Choosing Between Vertical and Horizontal Siding Installation: Which is Right for You?

Just when you thought you already had too many decisions to make when it comes to residing your house, we’re going to add another – vertical or horizontal siding?

Yes, you’ve been racking your brain on what type of material to use – wood, fiber cement, vinyl or cedar – and you’ve probably tossed around colors and shapes, as well. But now you have another option, and you need to know the advantages and disadvantages of horizontal and vertical siding.

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Vertical siding: pros and cons

The pros of going vertical

You might not see many homes with the siding installed vertically, but pretty much any type of siding material can be installed that way. Commercial buildings, such as office buildings, barns, libraries, schools and sheds seem to use this type of installation more than residential, but it’s not unheard of for a residential structure, either.

Homeowners that take this path are looking for something more unique in their aesthetic, and that’s exactly what the vertical design brings to the table. It has an elongating effect that will make your home stand out among the others.

When it comes to cleaning siding, vertical is easier, which means if this is something you have to do often, you’re going to save time and money with vertical siding.

The cons of vertical

It might not seem like that big of a difference, but vertical siding is actually more complex to install than horizontal, which means you’re going to pay more in labor costs than you will for horizontal siding. Plus, your installation team must have experience with this type of installation to get it done right the first time.

Vertical siding also involves installing furring strips between each piece, which is not something that has to be done with horizontal siding, and this adds to the materials expense.

Another layer of complexity is brought to the table if you ever plan on selling your home. The real estate industry can be fickle, and if you’re trying to sell a home with vertical siding in a tough market, it can be one thing that will dissuade a potential buyer who is looking for a conventional style home as opposed to an unconventional home.

The different types of vertical siding

Fortunately, if this style intrigues you, you’ve got options. While wood siding is one person’s cup of tea, it doesn’t appeal to the next person who is into the vinyl look.

The following are some of the more common vertical siding types:

Vertical siding houses with different types materials: vinyl, cedar, James Hardie, LP Smart
  • Vertical vinyl siding

    It’s a popular material because it comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors – and it is a cost effective solution. It’s easy to install, which can save you on labor costs and it requires little to no maintenance. It’s not uncommon for it to last 30 or 40 years, in the right weather conditions, and it actually deals with water better installed vertically than it does horizontally.

    Watch out for hail storms or big winds that blow debris through the air, because it will dent, and if you’ve got older siding, it can be difficult to match the colors if you do replace sections.

  • Vertical wood siding

    This long lasting material can actually add to your home’s value, thanks to the unique aesthetic that most homeowners love. The material might also be referred to as board and batten siding, and it offers a multi-dimensional profile, which, again, is visually stunning. The clean vertical lines add sophistication, but the texture of the material provides a pleasingly warm aesthetic.

    You have to have a budget for this material as it can get costly, and it does require some maintenance to keep it in top-notch shape.

  • Vertical cedar siding

    Yes, we’re aware that cedar is also a wood, but it is in such demand that it deserves its own section. If your home has cedar shakes and shingles, you’re going to create an exceptional look with vertical cedar siding. It’s fairly easy to install, which will cut back on your labor costs, and it is resistant to cupping and cracking.

    Don’t forget to have the wood treated, because it’s a target for woodpeckers in search of bugs. It’s not as fire resistant as other materials and it is one of the more costly siding materials.

  • Vertical fiber cement siding

    A siding that is high demand these days comes from James Hardie, a company that makes a vertical fiber cement siding that offers a unique look without being over the top trendy. It has a natural wood look to it, but is far more durable. It’s made from wood pulp, fly ash, Portland cement and water – pretty simple but it’s effective and it requires low maintenance.

    You have to make sure your contractor has plenty of experience installing fiber cement siding, because it can get complex, which adds to the cost. It’s also one of the more expensive siding materials on the market today.

Installing vertical siding

The installation procedure for vertical siding is somewhat complex, which means you have to make sure your contractor has plenty of experience with it. Furthermore, it can be more expensive to have installed due to the extra labor.

However, you might also find that when you get the right manufacturer and the right contractor, the fact that some vertical siding is produced in longer and larger panels can make the process go faster, because there is less cutting, measuring and nailing.

The problem is that you might find it difficult to locate a contractor with experience in installing vertical siding, which is not the case with horizontal siding.

Horizontal siding: pros and cons

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The pros of going horizontal

Cost is one of the leading pros in going with horizontal siding. If you’re on a tight budget, this is going to be a big plus for you. It’s easy to install, compared to vertical siding, which is one of the main reasons it’s cheaper.

The installation process is also faster with horizontal siding, so if you want to take on a fast and easy project that gives your home a facelift, horizontal siding is a good match for that type of project.

The cons of horizontal

Horizontal planks of siding are often considered durable, but they do have a tendency to be damaged by rainwater. The main reason is because moisture will build up between the siding edges and get into the siding strips. Over time, this can cause the siding to become compromised and require complete replacement.

If you’ve chosen wood as your horizontal siding, know that it has the potential to warp, which can lead to rainwater leaking under the siding strips, which can also create a mold and mildew situation. Vertical siding doesn’t run this risk because the water will hit the surface and simply drop to the ground immediately.

The different types of horizontal siding

For homeowners leaning toward horizontal siding, they’ve got the advantage where materials are concerned as manufacturers receive far more business in horizontal than they do in vertical. You’ll also find that the materials for horizontal are the same for those used in vertical, they’re just manufactured differently, but the material itself will have the same qualities.

The following are the most common material types for horizontal siding:

Horizontal siding houses with different types materials: vinyl, cedar, James Hardie, LP Smart
  • Horizontal vinyl siding

    Vinyl siding isn’t what it used to be – it’s actually come a long way. Homeowners have a wide range of options when choosing this material for horizontal installation. It’s simple to install, but water can sometimes get into the gaps when installed horizontally.

  • Horizontal wood siding

    It wasn’t really that long ago when nearly every component of a house, aside from plumbing and electrical, was made of wood. That aesthetic appeal continues today, and there are a variety of horizontal wood siding products on the market from which to choose. But, like vinyl, installing it horizontally requires skill because water can get into areas it doesn’t when installed vertically.

  • Horizontal cedar siding

    Nothing matches the beauty of cedar siding, but if you want a more conventionally look, take the horizontal approach to installing this material. Fortunately, installing cedar horizontally will save you money compared to installing it vertically, due to the fact that there are no furring strips required in horizontal installation.

  • Horizontal fiber cement siding

    One of the more popular types of horizontal fiber cement siding comes from James Hardie in a product called HardiePlank. It’s more resistant to water than wood, so you have fewer issues with water buildup under the edges. And like other materials, horizontal fiber cement siding is less expensive to install than its vertical cousin.

Vertical and horizontal siding costs

On the average, homeowners pay between $5,000 and $14,050 for siding to be installed on their home. Here’s a rundown of what the average homeowner pays per material for. Prices will vary depending on the complexity of the home design and size:

Vinyl $3.75 - $5 per sq. ft
Engineered wood $6 - $9 per sq. ft
Fiber cement $6 - $8 per sq. ft
Cedar $8 - $15 per sq. ft

Remember, a box-shaped home offers little to no complexities for an experienced installation crew, which means labor costs will be lower, putting your project on the lower side of the average. However, if your home has multiple stories, turrets and eaves, complexities like these are going to add to labor costs, taking you to the higher side of the average.

Mixing horizontal and vertical siding

If your home has dormers, vertical siding is an excellent choice for accentuating that aspect of your home. The remainder of the home can use horizontal siding, and this is actually quite common because it looks great.

Attached garages are also areas that can utilize vertical siding while the rest of the home has horizontal siding in place. This hybrid method provides a unique look, as there is a transition from the two structural elements. Plus, some homeowners will choose a different color of paint for the vertical siding on the garage, and it doesn’t clash with the home (assuming the choice of colors compliment each other).

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Choose a trusted siding contractor

Talk to a professional about your concerns and they should be able to help you make the decision that is right for your home.

At VIS Exterior, we’ve assisted many homeowners with their siding questions, walked them through all the options, and expertly installed just about every type of siding imaginable. We offer free inspections and give industry insights so our clients can go into a siding project armed with the knowledge required to ensure they’re getting exactly what they need. Reliability, quality and customer satisfaction are important to us, and it shows in our customer reviews. Contact us today and let’s discuss how to tackle your horizontal or vertical siding job.

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