The Ultimate Vinyl Siding vs. Wood Siding Comparison Guide: Pros, Cons, and Costs

Nick P. Cellucci
Written by Nick P. Cellucci
Reviewed by Robert Tschudi
Updated January 31, 2023
Siding being installed on a house
Photo: sergeevspb / Adobe Stock


  • 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

Don’t underestimate the importance of your home’s siding
Photo: Canetti / iStock / Getty Images

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​

A house with vinyl siding
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. According to HomeAdvisor, 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

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