The choice between cedar or vinyl siding may not be as easy to make as you think. On one hand, you may have the money in your siding budget and feel that cedar is not only appropriate, but a superior product. However, when you factor in installation requirements and maintenance, you may feel differently. Before deciding, weigh the various factors involved including cost, options, maintenance and lifespan. While cedar is a natural product and certainly very attractive, vinyl is more versatile. Both materials have their strong points and their drawbacks. Ultimately, after looking at the pros and cons, it may be practical considerations that decide it for you.
What is Vinyl Siding
Vinyl siding is a durable form of plastic exterior wrapping for a home, used both for aesthetics and weatherproofing. Engineered primarily from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin, vinyl siding is a convenient addition to your home because it precludes the need for painting every few years and other hassles of regular maintenance. Let’s explore other aspects of vinyl siding and the benefits that come with it.
Pros of Vinyl
Siding Vinyl siding is easy to install. Because of this, you can spend less money on installation costs as well. Its color lasts without chipping or flaking. The color is baked through the siding so it will never rub, flake, or wear off. And if your siding becomes scratched, the color will remain the same. Vinyl is inexpensive when compared to other siding choices, offering the lowest cost per square foot.
It will make your home more energy efficient. Because vinyl is often installed over existing siding, it adds another layer of insulation to your home. You can increase this efficiency by purchasing insulated vinyl siding. Newer vinyl sidings are recyclable, so you will not have to worry about replaced siding slowly decomposing in a landfill. Vinyl resists insects, preventing them from burrowing into or eating the siding (as often happens with wood siding).
Cons of Vinyl Siding
Vinyl siding is not watertight. It needs to be washed once or twice a year, typically using pressure washers. However, the high-pressure water can become trapped under the siding, causing mold or mildew to develop. It will fade to some degree.
This will not be a particularly troubling issue unless you have to replace one piece of the siding. That replacement piece may be a bit brighter or have more gloss to it than the older siding. It can be dented or cracked. The color is permanent, so don’t make a rushed, slapdash decision when you’re choosing between different shades. The vinyl used to make the siding, PVC, can release carcinogens at high temperatures.
What is Cedar Siding
Cedar siding is a natural wood siding made from either red or white cedar, both native trees in the United States. It is a popular wood for home building because it is among the more durable natural woods. Cedar siding often takes the form of horizontal lap panels, shingles or shakes.
Pros of Cedar Siding
Cedar is highly attractive when stained and some varieties, such as white cedar, become increasingly aesthetically pleasing over time. It may be cut into numerous styles, such as beveled or traditional shingles or shakes. It maintains a timeless appeal that most other forms of siding attempt to emulate. This visual appeal is complemented by superior sound and thermal insulation.
Cedar is completely biodegradable, making it an excellent option for green homes. It may easily be painted and stained to acquire the look you desire. It is also suitable for use with almost any architectural style. Unlike most alternatives, cedar is easy to install, making it an excellent DIY project. Properly maintained, cedar siding may last as long as 75 years and may be pre-stained to add additional weatherproofing.
Cons of Cedar Siding
As is the case with other types of wood siding, cedar is flammable unless specially treated. It requires regular maintenance in the form of repainting or re-staining every three to five years. Despite a higher resistance, cedar is still more prone to rot, woodpeckers, and insect damage than artificial alternatives. It reacts to iron, making it important to avoid using iron nails when installing. Finally, the cost may be prohibitive if you are on a budget.
Comparison: Vinyl VS Cedar
Both wood and vinyl siding are available in a range of different styles, which customizes the look of your home’s exterior. This includes traditional, horizontal lap siding, shingles 2, and in some cases, decorative siding. Of the two, wood is definitely more versatile. It can be found in different plank sizes and may be installed in a shiplap or board-and-batten style. Shingles may be installed in straight or irregular patterns. Vinyl siding is more limited in style selection as well as plank sizes and how those planks are installed.
From a distance, both may provide a wood-grain finish to the siding. However, real wood is actually slightly more subtle in the appearance of the grain than the faux grain of vinyl. In addition, vinyl siding has seams where one plank overlaps the next, which are slightly more visible than that of wood siding because wood planks tend to sit flush together rather than overlap.
If vinyl is being used as a rainscreen, it cannot have insulation in this area. To truly insulate the home, foam panel insulation should be considered beneath any siding because the siding itself does not insulate. While neither material can be truly called low maintenance, vinyl requires less maintenance than wood. Wood siding peels over time, which means that it must be scraped and repainted regularly to prevent issues such as wood rot.
Vinyl siding does not require sanding, scraping, or repainting, so it can be considered lower maintenance than wood. The material has drawbacks from a maintenance standpoint, however, including the fact that the boards may easily detach and drop off the house, requiring them to be put back on frequently. Boards may also crack or warp, which means that they need to be replaced.
If wood siding is maintained every five years or so, it can last for 20 to 40 years or more. However, if not well-maintained, its lifespan decreases because rot could set in. Vinyl can easily last 40 or more years, making it more durable in terms of longevity.
Wood siding is often susceptible to some types of wood-eating insects or pests. Some types of wood siding are less vulnerable than others, and the wood may be treated to help prevent this.
Vinyl siding is not susceptible to damage from wood-eating insects or pests because it is made from a type of plastic. If there are gaps in the vinyl, however, pests may still enter and eat the home’s wood frame where it is less noticeable.
Neither wood nor vinyl is considered particularly soundproof. No siding will make a significant change in the amount of sound that you hear. Cladding an ICF block home with either wood or vinyl siding or using some type of foam insulation beneath the siding can have a significant reduction in sound for your home, but putting either siding over a wood frame will not.
When it comes to temperature changes, wood swells and contracts slightly with humidity in the air. For areas that see extreme humidity changes, this could eventually warp the wood.
Vinyl is not impacted by humidity, but it is affected by temperature. Vinyl siding cracks in extreme cold. It can also grow brittle and crack as it ages in areas that see extreme highs and lows throughout the year. In locations with high temperatures, the material may soften and melt. This is true of any type of heat, whether from the sun, a grill placed too close, or light reflecting off a nearby window coated with low-emissivity (Low-E). In some cases, the vinyl siding can melt a small amount and warp, and in severe cases, it may require complete replacement.
Of the two materials, wood is slightly better for the environment. When harvested with good forest protection plans, wood has a lower impact on the environment than vinyl. This is because wood siding can be easily disposed of and will not sit in landfills for years.
Vinyl is a type of plastic, so during its manufacturing, it can release harmful chemicals into the air as well as use enormous amounts of energy to produce it. While it can be recycled, it is very difficult to find recycling centers that accept it. So, leftover material or old siding often sits in landfills, without breaking down.
Cedar is naturally attractive, but it is high maintenance. It lures woodpeckers and requires somewhat frequent repair and refinishing. On the other hand, vinyl is intrinsically cheaper. If you want authentic siding and can afford the cost of buying and maintaining it, go with cedar. If, however, you are interested in siding with the lowest amount of work required to keep it looking nice, vinyl is definitely the way to go. Whichever type of siding you decide to go with, be sure to have it installed by skilled roofing contractors Ambler PA to make the most out of all the benefits that each type of siding offers.