Of all the material decisions involved in the process of building your houses, selecting the siding is among the most important. Siding is the first line of defense against the elements, and it’s a vital part of the wall assembly. But it’s also, quite literally, the skin of the building and the first thing that people see from the curb, so it’s key to the home’s aesthetics. It can also take up a significant portion of the budget.
The siding landscape is vast, consisting of a wide variety of options that include vinyl, brick, fiber cement, cellular PVC, various types of wood, stone, manufactured stone veneer, stucco, synthetic stucco, aluminum, stainless steel, composites, ceramic tile, and more. So, which material do you choose? Which one is right for the type of houses you build? Which best suits the climate? Which one blends cost, looks, ease of installation, and durability?
For many builders, the answer to those questions appears to be vinyl—for the 20th straight year—according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual report, “Characteristics of New Single-Family Houses Completed.” In that report, vinyl ranks No. 1 for siding in 2013 (the most recent data available).
Vinyl, for Durability
“Vinyl siding was the predominant exterior wall material on 31 percent of the 569,000 homes built, compared to 25 percent for brick, 22 percent for stucco, and 16 percent for fiber cement,” says Kate Offringa, president of the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI), a trade association in Washington, D.C. “Seventy-six percent of the homes built in the Northeast and 60 percent of homes built in the Midwest were first and foremost clad in vinyl siding.”
The material hits many touch points. Builders love it because it’s affordable and offers a variety of options and accessories. Subcontractors like it because it’s easy to install. Homeowners choose it because it’s affordable, requires little maintenance, and seemingly lasts forever. “The popularity of vinyl siding is driven by consumer demand,” Offringa says. “Builders build what homebuyers want: curb appeal, low maintenance, and long life.”
Brick Is Enduring
Not surprisingly, the Reston, Va.-based Brick Industry Association (BIA) claims that brick is the ultimate material. “What began as a building essential in the Near East and India more than 5,000 years ago,” the association says, “wound its way through the ancient Egyptians, the Indus Valley civilization, and the Romans and today has amazingly become the all-American building product throughout our country’s history.”
Brick won’t rot, dent, or need to be painted, and it will never tear or be eaten by termites, the BIA says. Multiple studies, the association claims, also show that genuine clay brick beats competitive exteriors in wind, moisture, and earthquake resistance, and protection from wind-blown debris. The group adds that several studies prove that genuine clay brick offers greater sustainable value over its top competitors—including vinyl siding, concrete masonry, manufactured stone, fiber-cement siding, and synthetic stucco (also known as exterior insulation and finish system or EIFS).
There are numerous other siding options to consider and this report was put together by our preferred home remodel/home construction partners operating out of Greenville SC. Choose wisely, not just in picking your siding, but in selecting a contractor to perform the install. After all, this is where you’ll lay your head and it should be done professionally.