Vinyl or Wood Siding: Which Is Right for Your Northern VA Home?

Since vinyl siding became an option in the late 1950s, this has been a question in the minds of homeowners. Older folks probably remember the early vinyls as being brittle, ugly, and not very durable in either the sun or the wind. But you have to remember that the plastics industry was in its infancy at the time. There has been considerable improvement since then.

Do You Like Maintenance?

I like the look of wood. I really do. It’s got a really comfortable feel to it. But few things are more irritating than the constant touch ups required. And if you let it go too long, well, you need to strip and paint the whole thing again.

That’s a big part of the reason why vinyl siding caught on in the first place– no maintenance. It didn’t look much like wood, but the idea of never having to mince up a rickety ladder to paint it was a big selling feature. Now there isn’t even a problem of it not looking like wood! Even mid-range vinyls look like wood– or like cedar shakes if you prefer.

Do You Like Paying For Labor?

The price of materials for vinyl and wood is pretty much 1:1. But that’s just for materials– the installation cost for wood is about two-and-a-half times as much. Ouch.

Vinyl goes up really quickly, sliding onto rails and snapping into trim with ease.

How Do You Feel About Energy Efficiency?

Now, vinyl siding is nothing special by itself when it comes to thermal efficiency. But unlike wood, which is heavy and thick and needs to tie directly into studs, vinyl is light and thin and leaves plenty of room for installers to put insulation board underneath. This can improve the R-value of your exterior walls by as much as 22 percent. With the price of heating and cooling these days, every little bit helps.

And The Winner Is…

Hey, if you’ve got plenty of money, you’re a puritan about having real wood siding, and you’re happy to pay someone to maintain it for you, go right ahead and install wood siding. The good thing about wood is that if it’s taken care of right, it will last almost forever.

But if you’re at all money conscious, and you don’t enjoy pulling out a ladder and a paintbrush every spring and autumn, do yourself a favor and get vinyl siding.