When it comes to adding siding to new houses or replacing old siding with modern materials, there are two main types of siding that most homeowners consider: clapboard and vinyl siding. Both materials offer many benefits, and they can be customized in a variety of ways. Clapboard siding is typically pre-primed and painted. Some types like wood can come unfinished, while vinyl siding comes in a variety of colors that can be mixed and matched for a unique and custom look. 

 In order to make an educated decision on what product is right for your home, it’s important to know the difference between the two. Both of these siding materials have some pros and cons, depending on the character of the home and aesthetics you want. After reading this guide, you may decide that one of them is a better fit for your home.

 So, let’s take a more in-depth look at the two materials and see how they stack up against each other.

Clapboard Siding

 Clapboards have been used to protect exterior structures for centuries and can be traced back to colonial times. Clapboards are overlapping planks that are used for siding applications. They were the siding choice of many colonial and Victorian homes for early settlers throughout the New England States. Clapboards were a fast and efficient way for people to side their homes. They also added structural strength to the house and could be finished in a variety of colors.

 Clapboards today are known as beveled wood siding, weatherboard, wood planks, and lap siding. Modern clapboards are not made the old fashioned way by hand sawing them unless you want them custom made from a sawmill. Instead, new composites such as fiber cement, PVC, aluminum, wood, and synthetic stone is what most homeowners side their homes with today. 


  • Provides superior structural strength
  • Imitates the look of real wood, stone or brick and can be painted or stained
  • Clapboard products like fiber cement can last up to 50 years or more
  • Durable and stand up against harsh weather conditions
  • Provides excellent insulation properties


  • More expensive than vinyl siding
  • May require caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors
  • More routine maintenance is needed with repainting or staining

Vinyl Siding

 In the 1950s, Crane Plastics in Columbus, OH, was the first independently owned manufacturing facility to introduce a replacement product for aluminum called vinyl siding. Although their product made a splash into the marketplace, it slowly lost its appeal due to fading issues and the tendency to turn a green-yellowish color within 10-15 years after installation. Vinyl siding technology advanced in the 2000s by adding acrylate and acrylic styrene acrylonitrile into the manufacturing process.

 Manufacturers discovered that it was more effective in stopping the sun’s bleaching effects. They also started to get more creative by adding a variety of pigments that made vinyl siding a huge success. Today, the business of vinyl siding manufacturing has evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s safe to say, vinyl siding made a dominating return into the building products industry.


  • Inexpensive siding material
  • Comes in a variety of colors and styles
  • Can be installed over existing siding
  • Has service life of 20 to 40 years
  • Easy installation and provides excellent weather protection


  • Does require periodic cleaning and maintenance
  • Not recommended to paint, and it’s subject to high wind damage
  • The fire rating is not as good when compared to other products such as fiber cement clapboards

What’s the Cost Difference?

 Clapboard siding can have a wide range in price depending on the type of material used. On average, for a 1,500sqft home, clapboard siding can cost between $7,500 to $15,000. For example, cedar siding can cost about $6 to $7 per sqft, and redwood siding is approximately $6 to $9 per sqft while the less expensive options include spruce, fir, and spine. The most costly clapboard siding are products such as fiber cement and PVC.

 Vinyl siding, much like clapboard siding, comes in different styles ranging from basic designs to more architectural applications such as imitation stone, brick, and natural wood. Homeowners can expect to pay more per square foot for these applications. For standard installations and materials, the cost can range between $2 to $7 per sqft with the average two-story home costing about $6,000 to $13,000 to install vinyl siding. 

Is Clapboard and Vinyl Siding a DIY Project?

 For those who have the skills, tools, and equipment, clapboard and vinyl siding can be a DIY project; however, most people are not Bob Villa. We highly recommend that you hire a professional siding contractor to install your siding. Improper installations will void any manufacturers warranty and cost more in the end. For more information about starting either a clapboard or vinyl siding project for your home, fill out the provided contact form below.