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What Is the Best Material for the Exterior of a House?

Submitted by Jenny Hull on

When it comes to choosing the right exterior finishing material for a home, there are a few different factors to consider. For many people, attractiveness is the most important thing; but it’s also important to consider how well the material will withstand the elements over time, and keep your family both comfortable and secure.

Now, you’re probably wondering where to start with so many options available. If so, you’re in the right place. We’re going to take a look at the most common exterior finishes on houses, break down how they perform, and introduce some innovative framing and finishing methods that can extend the value and longevity of any home’s exterior. This way, you can help deliver effective results that meet your customers’ expectations and needs.

White Stucco House

What Are Exterior Finishes?

In the context of home construction, the term “exterior finish” refers to the outermost layer of material that protects wall systems from the effects of the weather, pests, and more. Modern exterior siding options offer different levels of protection, durability, and expense; so, let’s look at the most common house siding options and costs.

What Is the Most Common Exterior Finish?

According to a National Association of Home Builders report, the most common exterior finish is stucco, closely followed by vinyl siding, fiber cement siding, and brick/brick veneer.

  • Stucco (27%): It’s not hard to understand stucco’s popularity when you consider its energy-efficiency as well as pest- and fire-resistance. That being said, stucco can be expensive to install, and it is susceptible to cracking (thereby requiring maintenance over time).
  • Vinyl Siding (25%): Originally developed as a modern alternative to siding made of aluminum or wood, vinyl siding offers a durable and low-maintenance option. Pricewise, vinyl siding is considered among the most affordable from both a materials and installation standpoint. It can even be a DIY installation for some, which can save money. Especially in areas that see a lot of sunshine, vinyl siding may start to fade or even crack over time.
  • Fiber Cement Siding (21%): A relatively new material innovation, fiber cement siding is engineered to provide a well-rounded material that can mimic other types of siding. It’s made of a mix of materials, including cement, sand, and reinforcing cellulose fibers. While fiber cement siding is a heavier material that can be costly to install (and may require special cutting tools), it offers plenty of benefits. It’s resistant to fire and water, and unlikely to rot, warp, or buckle to the extent of other exterior finishes.
  • Brick or Brick Veneer (20%): Many builders gravitate toward brick or brick veneer for their classic aesthetic appeal. Brick material is durable even in harsh weather and may last as long as 100 years in ideal conditions. That being said, it’s no secret that brick is expensive and labor-intensive to install, and can be difficult to modify once it’s in place.

What Is the Best Type of Exterior Wall Finish?

For many builders and contractors, identifying the “best” exterior wall material for a home means balancing a few key factors: attractiveness, cost, and durability. In most cases, the best material will be the one that not only looks good, but also fits the budget, and will resist premature degradation.

What Is the Cheapest Exterior Wall Covering?

Typically, wood and vinyl siding are considered to be the cheapest exterior finishes. They use highly affordable materials, and their installation and maintenance costs are relatively modest.

What Is the Most Durable Type of Siding for a House?

When installed properly, most external finishing options should provide decent durability. Even within individual categories of siding materials, you can expect some variation in not only durability, but price as well. And while it’s often true that “you get what you pay for,” that’s not always necessarily the case.

In terms of fire- and pest-resistance, insulation value, and overall durability, there are arguments to be made on behalf of stucco, brick, and fiber cement siding. That’s not to say wood and vinyl siding aren’t durable, as with proper installation procedures they should last for years. There is also variation within each of these categories. Composite wood siding, for example, offers a modern and durable alternative to standard wood siding.

High-Quality Wall Systems and Finishing

On its own, no single exterior finishing material is going to be entirely impervious to the elements and last forever. Any question about the best exterior siding option should also include considerations like its installation procedures, costs, and maintenance needs.

ClarkDietrich produces a range of products that empowers builders and contractors to make informed decisions that lead to excellent results. We specialize in metal framing and finishing products for interior and exterior applications and other modern materials and methods including:

Click to learn more about ClarkDietrich and how our innovative products and processes help builders and contractors meet today’s demand for durable and affordable building solutions.