13 Common House Siding Options—Plus How to Pick the Right One

white country house with fiber cement siding
Photo: Greg Scheidemann

The right siding can dramatically boost your exterior's appearance. Whether you're renovating or building new, you'll want to choose the house siding option that best suits your home's style and meets your needs for maintenance and durability. Use our guide to the most popular exterior home siding options to find your material match.

01 of 14

Choosing the Right Outdoor Siding

White brick house porch
Paul Dyer

When selecting house siding (also known as cladding), there are six fundamental issues to consider besides the initial cost:

  1. Water Resistance: Water-resistant types of siding will have longer life spans.
  2. Ease of Installation: If you're installing the siding on your own, make sure the technique is within your skillset, requires no special tools, and creates no harmful dust when cut.
  3. Energy Efficiency: Check the R-value rating (indicating its resistance to heat flow) for energy savings and understand what insulation will be required beneath the siding.
  4. Aesthetics: Your siding will be in full view as you come and go, so make sure it is beautiful to you.
  5. Versatility: Make sure the house siding option you choose has the versatility to meet the varied needs of your specific project. If aspects of your home's exterior make using a particular type of siding more challenging than others, make sure you understand what the added costs or necessary adjustments will be.
  6. Durability: Does your siding of choice have the strength to resist temperature shifts present in your climate? Consider how it will stand up to everyday wear and tear and typical weather in your area.
02 of 14

Stucco Siding

stucco exterior with gray shutters and pavers to door
Laurie Black

Reasonably priced and available in various applications, stucco has been used as a house siding option for hundreds of years. Traditional stucco siding is a cement mixture added to sand or lime. Because it can be shaped and textured, stucco is used to achieve an array of architectural styles. Generally, applying stucco siding involves covering a wooden wall with galvanized metal screening and tar paper, then covering it with stucco. Stucco is often applied to brick or stone surfaces, as well.

03 of 14

Vinyl Siding

tan home exterior with vinyl siding and black shutters
Robert Brinson

Since its introduction in the 1960s, vinyl cladding has become the most popular house siding option in the U.S. because of its price, versatility, and low maintenance. Hundreds of color choices are available in profiles, including horizontal and vertical panels, shakes, shingles, fish scales, lap, and beaded designs. The only routine maintenance is an occasional wash, and vinyl manufacturers' warranties are generally lifelong and transferable. You can buy vinyl siding at most home centers.

The vinyl siding cost savings extend to installation. It's the least expensive of all siding materials to install, and the costs can be dramatically cut if you can do the work. In addition, it requires only a few tools to install. This house siding option must be installed on flat surfaces, so the wall must be lined with 1/2-inch-thick sheets of rigid foam board to provide a nailing surface.

04 of 14

Wood Siding: Bevel Siding

bevel wood siding on white cape cod home
Alise O'Brien

Bevel (also called clapboard or lap) siding is one of the oldest forms of exterior home siding. Boards are resawed at an angle to create two pieces that are thicker on one edge than on the other.

Pine, spruce, cypress, and Douglas fir are the favorite wood choices for this siding because of their longevity and price. Cedar and redwood are great options, as they contain natural rot resistance but cost more.

Bevel siding is installed horizontally, with the upper piece overlapping the lower. Wood siding is installed over a solid surface, such as plywood, with a moisture barrier between the two. There's a finishing coat (either paint or stain) and caulking on the outside. To prevent weather damage, all wood siding requires ongoing maintenance, including painting and caulking.

05 of 14

Wood Siding: Shakes and Shingles

home with red cedar shakes and white trim
Werner Straube

Another option for wood siding is shakes or shingles. Shakes are machine- or hand-sawn from wooden blocks called bolts. Shakes are thicker than shingles and less uniform in appearance and thickness, but they last longer. Wood shingles are sawn for a smooth and consistent look and can be cut into various shapes to create visual interest. Both come from different woods, but Western red cedar and redwood are the most common house siding options.

Shakes and shingles are available with a fire-retardant treatment, which is required in high-risk locations. They're installed over a solid surface, such as plywood, with a moisture barrier between the two and a finishing coat (paint or stain) and caulking on the outside. Shake and shingle siding requires periodic maintenance, including painting and caulking, to prevent weather damage.

06 of 14

Metal Siding

house with metal siding amidst greenery
Jean Allsopp

Metal siding, typically made from steel or aluminum, covers the outside of many modern-look homes. Aluminum siding is an especially lightweight and cost-effective house siding option.

Whether copper, zinc, aluminum, or one of the various types of steel, the beauty of metals is builders can form them to meet desired shapes, curves, and edges. In addition, the strength and longevity of metals surpass most standard house siding options currently on the market.

The application process generally requires a frame for attaching the siding, a backing material such as plywood, and a moisture barrier (these needs will vary depending on the specific material and the house's location). The surface of copper and weathering steel will change when exposed to weather, but most metals will maintain the factory finish indefinitely. Metal siding can also be painted but will likely need retouching later on.

07 of 14

Wood Siding: Board-and-Batten

white board-and-batten country house with walkway pavers
Werner Straube

Board-and-batten siding is an American classic used since our nation's early days. Board-and-batten, sometimes called barn siding, is a vertical design created using wide boards, such as cedar or pine, spaced with narrower strips (the battens) covering the places where the wide boards come together. There are no standard board or batten widths or spacings, so feel free to innovate. To create further interest, you can install boards of different widths in varying patterns, such as 1x3-inch battens and 1x10-inch boards alternated with 1x3-inch battens and 1x5-inch boards.

This type of wood siding can be installed directly over a flat surface, such as plywood, with a moisture barrier between layers. Wide boards are placed first; then battens are used to cover the spaces between the boards.

08 of 14

Wood Siding: Split Logs

split log home facade with stone pillars and green roof
Brian Confer

Using split logs to side a home gives it a traditional mountain or rustic feel. Log siding is typically made from cedar, cypress, redwood, or pine logs. The logs are dried and treated for a longer life span. This wood siding can be painted or stained but is generally used in its natural state with a clear-coat sealer.

Log siding is expensive and requires more maintenance than most other types of house siding. Regular treatment against insect infestation and the sealing of cracks in logs are needed to deter decay. Installation and maintenance of log siding are not unlike care for other forms of wood siding, but it's challenging, and only a professional or knowledgeable homeowner should take it on.

09 of 14

Engineered Wood Siding

blue-gray home exterior with large arbor and engineered wood siding
Cameron Sadeghpour

Engineered wood siding is made with wood castoffs, such as sawdust, and bonding agents. It's a stronger, lightweight, and less expensive product than natural wood. Engineered wood comes in an array of typical wood siding styles. It does need paint for weatherproofing purposes, but factory-applied finishes are available. If installed correctly and maintained, the standard life expectancy for this house siding option is about 20-30 years.

Engineered wood can be cut, handled, and applied like solid-wood siding, but you don't have the imperfections that often accompany natural wood.

10 of 14

Stone Siding

rustic facade with tan stone and brown shutters
Gordon Beall

Stone is among the most durable of all building materials. Granite, limestone, slate, and other types of stone are beautiful and nearly impervious to the weather. In addition, because stone is a natural material, stone siding is environmentally friendly and has long-lasting advantages.

In most cases, the initial material costs of stone are more than other types of siding—often considerably more. The level of difficulty in adding stone siding to an existing structure is high, and work should be done by a professional, which further increases costs. As time passes, however, the upside of the investment becomes apparent. Stone as an exterior siding will be as natural and attractive decades later as when first installed, with little maintenance needed.

11 of 14

Brick Siding

brick colonial home exterior with white picket fence
David A. Land

The durability, light maintenance, and classic appearance of brick siding make it popular with homeowners. Brick is made of fired clay and comes in different colors, textures, and sizes. Brick siding is generally not a structural part of a house but rather a veneer constructed on the exterior of the wood frame structure. The brick veneer is held together with mortar, a mixture of cement (or lime and sand), and water.

Water can penetrate brick veneers, so a water membrane must be installed between the wood and brick layers to protect the home. Due to the cost of installation and materials, brick is at the higher end of the siding cost scale. Under normal conditions, brick siding will last the life of the building, with nothing more than the occasional washing needed.

12 of 14

Brick Veneers and Fabricated Brick Siding

craftsman-style home entry with brick, shakes, and pillars
Laura Moss

The brick veneers and fabricated brick sidings manufactured today are generally molded from actual clay, brick, or other natural materials or polyurethane. These siding options are durable, realistic-looking, lightweight, and easy to install.

Since no footings or foundations are necessary, do-it-yourself homeowners can generally install the siding panels for a fraction of the money and time actual brick requires. The application typically involves a framework attached to a backing material like plywood. However, many products today have simple instructions: Glue in place and caulk the seams.

13 of 14

Stone Veneers and Fabricated Stone Siding

fabricated stone veneer siding on home with blue door
Greg Scheidemann

Like fabricated brick, the stone veneers and fabricated stone sidings manufactured today are molded from actual rock, stone, or other natural materials. They're just as durable, realistic, lightweight, and easy to install.

Fabricated stone siding panels can typically be DIY installed, as no footings or foundations are necessary. The application process is generally quicker and more cost effective than natural stone or rock. It usually involves a framework attached to a backing material such as plywood. You can glue in place and caulk the seams of other stone veneer products.

14 of 14

Fiber Cement Siding

white country house with fiber cement siding
Greg Scheidemann

Fiber cement siding comes in an array of textures that give the appearance of actual types of wood. It's more durable than wood house siding options since it is termite-resistant, water-resistant, fireproof, and typically guaranteed to last 50 years (depending on the manufacturer). Fiber cement siding is composed of cement, sand or fly ash and cellulose fiber.

You'll find that fiber cement siding is typically more expensive than vinyl siding but less than wood siding. It's installed over studs or exterior wall sheathing on a moisture barrier. Factory painting is highly recommended and generally warranted for 25 years.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles