Top 3 House Exterior Materials: Choosing the Best Siding for Your Home

The exterior of your home plays a significant role in both protecting your family from the natural elements but it also needs to make a positive first impression. Whether you’re in the process of building your dream home or you’re seeking exterior renovation services for your current home, you’ve come to the right place.

Before we delve into the different types of siding that are available, it’s important that you also factor in the exterior trim. If your current siding has deteriorated, there’s a good chance that your trim could use a refresh as well. Here are some considerations for the best house exterior materials.

Wood Siding

most durable siding

Although it’s an option, wood siding is not commonly used in today’s housing market. In fact, there is no area of the country where wood siding accounts for even one-tenth of single-family homes being built. According to the Census Bureau figures, only 3% of southern homes have wood siding.

Wood siding is typically made from short scraps and offcuts that are glued together via finger joints or they may also be made from solid material. Cedar, redwood, pine, fir, and other locally available wood are common options, making it a sustainable siding choice.

We’ve broken down some pros of using wood siding below:

  • A sustainable siding option
  • Is available in many different forms including sawn shingles, tapered clapboards, split shakes, and planks that can be installed both horizontally or vertically
  • Suitable for many different architectural styles, particularly in New England homes
  • Long life expectancy when the wood siding is properly installed

Despite all of the upsides of wood siding, there are some cons to consider as well:

  • Lesser grade wood options such as pine won’t last as long even if they’re properly installed
  • Can potentially be costly depending on the profile, grade, and species
  • When installed poorly, this type of siding has the potential to rot quickly
  • Life expectancy increases when there are wide eaves, good air circulation, or protective porches

As we mentioned above, many factors impact the prices of wooden siding. Let’s say you’re considering cedar siding for your new home build. For the material cost alone, you can expect to pay an average of $459 per square (100 sq. ft.) of siding, one of the more expensive options to consider. The installation process is relatively easy and straightforward and it’s incredibly easy to cut and shape the wood into its ideal position. If possible, you should install this siding over a vented rain screen to help aid the drying process and ensure that moisture doesn’t get stuck between the sheathing and the back of the siding. It is important to take into account all the features of the material so that the siding of your house looks perfect for as long as possible.

Fiber Cement

best exterior siding

Another option for some of the best exterior siding is fiber cement. This material was patented in Austria over a century ago and it’s a durable material made from portland cement, sand, and cellulose fiber. In the United States, fiber cement is sold under at least six different brand names and is often mistaken for painted wood. Unlike wood, however, this material is not susceptible to wood-boring insects and it won’t experience wood rot. This durable vinyl siding option is noncombustible and comes with warranties that last up to 50 years.

Below, the experts of our team described some of the advantages of using fiber cement for your home:

  • Incredibly durable material that isn’t susceptible to the same damage that wood siding is
  • Available in over two dozen colors to match your home’s desired aesthetic
  • Minimal maintenance with factory-finished products
  • Lengthy warranties (anywhere from 15-50 years) that can often be transferred

Although fiber cement siding offers many benefits, there are some downsides that you should also consider:

  • This material must be painted and most manufacturers recommend using 100% acrylic latex paint. This is an added cost to consider when comparing prices with other siding options
  • Relatively heavy to install and it can sometimes cost as much to install as it does to buy it (roughly $121 per square)
  • Cutting these types of fiber-cement products can create dust that has crystalline silica which poses a serious health threat

As we mentioned above, it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between fiber cement and wood from a distance. This siding option comes in many different forms that mimic the traditional wood siding that some families know and love. Generally speaking, this siding is 5/16-inch thick and 12 feet long. It comes in widths of 5-¼ inches to 12 inches and is installed with an overlap of 1-¼ inches.

If this is the best exterior siding for your needs, you’ll be able to choose from smooth or textured siding in addition to individual or panelized shingles. This material comes in sheets up to 4 feet by 10 feet, and some manufacturers even work this material to look like stone or brick.

Vinyl Siding

best siding

Durable vinyl siding is a popular option for a reason. Not only is it durable but it is also incredibly low maintenance and doesn’t cost a lot of money. Vinyl, also referred to as PVC, is often a preferred alternative over materials such as a polymer that uses an injection-molding process to give a three-dimensional appearance.

We’ve outlined some pros of using vinyl siding below:

  • Manufactured in many different profiles to mimic the appearance of traditional wood siding
  • Requires virtually no maintenance as the plastic material can hold up to even the most extreme weather conditions such as 150 mph winds
  • No water absorption because there isn’t any wood-fiber content present

There are also some downsides to using vinyl for your home’s siding:

  • Not everyone loves the idea of having plastic on the outside of their home
  • No formal grading system can detract from the quality of the siding
  • Can be more expensive when compared with other grades of vinyl siding
  • Has the potential for unsightly trim details
  • Manufacturing polyvinyl chloride is inherently toxic to the human body as it releases vinyl chloride and dioxin, both of which are carcinogens

Plastic siding is available as shingles, shiplap, cupboards, and even board and batten. Homeowners will be able to choose from hundreds of different colors to achieve the ideal aesthetic of their homes. It can also be purchased with an ESP backing that helps to increase the overall R-values.

When it comes to quality control, there is no formal grading system as we mentioned above. However, it has three important variables: the thickness of the material, the type of nail hem that’s used, and the type of cardstock that’s used. The thicker the material that is used, the more expensive it will be.


Choosing siding for your home isn’t something that should be rushed. The best siding for you is the one that fits both your functional and aesthetic needs. If you’re interested in talking further about the above options or if you want more hands-on guidance for your home, our team at Zenith Design + Build is more than happy to assist you.

We proudly offer free house remodeling quotes and would love to assist you with your upcoming project! For additional information or to get started, please get in touch with our expert team today.


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