Engineered Wood Siding vs Natural Wood Siding

Typical Cost To Install Wood / Cedar Siding Average: $10,779 - $15,654
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Wood siding has always been a desirable choice for homeowners. However, high costs of wood siding as well as the need for routine maintenance cause many homeowners to look for alternative siding materials that offer the look of wood, but without the price tag and the hassle.

Enter engineered wood siding, which boasts an authentic wood look along with many other advantages.

Lets take a close look at these two siding materials and compare their costs, as well as pros and cons.

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Wood Siding – Quick Overview

Real wood siding is the original form of siding and it maintains great popularity and appeal as an exterior siding for both modern and traditional style homes.

Wood siding comes in a variety of species, from pine to spruce, fir, cedar, cypress and redwood, to name a few.

Did you know? While wood is considered an environmentally-friendly siding material, the stains and paints that are used to protect and finish it are not.

How Much Does Wood Siding Cost?

Average Costs For:
Most Homeowners Spent Between: Most People Spent: $9,780 - $12,140
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Pine is the most economical of all woods and is often used for budget siding replacement projects.

However, most homeowners interested in natural wood siding, prefer the look and quality of Cedar wood siding

Engineered Wood Siding – Quick Overview

LP Smartside also known as Smart Siding is the most popular type of engineered wood siding.

Just like engineered wood is becoming a common and attractive alternative to natural wood flooring in homes, so, too, is engineered wood for siding of homes.

Engineered wood siding is designed to give you a similar aesthetic to natural wood. Because it’s man-made, its formulated to counteract the downsides of wood siding.

Mainly, engineered wood siding is meant to eliminate the flaws of natural wood, reduce the deterioration of the product, and be more cost effective to maintain over time.

Did you know? Engineered wood siding consists of between three and 12 layers of what’s known as ply. The top layer is made of real hardwood. The layers of ply are layered in a cross pattern, then glued together so that a strong bond is formed.

Cost Of Engineered Wood Siding vs Wood Siding

The cost of any siding depends on a number of factors, including the location of your home, square footage, the difficulty of the job, the materials you choose, and siding contractor labor rates in your area.

Generally speaking, engineered wood siding is more cost-efficient than natural wood siding.

Engineered wood siding, such as, LP Smartside, costs between $8 and $12 per square foot. Natural wood, by contrast, can cost anywhere from $10 to $14 per square foot. Those prices typically include the material and labor required for full installation of new siding.

That $2 per-square-foot difference might not sound like a lot, but it can add up quickly when you are factoring in the size of your home.

If your home has 1,500 square feet of exterior that needs siding, then that wood siding would cost roughly $3,000 more than LP Smartside engineered wood siding.

Using that home as a measuring stick, LP engineered wood siding costs $12,000 to $18,000 fully installed. Real wood siding on this project costs anywhere from $15,000 to $21,000.

Cost of Wood Siding Alternatives

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Engineered wood isn’t the only option for a wood siding alternative. Another very popular option is fiber cement siding, such as James Hardie Siding.

Hardie siding is similarly priced to LP Smartside. The average per-square-foot price of the HardiePlank is approximately $1 more than LP Smartside. That means that the total cost of materials and installation could cost roughly $1,500 more for that same 1,500 square-foot home.

James Hardie Siding is composed of wood pulp and other materials. It will give you the look and feel of LP Smartside engineered wood siding, as well as the different options for how you can install it.

Many homeowners who decide to stay away from wood siding as well vinyl siding, end up debating between installing LP SmartSide vs HardiePlank.

The two are very similar in terms of cost, variety of styles and colors, as well as durability and warranty. So the choice often comes down to personal preference, as well as how well the siding fairs in the climate where you live.

Pros Of Engineered Wood Siding

There are a lot of benefits that engineered wood siding provides over wood siding.

First and foremost, engineered wood is very versatile. For example, you can customize your LP Smartside siding in a number of ways, from how you hang it to what colors you choose.

The product is developed in a number of textures as well to mimic cedar and smoother textures, for example. It comes in lap siding, shakes, and panel and vertical siding. They also offer trim, fascia and soffits to options to match.

LP Smartside is also an extremely durable product. Unlike wood, it is manufactured so it doesn’t crack, split or warp. The way it’s made also helps avoid wood knots.

Because of the materials that are used on the outer layers of the siding, it is resistant to mildew, mold and decay as well as infestation by insects such as termites. Woodpeckers and other animals aren’t as attracted to it as natural wood siding as well.

This ability to withstand the weather is one of the biggest benefits of LP Smartside engineered wood siding.

From a financial perspective, LP Smartside has a number of benefits as well. First, there is the cheaper upfront cost for the materials and labor to install the product. Again, it can cost roughly $3,000 less than natural wood siding for a typical 1,500 square-foot home.

There is also the fact that LP Smartside engineered wood siding requires much less maintenance than natural wood siding. Because it is an engineered product, and includes protective treatments, you won’t need to inspect the health of your siding as much.

Because your siding won’t be as susceptible to damage from weather and animals, you also won’t be forced to spend money on costly ongoing repairs. Finally, you won’t need to re-stain or re-paint your LP Smartside engineered wood siding as you would with natural wood siding.

Pro tip: You should still inspect your engineered wood siding once a year. You shouldn’t use a pressure washer to clean it. All that’s required is a cloth, soft brush or sponge to apply mild detergent and water.

Cons Of Engineered Wood Siding

There are some downsides to engineered wood siding, but not many. Some people desire the imperfections of real wood, as that is what gives the siding its authentic and rustic look. For these people, engineered wood siding may seem too perfect in appearance.

To notice these differences, though, you would really have to inspect the siding closely, and be able to compare it to wood siding.

There are still some general negative thoughts about engineered wood siding because of early versions of the product. These versions had serious problems with moisture, which initially gave engineered wood siding a bad name.

However, those concerns have been addressed by today’s top companies, including LP Smartside.

Some homeowners may not favor engineered wood siding for the simple fact that they haven’t been on the market for as long as wood siding. This lack of long-term knowledge about the product, and ability to see how it performs over time could be a deterrent to some.

Pros Of Natural Wood Siding

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There are many advantages to choosing natural wood for the siding of your home. One of the main pros is that it has the natural look that many homeowners desire. Because wood can be painted or stained, you also have a nearly unlimited number of choices for how the exterior of your home looks.

Along those same lines, a big pro of natural wood siding is that it comes in a variety of different styles. This includes lap, shake, board and batten, bevel, shingle, and tongue and groove.

These different options mean that your home can have a completely different look than someone else’s, even if you’re using the exact same product and color.

Speaking of choices, wood siding is not just one product. There are a variety of different species of wood that you can choose, and each has a slightly different look. Spruce, pine, fir, cedar, cypress and redwood are just a few of the options you’ll have for wood signing.

Wood siding is also considered luxurious. While it is one of the oldest types of exterior home siding, it is only recently starting to make its way back into a popular choice for homeowners.

Vinyl, stucco and other products seemed to take over the siding market in the 1980s and 1990s.

From a practical standpoint, wood siding is considered environmentally-friendly. It’s naturally occurring, so it doesn’t include any artificial materials or require any man-made products.

Wood siding is also very durable. If you maintain it properly, natural wood siding can last for quite a few years.

Did You Know? Certain stains and sealer can bring to the surface all the beautiful highlights of the grain in wood siding.

Average Costs For:
Most Homeowners Spent Between: Most People Spent: $6,326 - $7,645
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Cons Of Wood Siding

Natural wood siding isn’t perfect. One of the main downsides to it is that it is very susceptible to damage — from a number of sources.

Termites are attracted to wood, and if there is an infestation, it can cause serious damage to your home. That’s why termite inspections are often considered a standard part of the home-buying process.

While it can be very expensive to complete a preventative treatment for termites, it’s much cheaper than having to fix termite damage later.

In addition to termites, other animals such as woodpeckers can cause damage to natural wood siding. If any animal causes damage to the wood siding — such as a crack or rotten area — it needs to be replaced immediately.

Water can easily get in behind any hole or imperfection in natural wood siding, which if untreated can cause major damage to the home. Mold can easily grow behind natural wood siding, and water can also seep into the home and cause major interior damage.

The tough part about this type of damage is that it’s next to impossible to prevent, and it’s also hard to spot when there is damage. It requires a meticulous inspection of natural wood siding from the homeowner on a consistent basis.

Not surprisingly, wood siding isn’t good at reducing the spread of fire flames. Certain natural wood siding can be treated with fire-resistant materials, though. Just be aware that your homeowners’ insurance may be more expensive with natural wood siding because of this.

Finally, wood siding requires a lot of maintenance. In addition to needing constant inspection to search for holes or cracks, it will take consistent cleaning to prevent discoloration and water damage.

Depending on the species of wood you choose, you may need to re-stain it every two to three years to prevent damage from moisture. If you go the paint route, you may need to re-apply paint every five years.

Pro Tip: Make inspecting your wood siding a semi-annual occurrence. You should take a walk around your home to look at the condition of the siding in the spring and in the fall every year, and address minor problems before they become major ones.

Which House Siding Has The Best ROI?

You may not think of siding as an investment, but the fact of the matter is that it is just that. New siding is one area of home improvement that can increase the value of your home.

The return on investment (or ROI) determines what you’re likely to get back, on average, from the improvement you make. For siding, the ROI varies for the different products available.

Typical ROI for James Hardie Siding is between 83% and 86%. LP engineered wood siding has an ROI of 82% to 87%. The average ROI of natural wood siding, meanwhile, is actually a lot lower, at 77%.

Final Verdict

There are many factors to consider when you’re weighing a decision between installing engineered wood siding, such as LP Smartside, vs real cedar shingle or shake siding.

If you are interested in doing as little ongoing maintenance as possible, than its a no brainer to go for engineered wood.

Lower overall cost of engineered wood siding compared to real wood is also an attractive point for homeowners on a budget.

However, if the unique curb appeal of real wood siding is your top priority, and you don’t mind spending extra money on it, that wood siding is the right choice for you.

Average Costs For:
Most Homeowners Spent Between: Most People Spent: $6,326 - $7,645
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High End

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About Leo B

Leo has been a contractor since 2003, specializing in: roofing, siding, general contracting (GC) and residential remodeling. Leo is also a Certified HVAC, Oil & Gas Heating Technician/Installer. In addition to roofing and remodeling, Leo is passionate about Solar, green building and energy conservation, so a lot of my time and energy goes to installing energy efficient heating and cooling systems.

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