When it comes to cladding your home exterior, there’s a lot more to consider than just how it looks. As well as looking for a cladding that will withstand whatever winter throws its way, you’ll want one with the durability to protect and serve for many years to come. Both aluminum and vinyl siding are popular choices, but of the two, which is better?
If you’re going to the effort of cladding your home, it stands to reason the choice of siding you plump for should be durable. After all, why go to the effort and expense of cladding if you end up with a worn-out looking home just a few years down the line? When it comes to durability, both vinyl and aluminum are strong choices. However, there can only ever be one winner, and in this particular category, vinyl takes the crown. Despite its ability to withstand exposure, aluminum siding is prone to developing scratches and dents over time: a few harsh winters or a couple of accidental hits is all it takes to go from pristine dream to eye sore. At twice the thickness of aluminum, it takes more than a few hail stones or stray baseballs to mark vinyl siding’s smooth appeal. Impact resistant and hardy, it’s likely to look as good 20 years down the line as it does today.
Unless you want to spend a good part of your leisure time (not to mention your income) on constant repair jobs and “touch ups”, it’s important to consider how much maintenance will be needed by your choice of siding. When it comes to the choice that requires the least maintenance, vinyl siding once again takes the trophy. As aluminum siding is more prone to damage (as we saw in previous categories), you’ll always need to be on the lookout for any scratches and dents that could both affect the aesthetic of your home, and lead to a hike in your energy bills if cold air starts creeping in. Aluminum is also prone to fading over time, so will require several paint re-coats in its lifetime. In comparison, vinyl siding is the lazy man’s dream. Once it’s in place, you’ll never have to worry about repainting: during its manufacture, the color is “baked” in, effectively making it resistant to fading. Moreover, its ability to withstand the effects of harsh climes and erosion means you don’t have to worry about repairing any marks or scratches. When it comes to maintenance, the only thing it’ll benefit from is the occasional clean.
No matter the quality of the product in question, affordability is always going to be a key consideration when it comes to weighing up the benefits of one siding over another. As it turns out, the cost differential between aluminum and vinyl is negligible. While aluminum siding comes it at just a fraction less, it’s too insignificant a difference to warrant much consideration. Unless you’re counting each and every cent, you’ll be well advised to pay more attention to the qualities of the different siding than their respective price tags.
While you may save a few dollars by opting for aluminum siding over vinyl, any initial savings can be quickly negated if the former turns out to be less energy efficient than the latter…. as, wouldn’t you know, it turns out to be. One of the key functions of cladding is to help keep your home cool in summer and warm in winter, thus removing some of the cost involved in both heating and cooling the house in the different seasons. When it comes to energy efficiency, vinyl siding comes out on top by a clean mile. Aluminum absorbs heat tremendously well- while this may seem an advantage in winter, come summer, you’ll need to spend a fortune on air conditioning to counter its effects. Even in winter, things can get dicey. As aluminum isn’t as durable as vinyl, there’s a higher change of it developing cracks and leaks – both of which, needless to say, do a fine job of letting cold air in, and warm air out. The insulating qualities of vinyl siding are increased exponentially by its durability: as it’s resistant to almost anything you or the weather can throw at it, it’ll do a better job of maintaining the temperature of the house. The result? Any extra you spent on the initial outlay will soon recoup itself with the reduction in your energy bills, which, according to Mid America Exteriors, could equate to a massive 25%.
While cladding is primarily about function, there’s nothing to say it shouldn’t look nice as well. When it comes to looking “nice”, vinyl siding has it covered. Available in a huge range of colors and almost as many styles (with options including standard, dutch lap, vertical, scalloped, and even shake style), It’s proof you don’t need to sacrifice beauty for utility. Over the last few years, aluminum siding has come on leaps and bounds, but it still falls far short of the mark when it comes to attractiveness. Unless you’re happy for your home to have a metallic sheen to its exterior, you’ll probably prefer to opt for one of the many options that vinyl siding comes in.
It may seem a strange category to finish on, but trust us, when it comes to cladding, noise is a very real thing. As United Home Expects notes, if you live in an area of high winds or high temperature, be prepared for your siding to “serenade” you if you go the aluminum route. As the metal expands with heat or with exposure to strong gales, it will let off a series of “pings” … something that sounds innocent enough on the page, but can get mightily tiresome over the course of an entire season. Vinyl, on the other hand, is as quiet as a sleeping baby.
And The Winner Is?
Cladding is a major investment: unless you want to spend the next 20 years ruing your decision, it pays to consider you choice of siding carefully. When it comes to weighing up the options, look carefully at how each stacks up with regards durability, maintenance, energy efficiency, aesthetics, and, even (yes, we’re saying it again) noise. Although any decision ultimately comes down to personal preference, if you want our advice, think long and hard before choosing aluminum over vinyl- because when it comes to the things that matter, there’s little doubt which of the two reigns supreme.