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“The primary function of siding is to protect a home from severe weather,” said Scott Cline, owner of J&B Construction. “Additionally, siding helps prevent moisture, dirt, and debris from seeping into the walls and insulation, which can otherwise cause mold and mildew growth, or even structural damage.” What are the pros and cons of today’s most popular siding materials?

It’s important to keep in mind the role siding plays in the function and safety of a home when considering the top siding choices available today, including vinyl, wood, and fiber-cement. There are unique benefits to the most popular siding materials through an economical, preservative, and green perspective.

Vinyl is the most prominent material in the siding industry. “It’s strong, long-lasting, and is readily available in a wide selection of colors and forms,” Scott said. “Moreover, pigments are capable of infusing with the material and will easily cover any noticeable abrasions.”

Vinyl siding is equipped to withstand even the harshest elements, including strong winds and severe temperatures, all while preserving its shape and color. When it comes to installation, it is usually a quick and relatively easy process, as vinyl is an exceptionally lightweight material. Furthermore, it can be fitted over the existing siding of a home. In short, vinyl siding is usually less expensive than other siding materials, it requires virtually no maintenance beyond the occasional cleaning, and has a lengthy lifespan of 30 to 50 years, meaning less of it will end up in landfills.

Wood is a unique siding product in that it is available in a variety of grades and species, which directly impact cost. For instance, those that prefer the innate appearance of wood, it’s recommended to select a more expensive species and grade of wood that’s free from most blemishes and can be finished with a clear or semi-transparent stain. Alternatively, a less expensive type of wood can be chosen if it’s going to be covered in a solid stain color or painted. “In terms of installation, wood is particularly straightforward to shape and cut, and as a result, it lowers the cost of labor,” he said. “Plus, wood’s longevity is unmatched, as it will typically last 100 years or longer. Simply put, wood siding has flexible pricing, maintenance involves regular repainting or re-staining, and in turn it has a life expectancy that is unparalleled.”

Fiber-cement siding is an alternative that closely mimics the look of wood, as it is comprised of a combination of wood fibers along with cement, sand, and clay. Due to fiber-cement siding’s makeup, this material can also be formed to look like masonry or stucco. Similar to vinyl, fiber-cement is durable, allowing it to endure intense weather conditions. The typical warranty of fiber-cement is 30 years. Additionally, fiber-cement is nonflammable and is impervious to rotting and termites. Just like vinyl, little to no maintenance is required with fiber-cement siding. “If a decision is made to change a home’s a color, fiber-cement holds paint and caulk exceptionally well,” Scott said. In brief, fiber-cement is reasonably priced, calls for minimal upkeep, and has an extensive life cycle, which helps lower the amount of waste entering our environment.

“Given the accounts of vinyl, wood, and fiber-cement siding, it’s apparent why each material is favored in its own right, as they all come with distinct benefits,” he said. “So, when comparing popular siding materials for your home’s exterior, consider price points, maintenance recommendations, and environmental impact. This may allow you to narrow your options and ultimately feel well versed and assured about the material you select.”