As the most popular home siding option in the U.S., there’s plenty to learn about vinyl. So let’s get started – with The Ultimate Guide to Various Types of Vinyl Siding!

Should you consider a vinyl siding system for your home? We want to help you make an informed decision on whether or not you should choose this type of siding material. This article is aimed to help you understand more about the various types of vinyl siding, the pros and cons of vinyl vs. other types of siding, and why the product remains so popular. 

As always, if you have immediate questions about vinyl siding installation, call the Northface Construction team, at 763-251-9680.

What is Vinyl Siding?

Let’s begin the guide by exploring what vinyl siding is. Vinyl siding is plastic exterior siding for a house, used for structural protection, boosting curb appeal and weatherproofing. This material imitates wood clapboard, board and batten, or shakes, and can be used in place of other more expensive materials, like stucco or fiber cement siding.

What is Vinyl Siding Made Of?

Vinyl siding is mostly made up of extruded polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that contains additives, such as:

  • Colorant material used to create the many various vinyl siding color options.
  • Acrylics and acrylate acrylonitrile added to the cap stock for durability, strength and fade resistance.
  • Lubricants to allow the material to pass easily through the extrusion equipment.

In the manufacturing process, two layers of vinyl are extruded, one on top of the other. The material is still hot, so the layers fuse. The lower layer is called the substrate; the top layer is the cap stock. The layers are inseparable.

Why is Vinyl Siding so Popular?

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Vinyl is the siding material that’s installed more than any other in the United States. 2017 sales of vinyl siding in the U.S. occupied almost 30 percent of the total siding sold in the U.S. In comparison, fiber cement remained second with more than 18 percent of the new siding market.

However, vinyl hasn’t always been incredibly popular. When it was first introduced, the material was known to be easily cracked and warped. As the product developed into what it is today, weatherproofing, fade resistance and more have added durability, strength and aesthetic to this type of siding.

According to the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI), vinyl siding has the cheapest installed cost, while providing the best protection to your home. Today, vinyl siding is available in a wide array of colors and designs, some of which closely resemble wood grain, stone, aluminum and other types of siding materials. This durability, low price point and new offerings in size and texture continue to support its level of popularity.

Vinyl siding is also a low maintenance option, meaning you don’t have to paint, stain or clean it as often as you would for, say, wooden or metal siding. However, it’s not a completely maintenance-free option — vinyl does require some care to clean the mold and grime that will likely accumulate over the years.

VSI recommends applying a solution of 30 percent vinegar and 70 percent water with a long-handled scrub brush and taking it to the vinyl covering your home. A power washer may also be effective. Over time, vinyl fades, but normally just a bit. To remedy this, add a generous coat of latex exterior paint, which keeps the siding color attractive while protecting it from fading.

Now that you know a little bit of background on the material, let’s look at the different types of vinyl siding.

Types of Vinyl Siding

One of the biggest appeals to using vinyl siding is its versatility. It can be arranged in a wide variety of different ways — let’s take a look at the more popular types of vinyl siding styles.

Clapboard siding — clapboard siding is one of the most common siding types that’s been used since people have been building homes. Clapboard vinyl siding mimics the look of real clapboard, with the appearance of straight horizontal wood, with each piece overlapping the board beneath it.

Dutch lap siding —  Dutch lap siding contains boards that have been beveled on the top half at a 45-degree angle. The lower half hangs down at a 90-degree angle to create a unique-looking effect. This type of vinyl siding is considered more interesting than regular clapboard, and they produce more shadowing to add another layer of interest.

Insulated vinyl siding — insulated vinyl siding is becoming more and more popular as manufacturing prices continue to fall. An insulation foam is applied to the back of the vinyl sheeting to help stop the flow of cool and hot air in and out of your home. Insulated vinyl can be a great choice for those homeowners in extreme-temperature climates, or on homes that are already improperly insulated.

Beaded siding — this horizontally aligned siding has a rounded bead at the bottom and the top each individual piece. Because of this, shadows are created on the siding which adds visual intrigue. This is another traditional type of siding, which is now replicated by vinyl, offering today’s homeowners an affordable way to achieve a classic look.

Cabin board siding you may have seen this type of siding around the lake. Cabin board siding mimics the look of actual stacked logs, normally seen on cabins.  If you’re trying to achieve an authentically rustic look at an affordable price, vinyl cabin board may be the choice for you.  

Board and batten vertical siding this type of siding contains wide vinyl sections known as the boards, and narrow, raised strips of vinyl that take the place of battens. Board and batten design in wood siding dates back centuries, and can be recreated using more affordable vinyl material in today’s world. In most cases, board and batten siding is employed to accent horizontal siding types. However, sometimes homes will be fully covered in this style.

Vertical siding — vertical siding, minus the battens. Many times vertical siding is simply used as an accent, although sometimes it can be used on the entirety of the building to create a unique and textured look.

Shingle siding — vinyl siding that’s made to look like hand-cut cedar shingles, this material will add a sense of natural sophistication to your home. Available in a number of shapes and sizes, from half cove to hexagon to plain-old circular and square, shingle siding is a good choice for any homeowner that wants to boost curb appeal.

Shake siding — shake siding, similar to shingle siding, is available in a number of different sizes and shapes, and can be used as an accent or around the entire structure.

Color and Texture

No matter what type of vinyl siding you decide to choose, you’ll have a wide array of color options to pick from, as well. In general, darker colors of vinyl siding tend to cost more because they require more color additives within the final material mix. Also, vinyl that is textured vinyl may cost more in that it requires more embossing while it’s being manufactured.

Pros and Cons of Vinyl Siding

You now know the main types of vinyl siding. Now, it’s time to take a look at both the positives and negatives of installing a vinyl siding system.

There are plenty of benefits to installing a vinyl siding system, including:

  • Fade resistance

Overall, vinyl siding is incredibly resistant to color fading, especially when compared to more natural materials like brick, stone or wood. In fact, most other sidings require much more maintenance and upkeep to ensure they stay attractive. In fact, around the turn of the 21st century, vinyl siding manufacturers began adding acrylic and acrylate styrene acrylonitrile to give modern materials that much more protection from the sun and weather.

  • Color retention

Vinyl siding is designed to retain its color for much longer than other materials. Most vinyl will come with a certified color retention number, giving you peace of mind knowing it won’t fade over the course of its lifespan. Vinyl siding produced in the United States will have a VSI certification that’s designated by an independent group, known as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

  • Large number of choices

With a nearly unlimited amount of color, texture and style combinations, vinyl siding gives you true freedom of choice. No matter what you’re envisioning, you can find the perfect combination of colors and style to match your home.

  • Does not damage as easily

When it comes to vinyl siding, damage simply does not show as much as it wood on painted or stained wood, bare metal, or even veneer. Most siding material is normally covered in a paint or stain to give it color — vinyl, on the other hand, has colorants mixed through it while it’s being made so that color is constant throughout the entire piece of siding. This means that when wood is scratched, the surface underneath shows. When vinyl is scratched, the same color is exposed making it less noticeable.

  • Less maintenance

If you hate maintaining your siding, vinyl is the choice for you. Unlike other materials, vinyl only needs a wash once or twice a year with a hose and mild soap, plus it’s made of plastic, so it won’t rot over time. Also, because of its durability, vinyl is a great choice for those in poor weather climates. Certified vinyl siding should be able to handle winds up to 110 MPH and sometimes higher. These products also expand and contract with changes in temperature without cracking or buckling when properly installed.

  • Provides insulating properties

Vinyl siding, especially insulated vinyl siding, has many insulating properties that will help keep your home warm and your energy bills down. In addition, it provides a small noise barrier to the outside world.

  • The most affordable, attractive option

You can expect your new vinyl siding to hold up for about a quarter of a century after its installed. Brick, stone and veneers become as affordable as vinyl at about a half century when they’ve got at least half their life left and the siding is being replaced again.

There are also some disadvantages to installing a vinyl siding system on your home, including:

  • Extreme winds can harm vinyl

Those that live in hurricane-prone areas may not be wise to install a new vinyl siding system. Even though it does withstand heavy winds, extreme winds will rip vinyl off of a home before it pulls brick, stone, stucco or wood off.

  • Vinyl is easily melted or burned

Don’t place an active grill near a vinyl-covered house, or else you could warp or melt the siding. Unfortunately, vinyl can be burned by any number of heated objects — fire pit, fireworks, tiki torches, etc. Additionally, it doesn’t have a heat rating as strong as fiber cement, metal, brick, stone or veneer.

  • Prone to damage by hail

While smaller hail probably won’t leave a mark in your vinyl siding, larger chunks of ice definitely can. However, hail that is likely to damage vinyl, would also likely damage other types of more “durable” siding, as well.

  • Prone to water penetration

Water can penetrate poorly installed siding; water causes rot, mold and flooding which can mean big repair bills for you as a homeowner down the road.

  • Bad installation leads to many problems

The right installation is key to a properly functioning vinyl siding system. Just like vinyl siding itself, many vinyl siding installers are now certified as well. It’s important that you find a siding contractor to install your system correctly so you don’t experience things such as voided warranty, water infiltration or mold growth.

Vinyl Siding vs. Various Other Types Siding

How does vinyl siding compare other popular siding types like stone, veneer, stucco and more?

Vinyl Siding vs Fiber Cement Siding

Compared to vinyl, fiber cement siding offers many of the same benefits, from realistic wooden textures to resistance to weather and tough durability. However, fiber cement is not made from a PVC material, it’s instead made from wood pulp that is combined together with Portland cement and then finished with a faux wood grain texture.

Here are key comparisons to consider:

  • Fiber cement is available pre-painted or ready to stain or paint, while vinyl is available in several colorfast options.
  • Fiber cement normally lasts 30-50 years, whereas vinyl generally lasts 20-30 years.
  • Vinyl siding is produced in many more types and styles than fiber cement
  • Fiber cement requires moderate maintenance because it must be caulked and painted at intervals based on the harshness of the climate; vinyl requires little maintenance.
  • Vinyl siding is much lighter than fiber cement, so it is easier to work with
  • Fiber cement costs more than vinyl siding.

Vinyl Siding vs. Aluminum and Steel Siding

Vinyl, aluminum and steel siding are similar in weight, how easy they are to work with and their weather resistance, however there are some key differences to consider:

  • Metal siding contains a powder-coated finish that can easily fade in sunlight.
  • There are fewer types, styles and colors of aluminum and steel siding.
  • Because of the painting requirements, metal siding will require more upkeep than vinyl.
  • Metal siding lasts 30-35 years.
  • Vinyl siding is more affordable than metal siding
  • Vinyl offers a better lifetime value to the homeowner when the maintenance costs are considered.

Vinyl Siding vs. Stone, Brick and Veneer Siding

These siding options offer the lowest maintenance for the average homeowner, but can become very pricey depending on which material you choose. Vinyl is an affordable option; veneer comes next, being slightly more expensive than vinyl; brick is about three times as expensive as vinyl and stone can cost up to six times as expensive.  

Here are the advantages enjoyed by brick, stone and brick or stone veneer:

  • Brick and stone siding produce a more traditional, elegant look
  • They provide better insulation and resistance to sound from outside
  • Brick and stone hold up very well to wind, flying debris, hail and other objects
  • These materials won’t burn readily and will produce lower insurance rates than a house sided in vinyl valued at the same price

Have more questions about vinyl siding installation?

Reach out to the professionals at Northface Construction today!

We’re the premier installer of siding systems for residential properties in Minnesota. Find out what makes our company special by getting in touch with one of our dedicated account managers today. Contact us now.