Best Siding for Cold Climates
During a harsh winter, exterior siding has to handle cold temperatures below zero degrees. The evolution of siding has taught homeowners that certain materials, like wood, vinyl, and aluminum siding, do not handle freeze and thaw as well as steel, fiber cement, brick, and stone. Moisture absorbs into weaker materials during the thaw, and when it refreezes, the siding cracks. During thaw-to-hotter-temperature cycles, the siding expands, causing the siding to warp and lose its shape, which not only chips paint, but creates gaps for water that invite mold and mildew.
We chose the 5 best sidings for cold climates based on:
- the siding's ROI -- on resale value
- siding costs
- energy efficiency
- insect resistance
- fire resistance
- rust and corrosion resistance
- moisture resistance
- its environmental friendliness
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) studied several siding materials and reported how much energy each type of siding loses. The R-Value of a material is its resistance to airflow, which is vital in cold wintery climates.
In this article, we have recommended the 5 best sidings for cold climates with pros and cons.
#1. Steel SidingSteel siding is our #1 choice for cold climates. It does not have the cracking, denting, dinging, warping, and swelling issues that other sidings face. It is the longest-lasting (up to 50 years) siding material available and, in fact, ideal for all weather conditions. It comes in two materials, galvanized steel siding and stainless-steel siding, and often has a protected surface, e.g., protective zinc, to protect against rust, corrosion, and other harms.
Pros of Steel Siding
- Relatively high R-Value at .41 to .61 when you choose an Energy Star-rated finish that shields your interior from extreme temperatures, and it increases to 1.82 with insulation.
- Easy to insulate as it will not warp or bulge as insulation moves within the walls of your home's structure.
- Maintains its structural integrity in freeze and thaw cycles versus other material that absorbs water during a thaw, freezes again, and causes cracks, chipped paint, and mold.
- Resistant to dents and dings from hail and flying debris during wind storms and even withstands some fires because it has the strength of galvanized steel.
- It does not rust; galvanized steel siding has a layer of protective zinc on its surface that prevents corrosion and rust.
- Teflon-coated steel siding is scratch and stain-resistant and repels oil and water.
- Termite and insect resistant.
- It does not melt from the glare off a neighbor's new UV windows, which often melts vinyl siding.
- It is resistant to fire.
- Steel siding is non-porous, and therefore it does not absorb moisture or crack. It also will not freeze solid as vinyl can.
Easy to clean and maintain
- Steel siding lasts for up to 50 years and typically comes with a 50-year warranty.
- It comes with flat or shiny surfaces and numerous patterns, including embossed woodgrain patterns that resemble real wood siding in many colors using modern retention technologies that often provide 35-year color fade warranties.
- Steel siding has an 86% ROI and up to 95% on the East Coast.
Green and environmentally friendly
- Many manufactures use recycled materials, and the steel siding you buy is typically 100% recyclable; it leaches no gases or pollutants into the environment.
Cons of Steel Siding
- Mold or mildew may grow on steel siding in shady areas and wet climates.
- $4 - $12.50 installed, and adding insulation increases the cost by roughly $1.00 per foot.
- You should not repaint steel siding during its warranty if you prefer another color because it comes with baked-on enamel paint that is under warranty.
- Dents are permanent, although rare, so you cannot pop them out; instead, you will have to replace that section.
- Galvanized steel siding corrodes near saltwater and salted ice and snow.
- Stainless steel siding corrodes near pools from the chlorine.
Steel siding can have noise issues during heavy rain and hail storms.
Steel Siding for Other Climates
Steel siding is an excellent siding choice for any climate, anywhere in the United States, except anywhere near salt water, e.g., beach towns, and very wet environments.
Keep your steel siding clean with periodic water hose washings to keep it looking new.
#2. Fiber Cement Siding
Fiber cement siding is a close second to steel siding. We rated it #2 because it is harder to install than steel siding, less energy efficient compared to steel siding, and cracks easier than steel siding, which can cause moisture damage. However, it is still one of the best siding materials for cold climates and outranks wood, aluminum, brick, and stone.
Fiber cement siding is a mix of cement, clay, wood fiber, and sand. It is sturdy and durable, molded into many different styles and textures to mimic brick, clapboard, and shingles. Textures imitate wood grain, masonry brick, and stone patterns, and you can get planks with no texture that gives a sleek, modern appearance.
Since the main ingredient is cement, fiber cement siding performs as well as masonry, with roughly the same upkeep.
It is rot and fire-resistant and termite-proof, as well. Fiber cement planks do not warp or crack in extreme temperatures.
Roughly 15% of new homes in the U.S. use fiber cement.
Pros of Fiber Cement Siding
Low maintenance and easy to clean
- The paint on pre-painted fiber cement siding lasts 15 years and typically comes with a 15-year peeling, cracking, and chipping paint warranty.
- Fiber siding generally lasts 30-50 years.
- Resists thermal expansion, so caulking lasts much longer versus metal siding.
- Many manufacturers include a lifetime warranty.
- It does not rust or corrode, so you are free to use it near the ocean and salty snow and ice.
- Resistant to dings and cracks from wear and tear.
- It does not split or crack from cold weather freeze and thaw.
- Resists UV rays, insects, and rotting.
- It does not absorb moisture.
- It is fire resistant -- many insurance companies offer fire insurance discounts.
- 84% ROI
Cons of Fiber Cement Siding
- $6 to $11, installed, although it is a fraction of the cost of cedar siding.
- Needs repainting at least every 15 years -- or earlier if you did not buy it pre-painted.
- Regular caulking may be needed to seal out moisture and maintain the warranty and your siding contractors must follow proper caulking and installation procedures to keep moisture out and ensure your warranty is not invalidated.
- A Home Innovations Research Labs study concluded that fiber cement siding retained less moisture than stucco and manufactured stone, but performed worse than brick, insulated and non-insulated vinyl siding and it is highly prone to moisture with improper installation.
- Mold or mildew may grow on it but is easy to clean.
Difficult to install
- It contains crystalline silica, a human carcinogen. During installation, the silica can lead to silicosis, lung cancer, and COPD. Special saw blades, respirators, and ventilation will help. It is heavy and brittle; a single plank can weigh 300lbs, so installers must have two or more workers installing together, and they must be precise and careful.
Not energy efficient
- Fiber siding is a cementitious material; according to various studies, fiber cement siding's R-Value is .15 to .5.
Fiber Cement Siding for Other Climates
Fiber cement siding is the best siding for coastal homes because it will not rust or corrode from saltwater, and it works well virtually anywhere and in any climate.
Check it for cracks and moisture seepage around seams periodically.
#3. Brick and Stone Siding
This home features fiber cement siding, stone siding, and black metal siding.
Brick and stone siding ranks #3 and is a strong contender in cold climates. It gives the home reinforcements when it comes to durability and provides excellent insulation.
Brick siding comes from a manufacturing plant, while stone siding comes from a quarry.
Pros of Brick and Stone Siding
- It does not attract insects and is termite-proof.
- Resistant to insects, fire, and rot.
- Ultraviolet rays will not damage the brick siding.
- High winds and sea salt will not damage the brick siding.
Your home stays cooler in the summertime and warmer in the winter.
- Ranks at 92%.
No noise issues
Cons of Brick and Stone Siding
- It is not moist resistant.
- Possibly will develop mildew, algae, or moss in shaded areas.
- Must be checked in the springtime for cracks after the winter freeze and thaw.
- Stone is one of the most expensive siding materials.
Not energy efficient unless it is insulated.
- The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), surprisingly, found brick siding has an R-Value of .11, just behind cement fiber siding. The R-value for natural stone and brick ranges from .01 to .41 depending on the type of stone.
Brick and Stone Siding for Other Climates
Brick and stone siding are excellent choices for any climate.
#4. Aluminum Siding
Aluminum siding does not crack during the freeze and thaw cycle, making it a good siding option if you need something inexpensive.
Pros of Aluminum Siding
- It endures most weather situations.
- Will not rust.
- It handles the freeze and thaw cycle well.
- Will not crack.
- It keeps its shape.
- It is lightweight and easy for DIY installation.
- $5 to $9 per sq ft installed, but up to $12.50 for designer brands.
- .61 and 1.82 with insulation.
- 86% Return On Investment.
Cons of Aluminum Siding
- The finish will fade over time in ultraviolet rays.
- Hail or other objects hitting the aluminum siding will cause dents.
Aluminum Siding for Other Climates
Aluminum siding is okay in other climates, not prone to high winds. You will get dents if it gets hit directly from hail and debris from coastal hurricanes, hail storms, or tornados in tornado alley down the middle of the U.S.
#5. Wood Siding
Along with brick and stone siding, the wood siding makes a home look authentic. Updating with exterior paint is its drawback. Without maintenance, it has more cons than pros. If the wood siding is well maintained, it is still a reasonable choice for cold climates.
Natural wood siding for residential homes typically uses these types of trees (grains): oak, pine, spruce, cedar, cypress, and redwood.
Pros of Wood Siding
- It comes in shingles or planks, and it makes the home look beautiful.
- It insulates the house in hot and cold weather.
- Excellent R-Value ranging from .8 – 1.25 depending on the softness of the wood.
Cons of Wood Siding
- Wood siding is porous and holds moisture leading to mold and deterioration.
- The freeze and thaw cycle will cause cracks and paint chipping.
- If not kept up with, it will rot after a harsh winter.
- Difficult to clean.
- It needs frequent maintenance.
- The ROI of natural wood siding is 77%, which is among the lowest ROIs of all siding options.
Wood Siding for Other Climates
If kept up, wood siding is ideal anywhere. It does, however, demand a lot of maintenance in cold, wet climates to retain its aesthetics and functional durability.
Insurance Claim Tips for Damaged Siding
Insurance companies can be specific when it comes to claims, especially when claims relate to you protecting your home. Steel siding, brick, stone siding, or fiber cement siding will be more costly to repair or replace. When the cost to repair siding is high, insurance companies to dish out more money to replace it. Wood and vinyl siding are not as expensive.
It is critical to remember if the siding gets damaged due to wear and tear, insurance companies will frown upon homeowner's neglect and not pay to replace it.
Also, keep a photo album with a logbook containing records and receipts to prove you maintained your siding, and photos will show its condition before an incident. A separate picture of the damages is also necessary for comparison and analysis.
Siding Maintenance is Key
To get insurance to cover your siding replacement costs, you must have records for everything, and you must regularly maintain your siding. Maintenance and upkeep on your siding is a must no matter what type of siding you have.
Siding to Avoid in Cold Climates
Out of all the sidings, vinyl is the worst siding to use in cold climates. Anything made with plastic will not last; its price is lower for this reason. Imitation stone and brick are siding options to avoid due to the lack of durability in the freeze and thaw cycle. Finally, we suggest avoiding engineered composite wood siding because it is not as durable as real wood siding and is even more porous than the regular wood.
At your service,