All You Need to Know About Replacing Vinyl Siding With Wood

Learn whether it’s possible and what you shall take into account before doing it

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If you are an owner of a house with vinyl siding, sooner or later you might want to do some vinyl siding upgrade. Of course, vinyl is quite a durable material that can last for up to fifty years without deterioration, but only if it’s properly maintained and not exposed to any severe external factors like storms or hurricanes! In addition, vinyl will anyway wear out after several years of use.

Let's remember and compare wood siding and vinyl siding

CriteriaWood SidingVinyl Siding
AppearanceOffers a rich, timeless, and classic look. The natural grains and colors of wood create a visually pleasing facade.Vinyl can mimic the look of wood, but doesn't have the same authentic texture. It comes in many colors and styles.
DurabilityProperly maintained wood can last a century or more. However, it's susceptible to damage from insects, moisture, and rot.Quite durable and can last for decades. Resistant to rot and insects. Can crack or warp under extreme weather conditions.
MaintenanceRequires regular maintenance like sealing, painting, or staining to maintain its appearance and resist damage.Very low maintenance. It doesn't require painting or staining, and can be cleaned with mild soap and water.
CostMore expensive than vinyl both in initial costs and maintenance. However, it can add significant value to your home.One of the most cost-effective siding options. Initial costs and maintenance expenses are less than most natural materials.
Energy EfficiencyWood is a natural insulator and can help keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer.Vinyl siding isn't as insulating as wood, but insulated vinyl options are available which increase energy efficiency.
Environmental ImpactWood is a renewable resource and is biodegradable at the end of its life cycle.Vinyl is derived from non-renewable resources (natural gas and salt), and isn't biodegradable.

 

House with balcony and old wooden siding
By vista.com

And one of the most frequently considered options is to cover your house with siding made of wood. However, since most homeowners are not familiar with this type of siding, they wonder how efficient it might be, how difficult it is to maintain wooden siding, and what pros and cons it has. In this article, you will find all the answers!

Is It Possible to Cover Your House With Wood Siding Instead Of Vinyl?

Entrance to a house covered with vinyl siding
By vista.com

The short answer is yes. You can use wooden siding on your house instead of vinyl for sure! However, wooden siding also has its peculiarities and nuances of use which you should be aware of in advance.

Why would you want to replace your vinyl siding with one made of wood? Of course, vinyl is perhaps the most common choice of siding for homeowners these days. Your existing vinyl siding can last 15-30 years! Besides, it is widely available, affordable, and durable, and besides, it is a proven way to protect your home. 

It’s true that some people often complain about their homes being alike to other homes on the block, but that’s the price for all the good vinyl gives you. This material won’t definitely make your home stand out!

A charming house featuring wood siding for an elegant and natural look
Photo by Katie Wasserman on Unsplash

But there is another reason why you might want to replace your current vinyl siding with the one made of wood. Vinyl tends to wear out pretty fast, especially if the siding is not properly maintained or if it was improperly installed (or both). But even if it is taken care of, weather and elements (such as sunlight, temperature, moisture, etc.) will anyway make its color fade, resulting in a patchy appearance! This is why folks are looking for alternatives that offer more than what is possible with vinyl siding.

So if you realize that your vinyl siding needs replacing, a wooden alternative is a good replacement option available to you. It has certain strong and weak sides, so we suggest you read on to learn more about them all.

Wood Siding Options to Install

Imagine you decide to replace your vinyl siding with the wooden one. At this point, you might think that once the wood siding is installed, you no longer have to think about it. But you are wrong! This is where a trick hides: natural wood siding requires a lot of maintenance! You will have to keep thinking about the needs of your home’s siding and make sure it is always getting the proper maintenance. 

Beautiful and well maintained wooden window and siding

And even if you properly care for it, your wood siding will need refinishing occasionally. With that in mind, you should think about how much you want to invest now before you choose your new siding. But if you are sure you want wooden siding, then at least opt for high-quality materials that will serve you longer. 

For example, one of the long-lasting wood siding materials is genuine 100% wood. For producing this type of siding, only the best cedar and American white pine are used, so you can be assured that it will last for years to come. Of course, installing wood siding made of genuine wood is going to be costly, but it’s worth such an investment! However, should you be limited in money, you might want to consider alternative and more affordable options that will be the same efficient.

House With Engineered Wood Siding 

This is the ideal solution for those who want the beauty of real wood without the high cost & maintenance. Engineered wood siding has that beautiful natural wood grain and texture, and besides, it requires no painting! 

New home with engineered wood siding
By vista.com

Engineered wood siding is the perfect vinyl siding replacement. It looks like real wood and costs only half of the real wood siding price. In addition, it is more lightweight being half of the real wood weight. It is also a great alternative for those who have moisture damage in their home because it is highly resistant to rot and fungal decay.

This synthetic wood siding has one more benefit. It has a higher R rating than natural wood siding. That means it will allow your house to be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. It also features a zinc borate preservative that helps prevent fungal decay and wood-destroying insects from ruining the beauty and value of your new siding.

Composite Home Wood Siding 

Composite siding is another alternative option for those who find real wood way too expensive. Composite wood siding is also rather durable, being able to last 30 years or more, and it’s a low-maintenance option. To clean it, you can wipe it with just soap and water. In addition, unlike vinyl siding which often requires painting, composite wood siding needs no maintenance such as painting or caulking to get the same look over a long period of time.

View of new composite siding
By vista.com

Heavily water resistant, it contains no organic material so you can be sure that it won’t swell, bow, rot or be attacked by wood-boring insects. This product will last for years before needing any maintenance. This is why composite wood siding is incredibly easy to care for

So, now you know that it’s possible to use wood siding instead of vinyl, and also, you learned what types of this siding you can opt for. For sure, your choice will strongly depend on how much you are ready to pay for its installation and further maintenance. Should you consider real wood siding, both installation and care will be rather costly! Luckily, you are now aware of cheaper and the same long-lasting and effective alternatives.

Benefits And Drawbacks Houses With Wood Siding Have

Porch of a house with beige wooden siding.
By vista.com

Now you know that wood-sided homes may require quite a lot of care and maintenance if they are made of real wood, and they can be extremely simple to take care of if the siding is made of synthetic wood. But are there any other benefits this material has? And why you should consider using wood siding instead of vinyl?

Wood siding for a house does have several benefits, and among them are those we have already mentioned: easy maintenance (in certain cases) and a long durability period. However, this is not a complete list of perks you get if you decide to shift from vinyl to wood!

New wooden siding on a gray house
By vista.com
  1. You can use limitless colors and/or finishes to paint your real wood siding.
  2. Wood is an environmentally friendly material since it is biodegradable and it is also considered renewable
  3. Wood does not emit pollutants during the manufacturing process.
  4. Wood siding is durable enough to last for decades if you maintain it properly.
  5. There are multiple species of wood to choose from:

        a. Pine

        b. Spruce

        c. Fir

        d. Cedar

        e. Redwood

        f. Cypress

Upgrading to wood siding can add value to your home because it is considered high-end siding.

Wood siding comes in a variety of styles, including lap, shingle, shake, tongue and groove, board and batten, and bevel. So you can choose the style that will change the look of your home.

Wooden siding is not only about benefits and perks. 

House with real wood siding
By vista.com

As with any material, wood also has its specifics and nuances that should be taken into consideration if you don’t want to regret your choice later.

  1. Maintaining real wood siding is costly and tiring. Some types of this siding will need staining at least every two to three years to prevent moisture damage
  2. You will have to reapply paint on your wood siding every four to five years
  3. Wood attracts termites so your siding should be checked by a pest-control inspection annually
  4. Installing wood siding can be expensive in comparison to other siding options. However, this depends on the style and type of wood you choose
  5. If the wood becomes cracked or rotted, you have to replace it immediately. A damaged wood siding can let water to seep into a home and cause problems such as interior mold growth
  6. Wood siding often has a poor flame spread fire ratings. This can increase the cost of home insurance
  7. You must clean your wood siding once a year to remove the buildup of dirt and mildew.

Now that you know all pros and cons of wood siding, you can clearly see whether this material is suitable for you. However, note that these downsides refer to real wood siding! So if you find it way too costly or not very reliable for some reason, you may want to consider synthetic wood siding options, such as composite wood siding and engineered wood siding.

When Vinyl Siding Replacement Might Be Needed

Vinyl Siding Replacement
By vista.com

As an owner of a vinyl-sided house, you probably asked yourself already when the time might come for you to replace your current siding with the new one or even change the siding material. Vinyl is known to be quite a durable material that is easy to maintain, so this question is rather reasonable.

In fact, even vinyl siding might need replacement. And you should know what signs can tell you about that.

  1. Warping or buckling indicates that your siding needs to be replaced
  2. If the color of your vinyl siding is gray or white, check beneath its layers to ensure it wasn’t a darker color at one time. If it has faded, this is a sign that it needs to be replaced
  3. Mold and mildew might also indicate there is something wrong with the siding
  4. If you notice bubbling on your siding, moisture might penetrate it and cause damage
  5. Holes can be another symptom. They can occur because of many reasons, but they always pose danger. So any hole indicates a need to replace that section of the siding

Of course, even these signs may have nuances. For example, if your siding is warped, it doesn’t always mean all of it needs to be replaced. In some cases, warping can occur when the siding is incorrectly hung. In this case, only a part of it should be re-hung. However, if you see warping or buckling in more than one area, or see cracked or loose siding as well, this is a clear sign a full replacement is needed!

How to Maintain Wood Siding On a House

house with engineered wood siding walls
By vista.com

In order to keep your siding in a decent condition, you should take care of it properly. It will require following several mandatory steps that might seem tiring, however, the better you follow the instructions the longer your wood siding will live.

Use a Sealer Of a Good Quality 

With the changes of weather and temperature, your wood siding will expand and contract since this is the natural feature of wood. You need to protect the siding, otherwise, the paint can chip and the wood can crack. 

This is why you should seal your siding at least once a year. It will keep it safe and protected. But choose the sealer carefully! Look for a product that can handle hot temperatures, extreme cold, and other severe conditions.

Keep Your Siding Clean

All types of siding should be cleaned, even wooden. Clean it at least once per year using warm, soapy water and a soft brush or sponge. We recommend you clean in small sections as you move from the bottom to the top. Like this, you will ensure there are no drips and stains left behind.

Remember About a Makeover

A brief makeover can help you maintain your wood siding by giving it a fresh, new look. So if you want to preserve the appearance of natural wood, simply refinish it using the same color. Allow the finish to dry and then apply a new coat of sealant on top. You can also paint your siding. Just make sure you use quality outdoor paint and have it professionally applied if you can. 

Replace Damaged Sections In Time 

Make sure you replace any damaged areas of your siding once they occur. If you don’t repair wood siding properly, it can look uneven and mismatched. Of course, it will lead to various problems with the indoor space as well!

Ideally, wood siding should be repaired by professionals since it’s difficult to match up damaged wood siding perfectly. You should expect to pay from $200 to $300 or more per damaged panel which is quite costly, however, repairing and replacing damaged siding will prevent further issues, so this is a worthy investment. 

Power Wash Carefully!

Power washing is a fast and easy way to clean your siding, but it can also damage the wood if used improperly. The strong stream of water can strip your paint, leaving gouges in the wood and loosen the caulk. 

So if you use a pressure washer yourself, don’t aim it upward. This can make the water go underneath the siding. Instead, spray away from the surface and slowly point the tip upward toward your siding, keeping it one foot away. 

Well, now you know everything one might need to be able to define whether or not wooden siding is needed for your home. As you can see now, this material is durable and good-looking, but it can be costly both in terms of installation and further care. So if you don’t want to spend time and money on regular cleaning and makeovers, consider installing synthetic wood siding. It’s much easier to take care of and it lasts as long as a real wood cover.

Links on this topic to authoritative sources:
  1. Vinyl Siding : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinyl_siding
  2. Siding (construction) : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siding_(construction)
  3. Engineered wood : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engineered_wood

Facts

These remarkable facts showcase the unique history and characteristics of wood and vinyl siding. Both have their merits, but the choice ultimately depends on homeowners' specific needs and aesthetic preferences.

  1. Historical Context: Vinyl siding came into the construction scene in the late 1950s as a replacement for aluminum siding. However, wood siding predates vinyl by centuries, with examples dating back to the 17th century in the United States alone.
  2. Durability Comparison: Though vinyl siding can last up to 60 years with proper care, it's hard to beat the lifespan of wood. Some historical buildings with wood siding are still standing after 200 years!
  3. Environmental Impact: Wood siding is considered more environmentally friendly as it's biodegradable. However, the production process for vinyl siding releases fewer greenhouse gases compared to wood siding.
  4. The Transformation: Switching from vinyl to wood siding isn't a small task. It's a significant renovation project that usually involves removing the existing vinyl siding, repairing any damaged areas underneath, and then installing the wood siding.
  5. Record-breaking Renovation: The largest recorded residential project replacing vinyl siding with wood took place in 2002 in California. The colossal 15,000 square-foot home required over 15,000 linear feet of wood siding!
  6. Cost Factor: While vinyl siding is generally cheaper, a 2019 report by Remodeling Magazine stated that homeowners who replaced vinyl siding with wood recouped an average of 77.6% of the cost at resale, higher than the average for vinyl.
  7. Design Versatility: Wood siding provides more design options, as it can be painted or stained in any color, whereas vinyl siding color can fade over time and options can be limited by manufacturers.

History

Long before the emergence of modern materials, the story of home construction was defined by one material above all others - wood. It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment wood siding was introduced, as its use is as ancient as the concept of shelter itself. But, its legacy is etched into the buildings that have stood the test of time, offering a glimpse into the lives of people across millennia.

In the prehistoric era, our ancestors sought shelter in the natural world around them, using readily available materials to protect themselves from the elements. Wood, abundant and versatile, quickly became the go-to resource for creating robust and comfortable dwellings.

With the advent of early civilization, humans began to refine their construction techniques. In regions blessed with ample forests, like Northern Europe and parts of Asia, wood became the primary construction material. It was during this time that the practice of creating wooden sidings, designed to protect homes from harsh weather and improve their aesthetic appeal, began to evolve.

By the time the Middle Ages rolled around, wood siding had become an art. Builders would carefully carve and finish each piece, creating beautiful patterns and designs. Homes weren't just places to live anymore - they were canvases for self-expression, and wood siding was a crucial part of that narrative.

As settlers began to colonize the New World, they carried the tradition of wood siding with them. Using the rich timber resources of North America, they built homes, barns, and public buildings adorned with wood siding, laying the foundations of towns and cities that would flourish in the centuries to come.

But the introduction of wood siding wasn't without its challenges. It required regular maintenance to protect against weathering and pests. Over time, innovations like paint and later, treatments to enhance its durability, helped to prolong the life of wood siding.

In the modern era, despite competition from materials like vinyl and metal, wood siding remains popular. It offers a timeless charm that's hard to replicate, standing as a testament to the ingenuity of our ancestors who turned a raw, natural resource into a building staple.

Expert Advice

  1. Assess Your Current Siding: Begin by thoroughly inspecting your existing vinyl siding for damage, rot, or insect infestations. This will help you anticipate any additional repair work that might be needed during the replacement process.
  2. Choosing Your Wood: The type of wood you choose will greatly influence the appearance and durability of your siding. Cedar and redwood are popular choices due to their natural resistance to rot and insects.
  3. Hiring a Professional: While DIY can be tempting, replacing siding is a significant undertaking that requires expertise. Professionals will ensure proper installation, which is key to longevity.
  4. Maintenance is Key: Remember that wood siding requires more upkeep than vinyl. To maintain its beauty, it'll need to be painted or stained every few years.
  5. Prepare for the Cost: Wood siding is generally more expensive than vinyl, both in terms of material and installation costs. Ensure you budget accordingly to avoid unwanted financial surprises.
  6. Energy Efficiency Consideration: Wood has natural insulating properties. This could potentially lower your energy bills, adding another reason to make the switch.
  7. Embrace the Imperfections: One of the charms of wood siding is its natural imperfections. These quirks will give your home a unique, rustic appeal.
  8. Check Local Regulations: Some areas have regulations concerning the type of siding you can use. Ensure you check with local authorities before starting your project.
  9. By paying attention to these subtleties and tips, you can ensure a successful transformation from vinyl to wood siding, bringing warmth and a touch of nature to your home. Always remember, the time and effort invested in this transition are well worth the enduring appeal of wood siding.

 

Next time you take a stroll around your neighborhood and admire houses with wood siding, remember, it's not an impossible dream. With careful planning and professional help, you can bring that same charm to your own home. Just take the first step. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does Replacing Wood Siding Cost?

You should expect to pay from $200 to $300 or more per damaged panel.

How Often Should You Wash Wooden Siding?

Ideally, it should be washed once a year or once every one to two years.

Is It Safe To Pressure Wash Wood Siding?

While it's possible to pressure wash wood siding, you can also force water up and under the exterior surface if your water pressure is set too high. If water gets under the siding, it can damage insulation and electrical wiring!
Why Would Someone Consider Replacing Vinyl Siding With Wood?

People may choose to replace vinyl siding with wood for improved aesthetics, increased durability, or to maintain a more traditional appearance.

What Vinyl Siding Looks Most Like Wood
  1. Insulated vinyl siding: This type of siding offers a realistic wood-like appearance while providing enhanced energy efficiency and noise reduction.
  2. Cedar shake vinyl siding: Mimicking the look of natural cedar shakes, this siding option offers a rustic, charming appearance similar to real wood.
  3. Wood-grain embossed vinyl siding: Featuring a textured wood grain pattern, this siding replicates the look and feel of natural wood without the maintenance.
  4. Dutch lap vinyl siding: With its distinctive shadow lines and beveled edges, Dutch lap siding offers a traditional, wood-like appearance.
  5. Board and batten vinyl siding: Designed to replicate the look of vertical wood planks, this siding style adds a classic, timeless aesthetic to any home.
  6. Vinyl log siding: For those seeking a log cabin look, vinyl log siding accurately imitates the appearance of authentic wooden logs.
  7. Premium vinyl siding brands: Certain brands, such as CertainTeed and James Hardie, offer high-quality vinyl siding options that closely resemble real wood.
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Comments

Russell Witting:
Hey guys! Do you know how I could remove stubborn stains from my wood siding? I though of bleach. Will that work?
Ike Abbott:
Hello! While bleach might seem to be a good mold and mildew deterrent, chlorine bleach can damage your wood siding. This is why you should consider a non-chlorine bleach, I suppose, like oxygen bleach, which is also more environmentally friendly.
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