5 Best House Siding Options

  • 01 of 05

    Plywood Siding

    Plywood Siding for House
    Chris Clor / Getty Images

    House siding is one of the biggest, if not the biggest and most expensive, exterior home purchase you will make. Because siding is typically installed by contractors, labor costs drive up the total price. Also, because siding can be difficult to price out on the retail market, it's often hard to determine underlying material costs. But several types of siding emerge as the best for your home.

    Plywood Siding

    Plywood siding goes up fast because it comes in large sheets. Relatively inexpensive, plywood is a favored budget siding choice. Plywood for siding is not the type of exterior grade plywood you might use for sheds. Home-grade exterior plywood siding has a rough sawn, textured appearance, and its edges are ship-lapped to allow for a tight fit.

    If you find that you are put off by plywood siding's plain look, one way to make it work is to mate it with a more attractive, premium material on the house facade. For example, three sides of the house might be plywood, with the front being made of manufactured veneer stone or cedar shake shingles.

    Pros

    • Plywood is a dimensionally stable wood, so it resists major expansion, contraction, warping, and swelling.
    • Plywood siding is available in large sheets of 8 feet long or longer, so installation goes faster.
    • Vertical grooving on plywood creates the impression of multiple boards rather than one large board, making it more pleasing to the eye.
    • Plywood is one of the few types of siding that can be considered a do-it-yourself material. Do-it-yourselfers routinely install and replace plywood siding on their homes.

    Cons

    • While plywood is a viable low-cost option, it is not considered a premium material and so may result in lower resale value for your home.
    • Plywood siding can be difficult to handle since it comes in large formats. It usually requires two or more people to install. 
    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Fiber-Cement Siding

    Fiber Cement Siding
    StanRohrer / Getty Images

    In several ways, fiber-cement siding is one of your best house siding options. Fiber-cement siding is durable and fire-resistant. It looks much like real wood siding, and it tends to command higher resale prices than other types of siding. Fiber-cement siding is 85-percent cement-like materials such as sand, cement, and fly ash, and 15-percent cellulose fibers.

    Pros

    • When fiber-cement siding is compared to other types of siding, fiber-cement is considered the more premium product and tends to garner better resale value for a home than vinyl and plywood.
    • Fiber-cement siding resists fire. For example, HardiePlank has a one-hour fire rating, far beyond vinyl or natural wood.
    • Since fiber-cement siding is thick, it closely mimics real shiplap wood siding.

    Cons

    • Fiber-cement siding can be difficult to install by yourself. Most homeowners contract this project out to qualified fiber-cement installers.
    • Though fire-resistant, it is not fire-proof. Fire-resistant means that it slows down the spread of fire. Fiber-cement's cellulose, or wood, content allow it to burn. 
    • Fiber-cement is expensive, both in terms of product cost and installation.
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  • 03 of 05

    Vinyl Siding

    Painting Shutters on Vinyl Sided House
    kirbyworks / Getty Images

    Vinyl siding is inexpensive and quick to install. Vinyl siding does get a bad rap as being an inferior building material, and some of these criticisms are warranted, such as its flimsiness and poor thermal blocking abilities. But as one of the cheaper house siding options out there, vinyl siding is incomparable.

    Pros

    • Vinyl siding is cheap, ranking among one of the least expensive ways to side your home.
    • Many homeowners are happy with the look of vinyl siding. Vinyl's look is improving, too, with technological advancements in texture and colorfastness. You can also paint it if you want.
    • Vinyl siding can be a quick fix for a home with poor siding since it goes up rapidly and covers 100-percent of the old siding.
    • Vinyl siding cleans easily with a manual scrubber, hose, and mild soap.

    Cons

    • Vinyl siding is usually not an option if you are trying to historically renovate a house. The main issue is that any type of siding that obliterates original architectural details (such as clapboard) is not considered appropriate for historic renovation.
    • Vinyl siding does not have good thermal-blocking R-values. However, vinyl siding can be backed with thin insulation that slightly increases its insulating value.
    • Vinyl siding is thin, flimsy, and prone to cracking under stress.
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  • 04 of 05

    Cedar Shake Siding

    Cedar Shake Siding
    ML Harris / Getty Images

    Truly one of the more beautiful types of siding materials available, cedar shake siding does have a well-deserved reputation as a stately, classic material for homes of distinction.

    Pros

    • High resale value can be gained for homes that have cedar siding in good shape.
    • Cedar shake siding can be combined with other types of siding for a unique look.

    Cons

    • Cedar shake requires more maintenance than other siding types listed here.
    • Cedar shake requires skilled labor for installation for attractive and water-tight results.
    • Cedar shake siding is not fire-resistant or fire-proof.
    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Aluminum Siding

    Aluminum Siding
    CC By 2.0 Image by Tomwsulcer Creative Commons / Wikimedia

    Aluminum siding, popular for much of the 20th century, eventually became shorthand for everything cheap and shoddy about renovated homes and it fell out of fashion. Now aluminum siding is back but in a new and better way. Manufacturers have added features such as more realistic texturing and improved joints which make aluminum an option for some homeowners.

    Pros

    • Aluminum has tiny, almost invisible seams between the panels. Other types of siding, such as fiber-cement siding, requires larger caulked seams.
    • Aluminum siding might be considered to be eco-friendly and green since it is not a petroleum-based product (like vinyl siding).
    • Architectural-grade aluminum siding can be a good choice for modern-styled homes.
    • Aluminum siding is fire-proof.

    Cons

    • Aluminum transmits thermal energy, which is not desirable for siding.
    • Like vinyl siding, aluminum dents easily. But like vinyl, it too can be backed with foam insulation, which helps prevent dents.
    • Aluminum siding is rarely a do-it-yourself installation project.