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How Long Does Siding Last?

This is a beautiful image of a nice big residential home in the St. Louis Metro area with high-quality fiber cement siding, installed by XteriorPRO.

Hi there, and welcome to the XteriorPRO / Window Depot USA of St. Louis blog. Today we’re looking at a super-common question among homeowners interested in exterior remodeling:

How long does siding last?

You want simple, straightforward answers, so we’re going to stick with the four materials that make up the vast majority of siding projects every year. Here in the greater St. Louis Metro area, we only install the 4th – James Hardie fiber cement. We, and our customers, feel it gives you the most bang for your remodeling buck.

  1. Wood
  2. Vinyl
  3. Steel
  4. Fiber Cement


That said, let’s dive right in. Thanks so much for your time today, and we genuinely hope this article is helpful for you. Enjoy!


General Wood Siding: 20-40 Years | Depends On Quality & Maintenance

Maintenance Levels: High

dark brown wood siding closeup


Wood siding has been one of the most popular kinds of residential siding for a very… very long time. The only reason it seems to have become a bit less so recently is that modern society has engineered a variety of high-performance alternatives.

  • It will need to be resealed and repainted like any other wood around the home that needs to be maintained. An outdoor deck is a perfect example.
  • The wood needs to be of the correct species for your area, with the right mix of durability (to minimize splitting and bowing) and resistances: moisture, critters & bugs, etc.
  • You’ll also want to keep a constant eye on the siding and clean it regularly.
  • Needed repairs are going to pop up as the siding ages – cracking, mold & rot, boards that must be replaced, caulking issues, patching holes, and more.


At XteriorPRO, we all appreciate the presence and aesthetic wood siding brings to the table. Without question! However, if ALL you’re after is the look, you don’t need natural wood for that anymore.


General Vinyl Siding: 20-40 Years | Depends On Quality & Installation

Maintenance Levels: Low

Everyone’s seen plenty of vinyl siding in their lives, whether they knew it or not. Modern vinyl siding manufacturers have made really impressive improvements in their systems overall, but many homeowners choose the low-cost options that don’t last.

  • Vinyl can be a great alternative to wood because it’s immune to bugs, mold, and minor weather events.  The problems: it can’t be painted, easily damaged/cracked by hail and other impacts such as weed eaters and lawn mowers, melts easily if the bbq pit is too close.  The other major problem is it expands and contracts at great rate leading to warping and buckling, especially here with the sudden extreme St. Louis climate changes.
  • One major contributing factor to the decay of lower-quality vinyl siding is sunshine! Over time, extensive exposure can really do a number on the paneling.

warped paneling from extensive exposure

  • In harsher climates, vinyl siding will begin to crack, fade, fall into disrepair (causing leaks), and warp — especially when not being properly maintained.


Wondering how to tell the difference between vinyl siding quality grades beyond pricing alone? Look at the thickness.

The thicker and more heavy-duty, the more durable and long-lasting (and expensive) it can be.

  • Builder’s Grade:     0.40 mm
  • Thin Residential:     0.42 mm
  • Standard Residential: 0.44 mm
  • Thick Residential:     0.46 mm
  • Super-Thick:         0.50 mm
  • High-End:         0.54 mm


General Steel Siding: 30-50 Years | Depends on Quality & Installation

Maintenance Levels: Ultra-Low

Because we’re talking about steel, your siding CAN POTENTIALLY last much longer than many other materials. Like vinyl, it really depends on the quality of the steel being used and the installation.

Is it high-grade galvanized or quality corrugated steel? That’s very different from thin, low-grade, and untreated steel. Also, are we talking about a custom-made siding system or a well-known manufactured system installed by professionals? Here’s an image of how natural it can look from a provider called Rollex (a steel siding manufacturer, not the watchmaker whose name only has one L — Rolex).

low maintenance premium siding material by Rollex

  • When the system is premium and installed to perfection, you can expect to enjoy the lowest maintenance requirements of any siding material.
  • Manufacturers will often provide the steel paneling with protective paint that only requires occasional washing.
  • Treated steel isn’t going to be susceptible to moisture the way wood is. It’s also not very appetizing to bugs or critters. You won’t see it chipping, cracking, or splitting either.


Wait a minute, then why doesn’t everyone just have steel siding? First, because people enjoy variety. Secondly, wood is preferred by some homeowners regardless of the maintenance requirements and extra upkeep costs.  Third, high-quality steel siding systems have significantly higher upfront stick prices.  Forth, it can be easily dented by minor impacts (soccer balls, baseballs, hail, lawn movers.  And FINALLY it is very inefficient because it conducts heat and cold to the walls of your home.


Fiber Cement Siding: 30-50 Years | Depends on Quality & Installation

Maintenance Levels: Ultra-Low

Here at XteriorPRO / Window Depot USA of St. Louis, we only install James Hardie fiber cement siding for our St. Louis Metro customers. Because James Hardie (an extremely well-known, long-time titan of the U.S. siding industry) makes their products for our climate… they have excellent long-term performance ratings.

This is called the HardieZone system.

James Hardie hardie zone system


“For the Missouri climate, James Hardie offers the HZ5 product line. The HZ5 line is engineered for freezing weather and extreme seasonal temperature changes. Unlike the siding Hardie manufactures for hot climates, HZ5 Hardie siding comes with special paint-adhesion, moisture-resistance technology, and a drip edge for optimal water management.”


Homeowners love it across the country because it’s an incredibly durable material similar to brick or stone, but it requires little from you to keep it looking great. And it’s affordable!

If you’d like to know more, check out our dedicated Why Fiber Cement Siding? page. Otherwise, these are the most popular reasons homeowners choose this material over wood, vinyl, or steel.

  • It’s beautiful and can replicate the look of wood and shingles.
  • It’s durable—five times thicker than vinyl to withstand Mother Nature’s worst.
  • It lasts a long time—at least three times longer than vinyl.
  • It’s an excellent value, providing the highest return on investment of any siding material.


In Conclusion: Residential Siding Tends To Last 20-40 Years

Pop Quiz: What are the three main factors that determine the answer to “How long does siding last?”

Yes! You’re absolutely right.

  1. The material the siding is made of.
  2. The amount of proper maintenance it gets.
  3. The skill level of your installer.

When these three things come together under ideal circumstances, your new siding can easily last up to 30, 40, even 50 years. If you’re in the St. Louis Metro area and have more questions or concerns, or you’d like to investigate Hardie Fiber Cement, don’t hesitate to Contact XteriorPRO / Window Depot USA of St. Louis.