Wood Siding vs. Vinyl Siding: Pros, Cons, and Costs (2024)


  • Siding protects your home from weather and makes a style statement.

  • Wood siding costs $2–6 per square foot and needs more maintenance.

  • Wood is more sustainable and offers more design versatility.

  • Vinyl siding costs $2–3 per square foot and is simple to care for.

  • Vinyl is long-lasting, easy to install, and unaffected by moisture.

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Don’t underestimate the importance of your home’s siding. From protecting your house from the elements to making a first impression on guests, siding plays a key role in the look and function of your home. Wood and vinyl are two of the most popular options for exterior siding today. To help you decide the right material for your needs, we’ve broken down the pros and cons of wood and vinyl, including their durability, maintenance needs, costs, and more.

Wood Siding Pros and Cons

Wood Siding vs. Vinyl Siding: Pros, Cons, and Costs (1)

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Real wood is a siding option that offers a more rustic appeal with genuine wood grains. It’s a timeless style that will likely never go out of fashion, especially if you’re designing a traditional-styled home like a cottage, bungalow, or Cape Cod house. Below are some of the advantages and drawbacks that come with choosing wood siding.


  • Not affected by extreme changes in temperature

  • Harvested sustainably and biodegradable

  • Available in a wide array of plank sizes and styles

  • Features the look of real wood grains

  • Can be charred to create shou sugi siding


  • Susceptible to water damage, termites and other wood-eating pests

  • Requires more frequent, time-consuming maintenance

  • Tends to warp and bend with changes in humidity

  • More complex installation

  • More expensive at $2–$6 per square foot

“We’ve worked on several historic homes, where you must use wood siding,” says Bob Tschudi, Expert Review Board member and North Carolina-based home builder and remodeler. “For those projects, we used untreated cedar lap siding and then painted it. Cedar is more expensive than pine, but it will resist rot and insects better than pine.”

Vinyl Siding Pros and Cons​

Wood Siding vs. Vinyl Siding: Pros, Cons, and Costs (2)

Photo: ghornephoto / iStock / Getty Images

Vinyl has become the most popular and widely-used siding material for many residential home styles thanks to its durability and the general lack of maintenance required to keep it looking good and functioning as intended. Below are some of the key pros and cons of vinyl siding.


  • Easy installation with no painting

  • Fewer maintenance requirements

  • Won’t warp due to humidity or moisture

  • Lasts 40 years or more

  • Won’t be eaten by insects or other pests

  • Lower in cost at $2–$3 per square foot


  • Can crack in extreme cold

  • Can melt in extreme heat

  • Not sustainably manufactured or biodegradable

  • Faux wood grain is less realistic

“When we do vinyl siding, we always order more and put the extra materials in the attic, garage or crawl space,” says Tschudi. “We also write the manufacturer, the product codes, and the color on the extra materials and provide that information to the homeowner. That way, if they need to replace it, they can find the exact match.”

Wood Siding vs. Vinyl Siding: Key Features

Wood and vinyl siding tend to look similar from a distance, but they are very different in both form and function. We break down the differences between each across several categories to help you decide which might be the better choice for your home’s exterior.

Appearance​ and Customization Options

Wood and vinyl siding are both available in a range of styles, allowing you to create traditional horizontal layouts, overlapping shingles, or more decorative looks. Wood offers more versatility when it comes to plank sizing, and real wood grain cannot be perfectly replicated by vinyl’s faux grain designs. Even so, vinyl still offers a huge range of colors to suit any design style.

Most visually appealing: Wood siding


Wood siding tends to swell and contract slightly with changes in temperature and humidity. In extreme cases, this can cause it to warp. Wood is also susceptible to infestations of termites and other pests that eat it, which can lead to long-term structural damage. Some types of wood are less vulnerable and treatments are available, but vinyl siding is far less susceptible to pests.

Vinyl will also not expand, contract, rot, or warp due to moisture. This makes it a more versatile choice in most climates. However, homeowners should be aware that vinyl siding may still crack in extreme cold and melt in extreme heat or when too close to a grill. Vinyl can also become brittle if the weather fluctuates between temperature extremes throughout the year.

Most durable: Vinyl siding

“We recently purchased a rental property that has vinyl siding, and we’re very happy about that,” says Tschudi. “In the past four years, we’ve replaced the HVAC, the water heater, and the refrigerator, but the siding has been bulletproof.”


The style of the siding and the species of wood used can impact the price of wood siding. For example, a softwood like pine can cost as little as $1 per square foot, while the average hardwood siding costs $14 to $15 per square foot. In general, however, wood siding tends to cost more than vinyl siding.

When comparing average costs of different types of siding, wood siding costs $2 to $6 per square foot, while vinyl only costs $2 to $3 per square foot. Other cost factors include finishing and maintenance. Wood requires a paint or finish after installation, and needs more frequent maintenance over time. Vinyl does not need paint and needs less maintenance.

Most affordable: Vinyl siding

Ease of Installation

Vinyl siding is designed so that once a bottom row is nailed into place, the rest of the planks or shingles simply lock into one another without the use of fasteners. It also does not need to be sanded, primed, painted, or stained, and can be cut to size easily with basic shears.

Wood siding takes longer to install, as each board must be cut with a saw, then primed or painted before being nailed into place. This increases labor time and costs when you hire local siding contractors to complete your installation.

Easiest to install: Vinyl siding


Both wood and vinyl siding require maintenance, but wood siding tends to require more. Wood needs maintenance from the time it is installed, requiring an immediate finishing treatment to seal it and help protect it from pests. It must also be painted or stained again every few years to repair peeling and help prevent wood rot and damage to the home’s structure.

Vinyl needs much less maintenance, requiring no sanding, scraping, or refinishing at any point. It comes treated with color by the manufacturer and has its finished look before installation. Boards may occasionally detach and drop off the house or become cracked and warped, but otherwise maintenance is as simple as rinsing the siding down with rag and soapy water.

Easiest to maintain: Vinyl siding

Length of Life​

If wood siding is maintained properly and rot doesn’t set in, it tends to last 20 to 40 years. Vinyl is more durable. The lifespan of vinyl siding can be 60 years or more with less maintenance than wood.

Better longevity: Vinyl siding


Vinyl siding is made from a type of plastic. The manufacturing processes used to create it require enormous amounts of energy and may release harmful chemicals into the air. It can be recycled after use, but it can be difficult to find recycling centers that accept it. As a result, leftover materials often end up in landfills, unable to break down over time.

In contrast, wood siding creates a lower impact on the natural environment. Sustainably harvested wood siding is a biodegradable building material that won’t sit in landfills for years after use.

Most eco-friendly: Wood siding

Wood Siding vs. Vinyl Siding: Pros, Cons, and Costs (2024)


Which is cheaper wood siding or vinyl siding? ›

In general, however, wood siding tends to cost more than vinyl siding. When comparing average costs of different types of siding, wood siding costs $2 to $6 per square foot, while vinyl only costs $2 to $3 per square foot. Other cost factors include finishing and maintenance.

Is it better to have wood or vinyl siding? ›

Though wood siding is a decent insulator, vinyl takes the cake when it comes to keeping your home properly insulated. Since wood is a natural material, it expands and contracts as the temperature changes. As a result, it's almost impossible to have tight-sealed wood siding.

Does wood siding add value to a house? ›

The short answer is yes. Replacing worn out, old or unattractive exterior siding on your home will generally add value.

What is the cheapest exterior for a house? ›

Generally, aluminum, wood, and vinyl siding cost the least, so it's no wonder they're popular among builders and contractors, especially those motivated to find the cheapest siding per square foot.

What type of siding adds the most value to a home? ›

Brick Siding

Brick is a very low-maintenance exterior siding option that will last at least 100 years on average. Brick also tends to increase your home's value as compared to other exterior siding types, so it can be a good choice if you'd like to turn a home into an investment property.

Why not to use vinyl siding? ›

Vinyl siding, especially dark siding, begins to fade in sunny climates. Painting is a poor option for reviving the color since the paint will likely peel and crack after a short time. Pressure washing can be disastrous if water enters your house through cracks and crevices around the siding.

Does vinyl siding devalue a home? ›

Vinyl siding helps increase a home's value by adding a fresh appearance, durability, low maintenance and energy efficiency. According to the 2019 Home Remodeling Impact Report, a vinyl siding upgrade will increase a home's value by 63 percent of the project's cost. Learn to estimate house siding costs.

What is the most realistic wood look siding? ›

Everlast Polymeric Cladding (aka Everlast Composite Siding) is the most amazing product in the home improvement industry today. It looks like wood and will not rot. It has ¼” thick and 12' long planks just like real wood with a texture which is identical to cedar. Everlast has what is called “Cedar Touch”.

Does wood rot under vinyl siding? ›

Because vinyl siding is DESIGNED to allow water to seep behind it, it makes your home especially susceptible to water damage. While the vinyl itself is completely waterproof, the wood underneath is far from it. Your frame can begin to rot without you having a clue.

What are three disadvantages to vinyl siding? ›

Drawbacks include being easily dented, the difficulty of replacing individual panels, color fading and potential cracking in extremely cold weather. All of these factors must be weighed carefully against the pros and cons of other types of siding when making a decision as important as installing new siding on a home.

How many years does wood siding last? ›

Wood siding may last from 15 to 40 years but requires a lot of maintenance. Aluminum siding may last up to 30 years with basic maintenance (and you'll probably have to repaint it at some point). Cedar siding, meanwhile, often come with 25-year warranties but does require regular maintenance.

Is wood siding high maintenance? ›

Wood siding is one of the most beautiful types of siding on the market, but it requires a bit of maintenance. To make sure paint isn't peeling and caulk isn't deteriorating, do an annual inspection of your exterior.

Is wood siding hard to maintain? ›

Wood needs regular, not frequent, maintenance. It should be stained every 2-5 years. And it requires cleaning and inspection, at least, once a year. Compared to cheaper materials which do not require as much care, the benefits of wood outweigh its maintenance needs.

Why choose wood siding? ›

Compared to many other siding options, wood siding is natural and far more biodegradable than most plastics or cement-based materials, so it doesn't leave lasting waste on our planet. Additionally, it has superior insulation values, which can help with energy costs in the long run.

What lasts longer wood or vinyl siding? ›

When properly maintained, a shed with wood siding can last around 20 to 25 years while vinyl sheds can last over 25 years. Buying a storage structure can be a big investment so you'll want it to last you a long time.

What is the cheapest wood siding option? ›

Plywood is the most affordable wood siding. $3.50 to $7.20 per square foot installed. The most common type of wood siding is Cedar lap siding and ranges from $5 to $10 per square foot installed. Cedar shingles are the most expensive type of wood siding.

Is wood siding a good idea? ›

Long Lifespan

Homeowners should be proactive in noticing and addressing splits, cracks, warping, and insect and moisture damage as soon as it happens. If a wood siding home is properly maintained, it can be around for 40 years—or longer! This makes wood siding an efficient and cost-effective choice in many areas.

What are the disadvantages of vinyl siding? ›

Drawbacks include being easily dented, the difficulty of replacing individual panels, color fading and potential cracking in extremely cold weather. All of these factors must be weighed carefully against the pros and cons of other types of siding when making a decision as important as installing new siding on a home.

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