Installing Vinyl Siding: Why Vinyl? versus Wood or Alluminum

The three basic choices for siding material are aluminum, vinyl and wood. Choosing vinyl was a very easy choice for me. Here are some of the pros and cons of each type:

  • Strong material - long use
  • Adds insulation R-value
  • Takes lots of abuse
  • Can be any colour, stain, or varnish
  • Requires maintenance - mostly periodic painting
  • Can rot, mildew if subjected to water in a shady area
  • Expensive
  • Strong material - in that it is metal
  • Aluminum siding maintains the same properties year round despite the temperature.
  • Aluminum siding takes paint better if you ever decide to re-paint.
  • Aluminum is a rigid material with little flexibility. You bend it, and it's damaged.
  • Easy to damage, bend, and scratch while installing and when installed
  • Can require special tools
  • Aluminum is a painted metal, and the paint can fade with time.
  • Aluminum siding can be dented. If a piece of aluminum siding is damaged, it is difficult to replace.
  • Takes lots of abuse before it is damaged
  • Very easy to cut and install
  • Not damaged by water or moisture
  • Vinyl's color goes all the way through the plastic, so there is no fading. Scratches would be barely noticeable.
  • Vinyl resists denting. A section of vinyl siding can be replaced in minutes using a tool that looks something like a bottle opener.
  • Vinyl siding does become slightly brittle during the winter time.
  • Vinyl siding also expands and contracts in greater fluctuation than aluminum siding.
  • It is not recommended to paint vinyl.
Aluminum siding has lost tremendous market share since the release of vinyl siding. Some statistics report as much as 80% of all sidings installed are vinyl. Aluminum siding is still very common for trim pieces because of its flexible properties. It is very easy to custom bend an aluminum trim piece.

In most situations it is recommended to install vinyl siding with aluminum trim pieces. Overall vinyl is more durable, has solid color and is cheaper than aluminum.

Vinyl was the obvious choice for our cottage because it met the following criteria:
  • Very easy to install with tools I already had
  • Takes a lot of physical abuse before it is damaged. With all the banging, dragging on the ground, falling, etc. I can't imagine that Aluminum siding would stand up to our installation.
  • Near zero maintenance - I have absolutely no interest in painting so wood siding was out.
What has been you experience with installing siding? What choices did you make and why?