synthetic stone siding is usually not used to cover an entire home, but instead as an accent feature to accompany other siding and add an extra level of aesthetic appeal. If you're looking to highlight a certain area, or add a bit of color to a certain part of your home, an accent wall can be an excellent option. While stone is significantly more expensive than the other options we’ve mentioned, it only needs to be used in select areas and can have a huge impact on the curb appeal of your home.  Synthetic stone is created from cement and sand and is cast in molds, meaning it has a fraction of the weight of an actual stone, while still boasting the same reliability. If you are looking for a durable option that gives a unique look to your home, a synthetic stone may be the perfect choice.

5. Fiber Cement Siding

Fiber cement is another great option if you’re looking for versatility and durability in your siding. It is made from cement mixed with clay, sand and wood pulp and can last for a very, very long time on your home. If you haven’t heard the term ‘fiber cement’ before, you may have heard of “James Hardie”, which is the most popular brand and has become synonymous with fiber cement. Fiber cement has similar maintenance requirements to wood and wood composite: it needs to be painted and recaulked. The cost is usually comparable to a wood composite. The main difficulty with fiber cement is the installation. Fiber cement is heavy and brittle, which can make it cumbersome and more difficult to install. It also requires a special blade to cut the material, so installation costs can be higher for fiber cement. Nevertheless, fiber cement siding can be an excellent option if you are looking for a durable, versatile and modern look for your home.

So, How Do I Begin?

Whether you’ve done a little research and have an idea of what type of siding you are looking for, or are just looking for some answers to questions you have, you can head to your local home supply store and begin searching for the perfect siding for your home. Whichever option you choose, you’ll want to consult with a professional to decide exactly how much material you need and unless you are an experienced DIY-er, it’s also a good idea to have your siding professionally installed. Good luck!