Siding plays an extremely dynamic role for your home. It provides critical protection from the elements, helps to insulate the interior and supports the aesthetic appeal of your home’s exterior. With so many important functions, choosing the right siding for your home is paramount.
Whether you’re buying a home, renting or flipping properties, aluminum and vinyl siding are two common contenders. Though narrowing down the options to just two materials may make the decision easier, there are still many factors to consider. You might ask yourself how much you’re willing to spend on the project, how much time you want to spend maintaining the siding and what material makes sense for the climate and property conditions. If all of the questions and unknowns leave your head spinning, you’re not alone! By comparing aluminum and vinyl siding in several relevant categories, we can make the decision a little clearer.
The Benefits of Vinyl Siding
Vinyl siding is made from a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic resin. This man-made material was introduced in the 1950s as a replacement for aluminum siding. Though early vinyl siding models weren’t as durable as aluminum, the technology has come a long way since then. Today, vinyl is gaining popularity among homeowners for its many benefits.
Some of the advantages of vinyl siding include:
- It’s less expensive than other options: According to HomeAdvisor, vinyl siding is more affordable than other siding options like engineered wood, brick, stucco, steel and stone.
- There are tons of color and texture options: Vinyl comes in a huge selection of colors and textures. Some options can even mimic scallop trims, cedar shakes or other wood paneling. The color of each plank runs through its entirety, so it won’t wear off over time.
- It can withstand the elements: Whether you experience high wind, rain, hail, humidity or air pollution, vinyl can stand it all. Its PVC construction is built for some of the toughest conditions nature has in store.
- It resists other siding killers: Unlike wood, vinyl siding is moisture- and termite-resistant. You won’t have to worry about rotting or structural damage due to these issues. Vinyl also won’t rust or corrode like other metal sidings.
- It’s easy to take care of: Some siding types require time-consuming and costly work to keep them looking fresh each year. Vinyl is the exact opposite. All the tough material needs is an annual cleaning to keep it looking new.
- It helps to insulate your home: When you install vinyl siding, it works to keep your home energy efficient. That means in the winter, vinyl will help prevent warm air from escaping through your walls. In the summer, the siding will trap cool air inside.
The Pros of Aluminum Siding
Aluminum siding is manufactured using aluminum coil stock. Siding planks are coated with chemicals to protect the metal and covered with paint for visual purposes. Each siding piece is baked to increase its durability, and manufacturers may add enamel to give the pieces texture. Aluminum siding rose to popularity in the 1940s and was a common choice until its decline in the 1970s. Today, aluminum siding still offers several benefits over other materials.
Some of the pros of aluminum siding include:
- It’s relatively durable: Aluminum siding comes in varying thicknesses. The thicker your siding choice, the more durable it will be.
- It comes in horizontal and vertical formats: Unlike brick or stucco, aluminum siding allows you to choose between a vertical or horizontal orientation. This expands the design possibilities and enables you to create a coordinated exterior look.
- It’s light and easy to install: Out of all of the common siding options, aluminum is one of the lightest. Transporting, handling and installing this siding material is made simpler due to its light weight.
- It resists common siding issues: You won’t have to worry about swelling, rotting, rusting or mildew with aluminum siding. It’s also waterproof, insect-proof, fire-resistant and durable in extreme cold. Amid extreme conditions, aluminum siding is immune to many common issues.
- It’s eco-friendly: Depending on the type of aluminum siding you get, the material can be produced with little energy. Aluminum is also recyclable, which means it won’t have to end up in a landfill. If you want to support the environment with your siding choice, aluminum delivers.
- It gives you flexibility: Though aluminum siding may come with a painted color, you can always repaint it. If you want to change up your house color, this siding material is flexible enough to roll with your whims.
Aluminum Siding vs. Vinyl Siding — Which Wins?
Though both materials have benefits, it’s important to consider the whole picture. When we put aluminum and vinyl siding head to head in some of the most important categories, we can determine which material is beneficial overall.
Durable siding endures plenty of extreme conditions outdoors so you can stay safe and cozy indoors. When you invest in quality siding, you want to know you won’t have to replace it because it weakens over time. Fortunately, both aluminum and vinyl siding are quite durable.
Though aluminum is a soft metal, you can purchase siding in varying thicknesses. The thicker the aluminum, the stronger it will be. Here’s a breakdown of some common thicknesses and their properties:
- 40-gauge aluminum: At 0.4 inches thick, this is the cheapest aluminum siding. It is the most vulnerable to durability concerns.
- 44-gauge aluminum: This is the standard siding thickness that features moderate durability.
- 53-gauge aluminum: This is the most expensive type of aluminum siding, but it features superior durability when compared to other thicknesses.
One of the primary concerns for aluminum siding durability is denting. In thinner panels, strong hail may be enough to leave dimples. For thicker types, a stray baseball or falling tree limb could leave a mark. You may also experience scratching if you brush the siding with the lawnmower or other sharp objects.
Vinyl siding also offers varying thickness options, and the same principle applies — a greater thickness provides more durability. Vinyl is naturally sturdier and can withstand quite extreme conditions. According to the Vinyl Siding Institute, vinyl panels can withstand winds of 110 miles per hour or higher. Vinyl isn’t impervious, though. Like aluminum, blunt force objects may cause vinyl siding to crack. However, vinyl puts up with quite a battering before it shows damage.
The longevity of a siding material gives you insight into how long your investment will last. When you put effort into choosing the perfect siding type and finding the right durability, you want that decision to pay off for many years. Both aluminum and vinyl have impressive lifespans.
High-quality aluminum may last for up to 35 years. For many homeowners, this may be long enough to cover the duration of their time in the home. Vinyl, on the other hand, often comes with a lifetime warranty for the original individuals who install it. This warranty may even transfer to the next owners of the home for up to 50 years.
Though both vinyl and aluminum have respectable longevity, it’s clear that vinyl wins this match-up.
The price tag on your siding investment matters. You want something that serves your house well but doesn’t break the bank in the process. Both aluminum and vinyl are relatively inexpensive siding options when compared to other materials. In general, a siding’s affordability depends on whether you focus on upfront cost or long-term savings.
Aluminum may be less expensive than vinyl because it is often thinner. Covering your home in a thin to medium aluminum siding will probably produce a lower bill. However, vinyl isn’t that much more expensive than aluminum. Vinyl tends to pay for itself quickly with energy, maintenance and longevity savings.
It’s important to note that both aluminum and vinyl can be inexpensive or expensive when given the right variables. Ultimately, your siding cost will depend on some of the following factors:
- The quality of your materials, including thickness and design
- The size of your home
- The shape of your home
The amount of maintenance your siding requires will determine how much ongoing effort you’ll have to pitch in. Unless you’re in love with taking care of siding, it’s probably safe to assume you want your material to have as little maintenance as possible.
Aluminum siding is at a noticeable disadvantage in the maintenance category. While it takes paint well, you may find yourself having to repaint the siding every five to 10 years. And if the current layer of paint has oxidized, you’ll have to remove it before repainting. This can turn into a large job rather quickly. If you’re completing the maintenance yourself, you can expect to clock in several days of work. If you hire a painting crew, you can expect a decent bill.
In contrast, vinyl siding is virtually maintenance-free. Because the color goes all the way through a vinyl panel, you won’t need to repaint it. Simply wash your siding with mild soap and water each year to preserve its polished appearance.
With an investment this important, you want to know you’ll be able to find a siding style you love. Both aluminum and vinyl provide a range of options and can mimic other types of siding:
- Aluminum options: Aluminum siding may come pre-painted and allows you to paint it any color. It also features a variety of textures and patterns, some of which may mimic wood siding.
- Vinyl options: Vinyl siding has a large selection of color and texture options. Beyond standard horizontal panels, you can also choose from options that mimic scalloped trims, cedar shakes and more.
Because both siding types offer lots of variety, your decision may depend on their comparison in other categories.
6. Energy Efficiency
Energy efficiency might not spring to mind when you think about siding shopping, but it probably should. The type of siding you put on your home can improve your home’s energy use, maintain it or make it worse. When you opt for a siding material that improves your energy efficiency, you may see long-term savings that both recoup the cost of the siding and save you money overall.
Both aluminum and vinyl siding have insulating properties. The better your siding insulates your home, the less energy it requires to stabilize the internal temperature. While you can improve aluminum’s energy efficiency with insulating barriers, you can’t purchase the material with insulation already attached. With vinyl, you can.
Insulated vinyl siding incorporates a rigid foam material within each panel. This works to prevent energy loss through your home’s studs, which could decrease your energy bill. As a whole, vinyl siding provides a more convenient and effective solution to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
7. Ease of Installation
Installation costs play a large role in your overall siding budget. The type of material you’re installing will affect how long the process will take and how much you can expect to pay. When compared to other exterior cladding options, both aluminum and vinyl siding have relatively simple installation processes.
In some cases, aluminum may make for a quicker installation because of its lightweight construction. If you’re replacing existing aluminum siding with new aluminum, this may not be the case. For many homes, what is under the current aluminum siding is not pretty. Aluminum siding has often been used to cover up deteriorating walls, mold, bug problems and more.
Be sure you understand the full scope of your installation — including what you may find beneath your current siding — before you begin the project.
The way your siding contributes to the overall look of your home is an important part of its function. You want a siding material that complements your home’s style and age while enhancing its natural beauty. Vinyl and aluminum portray different aesthetics, which may be appropriate for different styles.
As a baseline, aluminum looks less trendy and a little more dated than vinyl siding. If this aesthetic fits your home or aesthetics are less of a priority for you, aluminum siding may work. Aluminum siding does give you the ability to repaint, but paint doesn’t cover up the older appearance.
Vinyl siding has a more modern and trendy appearance that works well with a variety of home styles. The Vinyl Siding Institute says vinyl is versatile enough to support some of the following architectural styles:
- Cape Cod style
- Craftsman style
- Federal or Adam style
- Folk Victorian style
- French colonial style
- Georgian style
- Greek revival style
- Italianate style
- Queen Anne style
Each home is different, and each siding material offers different advantages. If you’re analyzing the total package, vinyl siding is the ideal option. If you’re debating whether you should replace aluminum siding with vinyl or simply shopping for an upgrade, vinyl is a smart move.
Hire a Company With Experience to Install Siding
To reap the full benefits of your siding choice, the material needs to be installed with extreme precision. Aluminum and vinyl siding need room to expand and contract based on the exterior temperature. Without this room, even durable siding may experience unsightly warping and buckling.
Unless you install siding for a living, you don’t have time to study installation manuals and learn all of the siding best practices. An installation pro can save you time and ensure your siding will last a long time. When you work with Brothers Aluminum, your vinyl siding installation will offer some of the following benefits:
- Extra rigidity: Our installation process guarantees your siding will follow a straight line and incorporate increased rigidity.
- Extreme strength: Our fully rolled-over nail hem gives your siding the strength to withstand winds from a Category 5 hurricane.
- Moisture protection: Our siding enables moisture to escape 500% more readily than other products.
- Impact resistance: We add an underlayment beneath our vinyl siding to improve its performance under impact.
- Extra soundproofing: Our underlayment can improve your home’s soundproofing qualities and keep out unwanted noise.
Trust Brothers Aluminum for All of Your Siding Needs
When you’re replacing your home siding, it’s important to get it right. For more than 40 years, Brothers Aluminum has been delivering high-quality craftsmanship on all things remodeling. Our selection of vinyl siding provides endless options we know you’ll love. Once you’ve picked your siding, you can trust our experts to install it with the same care they’d apply to their own homes.
For more information about our products and services, contact us today!