Is Vinyl Siding a Good Investment? Pros and Cons

Vinyl siding is a popular choice among homeowners, and for a variety of reasons. It’s relatively inexpensive compared to other siding options, looks great, typically has low maintenance needs, and it’s quick and easy to install. But is it the best choice for your home? There are a lot of factors to consider including cost, resale value and whether or not this type of siding stands up well to the tough weather in Southern Ontario. Let’s take a look at all of these factors to determine whether vinyl siding is a wise investment.

Cost to Replace Vinyl Siding

The top question that comes up when discussing vinyl siding is the installation costs. Compared to other types of siding, it is quite a bit cheaper than alternatives. There are a couple of different types, too.

  • Hollow-back vinyl siding is the least expensive option, but offers less insulation. It averages between $5.50 and $8.50 per square foot installed.
  • Foam backed vinyl siding provides up to three times as much insulation as hollow-back, but costs a bit more—about $7.50 to $12.50 per square foot.
  • Both of these are cheaper than other products that will give you the same look. For example, ship-lap fiber cement siding can cost about twice as much as vinyl.

In fact, among all siding options available, vinyl will nearly always be the least expensive choice, which is one of the reasons why it is so attractive to many homeowners.

Your Return on Investment

When calculating resale value, things can get a little bit tricky. On average, vinyl siding will recoup about 89% of the initial installation cost when you sell your home—which means a $10,000 investment in siding adds $8,900 to your home’s selling price. But there are some other factors to consider that may actually lower your cost recoupment.

  • Historic homes may see a lower return on investment because buyers are looking for historically accurate building materials rather than modern products like vinyl.
  • Homes that look best with lots of exterior detail, such as homes in the Victorian style, may not recoup as much money when clad with vinyl because vinyl tends to obscure and flatten architectural details like decorative trim.
  • In some areas, vinyl siding is seen as the inferior, cheap choice, which may mean that buyers are willing to pay substantially more for homes clad in something other than vinyl.

These are all factors to take into consideration when choosing your new siding. Vinyl can be a good choice, but if you have a historic or architecturally detailed home, you may be better off with another type of siding.

Vinyl Siding in Extreme Cold

Weather will take its toll on any type of siding. Extreme cold weather like Ontario’s frigid winters can make vinyl brittle. In most cases, this is not a large concern, but it will make installation or repairs more difficult in cold weather since the siding is more likely to crack. Additionally, high winds paired with cold temperatures can do more damage.

At the same time, other types of siding, like wood, come with their own weaknesses in cold temperatures. Wood siding needs a lot of maintenance in order to protect it against moisture so that it doesn’t crack or splinter when temperatures dip and damp boards start to freeze.

Fiber cement siding is a good alternative to both wood and vinyl that will stand up to cold weather. However, it does cost more, so you’ll need to balance the cost of fiber cement against potential repair costs of vinyl siding should cold temperatures prove damaging.

Maintenance Pros and Cons

Of all types of siding, vinyl is considered among the most hassle-free because it typically has very low maintenance needs. It never needs to be repainted, and unlike wood or other more porous siding materials, it’s easier to clean. Cobwebs and dust can be sprayed away with a garden hose, and if you need to remove moss or mildew, a power washer will do the job. With wood or other materials, you may need to scrub, scrape, and ultimately repaint to make the siding look fresh again.

The drawback to vinyl siding where maintenance is concerned is that if you need to make a repair to the siding—for instance, if a lawnmower throws a rock that punctures the siding—you’ll need to replace an entire section of the siding. If the siding is older, thus having had time to fade in sunlight, you could have a hard time matching replacement siding with the original. Paintable types of siding, while they come with higher maintenance needs, avoid this issue by allowing you to replace only the damaged section, and then repaint so that color is uniform.

Is vinyl siding a good investment? There are lots of factors to consider when choosing from among siding options, but these are the big ones that will help you make the choice. Keep in mind that it isn’t just the initial installation cost to worry about, but also cost recoupment if you plan to sell the home along with maintenance needs and repairs, too.