If you're building a new home, or thinking about new house siding for an older one, you've got lots of choices. There are natural and synthetic materials, and you may even replace what you've got with something that looks altogether different. Some are very high-end and custom while other siding materials allow you to achieve curb appeal at an affordable price.
House siding is a major investment, regardless of which materials you eventually decide to use. When comparing two or more house siding options, you'll want to look beyond the up front cost of the materials – the product, the installation, maintenance and repairs plus product lifetime. Be sure to consider the cost of using a certified installer like Hardie, to insure your warranty is valid.
If you're thinking about installing new siding yourself, consider the time and cost of removing and disposing of new siding, plus tools and supplies. With a 2-story house, you'll need scaffolding and that's not cheap (learn more about the pump jack staging shown here).
Because you'll only replace your house siding once or twice in your lifetime, consider all your options carefully and make your selection based on a combination of what you can afford, what is appropriate for your home's architecture and location, and what will last.
Here are 6 house siding options that are readily available, and what you can expect to pay.
House Siding: Hardie Wood Look & Low Maintenance
The James Hardie company fabricates all sorts of fiber cement products for the home, from tile underlayments to some of the hardest-wearing and good-looking siding available.
Two interesting things about Hardie siding are that the material realistically imitates the look of wood, but without the maintenance that wood requires. There’s no painting, scraping and repainting because it comes in many colors. It is paintable if you like, though.
Hardie siding might be shaped like traditional horizontal clapboard, vertical board & batten or wood shakes, sometimes called shingles. Only you and your installer will know this isn’t real wood.
Expect to pay between $800 and $1,000, including materials and labor, per 200 square feet for installation. As for upkeep, all you need is a garden hose and occasionally a soft brush and mild cleaner.
House Siding: Cedar Shakes Weather Naturally
Cedar shakes are a unique-looking house siding. Often found on coastal homes, cedar shake siding protects against the elements without being fussy or hard to maintain.
Although cedar can be painted, it’s not necessary, and paint can actually mar the charm. If you paint and then need to scrape later, cedar is soft and prone to impact damage.
Cedar shakes need regular treatment, which you can apply yourself. Use bleaching oil, which is linseed oil and bleach crystals, to preserve the look of the cedar, recommends This Old House.
It’s not uncommon for a shake to become damaged, but that’s easily remedied by pulling out the old one and installing a new shake in its place.
Cedar shake installation costs between $1,000 and $1,200 per 200 square feet, including materials and labor.
House Siding: Vinyl Comes in Many Styles
Vinyl is a fairly standard home siding choice, but it has come a long way since its inception. Of course you can still buy the traditional clapboard style, with its overlapping horizontal rows, but you can also find vinyl in other styles, including faux wood shakes.
Vinyl is available in almost any color you could want, and it never needs painting. In fact, painting vinyl isn’t advised, as it would most likely flake off. All you need to maintain vinyl is a garden hose, and occasionally a light pressure washing. This keeps it looking new.
Materials and labor should cost between $700 and $900 per square foot, but can vary depending on the style and quality.
House Siding: Stucco Lends a Smooth Finish
Stucco leaves an even, seamless finish that’s appropriate on many architectural styles, including the very common southwest Adobe-style home. It’s even popping up as accents around brick and stone on new construction mini mansions.
Modern stucco is a cement-based material that is applied as a coating over a foundation, which can be concrete block, or a frame house that has been prepared properly.
It’s prone to cracks, which can be sealed by applying a bit of stucco repair mix in the crack. This is called re-dashing, and the best way to deal with minor repairs. Resist the urge to use masonry sealant, which can prevent new stucco from sticking in the future.
One thing you should never do is paint stucco, no matter how tempting. Painting seals the concrete pores, which prevents the house from breathing. It inhibits proper ventilation which can lead to water damage. You can change the color of stucco safely by hiring a contractor to apply a new stucco coat that has colorants added.
As for cleaning, stucco is relatively easy care. Simply wet the surface with water, spray on stucco cleaner and hose it off.
Stucco ranges between $1,200 and $1,700 per 200 square feet, installed.
House Siding: Brick & Stone Withstand the Elements Beautifully
Many brick and stone homes are not built from those materials. Most often, brick and stone houses are a veneer or thin facade over the home’s framework. It’s considered siding because veneer overlays the home’s exterior.
Both brick and stone are nearly maintenance free. Hose them off occasionally and they will retain their beauty. Pressure washing should only be done by a professional, as water can be forced into the wall, and it can also dislodge the mortar.
Eventually a crack or two will appear between bricks or stones, but this is something you can likely manage on your own. Gently tap out the broken mortar, mix up a small amount of fresh mortar with water in a small container and tap it into the opening using a tuckpoint trowel. That’s a small, thin, narrow trowel designed for mortar repair.
Brick and stone veneer range between $2,000 and $3,000 per 100 square feet installed. This is an expensive siding option, but the longevity and attractive look make it worth the investment for many home owners.
House Siding: Wood Clapboard Still a Classic
A perennial favorite, wood clapboard siding has stood the test of time on American homes. It remains so popular that other house siding materials like Hardie siding and vinyl imitate it. When you think of classic siding that's appropriate on most homes, this is it.
Clapboard is available in wide and narrow rows, with narrower siding being more period correct on older homes such as Colonials and some Victorians.
Maintenance of clapboard is where it can lose some of its appeal. This is siding that you will paint and paint again many times over the years. Unless, of course, you choose to leave it bare. That's only recommended for certain wood species such as cedar, however.
Installation costs and materials range between $1,000 and $1,200 per 200 square feet. As for general care, hosing it off once or twice a year is usually sufficient, although it can take gentle pressure washing.
Most siding will protect your home from the elements, even the most basic engineered wood. What you select should meet your own criteria for cost, beauty and longevity. To help you dig deeper into the pros and cons of each siding material, here are some websites to check out:
- RemodelingExpense.com which is very detailed and a bit overwhelming, so take your time.
- DIYNetwork Buyer's Guide for Exterior Siding goes into more detail
With so many materials available, you can likely find something that fits your budget and your style. To get the best solution for your house, you'll need to do more research as the infographic below offers a price range for each type of siding which varies significantly based on where you live and the product manufacturer.
Just remember, as with anything else, you shouldn't skimp one materials and installers if you don't have to. Where it comes to siding, you really do get what you pay for.
Are you considering new siding for your home? We would love for you to share your ideas!
Note: I've omitted engineered wood siding and aluminum siding from my overview because of the problems observed with these products while running my handyman business. I'll never forget one home in Salem, NH where the entire house was covered with large, black spots indicating serious problems with the siding and everything behind it.