There’s a (relatively) new sheriff in the composite siding market, known as cellular polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It closely resembles natural wood, both in how it is cut and shaped, yet overcomes the primary disadvantages of the natural product. PVC as a construction material has been used for nearly a half century. Whereas cellular PVC is still in its first decade of residential use as a siding material.
While wood is its most obvious competitor, there is more than one product that many consider in the category of composite siding. Essentially, any siding that seeks to mimic wood fits here. That includes cellular PVC, engineered wood, cement board and even vinyl. The last three have their own niche in the market and fairly established brands.
Top manufacturers of cellular PVC include: CertainTeed (trim), Royal Building Product’s Celect line, and NuCedar. As this short list shows, whatever wood does for home siding, cellular PVC can do. This includes, lapboard, vertical boards, cedar shingles immigration, trim, etc.
Pricing Information – Part 1
NuCedar notes the cost as more expensive than fiber cement, and slightly less than red cedar. Thus, expect to pay in the range of $10.00 to $13.00 per sq. ft. of composite wood siding installed. This, in turn, would translate to roughly $23,000 to $30,000 for a typical two bedroom home. Note: When it comes to pricing cellular PVC siding, it is not so easy to do. None of the manufacturers above convey such information in specific terms. This is perhaps due to the variation in application or desire to avoid sticker shock.
Cost Info - Part 2
While clearly lacking specifics, let’s ballpark what an actual siding job entails and break the above costs down for cellular PVC siding. This is what you might see on an estimate from a professional contractor. Please note: these are estimates based on the national average information. Our section below will convey additional cost considerations that impact pricing.
Cellular PVC Shingles: 2,000 sq.ft. x $12.50 = $25,000 (includes labor)
Removal of previous siding: $1,600
Garbage Rental / Disposal Charge: $900
House Wrap: $250
Additional Building Materials: (i.e. trim board, galvanized nails, corners) = $2,300
Building Permit: $250
Total Project Cost = $30,300
While this total is above our earlier range, there are always several factors that impact costs. Items such as additional building materials, house wrap and building permit are line items that have little wiggle room. Removal and disposal of previous siding is an optional item that if subtracted from our hypothetical project would keep the costs within the average range.
Factors Impacting Overall Costs
Professional installation is the most significant factor impacting cost. One of the many benefits of cellular PVC is that it is a lot like wood in how it is applied. Yet, both Celect and NuCedar boast an interlocking joint system, that is virtually seamless and requires no caulking. -- This, in some way, makes it one of the cleanest siding systems to install.
What About Going the DIY Route to Save on Labor?
Like most premium siding brands manufacturers and suppliers, the makers of composite siding have contractors they work with directly, who have access to best pricing for materials and sufficient experience with the product installation. Going the DIY route may be an option if you can find a way to buy the materials, but you’ll probably see more benefit, and warrantied service, if going with a certified contractor.
Styles and Profiles -- The Cost of Materials
Style of the material is probably the next important factor for pricing. With traditional siding, shake and shingle tends to be more expensive, whereas vertical board is least expensive. Shingles usually have more than one profile dealing with length, thickness or bottom edges. Lap board profiles tend to have variation in width of each board, among other considerations. All of these amount to subjective decisions for each homeowner, but are the items most likely to impact cost, aside from labor. The good news is that colors are fairly plentiful, often factory finished, and warrantied for up to 25 years.
The Good, The Bad and The Oh So Pretty
Below we list the pros, cons and chief reason for why to consider cellular PVC siding.
Natural wood siding will eventually get wet, rot and attract critters that can feast on the material. Composite siding overcomes all of these problems, plus it is non combustible. The interlocking system and seamless look make it enticing. Multiple color options that carry a warranty are appealing. And because it works like wood during application, while all material is essentially the same grade makes for less waste. Plus there is R-value, or how well the material insulates. Celect notes R-value as twice that of other comparable options, which would mean it probably is in the range of .80 to 1.25.
High costs and lack of specific information while shopping for the product best suited for your home is a significant disadvantage. Plus, being a relatively new product, warranty information ought to be taken in stride. Also, there’s currently very little to no information on return on investment. ROI on siding usually comes in at 70% or higher, so there’s that.
The Oh So Pretty
Lack of maintenance is the chief reason for going with this product. Natural wood is notorious for it’s amount of upkeep every 5 to 10 years. Cellular PVC siding ought to provide a good 20 years, and then some, with minimal upkeep or at most an occasional, simple washing.