Exterior Siding Options When Remodeling Your Home

Exterior Siding Options Compared: even vinyl siding can be beautiful.
A combination of vinyl shake and standard 4" lap vinyl siding was used in this transformation.

Exterior Siding Options Compared

In Madison, Wis., your home's exterior siding is an important component of its construction, both as a means of protecting your home from harsh elements, and as part of your home's aesthetic style and curb appeal. There are many different types of exterior siding and they can vary widely by cost, material durability,  and the labor needed for installation.

The most expensive siding is worthless if it doesn't hold up to the elements and requires constant repairs and maintenance. Instead, consider reasonably priced siding that will endure the weather and last. 

New exterior siding can help increase the curb appeal and value of your home depending on the type you choose and the quality of the material. When it comes to selecting the right siding, there is no one size fits all answer. Your choice depends on your budget, your design and the skill level of the installer. The best way to narrow your choices is to take a look at your options and speak with your design-build-remodeler for an expert opinion.

Here are some of the most popular exterior siding options when remodeling your home.

This ranch home, inspired by the ramblers of the 1960's, uses wide lap LP Smartside on the exterior.

LP SmartSide

LP SmartSide is a brand name of an engineered wood siding. Much of the product is manufactured in Wisconsin, so it is a green product from the standpoint of using renewable materials (wood) and local sourcing. The installers like it because it cuts with traditional woodworking tools. 

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is the number one residential siding choice in the United States. This is mostly because it is affordable, durable (lasing 20 to 30 years) and relatively maintenance free. Simply give it a good washing with soap and water a couple of times a year. Vinyl is very reasonable in terms of price. Vinyl is also easy to install and very customizable available in countless colors, textures, and designs. Vinyl can help you recoup up to 83% of your costs when you sell.

On the downside, some homeowners do not like the look of vinyl and especially the seams. Today, there are extra long options that will eliminate the need for any seams, but they can cost about 30% more than standard sizes. If you are environmentally conscious, vinyl is not ecologically friendly. The same elements that make it so durable, also make it last for decades in landfills. So look for a remodeler who participates in industry-sponsored vinyl recycling programs.

Wood Siding

Wood siding is one of the more expensive options, but nothing can match the look or durability. Wood siding that is properly maintained can last up to 100 years. It's important to keep it maintained with regular painting or staining every few years.

When it comes to sustainability and environmentally friendly materials, wood is the king. Look for wood siding that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council which is sustainably harvested. Also, wood is highly customizable. It can be left natural, sealed and allowed to develop a beautiful patina, stained, or painted any color.

What is EIFS? Some people mistake EIFS for stucco, but it is actually a completely different process than traditional cement stucco. Watch this video to learn the different phases of EIFS. Windsor, WI

Stucco & EIFS Siding

Stucco is popular because it provides a high level of energy efficiency. Stucco is made of cement, or earth lime and silica layered to create a “case” around the home. It offers insulation and stucco homes require less use of heating and cooling systems. Stucco also acts as a sound block and is naturally resistant to fire. Properly maintained, stucco can last for up to 50 years.

One consideration is that stucco is only viable in certain climates. It's not efficient in humid or rainy regions. In terms of cost, stucco is one of the most expensive choices per square foot. But thanks to its durability, longevity, and energy efficiency in the right situation stucco can pay for itself over time.

EIFS is similar in appearance to stucco, and has a similar application of the finish coat. But underneath, things are different. EIFS stands for Exterior Insulation and Finish System. As the name states, EIFS has a layer of foam insulation which serves as the base for the finish "stucco" coat. One advantage of EIFS is that it provides extra insulation on the exterior of the home, which if it is thick enough, can provide protection against dew point condensation inside of the wall. EIFS is less expensive than real stucco, and competitive with LP Smartside and fiber cement siding.

Out of the ordinary: A combination of stone, brick, Tudor, and stucco siding was used on this one-of-a-kind storybook lakehouse.

Masonry Exterior Siding

Natural stone, brick, and veneer are some of the most expensive choices available. Stone siding is a manufactured veneer. While natural stone is an option, it is costly, hard to obtain and can be difficult to work with. Typically, stone veneer isn't used to cover the entire home, but as an accent wall paired with another type of siding.

Stone veneer is popular because of its long lifespan of 25 years or more. Stone veneer is easy to maintain and is extremely resistant to mold and mildew caused by excess moisture. The main drawback is the cost. Natural stone and brick can last up to 100 years but can cost up to $18.00 per square foot; veneers can run from $4.00 to $10.00. These costs do not include installation.

Metal Siding

Metal siding has come a long way from the old aluminum siding of decades past. Today, metal siding is offered in both steel and aluminum, comes in a wide variety of colors and textures, is relatively easy to install and reasonably priced.

Metal siding comes in either vertical board and batten or lapboard styles. Both are wind resistant and largely maintenance free. Aluminum siding is also available that mimics wood and is much thicker than in the past, offering good insulation. Metal siding is ideal for harsh weather climates and is an affordable and attractive option for many homeowners.

Fiber Cement Exterior Siding

James Hardie fiber cement (cement board) siding was used on this modern farmhouse.

This is a newer technology that offers the durability of wood, the insulation properties of stucco and the weather resistance of metal. Also known as Hardie board, it's composed of wood fibers, cement and sand. It's incredibly durable, resistant to rot and termites and not easily combustible.

If you live in coastal areas, unlike metal which is prone to rust after years in an ocean climate, fiber cement siding is exceptionally resistant to salt air and wind. It's also a good choice for hot, humid climates, unlike stucco. It comes in a variety of styles and colors and requires minimal maintenance.

Choosing the right siding can be made easier if you take the Wisconsin climate and your budget into account. The best option is to discuss your choices with your design-build-remodeler Give us a call. We can explain the best options for your local conditions and the advantages of one material over another regarding price, durability, and curb appeal. No matter what you choose, upgrading your home's siding is a great investment that can offer a good return when it comes time to sell your home!

This article was updated by Abe Degnan on 6/25/2018.

About Degnan Design Build Remodel
Since 1981 Degnan Design Build Remodel has provided home improvement and construction services to customers throughout Greater Madison, Wisconsin. Our goal is to WOW you with a "Designed For Your Life" solution using a process that will transform your home into a beautiful living space, delivered on time, and on budget. We are known for our communication, respectfulness, and a commitment to our customers and our community. Contact us to speak with one of our designers about your home improvement project.