Not many home improvement projects are capable of improving the curb appeal, performance, and the resale value of a house like new siding. Different siding materials have seen their peak of popularity over the years, but only the best remained. No one dares to use asbestos siding anymore, while fiberglass and hardboard composites are being increasingly substituted for vinyl and fibre cement. Let’s take a look at the properties, pricing, and maintenance of the most popular siding materials today.

Wood siding

Hands down one of the most attractive siding options, wood siding typically includes wood planks, panels, boards, or shingles. One of the oldest types of house siding is wood clapboard lap siding, which still looks beautiful in many period homes. Wood siding is manufactured in a variety of styles, textures, and finishes. Wood clapboard siding is horizontal, with overlapping joints, while wood plank or boards siding is vertical, with variants like board-and-batten, board-on-board, and channel-groove or tongue-and-groove. While being easy to repair, wooden siding is difficult to install over the existing siding. Unless protected with a paint or stain, wood is vulnerable to suing exposure, rot, and insects. Another drawback is the price – costs vary depending on whether you want cedar, spruce, fir, or redwood, and the type of siding, but the average cost is around $12,000. On the other hand, wood is a timeless material that gives a home a lot of class. It doesn’t surprise that many modern siding materials are made to imitate natural wood.

Brick siding

Considered as the most traditional option for most homeowners, it’s hard to beat the timeless look of a suburban brick house siding. Favoured by many for its performance and durability, brick usually wins in every durability, flexibility, and familiarity contest. Also, brick comes in a variety of colour choices which don’t require painting or refinishing. Besides, brick has excellent weather and extreme temperature resistance. On the other hand, brick is still more expensive than many other options, but you can reduce the cost by using an alternative, called brick veneer. While it looks like brick on the outside, it isn’t as good of an insulator and can’t bear loads. It’s typically installed with an air gap, 3” rigid insulation, and backup wall.

Metal siding

Maintenance-heavy wood and not-too-business-like brick siding called for another option with a much sleeker design and low maintenance. Aluminium was the pioneering metal to be used as siding, and due to its good properties, it evolved into one of the most popular choices for business properties and homes alike. In recent years, however, the availability of low-cost overseas steel manufacture has increased the popularity of steel siding, as well. Metal siding comes in an array of styles which include horizontal and vertical strips, panels, as well as shingles, which are sometimes difficult to tell from wood at a distance. Some advanced metal cladding systems are engineered to high fire-resistance standards, which makes them a perfect option when there are other combustible elements present in the wall build-up. Metal siding is commonly used as a retrofit solution, often applied directly over wood siding which has been damaged over the years.

Vinyl siding

In the never-ending search for low-cost, low-maintenance siding materials, the engineers have set a milestone for the next-gen material after aluminium and steel – vinyl. Like aluminium, vinyl comes in strips with interlocking edges, so a special tool called a zip tool is used to join and separate the strips. Available in a variety of textures, vinyl can mimic a range of wood grains and natural stone styles including shake and shingle style. Also used typically as a retrofit siding, vinyl can be applied directly over old wood siding. As a low-maintenance material, vinyl never needs painting, since the colour is solid all through the material. If it cracks, the siding section must be repaired or replaced, but manufacturers offer limited warranties up to 50 years for the quality product. As an inexpensive material, vinyl is more vulnerable to wind and high temperatures, and unless insulated not very energy efficient.

Fibre cement siding

The most futuristic of all the options here, cement fibre is the latest development in house siding technology. Durable and low-maintenance, fibre cement is considered a sustainable option, as it’s made from recyclable materials. It’s cut and installed like wood siding, and in many varieties, it mimics natural wood grain so well that it’s indistinguishable from some wood siding products. The material is resistant to rot and insect damage and warranties of 50 years are the norm for major manufacturers. Often compared to vinyl, fibre cement is perfect for homeowners who want a fire-proof material with the aesthetics of wood at a lower price. On the downside, it’s a heavy material which increases the cost of installation.

This list includes a brief overview of the most popular siding materials with the pros and cons of each. To find a perfect one for you, besides the material and installation cost, you need to consider the aesthetics, energy efficiency, and durability.

Will Sandford is a Sydney based wood architect, blogger and contributor on interior design and ecology blogs. Besides that, he is also interested in home improvement combined with green technology. In his spare time, Will enjoys surfing, cycling and rock climbing. He is also a regular contributor to SmoothDecorator. Connect with him on Twitter.