Siding is a critical part of the exterior of your home. When properly maintained it will provide years of protection from the elements. All sidings are intended to serve the same purpose; to repel the elements and protect the house and it occupants.
Siding comes in multiple forms. These are most of the most common types of siding, their strengths and weaknesses.
Wood siding is probably the oldest and most renewalable form of siding. Because it is a natural product it requires a little more maintenance than stucco or vinyl products, but if natural beauty is what you are looking for, the extra work is worth it. Wood is a natural siding that is beautiful and when it is properly maintained, it will last a lifetime. Wood can be stained or painted. Staining requires a little more maintenance than painting because the stain needs to be reapplied every 3 to 5 years whereas paint will last 10 to 20 years. The quality of paint or stain as well as the local climate will determine the number of years between coats of paint or stain.
Vinyl siding is popular because of its durability, clean look, inexpensiveness and it is easy to install. It will never rot or split like wood, and the finish will not peel off because it is not painted. The color is solid thru the siding which means it should never need be painted. And best of all because it is plastic it bounces back when it gets hit by a stray baseball.
Metal siding comes in the same styles and colors as vinyl. The difference is that it is made out of metal so it is more rigid. Because it is stronger it has a better chance of resisting super severe winds like hurricanes, but it also can be dented. The extra rigidness also tends to make it look a little more like wood siding. The coatings used to put the color on metal siding are very durable.
Stucco siding systems come in three forms: synthetic, cement and a mix of cement and synthetic. Cement based stucco is typically used in warm and drier climates because cement retains water and cracks in cooler climates.
Synthetic stucco systems are often used in cooler and wetter climates because they repel water better. This tendancy to form a tighter watrte seal is the reason some synthetic stucco systems have problems with holding water between the wall and the stucco, effectively rotting the wall from the outside in. Check with your local building department for information on approved stucco systems in your area.
Since the early nineties synthetic stucco systems have been used in colder climates because they do not absorb water. This has caused problems in the past because the stucco is very water proof and if water gets behind synthetic stucco and the stucco has been improperly applied then the the moisture cannot escape. When this happens the exterior of the home can become very damaged by mold and rot.
Newer stucco systems have an acrylic top coat that has the color mixed into the stucco. The acrylic coat has the finished color mixed into it before it is applied. It is not meant to be painted. Paint can be applied over the stucco but remember, once you paint something you will need to repaint it again someday.