aluminum vs vinyl siding

About Aluminum Siding

Before the advent of vinyl siding some 50 years ago, aluminum was the siding material of choice for American homes. It was less expensive than wood and required very little maintenance.

Vinyl has largely replaced aluminum, but some people still prefer the strength and look of aluminum siding. It remains an economical and durable option. A hybrid product, vinyl-wrapped aluminum siding, is also available now.

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How Much Does Aluminum Siding Cost?

Aluminum siding costs about $3 to $6 per square foot installed. Vinyl can cost more or less, depending on quality. Vinyl-wrapped aluminum siding, though extremely durable, is much more expensive than both.

Calculating the number of square feet you need to cover the house is a complicated process, but you can use this guide to get a rough idea. Let’s say you have a two-story house with 2,800 square feet of exterior space – which is fairly average – that works out to a total project cost of $8,400 to $16,800 for aluminum siding.

However, keep in mind that your contractor may have to buy a little extra material. Siding is often sold in 100-square-foot boxes, so if your square footage is an odd number like 2,850, you’ll have to buy at least 2,900 square feet of siding. A little extra accounts for cutting errors, too – and they happen.

Aluminum Siding Pros

  • Strength – Aluminum siding is a sturdy material that is less susceptible to breaking or cracking than vinyl.
  • Can be painted – This can be a pro or a con, depending on preference. Aluminum siding can be repainted if you get bored with the color of your home. Vinyl won’t hold paint.

Aluminum Siding Cons

  • Shorter lifespan – Aluminum siding lasts about 30 years, while vinyl can last up to 50.
  • Prone to dents – Aluminum siding is likely to dent in the event of hail storm.
  • Prone to fading – The color fades as it ages, much faster than with vinyl. Because of this, it can be difficult to find replacement pieces that match if you need to make repairs.

About Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is another durable and low-maintenance material. Compared to other types of siding, it is a relatively new invention. Vinyl wasn’t used for siding until the 1950s.

Early vinyl siding was weak and problematic, but technology has vastly improved. Now, vinyl has far surpassed aluminum in popularity, largely because it is economical and has a longer lifespan.

How Much Does Vinyl Siding Cost?

Vinyl siding is affordable. Depending on quality, it generally ranges from $2 to $7 per square foot installed. The thicker the vinyl, the more durable and expensive the siding will be. Low- and mid-grade vinyl fall on the low end of that price spectrum, while high-end vinyl designed to mimic the look of wood or cedar shingles can cost $7 or more per square foot.

For a two-story house with 2,800 square feet of exterior space, the total project cost would be $5,600 for the cheapest variety of vinyl siding you can buy and $19,600 for a top-of-the-line variety.

Vinyl Siding Pros

  • Price – With the exception of very high-end vinyl products, vinyl siding tends to be slightly less expensive than aluminum siding.
  • Better insulator – Metal isn’t a great insulator, so your house will be more energy efficient with vinyl siding. Vinyl siding also tends to thicker than aluminum siding.
  • Holds color – Vinyl siding won’t fade or scratch as easily as aluminum siding because the color goes all the way through the material. And it never requires repainting. In fact, vinyl siding can’t be painted because it won’t hold color.

Vinyl Siding Cons

  • Prone to cracks – Vinyl siding can grow brittle and crack as it ages, particularly if it’s exposed to extreme temperatures.
  • Melts – Be careful not to place your grill too close to a house with vinyl siding. Vinyl siding will melt when exposed to extreme heat.

Choosing a Siding Contractor

No matter which type of siding you choose, re-siding your house goes a long way to boost curb appeal. Just make sure you choose the right contractor: A shoddy job can make your house look run-down, even when the siding is new. Here are some tips for finding a reputable contractor in your area.

  • Request quotes from several local contractors. Keep in mind that the cheapest is not always the best. Eliminate any bids that come in suspiciously high or low and keep the rest in the running.
  • Do some background research on the companies that remain. Are they licensed and insured? Do they have positive ratings with the Better Business Bureau? Ask for references, too, to find out what former customers have to say.
  • Hire a company with experience. The quality of a siding job has a lot to do with the contractor’s level of expertise. Find out how long any company you’re considering has been in business. What is the average rate of turnover for employees? Does the company have experience working with the siding material you choose? Ask for pictures to prove it.
  • Meet the contractor in person before agreeing to hire him or her. Does the contractor answer your questions thoroughly? Explain the process? Provide a start and end date for the project? A face-to-face meeting will tell you a lot about whether the contractor is knowledgeable and reputable.
  • Ask for a guarantee. The siding manufacturer should offer some kind of warranty, but the contractor should also guarantee his or her work for a number of years. If the company doesn’t want to stand behind its work, move on.

Author: Ashley Smith

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