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Question DetailsAsked on 8/15/2014

wood vs vinyl siding

Been in my house 16 years, vinyl siding was on when I bought it. Probably 20 years old. Decided to get gutters and replace existing vinyl siding. When the contractors started pulling siding off, I had fascia and soffit rot. I now have a new roof and am trying to decide if I should go back with vinyl or just wood. I like the pros of vinyl and its the cheaper option but with wood I can at least see when I have a problem. I still would not know had I not decided to change the vinyl. I live in south Louisiana, if that matters. Any opinions?

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5 Answers


OK - fascia and soffit rot has basically nothing to do with siding - those are roof elements, and roof leakage or bad gutter installation would cause those failures.

With modern installation methods, you should have a solid wood surface under any vinyl siding for uniform nailing, with a water barrier (but not waterproofing) under that to divert any water than gets through the siding. With wood plank siding you can risk warping (and sometimes lose the bet) by skipping the underlayment, but it is not a good idea. Of course, wood sheet siding is a solid wood surface and siding in one, so the water barrier (housewrap in that case) goes under the wood panels - T1-11 or whatever you use.

With any exterior finish system other than glass you cannot see what is going on under it (except by looking for leaks with a thermal IR camera), so the key is water resistance in the first place. In a pretty rainy, wind-driven rain area like the Gulf Coast, especially with hurricanes and the number of tropical and thunder storms you get, I would not like vinyl siding - course, I don't like it in any other environment either when you come right down to it.

However, with wood you will have serious issues with keeping wood protected - every couple of years at least for recoating, especially if you go with paint rather than an ultraviolet-protective stain/sealer.

My overall preference for residential sidings (where sheet metal is not popular because of looks) tends to panel siding like T1-11 and batten-and-board with vertical boards - if done correctly, with rain stopper grooves near at the edges of the boards to keep water from getting into the gap between boards, and of course water resistant barrier underneath still in either case.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


In the South I would not put wood up because of the insects and the moisture. If the wood under the siding is in good shape, the house should be wrapped in a vapor barrier (ie; Tyvek) like barrier. This is designed to let moisture out, but stop it from coming in. Then I would go with a foam backed Vinyl siding. There are a few good foam backed products available. Some of them even add an insecticide to the foam to eliminate that problem also. Many of the foam backed products have all the positives of no maintenance, and durability and have vapor channels in the back so moisture can escape. But also will add to the energy efficiency of the building also.

Answered 5 years ago by ExteriorUpgrader


A note on ExteriorUpgrader's comment - he said a "vapor barrier" under the siding like tyvek. he may know the difference and said vapor barrier when he means water barrier, but most people (and many, many contractors) do not understand the difference between a vapor barrier (typically a 4-8 mil polyethylene sheeting) and a water-barrier housewrap or roof underlayment, which is a water-shedding material but allows water vapor transmission and evaporation. A significant portion of the problem is DuPont's fault, as they call several different vapor barrier and housewrap and roofwrap products by the Tyvek tradename, so people tend to use them interchangeably.

In most homes, the vapor barrier goes over the interior face of the studs, right under the drywall - though in some very wet climate areas it goes on the outside just under the siding. With inside-face vapor barrier you then need, with most sidings and certainly all plank type, a housewrap under the outside siding which lets moisture escape from the wall to the warmer, ventilated outside face of the wall, but if actual liquid water penetrates the siding, it runs down over the housewrap and exists at the bottom of the wall on the outside of the foundation. Not the ideal solution (which is a siding that is actually waterproof) but better then water in the walls.

The key is NEVER have two vapor barriers in a wall, because you will get condensation inside the wall between the barriers under certain conditions, with the risk of eventual mildew and mold and eventually rot if there is enough water.

In your locale, certainly vinyl or aluminum siding would avoid the humid climate rot issues with wood sheet siding products, but the plank products are far more prone to hurricane damage, and vinyl will rapidly age in the high sunlight conditions. As for the comment about vinyl or metal siding being maintenance free - there are a slug of AL members as well as I who would gladly take exception to that claim. To my way of thinking, if I was building in your area I would probably go with an oil-based painted copper napthalate treated wood siding like T-111 with flexible rubber gasketed balks or slats over the joints, or a very rot-resistant vertical plank siding like heart western cedar or redwood or cypress, to reduce the damage in hurricanes. Having seen my share of aluminum and vinyl siding ripped off by storms, you would catch me putting them on in your next of the woods.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


Thanks guys

Answered 5 years ago by Guest_9723408


this is an example of the type of wrap I was discussing below

Tri-BuiLT Building Wrap H/C is a strong, durable woven polyolefin fabric with a micro-perforated coating that helps control the transfer of water-vapor and reduces air infiltration. Tri-BuiLT Building Wrap H/C is a critical component in

protecting the building envelope by controlling air movement and the transfer of moisture, creating a healthier and more energy-efficient structure. The engineered woven fabric construction of Tri-BuiLT Building Wrap H/C provides

exceptional strength, durability and lightweight handling at an attractive price point.

Tri-BuiLT Building Wrap H/C protects against moisture and controls air infiltration behind all types of exterior siding including wood, composite panels, vinyl, stucco, brick, stone, masonry, metal and insulated sheathings. Long-term, 300 day, uV stability and durable woven fabric protects the building envelope during construction.


Answered 5 years ago by ExteriorUpgrader

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