Vinyl, brick, stone or hardi plank?
This is, by no means, meant to be an exhaustive exposition of all types of siding available and their relative merits. I am writing from field experience and basic facts. In our area builders are using 4 types of external siding: vinyl, brick, stone and hardi plank.
Although easy to maintain requiring only washing, vinyl warps if exposed to much heat and discolors with time. I have seen many a vinyl-sided house where I know exactly where the previous owner had the grill. Furthermore, it is difficult to match years after initial installation. I have also seen small holes in low areas of vinyl siding where owners have accidentally nicked the siding with weed eaters. Vinyl is the least expensive of the 4 sidings mentioned and the least hardy. In more expensive neighborhoods vinyl is not used. It may not even be permitted by the home owners association.
In those neighborhoods builders are using brick, stone and hardi plank. Brick is desirable because, other than pressure washing (and occasionally pointing ), brick is virtually maintenance free. Unfortunately, the days of builders constructing all-brick homes are over, unless you pay extra. I remember a few years ago when a builder was advertising 3-sides brick as a wonderful thing. Now what you get is 3 sides-hardi plank and the facade with one or more of brick, stone and hardi plank. Stone is attractive as well as maintenance free. Like brick, it is expensive, and that is why you usually see only accents of stone.
Finally, let’s discuss hardi plank. Hardi plank is a combination of cement, sand and wood fiber. As the name implies, it is hardy- resistant to water and termites. It does require maintenance because it needs to be painted. Higher end homes in our area are being built mostly of hardi plank.