A buying guide for siding with an overview of brands, styles, types, budgets, things to consider, choosing a contractor etc.
This house siding buying guide is full of straightforward information about siding types, styles available in each, best siding brands, siding prices for each type and tips on choosing the right siding for your home and the best installer in your area.
The house siding types explored include vinyl, aluminum, steel, wood, fiber cement, composite, stone and brick veneer, full-brick and full-stone and stucco.
See the Window Price Guide individual pages for siding types for comprehensive details and pricing information.
Siding Types and Costs Overview
Let’s start with an overview table.
The table shows siding installed costs, which include the siding, siding installation accessories like J-channel and fasteners, plus installation labor charges.
|Siding Prices by Type|
|Siding Type||Installed Cost||Longevity||Maintenance|
|Vinyl||$5.65 – $11.00||15-25 years||Low|
|Aluminum||$6.50 – $12.25||20-30 years||Low|
|Steel||$5.15 – $11.85||20-40 years||Low|
|Wood||$7.85 – $13.35||40-100+ years||High|
|Composite/Engineered||$7.35 – $12.90||30-50 years||Low|
|Fiber Cement||$8.15 – $14.00||35-50 years||Medium|
|Stucco||$9.25 – $19.00||50-100+ years||Medium|
|Full Brick||$21.00 – $36.00||100+ years||Medium|
|Brick & Stone Veneer||$12.85 – $21.00||75-100+ years||Medium|
About the Table: 1). Siding prices are per square foot. 2). Siding is often priced by the “square,” a building industry term meaning enough siding to cover 100 square feet of your home’s exterior. Multiply the square foot price by 100 for the square price. 3). The full range of prices is given, which reflect both material and installation factors. Prices toward the high end for vinyl siding, aluminum siding and steel siding include the use of architectural panels – panels of siding formed to look like wood shakes, shingles or scalloped wood.
Siding Types Detailed Reviews
Here are the most popular siding types with pros, cons, cost factors and how other homeowners are using them.
Vinyl siding continues to enjoy enormous popularity because it is affordable, attractive and reasonably durable. Your color options range from white to deep shades of brown and gray. Rich reds, greens and blues are available in addition to many neutral hues too.
Cost: $5.65 to $11.00 per square foot. Standard profiles run about $5.65 to $8.00 installed. The cost for panels formed to look like individual shakes range from $8.50 to $11.00 for materials and installation. See Styles for details.
Styles: Let’s start with standard vinyl siding. It is available in horizontal and vertical profiles – a profile is a shape or “look.” For example, horizontal vinyl siding comes in single pieces shaped to look like one to four individual pieces of wood. For example, a profile called “triple-4” is one siding piece shaped like three 4” pieces of wood. Most vertical vinyl siding is board & batten style, which is siding designed to look like two wood planks fastened together with a thin strip called a batten.
Architectural vinyl siding panels are panels of about 2 to 5 square feet of siding formed to look like 4 or more individual pieces.
Pros and Cons: Vinyl siding is a cost-effective option for most homes. It is available in a wide range of colors and in several thicknesses that offer low/average/high pricing. Vinyl is easy to maintain. Depending on your climate, it might need to be gently washed once or twice per year to look its best. This is a good DIY option for those with good skills.
Insulated vinyl siding has a thin foam backing with an insulation value of R-2 to R-5, but the extra cost might not be worth the insulation value you receive in terms of lower energy costs. It is produced in a limited range of colors.
Within the first decade, light fading of vinyl siding occurs. It likely won’t be noticeable unless a piece gets damaged and is replaced with the same siding. The new piece will be a little darker, and might look out of place.
Maintenance: A light power wash as needed is all that’s required for vinyl siding in good condition.
Longevity: Expect a minimum of 15 years from cheap vinyl siding. Well-maintained vinyl of good quality might stay good-looking enough to last 30 years, but around 20-25 years is average.
Best Uses: Vinyl is used in many ways. A single style can cover the entire exterior of the home or scalloped/shake panels can be used in gables or elsewhere as an accent. Some homeowners that have wood or brick on the front use vinyl on the rest of the house. In an upscale neighborhood, a home covered in vinyl might look underdressed if most homes are sided in wood, brick or stone.
Top Brands: There are many including CertainTeed, Norandex, Exteria, Ply Gem brands like Napco and Mastic, Georgia Pacific (GP), Alside, Mitten, Kaycan, Royal Building Products/CraneBoard, Foundry and ABTCO Timbercrest.
Aluminum siding has made a comeback, though we wouldn’t say it has come roaring back. It’s a good alternative to vinyl siding for homeowners that want a greener product – many brands use recycled aluminum in manufacturing their siding, and all aluminum siding is recyclable.
Cost: $6.50 to $12.25 per square foot with an average cost of about $9.00.
Styles: Similar to vinyl, it is available in horizontal and vertical planks plus stamped shake-look panels. The style and color range is more limited than you have with vinyl siding.
Pros and Cons: On the upside, it is recyclable and stands up well to most weather except large hail. It won’t burn, and it resists insects. Newer coatings prevent much of the chalking that was problematic for earlier generations of aluminum siding. Many manufacturers also make soffit, fascia and gutters, so color coordination is easier. The downsides are the slightly higher cost and less selection than you have with vinyl. It can also dent quite easily and be a little noisy in heavy weather.
Maintenance: A very gentle wash as needed, preferably by hand vs a power washer, is all the maintenance needed with aluminum siding.
Longevity: The aluminum should look good for 20-25 years if it isn’t dented and scratched.
Best Uses: Homeowners use aluminum to cover their entire house or as a complement to stone and brick.
Top Brands: Ply Gem Variform, Ply Gem Mastic, Rollex, Quality Edge TruCedar, Alsco, Kaycan and Gentek.
Steel siding ranges from affordable to slightly upscale. Some options are quite innovative, such as corrugated ribbed siding, weathered steel siding, log-look or siding printed with paints that have a woodgrain look. One of the important keys to steel siding is the coating used. If galvanized steel is painted, then cost is lower, but durability is lower too. Better products like Galvalume steel and Kynar coatings, similar to steel roofing, offer much better longevity at a higher price.
Cost: $5.15 to $11.85 per square foot.
Styles: Horizontal and vertical planks are available from several manufacturers; steel shingles are less common but can be bought in most regions of the country.
Pros and Cons: On the low end, steel siding can be more affordable than aluminum. Plus, there are newer styles that are unique and visually appealing such as the rustic weathered steel noted above. Steel resists fire and pests. Quality coatings resist scratching and corrosion, and we recommend choosing one of these better products since galvanized steel is subject to corrosion if exposed. Steel is also a little heavier than aluminum and vinyl, so it is harder to work with and, where applicable, shipping costs are higher.
Maintenance: Definitely address scratches through to the steel by painting the area before corrosion starts. Other than that, light power washing will keep steel siding looking good.
Longevity: 15-20 years for painted galvanized steel; up to 40 years for Galvalume and galvanized with Kynar and Hylar coatings plus weathered (or weathering) steel.
Best Uses: Wood-look steel is a good fit for most residential neighborhoods. If you have the freedom to “do something different” where you won’t run afoul of a homeowner’s association (HOA), then ribbed/corrugated or weathered steel is worth a close look.
Top Brands: Ply Gem, Edco, Miramac Metals, Bridger Steel and Klauer.
Wood is the original siding mimicked by vinyl, aluminum and some steel, so when you want the real thing, wood is the answer. Genuine wood is also your only wood-look choice in many neighborhoods where vinyl and aluminum aren’t allowed. Cheap pine is an affordable way to go, and it is usually painted. Cedar is the most popular wood siding choice, but you’ll also find cypress, redwood, fir and spruce siding. While it can be painted, cedar and other non-pine materials are usually covered in a stain/sealer combination product.
Cost: $7.85 to $13.35 per square foot, though a few jobs can cost more. An average cost is right around $11 per square foot.
Styles: Lap siding and board & batten wood siding are popular, but your options include horizontal tongue & groove, various log styles like half-log and quarter-log, plus shakes and shingles.
Pros and Cons: The main reason to choose real wood siding is its natural beauty and genuine texture and aroma. When maintained, it lasts indefinitely. And yes, it needs quite a lot of maintenance starting with a fresh coat of paint or stain every 3-10 years depending on climate conditions. It is susceptible to insects, woodpeckers and fire.
Maintenance: As noted, wood siding requires consistent painting or staining to prevent moisture from getting into the wood and causing rot. Rotted boards need replacement. Occasionally a board will warp, crack or splinter and require replacement too.
Longevity: There are many homes with wood siding well over a century old. Most last 50-100 years with good maintenance.
Best Uses: Wood is best used when its beauty is desired and its need for TLC is understood. It looks good in any neighborhood except where most homes are brick. Even there, using wood as an accent siding can be very attractive.
Top Brands: N/A. Wood siding is generally made locally/regionally. Buying from local manufacturers cuts down on costs related to the high cost of shipping wood siding.
Composite/Engineered Wood Siding
Most composite and engineered wood siding is made with wood fibers coated in some type of waterproof polymer resin and pressed into planks or shakes and shingles. Some, like CertainTeed and Everlast, are heavy on polymer with no wood fibers. Either way, composite siding requires less maintenance than real wood and looks more genuine than vinyl or aluminum.
Cost: $7.35 – $12.90 per square foot.
Styles: Various horizontal and vertical styles are produced plus panels replicating wood shingles and shakes. Your stylistic options are similar to those available in vinyl, though the color spectrum is limited to colors found in natural wood products.
Pros and Cons: Cost is slightly lower, and less maintenance is required. Engineered wood siding, aka composite siding, is less susceptible to insects and damage caused by moisture. The downside is that engineered wood siding manufacturers vary, and some of the material is cheap, subject to water absorption, warping, fading and other defects. Choose a quality brand like those listed below.
Maintenance: The material is low-maintenance siding. A light power wash as needed is all that’s required.
Longevity: 30-50 years.
Best Uses: Use it anywhere you’d like the look and feel of real wood but with lower maintenance requirements and potential damage from moisture and pets.
Top Brands: LP SmartSide, Royal Building Products Celect Cellular, Kaycan and TruWood.
Fiber Cement Siding
The current generation of fiber cement products offers quality, toughness and longevity at an affordable price. While there are a few formulas used, most include wood fibers, cement and other materials used for strength, weatherproof durability and appearance. The material is manufactured into planks and panels of various sizes and profiles.
Cost: $8.15 to $14.00 per square foot. Most projects cost about $11.50 per square foot.
Styles: Planks, panels and shake/shingle-look styles are produced.
Pros and Cons: The initial coating applied at the factory will look great for 8-15 years, but the siding will require regular painting after that. Fiber cement represents good value – the price is competitive with vinyl and aluminum, but the siding lasts longer. This is recognized as a green building material since less energy is required for manufacturing it. Most brands use recycled wood, and the material can be recycled.
Maintenance: Once the factory finish wears thin, the fiber cement siding requires painting every 3-5 years or as needed. Plus, any scratches through the paint should be quickly repaired because fiber cement will soak up water and be damaged when left bare. Seams must be painted and caulked for the same reason. Fiber cement is tough to cut, and the dust is harmful. Plus, it is heavier than vinyl, aluminum and wood. For these reasons, DIY isn’t recommended.
Longevity: 35-50 years.
Best Uses: When you want a siding that is resistant to impact, fire and pests, consider fiber cement. Expect to have a pro install it, in our opinion, for best results.
Top Brands: GAF Weatherside, James Hardie, Allura Plycem, American Fiber Cement, Cemplank, MaxiTile and Nichiha.
There are several stucco siding choices including classic stucco-over-lath siding vs siding systems and natural or synthetic stucco materials.
Cost: $9.25 to $19.00 per square foot with most jobs coming in between $12 and $15 per square foot.
Styles: Most stucco siding is flat and textured. It doesn’t mimic wood, so there are no lapped or board & batten profiles. However, when the underlying material is shaped, raised arches and similar accents are possible.
Pros and Cons: Stucco gives any home classic good looks. And it is quite durable, resistant to fire and pests and very tough in heavy weather. The downside is higher cost – and if installation doesn’t account for drainage requirements, moisture will get behind the material and cause rot to the home’s sheathing and framing. Stucco is a better fit for arid climates than those with lots of rain.
Maintenance: Stucco can be tinted to eliminate the need for painting – but it can be painted if a different color becomes preferred. Other than that, a low-pressure wash as needed will maintain its good looks.
Longevity: 50 years is a minimum. There is a lot of stucco around that is 100+.
Best Uses: Stucco looks great on homes with a classic appearance when a “permanent” siding option is desired.
Top Brands: N/A. Stucco siding is a combination of materials readily available.
Full Brick Siding
Classic brick siding is elegant and long-lasting, but expensive.
Cost: $21.00 to $36.00 per square foot. When the home’s footings and foundation weren’t poured to accommodate brick and must be upgraded, cost can be prohibitive.
Styles: You have a few style/shape choices for brick. Color is the primary option to consider, with colors from near-white to deep red and gray.
Pros and Cons: Brick is very durable, exuding classic strength and good looks. But it is expensive, and the mortar must be maintained/repaired through the years, or deterioration of the siding will occur. A drainage system is required, so moisture that gets behind the brick can drain away.
Maintenance: Brick and mortar can be sealed to prevent flaking and spalling. When mortar becomes loose, it must be replaced to prevent potential penetration of moisture into the home’s structure.
Longevity: Well-maintained brick lasts indefinitely.
Best Uses: It is a staple of high-end neighborhoods. Some homes use brick exclusively, or it can be used in combination with wood. It’s not uncommon to see homes with brick fronts and vinyl siding on other exterior walls.
Top Brands: N/A.
Brick & Stone Veneer
Both materials can be cut from the real thing – either genuine bricks and stone cut to veneer about 1” thick, or they can be made of cement-based materials. When cement is the basis, the terms faux brick and faux stone (or fake) are often used.
Cost: $12.85 to $21.00 is typical, with an average of about $17.00 per square foot.
Styles: These materials are produced to look like full brick and stone.
Pros and Cons: While more expensive than most other siding types, brick and stone veneer or their faux cousins cost less than full brick. Drainage must also be considered, so water isn’t trapped behind the material.
Maintenance: The veneer should be sealed every 4-8 years, and when mortar fails, it must be repaired to prevent water damage.
Longevity: Regular maintenance keeps these materials looking good and functioning as they should for a century or more.
Best Uses: Many homeowners use these materials exclusively or in combination with wood or high-quality vinyl or aluminum siding.
Top Brands: Old Mill, GenStone, Brick It, Stoneyard, Brickweb, Urestone, Flexi-Brick, Z-Brick and Boral America brands like Eldorado Stone and Versetta Stone.
Siding Cost Factors and Considerations
Cost factors affect material cost and installation labor.
General cost factors applying to all materials are:
- The cost of the material – Expect to pay $7.00 to $12.00 per square foot for most popular siding types, though there are cheaper and more expensive options too.
- Who does the work – For vinyl, aluminum, steel, wood, composite and fiber cement, you would save $2.50-$5.00 per square foot for installation. Labor costs are higher for brick and stucco.
- Job complexity – The more corners a house has, or other unique design features, the higher labor costs will be. Siding multi-story homes costs a little more than siding a single-story dwelling.
- Considerations to keep in mind are:
- Budget – Focus on material in your budget, and keep in mind that your costs include more than just the price of siding multiplied by the square feet of wall needing coverage. Additional expenses like house wrap/vapor barrier, installation accessories and fasteners and labor must be included.
- Neighborhood – Choose a material that “fits” neighborhood standards, or your return on investment will suffer if you sell your home.
- Climate – Heavy and consistent rain, freeze/thaw cycles, large hail, fire potential and insects like termites present problems for various siding types. Choose a siding that handles your climate better than others. Your siding contractor should be able to offer guidance about the best siding choices for where you live.
Choosing a Siding Contractor
There are a few tips to consider here.
- Get multiple estimates from licensed, insured and experienced contractors.
- Check online reviews for each for information about quality workmanship and superior customer service.
- Choose a contractor with experience installing the siding type, and even the brand if applicable, of siding you’ve chosen.
- Avoid low-cost installers – those with estimates 20% or more below the competition – because they might plan to cut corners or be trying to get work despite a bad reputation.
- High-cost installers might be worth the extra expense if they are in high demand, but check their ratings, reviews and references to determine if their quality justifies the higher rates or if they’re simply trying to work less and make the same income.
- Plan your siding project at least 6 months in advance when possible to explore siding types and brands and get on the schedule of an experienced (and busy) siding contractor.