Replacing Garage Siding, Part 2: Less is More

Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true!

– Homer Simpson

In part one of this post, I talked about wanting to replace the rotten siding on our garage. We wanted to use low-maintenance siding that matched the three inch clapboard siding on the house. We also wanted it to be durable and cheap.

In order of price, from cheapest to most expensive, the siding materials we considered were:

Vinyl Siding

We would never consider replacing the siding on the house with vinyl, but somehow, it’s OK on the garage. The kind were were looking at does a pretty good job of mimicking three inch clapboards, as long as you don’t get too close.

The advantages of vinyl are:

  • It is durable,
  • It needs very little maintenance,
  • It won’t dent, and
  • It comes with a long warranty.

The disadvantages are:

  • Its appearance: it looks like plastic, and
  • The seams are visible.

Engineered Wood Siding

Engineered wood is made from little bits of wood, sawdust, and glue. It seems to only come in boards that are wider than three inches.

The advantages of engineered wood are:

  • It is strong and lightweight, and
  • It can have a factory-applied coating.

The disadvantages of engineered wood are:

  • It has to be painted to stop weather damage, and
  • It has to be maintained to avoid moisture related deterioration.

Metal Siding

We looked at vinyl coated steel. Like vinyl, it can mimic three inch clapboards pretty well.

The advantages of steel are:

  • It doesn’t need to be painted,
  • It is durable, and
  • It keeps the factory finish indefinitely.

The disadvantages of steel are:

  • The color can fade,
  • It can dent, and
  • It can rust if the coating is scratched.

Fiber Cement Siding

This is made from sand, portland cement, wood fiber and other additives. It is probably the most attractive of the low-maintenance options.

The advantages of fiber cement are:

  • It is more durable than wood,
  • It is guaranteed to last 50 years, and
  • The factory applied coating is usually guaranteed for 25 years.

The disadvantages of fiber cement are:

  • It is heavy, and
  • Cutting it produces lots of dust.

And the winner is…

In the end, we went with the vinyl. We were attracted to the durability and look of fiber cement, but we were put off by the high price. The steel looks very similar to the vinyl, but it has the rusting and denting problems. And as for the engineered wood, I don’t know about you, but that’s not my idea of low-maintenance.

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