When it comes to home design, consumers still yearn for the look of wood. In some parts of the US, homeowners never even consider any other style. Part of this appeal is that wood siding is infinitely customizable, coming in a variety of colors and styles.
Despite its appeal, there are a number of drawbacks to using natural wood as a siding material: It’s generally much more expensive than most other siding materials, and prices are subject to the availability of the type of wood needed to give homeowners their desired look.
- There’s a lot of upkeep to stay on top of, including regular cleaning and treating the siding approximately every decade. And, even with proper maintenance, wood siding is only estimated to last between 20 and 40 years.
As a result, more and more consumers are deciding that the beauty of natural wood isn’t worth the hassle. One of the biggest trends that has taken place in the siding industry over the past decade is increased consumer preferences for three products that provide the look of wood but come without the durability concerns and maintenance requirements.
Fiber Cement Siding Sees Rapid Market Share Gains
Fiber cement siding has benefited the most from the wood-look trend over the last decade because it performs favorably and is able to closely mimic the look of natural wood siding. Fiber cement has primarily competed with wood-look vinyl siding products, and it’s been able to gain share because it has both looked better and was more durable.
Fiber cement manufacturers like James Hardie continue to further improve the appearance of their products in order to increase their presence in the high-end residential market. The Artisan V-Rustic product, for example, provides a near-match to the look of cedar siding.
Vinyl Siding Demand To Be Supported by Product Improvements
Vinyl siding was the first product that emerged as a low-cost way of achieving the wood look without the maintenance requirements of natural wood. However, of wood-look vinyl siding products that were originally introduced to the market lack durability and failed to convincingly replace the wood aesthetic, leaving the market vulnerable to competition from fiber cement.
Vinyl siding manufacturers are expected to take steps to stem market share losses to competing materials like fiber cement. For example:
- In early 2019, Ply Gem released the Western Extreme product line, which is designed to withstand damage caused by infrared light, low humidity, and extreme temperature changes.
- CertainTeed is seeking to improve the aesthetic appeal of its products through expanding the available color options of its popular Cedar Impressions Polymer and Northwoods Vinyl siding lines.
Engineered Wood, Composites, & Other Niche Products Gaining in Importance
Engineered wood—a notable wood-look siding replacement, if one that’s much less common than vinyl and fiber cement—mimics the aesthetic natural wood by combining wood resin and other binders that improve product durability. Though past concerns about the performance of engineered wood products have kept the market small, rising sales of these products are expected to be supported by the desire of some homeowners to replace existing natural wood siding with less expensive engineered wood siding, which lasts longer and requires less maintenance.
Also on the market are a wide range of composites that collectively are seeing increased use—namely in high-end residential applications—due to their light weight, ease of installation, and ability to mimic wood convincingly.
For more information about the US siding market, check out The Freedonia Group’s recently released study, Siding.