Here at Acumen Renovations, we offer three types of siding, but even with those three different types of cladding there are a lot of options to consider. As you keep reading you will see the specific types of siding and the manufactures that we use for each type. There will also be a synopsis of each kind that will describe how’s it’s made and applied as we see it.

1. Engineered wood siding:

Chances are you have already seen many styles of this product on a home if you live in the Midwest. There are several different manufactures, such as LP Smart Side, that make all types of engineered wood cladding such as lap or bevel siding, panel siding, as well as some specialty siding options like shake, shingle, and scallops. Claiming that they are more durable and weather resistant as well as more cost effective to install and maintain that its real wood counterpart, engineered siding can be a great option for someone who wants the rich look of wood without the cost and effort! This kind of siding can also be purchased already primed and ready to paint, or pre-finished in a number of different options, that can cut some labor costs if you find the look for you are wanting! Cost wise, engineered wood is going to be in the middle of the other two and generally is about 10% less than Fiber Cement. 

2. Fiber Cement siding:

This specific type of siding has grown in popularity over the past ten years, and while it’s not been as widely used as vinyl or wood, it is starting to capture its market share. Manufactures such as James Hardie, offer a low maintenance, non-flammable, and termite resistant option and has a vast range of styles and finishes that can replicate most styles and trims like engineered wood. Fiber cement siding is going to be the most expensive out of the three we have listed due to the amount of labor and specialty tools it requires to install this product. 

3. Vinyl Siding:

Vinyl Siding has been around for forty plus years now and still holds its own. It’s made from PVC and is pretty light weight. Most Vinyl manufactures make all types of different lap siding and specialty accent siding as the others listed above, but also has a vertical panel that is much easier for remodel if a vertical look is what you are going for. This product is going to be the least costly when looking at you budget and most of the time is about 35% less than Fiber Cement or Engineered Wood. 



All the products listed above have their own accessories such as trim, mounting blocks, receptacle covers, etc, and should be used for the specific products that they were designed for. Now that’s not to say that they couldn’t be interchangeable if you really wanted them to be but, if you have a failure of one product, you don’t want the manufacture to dispute that the other product is to blame. You will find yourself with one manufacture blaming the other and left to fix the issue yourself. The other thing to consider is if you are using one of these products that require painting, then you would want to keep all your paint cycles the same over time. Seems easy but fiber cement products need painted more frequently than Engineered Wood or Vinyl Siding. You don’t want to waste product and labor painting only certain areas of your home, or waste money painting areas that don’t need to be painted just to keep it all looking uniform. Listed below are a few more things to think about when residing your home: 

  • Insulation: Adding insulation to the siding or into stud wall cavity.
  • Ventilation: Gable vents, Soffit vents, or ridge vents.
  • Railings: Porch, patio, or deck?
  • Doors: Patio, Entry, or Garage
  • Painting: Concrete foundation, doors, shutters
  • Updating: Exterior light fixture, house numbers, or Doorbell
  • Specialty Trim: Drip caps, crown molding, Bead board, Etc.

Engineered Wood Products


  • Very easy to work with from an installation stand point.
  • Product is offered in longer lengths so, it goes up faster with less joints.
  • Performs very well when installed correctly.
  • Highly impact resistant and durable to work with.
  • Easy to paint and perform maintenance.


  • Product is made from wood strand and can susceptible to fire.
  • Because engineered wood products is still a wood product, it can be infiltrated by bugs, birds or rodents.

Vinyl Siding & Accessories


  • Has a proven track record for many years and is very consistent in its performance.
  • Color of the product is through out the product and requires low maintenance.
  • Will not rot.
  • Has very large range of products to include color, accessories and accents.
  • Is light weight and the easiest of all the products listed to change panels in the event a piece becomes damaged.
  • Most economical and easiest to work with of all the siding listed.


  • Depending on the thickness of the panel and how its installed vinyl siding can be damaged the easiest of all the listed products do to impact.
  • Expands and contracts with the seasons due to temperature.
  • Over many years product can start to fade, chalk, and become brittle.

Fiber Cement Siding & Accessories


  • Is very thermal stable and has the least amount of expansion and contraction of all the sidings listed.
  • Will not burn, has a class 1 (A) fire rating.
  • Termites and woodpeckers will not eat or affect the siding.
  • Is easily painted and maintenance.
  • Is very dense and helps reduce sound.


  • Fiber cement is heavy comparatively speaking, and is the most labor intensive of all the sidings listed.
  • Requires special tools to work with.
  • Has limited options for trim.
  • Contains silica which can be a harmful

Aluminum & Steel Siding


  • Can be made into unique shapes and profiles.
  • If the correct equipment is available planks can be made up to 50′ eliminating all seems.


  • Is a conductor and reduce efficiency.
  • Highly susceptible to dents.
  • By far the most difficult product to repair a single component.


Panel Siding vs. Lap Siding

I get asked a lot about going back with panel siding and I must explain that it is possible but not recommended for remodel.

Here are some of the reasons the we don’t like to remodel existing home exteriors with Panel siding:

  1. When the home was built and the siding was installed there were no penetrations on the exterior of the house. Penetrations are items like hose bibs, Lights, HVAC lines, and so on. So, to go back with panel siding around these penetrations, and others not listed, it must be negotiated. Most panels on a two-story home are 4’ x 9’ so, if you have a penetration that lands somewhere in the middle of that, there are only a couple ways to handle that and both require cutting a long strip into the siding.
  2. Panel siding is installed and then all your trim (including windows and doors). So, to replace all the panel siding you would have to remove all the trim on your entire house. A lot of time the trim on the windows and doors can be left when doing lap siding as it butts to the trim.
  3. There is more opportunity for issues with panel siding. First concern is all the exposed fasteners. If you install the siding to manufacture specifications you will have about 48 fasteners per panel, and that is a lot of exposed penetrations into the side of your home. Most lap siding is only nailed where the piece above it covers the nails.
  4. Another area of concern is stud lay out (stud lay out is the framing of your house that is supposed to land on 16” centers). If one of the studs are even off ¾” depending on where that panel needs to land it can create a lot of extra work, and it’s not terribly uncommon for stud lay out to be wrong. With lap siding, this isn’t an issue because your planks are 12’ in width.
  5. Lap siding is the original siding for good reason. It’s been around for as long as siding has been installed. There is a lot less waste involved with lap siding because of the dimensions of it. If for some reason you need to replace just one piece anywhere on the wall it’s an easy task, and you only have to replace a small section compared to panel siding.
  6. If you like the look of a vertical siding, there are some products that can be used that don’t have all the exposed fasteners that you would have with traditional panel siding.


Prefinished Siding vs. Prime

All the siding products that we offer are also offered prefinished. Most people already know that vinyl siding is a finished product and it’s just a matter of picking a color and having it installed. L.P. and James Hardie also offer all their products prefinished and ready to go. In the sections below you will read the pros and cons of pre-finished vs prime and what it will require for maintenance in the future.

Prefinished Paint Advantage:

  1. Pre-finished painted products are formulated for the substrate that they are applied to, creating maximum adhesion. Explanation: If you were to purchase paint from Sherwin Williams or a Box Store, that paint is made to go on multiple substrates such as concrete, drywall, and wood. In short, having a paint made specifically for the substrate creates a much better lasting bond.
  2. Paint made specifically for the products are made from natural pigments as opposed to synthetic pigments, which makes for a longer lasting color. An example of the durability of natural pigments is that thousands of years ago, cavemen drew on walls with natural pigments and they are still around to this day.
  3. Paint is applied in an environmentally controlled factory. Advantage: If you read the side of a can of paint the manufacturer would want it to be applied with a relative humidity of 40% to 60%, and between 50 and 80 degrees. Those are just the ideal conditions to apply it. It should also be noted that it is susceptible to anything that may blow into the paint during the drying process, such as bugs, dust, cotton wood fuzz, and so on. The paint process is done in a controlled environment that is not obtainable in the field.
  4. Vinyl siding is a little different in the way the color is incorporated into the product. The dyes are blended into the product so the color is completely throughout the panel. Even if you were to scratch the panel you would only see the same color.

Prefinished Disadvantage:

  1. Limited color selection is the first reason most people don’t opt for the prefinished siding.
  2. Depending on the size of the job and the scope of the work the prefinished siding could cost up to 30 % more than a traditional paint job.
  3. Because the siding is Prefinished in another location it could be scratched or damaged in transit, and it does take an experienced crew to install because there are sections of cut siding that must have field applied paint.
  4. Although both L.P. and Smart Side make prefinished panel siding, Acumen doesn’t recommend doing prefinished panel because of all the exposed fasteners.



Print out our complete checklist to have all your information at your finger tips when comparing quotes, options, products, and techniques.


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