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What Is the Most Common Exterior Finish?

Submitted by Jenny Hull on

Modern exterior siding options for homes and commercial real estate buildings are designed to last, without compromising on looks. Some materials are made to replicate the look of natural materials, like wood and stone. But that doesn’t mean they concede durability. The most common exterior finishing materials, like stucco and vinyl, are used across the United States as trusted, environmentally protective sidings. Other types of exterior finishes, like fiber cement siding, are used less frequently but still maintain popularity in different regions across the country. In this blog, we’ll dive into the different types of siding in the United States, and which finishes to consider.

White painted brick wall

What Is the Most Common Type of Exterior Finish?

Stucco (27%), vinyl siding (26%), fiber cement siding (22%), and brick or brick veneer (19%) were the most popular exterior materials for new single-family homes built in 2021, according to statistics from the United States Census Bureau's Survey of Construction (SOC).

Because one of the main purposes of exterior finishes is the protection of the home, different regions prefer alternative finishes. For example, stucco is likely to retain moisture in consistently humid environments when compared to finishes like vinyl. Vice versa, stucco will hold up well in climates with high UV exposure without the risk of mold or degradation. Due to its resistance to fire, low maintenance requirements, inherent resilience to the elements, and minimal environmental impact, modern stucco is still becoming more and more popular.

Beyond any siding’s practical purposes, it is often chosen based on aesthetics—and stucco is a beautiful siding option. Stucco has roots in Greek and Roman culture, which eventually spread across Europe and into the United States. With the emergence of the Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style in the early 20th century, stucco solidified its position in U.S. architecture. Because of this rich history and aesthetic, it’s the most common type of siding for contractors to apply to buildings throughout the U.S.

What Are the 4 Main Types of Siding in the U.S.?

1. Stucco

The mixture of Portland cement, lime, and sand is combined with water to create stucco, which is then layered over the exterior of a structure to create the finish. Components like fiber, acrylic, or epoxy may also be added for even higher strength. With proper installation and regular maintenance, stucco has a long-life span and resists degradation. With ClarkDietrich’s welded wire stucco reinforcement, it can withstand the test of time. Plus, an Easy Embedment System™ will help with installation and keep the stucco more secure.

2. Vinyl

Due to its low cost, adaptability, durability, and simplicity of maintenance, vinyl siding is a common synthetic material for exterior home construction. With a variety of hues and textures, contemporary vinyl may replicate stone, lap siding with a wood-grain, and even shingles. In contrast to many metal or wood siding materials, vinyl doesn't rot or scratch easily. Vinyl siding requires periodic washing, even though it demands little upkeep to keep mildew, dust, and debris away. To avoid siding damage or vulnerability to water intrusion, proper installation is required.

3. Fiber Cement

A durable, low-maintenance material that provides good protection, while preserving some flexibility, is fiber cement siding. It is typically made using Portland cement, sand, and wood pulp. Fiber cement may mimic a wide range of diverse finish types, including stucco, stone, shingles, and others. This siding has a class 1A fire rating, is immune to salt and UV rays, and is resistant to rot and wood-boring insects.

4. Brick or Brick Veneer

One of the oldest materials for building exteriors is brick. Brick or brick veneer refers to a wall that is attached to the outside wood frame as a freestanding structure that doesn’t support the building. It resists fires, deterioration, and deformation brought on by excessively hot or cold temperatures. In addition to being weatherproof, low-maintenance, energy-efficient, and ecologically beneficial, brick is also one of the most durable finishing materials. However, brick does have one significant disadvantage: it is more expensive than the majority of other finishing options.

What Siding Is Most Durable and Low Maintenance?

While stucco is the most common, vinyl siding and engineered wood siding are two of the most resilient exterior siding materials. But engineered wood siding surpasses vinyl when considering important factors like:

  • Insulation
  • Thermal resistance
  • Environmental friendliness
  • Strength
  • Longevity
  • Impact resistance

Temperature can cause engineered wood to expand and contract like many building materials, but it often keeps up better in hot or cold regions than vinyl, which might warp or become brittle.

However, vinyl siding is the easiest to install of all the siding options available, since it includes starter strips, fascia, channels, and outside corners that cover the rough-cut ends of the siding. These components snap together easily during installation. Not to mention, vinyl is typically less expensive to buy and easier to install than engineered wood.

Building Systems for Exterior Finishes

ClarkDietrich is prepared to significantly improve the appearance and functionality of all future construction as the benchmark for the industry. We are a partner that listens to our partners and delivers on any construction project you have in mind, regardless of cost or complexity. For both cold-formed steel framing, and interior and exterior finishing systems, ClarkDietrich supplies a full range of goods and services. We provide cutting-edge materials for your projects. Explore our website today to learn more.