How Long Does Vinyl Siding Last?

How long exterior vinyl siding lasts compared with wood siding and fiber cement siding is an important consideration when cladding your home or commercial property. Here’s an overview of vinyl siding’s longevity, how that stands against comparably priced alternatives and the lifetime cost of each.

Vinyl Siding Durability

While the longevity will vary due to qualitative differences, most of the siding sold today should last about 25 years.

There are several reasons for its improved durability over siding sold decades ago.

  • Improved colorants make fading imperceptible over time.
  • The vinyl is pigmented all through, so it doesn’t show scratches like aluminum, wood and fiber cement.
  • Acrylic additives help prevent UV rays from making the vinyl brittle and easily damaged.
  • Vinyl absorbs impact without denting better than the other materials.

How Long Do Wood and Fiber Cement Siding Last?

Wood siding is expected to last 50 years, though some wood-sided homes are holding up well after a century. However, to last even 30 years, wood siding must be painted or stained frequently to prevent its destruction from the elements and insects.

Fiber cement siding lasts 30-50 years. Like wood, it must be painted regularly to prevent deterioration.

Is Vinyl Siding a Good Value?

Vinyl siding is the most affordable type of siding, but let’s compare the lifetime value of vinyl to wood, aluminium and fiber cement siding. Using the average prices per square foot and the durability discussed above:

  • Vinyl siding: $3/sq. ft. and 25 years = $0.12/sq. ft./year
  • Aluminum siding: $4.50/sq. ft. and 40 years = $0.11/sq. ft./year
  • Fiber cement siding: $4.50/sq. ft. and 40 years = $0.11/sq. ft./year
  • Wood siding: $6.00/sq. ft. and 50 years = $0.12/sq. ft./year

There’s little difference in material costs. However, there are other factors to consider.

Since installation costs are similar, and they all need to be pressure-washed as needed (vinyl) or before painting or staining (wood & fiber cement), these aren’t comparison factors.

What does make a difference is the cost of painting or staining. Estimates range from $1.25 from handyman services to $2.50 from painting contractors, with the average about $2 per square foot. When that cost is factored at a rate of every 4 years for stain and 6 years for paint, low-maintenance vinyl easily wins the value comparison.

Wood siding stained every 4 years, beginning with the first year, has a lifetime cost of 13 applications over 50 years at $2/sq. ft. plus the original $6:

  • Stained wood: 13 x 2 + 6 = $32/50 years = $0.64 per square foot

Wood siding painted every 6 years at $2/sq. ft. over 50 years has a lifetime cost equation of:

  • Painted wood: 9 x 2 + 6 = $24/50 years = $0.48 per square foot

Fiber cement siding painted every 6 years over 40 years shows this lifetime cost equation:

  • Painted fiber cement: 6.5 x 2 + 4.5 = $17.50/40 years = $0.44 per square foot

Aluminium siding painted every 5 years over 40 years shows this lifetime cost equation:

  • Painted aluminium: 8 x 2 + 4.5 = $20.50/40 years = $0.51 per square foot

The bottom line is that vinyl siding, at a lifetime cost of $0.12 per square foot, offers the lowest upfront costs and has excellent long-term value too.

For more info on vinyl vs aluminum siding check out our in-depth post on the differences between vinyl and aluminum.

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