Siding types, advantages and disadvantages.
There are several types of siding you can choose for your house including but not limited to wood, vinyl, masonite and cement board.
Wood siding was the main choice for many years simply because it was the only choice. Before all the new material began to emerge most homes were sided in either a clapboard or shingle type siding. Wood siding is made of all different types of wood with cedar being the longest lasting (within a reasonable price range anyway). But even cedar eventually has to be painted if you want it to last forever. You must be diligent in the care of your wood siding if you want to get the maximum life out of it. Every 5 to 10 years it must be properly caulked and painted, maybe even more often depending on the location and quality of paint last used.
Masonite siding can give the look of wood for less money but you better be even more diligent in your care of this product. Installation must be performed diligently also, the butt ends must be primed and painted before installed, we actually prime and paint the back also when we use it for repairs. It is what some refer to as a pressed wood which is basically like the pegboard material you may find your tools hanging on in your garage. If moisture is allowed to get to it for a short amount of time it will soak it up like a sponge and begin to come apart very fast. There was also a more inferior type of this product being used in the eighties that was basically a pressed cardboard as far as I'm concerned. There was actually a class action lawsuit against the manufacturers and if you have it on your house you know exactly what I am talking about.
Cement board siding (aka Hardy Plank Siding) is somewhat of a flexible cement product if you can imagine that. It is very heavy which makes for a higher labor bill for installation but can give you the look of wood without as much maintenance. It still has to be painted but it seems to hold up better if it is forced to endure some moisture between paintings. If you live in colder climates you may not want to use this product, I have heard of it breaking apart in freezing temperatures after getting wet. We don't have to worry about freezing temperatures in our area (Hampton Roads, Norfolk, Virginia Beach) as much as our neighbors to the north. It is a newer product than the others so no one knows how it holds up in real-time long term tests but it seems to be doing well so far.
A couple of other types of siding are aluminum and asbestos which are rarely used today. Both are a good siding and if you have them on your house and they are in good shape and still look good you may want to consider keeping it. The main problem with these sidings are how they handle blunt force trauma. Aluminum will dent and asbestos will break, not to mention that they both tend to look a little dated. Both of these sidings can be repaired and painted. I actually owned a property with asbestos siding that was in good shape so I painted it dark blue with white trim and it looked surprisingly good.
Finally we come to vinyl siding, and "Vinyl is King". Vinyl siding has swept across this country like a tidal wave and believe me it is here to stay. Some people don't like it because they don't think they can get that high end look with vinyl. Well vinyl has come a long way. There are so many different types of vinyl siding I will not be able to list them all here but I'll cover the basics for you. The most common types are standard, dutchlap and beaded siding. These types are meant to simulate wood clapboard siding. The main thing some people do not like about these types are that you can see the seams, they don't look exactly like wood and they do fade a little over time. The good thing about them is that they last a lifetime with no maintenance, let me say that again, the good thing about them is that they last a lifetime with no maintenance. Any siding I've come across has a lifetime manufacturer warranty. Another good thing is that they cost a fraction of what any other siding would cost. The newest type of vinyl siding is the simulated wood shingle siding. The total job cost with this siding is about 3 times as much as the others but it is a very high quality siding. The wind rating on this siding is 170 mph and more and when installed by a qualified siding contractor I have no doubt that they would withstand those wind speeds, not to mention it looks great. It comes in too many colors to mention and almost as many styles. Another good thing is you can't see the seams on this siding. The only bad thing I can see about this siding is that repairs are not easy to do because it is so well interlocked that is difficult to take off and get back on but you have to expect that from a siding that can withstand a small tornado. If you absolutely have to have the look of wood siding, vinyl may not be the way to go. But if you would like to have a siding that you never have to touch for the rest of your life then "Vinyl is King".