The primary advantage of vinyl siding is that it requires little or no ongoing maintenance, but another advantage is that it can be manufactured to mimic other materials. You can choose vinyl that looks cedar-shake shingles or historic wood clapboard.
There are a few disadvantage to vinyl siding. It does not fit tightly against the house, creating a situation where moisture and insects can sneak behind the siding and cause problems. It will also fade over time, leaving you with limited options for correcting the color. Freezing temperatures can make vinyl brittle, leaving it susceptible to damage.
Longevity and Maintenance - Expect quality vinyl siding to last about fifty years. Beyond carefully cleaning vinyl siding every year, it does not require any maintenance.
Cost – A more affordable option than wood, you can expect vinyl siding to cost between two and three dollars a square foot. There is no need to factor in maintenance costs, since this product will be largely maintenance-free.
Installation – A professional installer will remove the old siding and install insulation board before the vinyl is put in place. Vinyl siding will expand and contract, so it should hang loosely on the wall sheathing. Look for the siding panels to fit snugly against each other with a quarter-inch gap at both ends.
Long popular because of its longevity, resistance to dents and energy efficiency, aluminum siding is also fireproof and will not rust. Its enamel coating can come in a variety of colors, and because metal reflects heat, it also helps to reduce heating and cooling costs.
The main drawback to aluminum is that people generally regard it as cheap and of lesser quality than wood or brick. It can be prone to denting, and some people complain that it can shake and be noisy in windy conditions.
Longevity and Maintenance - Expect aluminum siding to last between thirty and fifty years. Like vinyl, it requires very little maintenance. It should be cleaned every few years, and it’s a good idea to check it occasionally for dents, scratches or cracks. Another benefit is that it can be repainted, if you ever decide you want a different color.
Cost – Slightly more expensive than vinyl, aluminum will run between three and four dollars a square foot. Regular maintenance costs are eliminated when you choose aluminum.
Installation – The installers should spend time preparing the wall surface, making it as smooth and clean as possible. A 3/8th inch backing should be installed under the metal. The sheets should be overlapped by at least two inches, and corner caps should be used after the sheets are installed.
READ MORE: Tips for Replacing Vinyl and Aluminum Siding