The Difference Between Vinyl and Steel Siding

In addition to style and color, one of the most important choices when siding a home is the siding material. When you weigh the merits of vinyl siding and steel siding, it helps to look at the differences based on a few characteristics.

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Modern Building Materials

Overall, the differences in quality between steel and vinyl siding are both subtle and not-so-subtle. Premium steel siding, provides a long-lasting, attractive solution available in many beautiful styles and colors. Modern steel siding adaptation of traditional wood shiplap and vertical board and batten have a performance unlike other products. The materials cost more, but its install— went quickly, creating an opportunity to save on labor compared to other materials like fiber cement board.

Consider Your Investment Over Time

When you choose siding for your forever home, second home or garage building, don’t rush or assume one type is best. It’s an expensive investment that can run up to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the material and its installation cost and maintenance cost over time.

The siding you choose should meet your needs and priorities, not just in appearance and cost, but also performance and maintenance. Choose well, and your design will blend with its surroundings, maintain its architectural integrity and be protected from all that nature throws its way.

realistic woodgrain look

Appearance

While steel simulates the look of wood siding, vinyl siding generally detracts from a home’s curb appeal with the unnatural, plastic appearance of its overlapping seams and imitation wood grain. Over time, steel maintains its attractive appearance and color, while plastic siding expands and contracts due to temperature fluctuations, causing the vinyl to crack and chip.

Building heathier homes

Material Safety

Steel’s reputation as a “clean” material is evident from its use everywhere from commercial kitchens to surgical applications. Vinyl, on the other hand, is manufactured primarily from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a toxic chemical containing plastic. Dioxin, which is a cumulative toxin, is created from the manufacture and incineration of PVC. In addition to dioxin and chloride, PVC often contains lead, mercury, and various hormone disruptors.

dark color choices available

Fading

Vinyl siding colors exhibit sun fading over time, limiting options with dark color choices. While well-crafted steel siding like TruCedar and Vesta Steel Siding exhibits excellent fade resistance. Unlike evaporative paint systems, Quality Edge steel siding feature Kynar paint, a thermally set interlock paint system that provides a harder, more durable and extremely fade resistant surface. When homeowners attempt to paint over faded vinyl, eventually the result will be cracked and peeling paint.

Vinyl in landfills

Disposal

Steel is among the most recycled materials on the planet at the end of its service, and it can be recycled over and over. Currently there are no recycling programs for vinyl siding. Vinyl siding ends its lifecycle in a landfill, where it slowly degrades, releasing dioxins and other toxins to the soil and groundwater.

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A lifetime of value

Durability

Few siding materials can match the exceptionally long life of steel siding. Vinyl, which can warp from heat, is also susceptible to cracks and breaks from impacts of hail, baseballs, and rocks thrown by lawnmowers. Due to the vinyl’s tendency to expand and contract, even the most expensive siding will buckle and warp if not installed correctly. Many contractors install vinyl over existing siding. However, vinyl siding is not watertight, so if the siding underneath is subject to constant wetting and inability to dry out fully, that can worsen existing problems.

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Fire Resistance with Steel

Flammability

Steel offers exceptional fire resistance. With vinyl, on the other hand, the plastic will warp and melt if enough heat or flame is applied. When vinyl burns, it emits dioxin and chlorine gas, and other chemicals. In many unfortunate incidents, when a home burns, the occupants have suffered asphyxiation from PVC fumes before the fire even reached them. Another fairly common issue is that vinyl siding can be melted or warped by a neighbor’s window, a situation that is often specifically excluded from the manufacturer’s warranty.

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Siding vs. Weed Wacker

Learn how a weed wacker can impact TruCedar Steel Siding, fiber cement siding and vinyl siding.

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Cold Impact Test

Siding vs. Baseball

View an experiment comparing a high speed cold impact test on TruCedar Steel Siding, fiber cement siding and vinyl siding.

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Siding vs. Fire Test

Learn about the impacts of fire on TruCedar Steel Siding, fiber cement siding and vinyl siding and their resistance to flames.

About the author

Quality Edge

Quality Edge is one of America’s largest metal roofing accessories and exterior building products manufacturers. With facilities across the country, QE is able to provide an unmatched selection of color, innovation and high-quality products. Our products are favored by builders, contractors, distributors and homeowners throughout North America for residential and commercial projects.

Tags

  • Siding,
  • Healthy Home,
  • Home Renovation,
  • Color

Products Featured

  • Steel Siding,
  • TruCedar Steel Siding,
  • TruCedar Shake Sidewall,
  • Vesta Steel Siding