Compare Wood vs Vinyl Siding Costs
About Vinyl Siding
Vinyl siding is a man-made material constructed from various combinations of fibers, binders and fillers. The materials are heated and compressed into boards that are designed to resemble wood or other types of materials.
Early vinyl siding was weak and problematic, but technology has vastly improved since the 1950s. Today, vinyl is the most popular siding choice in America, primarily because it is inexpensive, low maintenance and long lasting.
There are significant quality variations among vinyl products, and the prices reflect that. Low-grade vinyl will appear plastic-like, while high-end vinyl mimics natural wood pretty convincingly. Vinyl siding also comes in a variety of designs, including traditional clapboard-style, vertical, board and batten, shakes and shingles.
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How Much Does Vinyl Siding Cost?
Vinyl siding is considerably less expensive than wood. Depending on quality, the price ranges from $2 to $7 per square foot installed. On average, budget closer to $4 to $6 per square foot installed. The thicker the vinyl, the more durable and expensive it is.
Calculating the number of square feet you need to cover the house is a complicated process, but you can use this guide to get a rough idea.
For a two-story house with 2,800 square feet of exterior space - which is fairly typical - the total project cost ranges from $5,600 to $19,600. For a mid-range vinyl that costs $5 per square foot installed, the cost would be $14,000.
Keep in mind that the prices above are meant to be estimates. Prices can vary widely from one region of the country to the next.
Vinyl Siding Pros
- Less expensive - Vinyl is much more affordable than natural wood. That is one of the primary reasons it has skyrocketed in popularity over the last few decades.
- Easier to maintain - Vinyl never needs to be sanded, refinished or repainted. In fact, it can’t be painted because the material won’t hold color. Besides the occasional cleaning, no maintenance is required.
- Won’t be damaged by pests - Vinyl is not susceptible to damage from wood-eating pests such as termites and carpenter ants. However, these pests can get underneath the vinyl and attack your home’s wood frame.
Vinyl Siding Cons
- Not wood - For some homeowners, nothing stacks up to the style and quality of read wood, even if the vinyl looks nearly identical.
- Prone to cracks - Vinyl siding can grow brittle and crack as it ages, particularly if it’s exposed to extreme temperatures.
- Melts - Be careful not to place your grill too close to a house with vinyl siding. Vinyl siding will melt when exposed to extreme heat.
About Wood Siding
Wood siding is classic and timeless. It has been used for centuries, and it continues to be one of the most popular siding materials. Wood siding is strong, durable and attractive. And it never goes out of fashion.
Wood siding is available in a wide variety of styles and designs, including shakes, shingles, historic-looking board and batten, or classic clapboard. Popular species of wood include cedar, pine, redwood and cypress. Look at pictures of all the available options before making a choice, and ask your contractor to go over the pros and cons of each style and species. For example, shakes are easier to install than other styles, and cedar tends to require less maintenance than other species.
How Much Does Wood Siding Cost?
Wood siding varies widely in price, depending on the quality. Wood composite, or engineered wood, costs about $4 to $6.50 per square foot installed, which is more expensive than the average vinyl product but cheaper than solid wood. Solid wood such as cedar costs about $5 to $10 per square foot installed.
For a house with 2,800 square feet to cover, the cost for solid wood shingles would work out to $14,000 to $28,000.
Wood Siding Pros
- Curb appeal - Wood siding will set your home apart, particularly in a sea of vinyl-clad homes. Wood has a natural, stately look that vinyl just can’t match.
- Resale value - Wood siding is attractive to buyers and will increase the resale value of your home. Replacing older wood siding with new vinyl siding could actually decrease the value of your home.
- Lifespan - When properly maintained (but only if properly maintained), wood siding can last as long as the building.
Wood Siding Cons
- Cost - Wood siding requires a large initial investment - sometimes twice that of vinyl.
- Maintenance - Wood siding requires periodic power washing, sealing, staining and/or painting. Experts recommend staining every five to 10 years or repainting every 10 to 15 years to keep the siding in good condition.
- Attracts pests - Wood siding can be damaged or destroyed by insects like termites, while vinyl is impervious to pests.