If you are considering new siding for your home, one question you may be asking is, “What’s in the future for siding products?” As a homeowner you’re probably looking for a balance between what has already been tried and tested and what is cutting edge. Most people want the best for their home–meaning they want what’s going to add (not subtract) value, they want a product that looks great, they want something that’s lower maintenance than what they currently have, and all of this at a reasonable cost. If this is what most homeowners want, then why can’t we just suggest a siding product with one blanket recommendation? The reason is that homeowners have varying expectations for what looks good, what performs well, what is low maintenance, and what is a reasonable investment. Couple those factors with powerful marketing messages from product manufacturers and you have quite an evaluation on your hands. So let me take a stab at where I think the siding industry is headed.
The future of vinyl siding
At least for the foreseeable future, I believe there will always be some demand for vinyl siding. Although the formulation, appearance, and manufacturing process for vinyl siding has not changed much in 30 years, I believe the product will continue selling for at least a couple decades. The reason is simple–it’s inexpensive! Not many homeowners would argue that vinyl siding is very realistic looking, but for the most part, it solves a problem. Some contractors love it because it’s easy to install and has wider tolerances and installation flexibility than any other product. Distributors love it because it’s easy to ship and lightweight to deliver. For those reasons I think you’ll see vinyl siding being installed in your neighborhood for some time to come, but is it right for you?
Is fiber cement on a bubble?
Fiber cement siding has gained significant market share in the past 10 years. The largest manufacturer is extremely aggressive with advertising, expanding product lines, and in dealing with the supply chain all the way down to local installers. There are certainly a lot of things they do extremely well. Fiber cement has filled the gap in regions where Masonite and other wood particle siding products used to dominate. It appears that in drier climates fiber cement holds up reasonably well, but in colder and moister climates the product is proving to be less reliable than originally expected. Does this mean fiber cement is done for? On one hand I see how quickly product reputations can (and should) spread given the ease in which we receive and share information via the Internet. One might imagine that if there really is an increasing amount of problems with fiber cement on houses then homeowners will begin to shout about it a little louder. On the other hand, existing or maybe new manufacturers may decide to further develop the product and find ways to remove the moisture absorbing cellulose (wood particles), which always seems to be the problem with siding ( history repeats itself).
Synthetics and non-wood composites
Non-wood composites and synthetic products are where I personally forecast the most growth in the siding industry. There’s a lot of chatter in the siding world about synthetics such as fiberglass, or non-wood composite. Although some of these products are less than 10 years old, usually what they are made of is not. Can we determine how well an aggregate product will hold up by how well its individual parts perform? It’s hard to say, but knowing that the industry and homeowners have repeatedly accepted “new” products (that are really just re-branded versions of old products), I think new generation composite sidings will get a shot to prove themselves. And it’s my opinion that the best of these products will put a noticeable dent in the market dominated by vinyl and fiber cement.