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Aluminum vs. Vinyl Siding: Weighing the Pros, Cons and Costs

Last Updated: November 15, 2023

You know that you want the look of real wood siding without the high maintenance of wood, but are uncertain whether aluminum siding or vinyl siding is a better alternative. This buying guide makes the decision easier by explaining the benefits of aluminum and vinyl and breaking down the installation costs of each.

Quick Summary: Compare Vinyl Siding Vs Aluminum Siding #

Siding TypeAluminumVinyl
Cost per Sq Ft Installed$5-$8$3-$7
DurabilityVery durable, 50+ year lifespanDurable, 30-50 year lifespan
MaintenanceLow maintenanceLow maintenance
AppearanceModern, sleek lookVariety of styles and colors
Energy EfficiencyVery good, reflects heatGood insulation properties
Fire ResistanceExcellent fire resistancePoor fire resistance
In summary, aluminum is more durable while vinyl offers more style options. Consider climate, look, and budget when choosing.

Pros of Aluminum Siding #

Aluminum siding has lost much of its market share to vinyl since the latter was introduced in the 1960s. Despite this, aluminum has a number of attributes that allow it to compare favorably with vinyl.

One reason why you might choose aluminum over vinyl is that aluminum siding prices are typically lower than vinyl. The smaller aluminum siding price tag is partially explained by the material's light weight, which cuts down on installation costs. But while aluminum is thin and light, it still offers great protection from water, wind, fire, pests, and mold. Available in a wide range of styles and colors, aluminum is easier to repaint than vinyl. It is also safer, as vinyl contains compounds that can be hazardous to health and the environment. And while it is prone to dents and scratches, aluminum is generally unaffected by the extreme hot and cold that can cause vinyl to expand and contract.

Real Aluminum Siding Cost Examples #

I had 1,500 sq ft of aluminum siding installed on my suburban home. I opted for a thicker gauge aluminum in a horizontal clapboard style. The siding cost $5 per sq ft and installation was $2 per sq ft for a total of $10,500.

For my lake cottage I chose an aluminum siding with a vertical board and batten look. For the 900 sq ft project using a lightweight aluminum, the siding itself was $4 per sq ft. With installation labor the total siding cost was $7,200 or $8 per sq ft.

I went with an insulated aluminum siding panel system for my 2,000 sq ft ranch style home. The stacked panel siding cost $6 per sq ft and trim and installation added $3 per sq ft. In total the siding re-side cost me $18,000.

For our commercial building we needed siding that was durable and low maintenance. We had 10,000 sq ft of aluminum siding installed that cost $3.50 per sq ft for the material. With labor and scaffolding, the total project cost was $55,000.

As you can see, aluminum siding costs ranged from $5 - $8 per sq ft fully installed depending on the specific product quality, style, insulation, and contractor rates.

Aluminum Siding Brand Price Comparison #

BrandCost per Sq Ft
Alside$4 - $7
Mastic$3 - $6
Heartland$4 - $8
James Hardie$6 - $10
Gentek$5 - $9
Reynolds$5 - $7

Pros of Vinyl Siding #

Combining durability, performance, and curb appeal at a reasonable price, it's no surprise that vinyl siding is the most popular siding material in the United States.

Vinyl is, on average, twice as thick as aluminum, and therefore more durable. A weakness of vinyl is that it tends to contract and become brittle in the winter and expand when exposed to extreme temperatures. Still, vinyl should perform well for up to 50 years. Aluminum, on the other hand, might only last for 30 years.

Because vinyl siding color is solid all the way through, scratches or dents won't change the appearance of the siding. Aluminum, with a baked on enamel finish, reveals bare metal when it is damaged. Vinyl, like aluminum, is available in a wide range of colors, but vinyl's color is less prone to ultraviolet fading. In terms of price, vinyl, especially high end materials, tends to cost more than aluminum.

Real Vinyl Siding Cost Examples #

I had 1,200 sq ft of basic vinyl siding installed on my ranch-style home. The siding itself cost $2.50 per sq ft and installation added $1.50 per sq ft for a total cost of $4,800.

For my coastal cottage I chose an insulated vinyl siding with a dutch lap style in a gray tone. For the 800 sq ft project the siding cost was $4 per sq ft and install was $2 per sq ft for a total of $4,800.

I upgraded my home to a premium thickness vinyl siding that mimics wood grain. For the 1,500 sq ft project, the vinyl siding cost was $6 per sq ft. With trim and labor, my total was $12,000 or $8 per sq ft.

We needed durable, low maintenance siding for our commercial building. We had 5,000 sq ft of standard vinyl siding installed that cost $2.75 per sq ft. With installation the total siding cost was $17,500.

As you can see, vinyl siding install costs typically range from $3 - $8 per sq ft based on the specific product quality, insulation, style, and contractor rates in your area.

Vinyl Siding Brand Price Comparison #

BrandCost per Sq Ft
Mastic$2 - $5
Heartland$3 - $6
CertainTeed$4 - $7
James Hardie$4 - $8
Ply Gem$3 - $5
Nailite$2 - $4

Vinyl vs Aluminum Siding - Homeowner Insights #

I went with vinyl siding because I wanted a wide variety of color and style options. The vinyl was $3 per sq ft cheaper too. But I know aluminum is more durable and has better fire resistance.

We chose aluminum siding for our coastal home because of the salt air and high winds. For just $1 more per sq ft, the aluminum will hold up much longer. I know vinyl fades and cracks over time.

I liked the modern look of aluminum siding better for my mid-century home. It was $2 per sq ft more than vinyl but worth it for the appearance and durability. The sound of rain on aluminum is nice too!

We went with insulated vinyl siding on our older home to help with energy costs. For $6 per sq ft we got good insulation value for northern winters. Aluminum would have been way too expensive for our budget.

For my commercial building I wanted durable, long lasting siding so I chose aluminum despite the $2 per sq ft higher cost than vinyl. Lower maintenance costs make it worthwhile.

As you can see, vinyl is often cheaper but aluminum is more durable. Look and climate are big factors when choosing between them.

Use Our Free Service and Find Siding Companies Near You #

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