The Limitations of Engineered Wood Siding, Steel & Vinyl Siding in Minnesota

vinyl siding vs fiber cement siding

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There’s an option for just about whatever your budget with an exterior home siding project. But remember, you can’t value each of them the same. It’s as true as the saying is old when it comes to siding:

You get what you pay for.

You can get the job done for relatively cheap. It might even look decent for a while and hopefully hold up for several years. But if you don’t want ugly seams or fading colors or dents and dings or problems with woodpeckers or to have to replace the job again in your lifetime, then you’re going to quickly narrow your search to focus on fiber cement siding.

Vinyl, steel and engineered wood are the other most prevalent types of siding. Each of them have properties that can be sold as attractive. But at the end of the day, there are very serious limitations with each of these options.

While it’s going to cost more, James Hardie fiber cement siding outperforms the other common options in every single category related to looks, performance and lifespan.

Vinyl Siding: Other Than Price, Why Bother?

The only advantage to vinyl siding in Minnesota is cost. Simple as that. It doesn’t look very good. It fades over time. It’s just not a quality product.

Vinyl proponents like to use the term “maintenance free.” But remember, once the color fades, there’s no maintenance that’s going to bring it back.

Vinyl is also susceptible to hail damage.

And there’s not much design flexibility with vinyl. Typically, there’s not much beyond a 4 or 5-inch lap available due to the thickness of the material.

And boy is it a bummer when your siding melts, which does happen with vinyl.  Vinyl can even melt due to the sun’s reflection off high-performance glass that are in today’s windows like the picture below:

Melted Vinyl Siding:

melted vinyl siding


Steel Siding Isn’t Much of an Improvement

Most of the issues that plague vinyl apply to steel siding, namely the dings and dents and fading color. Steel is a little more durable, but it’s still not up to snuff if you’re looking for something that’s going to look good and stand the test of time.

Both vinyl and steel use a channel system because the material needs to be able to expand and contract as temperatures swing from season to season. So what happens is that you basically have water dumping behind your siding. If there’s any gap in the house wrap, that moisture is going to make its way into your home.

Faded Steel Siding:

steel siding minnesota

Engineered Wood Siding: A Good Choice If You’re OK With Second Best

One nice thing about engineered wood is that it does come in longer lengths. However, because the product expands and contracts, you have to leave a pretty significant gap at the seams. So while you have less seams in your siding, the seams that you do have are more unsightly.

Salesmen will say that engineered wood is lighter and easier to cut than fiber cement siding. All true for the installer of course, but those are advantages to the installer not the homeowner.

The other big drawback to engineered wood is that it’s susceptible to woodpecker damage. Here in Minnesota, we love our woods and wildlife, but we want to keep them outside.  Engineered wood does not hold up to a persistent woodpecker.  However, if you have James Hardie Siding, they learn very quickly that they can’t get through the cement siding and move on to the neighbor’s house!

Common Woodpecker Siding Damage on Engineered Wood:

woodpecker siding damage


James Hardie Fiber Cement Siding Installed by Craftsman’s Choice Is the Winning Option

Let’s review all of the combined hold ups with vinyl, steel or engineered wood siding:

  • Poor aesthetics
  • Fading color
  • Susceptible to hail damage
  • Limited design options
  • Melted siding
  • Moisture issues
  • Ugly gaps at the seams
  • Woodpecker damage

Now consider when it’s time to install new siding that there’s an option that has absolutely none of those issues. James Hardie siding won’t expand or contract regardless of what the Minnesota weather brings. Once it’s installed, it’s likely to last the remainder of your life.

Hardie siding also affords you an array of design options, and Craftsman’s Choice has the area’s leading design team to help with plans and decisions.

Fiber cement is leaps and bounds stronger than any of the other options. It can’t be touched in terms of strength and durability. Installed correctly, there’s no reasonable argument that can claim James Hardie fiber cement siding isn’t the highest quality siding option.

Craftsman’s Choice has the state’s most experienced installation crew. If you’re interested in the best product installed by the best team, contact us for a free estimate.

Ben Juncker


When Ben Juncker was sitting in his high school career planning class, siding installer was not on his list of potential career paths. As with most people in the construction industry, certain questionable life choices led to a point where they were wearing a tool belt, working with their hands. His path started just this way and he would not change a thing. Those early years in his business of scraping and clawing their way to profitability and stability, have helped him to build a culture of hard work and perseverance at Craftsman’s Choice. Ben started his company in 1998 and they installed their first James Hardie job in 2000. Since that time Craftsman’s Choice has become one of the nation’s top James Hardie Remodelers. They have won James Hardie’s prestigious President’s Club award every year since it’s inception in 2015.

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