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Stucco or Vinyl Siding? Which One Serves Better as Exterior

stucco versus vynil siding

It is time to finish or replace the home exterior and many homeowners have to face that major decision – “Do we go for stucco or vinyl siding?”

While price is a big factor in making this choice, it is not the only factor. In evaluating stucco vs. vinyl siding, the following trifecta for the optimum choice of home exterior must be considered:

Performance + Cost + Aesthetics

Don’t be overwhelmed by the differing opinions and numerous recommendations. Let’s have a closer look ourselves and see if indeed stucco is better than vinyl siding – or vice-versa. We compare how they stack up against these three all-important factors and our tastes and needs.

Comparing Stucco vs. Vinyl Siding

Aesthetic and Composition Aspects

Stucco is composed of a mix of water plus binder materials like lime, cement, silica, and earth which makes for a durable and dense material. It is applied in layers that are professionally known as “coats.” This results in a seamless finish and can be stained with any color of your preference.

Stucco renders that traditional and classic home look that is appealing to many. However, its surface has a natural tendency to trap dust and dirt. Stains also tend to sink and show in the material. This can be addressed by proper cleaning and care of your stucco exterior. For small defects, this can be remedied by repainting.
Vinyl siding comes in pre-made panels of PVC that can be applied in two ways – as a foam-back insulated siding or as a hollow-back non-insulated exterior. It has evolved to have a multitude of designs.

Vinyl siding has a huge variety of designs from the modern streamlined look to mimicking wood, antique shingle, and even brick. It all depends on the availability of your supplier. Unlike the “mix, stain, slather, and smoothen” process of stucco, vinyl entails detailed matching and measuring. You need to make sure you buy enough vinyl siding panels of your design choice (especially if you choose a hard-to-find pattern) and even buy a few extra pieces more as a contingency for errors and a reserve for future repairs.

It’s hard for vinyl siding to lose its color but if one side of your home is exposed more to the sun, vinyl siding may be prone to fading. The solution to this would be to choose neutral and lighter tones like beiges that don’t lose color drastically over time. Choosing high-quality, color-baked vinyl siding panels will also help eliminate this problem.

Performance and Durability

The exterior of your home is the first line of defense against the elements so your choice of whether to install vinyl siding or stucco must consider local weather conditions. Let’s compare how vinyl fares versus stucco in this area.

Because of its composition, stucco’s composition is more fire-resistant than vinyl siding. This is important if you live in areas prone to forest-fire outbreaks. Stucco provides good insulation from both heat and cold.

For areas with heavy rainfall or high humidity, however, you must be aware that stucco can absorb water and cause mildew and mold to build up. Extreme temperature changes from hot to rainy can make stucco prone to chipping and cracking. Stucco is also quite resistant to heavy wind and hail but big bigger pieces try the stucco’s impact resistance and contribute to stucco being weathered away.

With stucco, you have to remember that not all stucco sidings are made equal. The raw materials that go into the stucco mix may differ from home to home because soil, lime and other binder materials may not come from the same area or supplier. For this reason, many homeowners contract professional stucco installers to make sure that they get the best quality material for their money.

Vinyl siding is very resistant to weather change. For wind-battered areas, the Insulated vinyl siding is particularly hardy since the foam backing offers good impact resistance. Rainwater slides off its surface easily with zero water seepage. The foam insulation back allows the vinyl siding to also serves as a shock absorber so it withstands the pelting of hail and snow. The caveat is that your vinyl siding must be properly installed so there are no gaps that cause seepage or backing damage.

Easy maintenance is also a byword when you have vinyl siding. You will only need to power wash your exteriors once for up to a year. As long as your vinyl siding is properly mounted, it is resistant to cracking, warping, or chipping and can last long.
With vinyl, quality control is not a problem since the manufacturing process is quite straightforward and it is easy to compare between brands when making your final brand and design choices.

The Price Factor

The foremost question that dangles in every homebuilder’s mind – is stucco more expensive than vinyl? Off the bat, it can be said that stucco is costlier than vinyl siding. But it is also noteworthy that the cheapest stucco costs as much as the high-end vinyl siding.

Prices are computed per square foot installed for both stucco and vinyl siding. Costs of stucco can go on an average of $14.50 per sq. ft. installed. With vinyl siding, you can opt for the lower-end, non-insulated ones with a price range of $6.50 to $7.50 per sq. ft. installed OR the higher-end insulated vinyl siding that may be priced at $7.50 to $12.50 per sq. ft. installed.

The price range of vinyl siding allows you to accommodate budget constraints. Always keep in mind future remodeling needs and possible resale value further down the line that might be affected by your choice of exterior now.

Contrary to many who recommended making the home exterior a do-it-yourself project to save money, it might be more economical to hire a professional contractor so everything is adequately sourced and any errors are covered by a contract.

After taking into account performance, aesthetics, and cost, you can now make a better-informed decision on which one is better for your external house cladding – stucco or vinyl siding.

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