Choosing the right outside covering for your home is an important decision that needs to be made after educating yourself on the options. The siding on your home provides protection, adds to its value and curb appeal, and helps to keep your home more energy efficient and safe for you and your loved ones.

Two of the most popular siding options for residential homes include steel siding and vinyl siding. Each provides unique advantages for homeowners and installation professionals, yet they are not without drawbacks. Being mindful of their best attributes and considering their potential pitfalls will give you a clear picture of the better choice for you and your home. Read on to see some pros and cons of vinyl and steel, and envision a beautiful exterior as you contemplate this important purchase for your property.

Steel Siding History

Construction companies began introducing steel siding as far back as 1940 for both residential and commercial properties. It was not received well at first by homeowners, who disliked the cold, metallic appearance of steel. Manufacturers went back to the drawing board, reconfiguring the appearance of steel siding and offering more varied options for discriminating consumers. In the 1980s, with the advent of various coatings and designs, steel siding began to rise in popularity. It has become a preferred option over wood siding, which tends to deteriorate quickly in weather conditions.

Vinyl Siding History

A short decade after steel siding appeared on the construction scene, vinyl siding made its debut. Due to its affordability and quick installation, it became a preferred option for many homeowners. Purists who preferred steel over vinyl cited that it was due to the fact that vinyl contains many toxic substances, including polyvinyl chloride, as well as trace amounts of lead and mercury.

Steel Siding Attributes

Steel siding remains a preferred siding for many, thanks to these appealing attributes.


On average, steel siding can last up to fifty years. Its strength ensures that it can withstand all types of wear, tear, and environmental conditions. Various coatings on steel siding provide even more strength and protection. It is virtually impenetrable by water, pests, and debris.

Fire Resistance

Steel is extremely fire-resistant. If you live in an area prone to wildfires, local laws require construction companies to offer siding options that have Class A fire ratings, making it a safe option for your home.


A wide variety of colors, patterns, and designs makes steel siding an appealing option for improving your home’s curb appeal. Various shapes and lengths of paneling can offer a unique look for your home’s exterior.

Easy to Maintain

Once steel siding is installed correctly, there is very little maintenance to perform. Periodic washing and inspection should be all you need to do to make sure your steel siding keeps performing for you.

Steel Siding Challenges

No material lasts forever; even steel has its challenges that present themselves in certain conditions. Take note of these when making a decision for your home.

Climate Limitations

Steel siding is not ideal for installation on coastal homes and in climates with moderate to high humidity for much of the year. Ocean air is salty and moist, and it can accelerate the erosion of steel panels. While an anti-corrosive finish might slow down the process for a time, you’ll need to replace it sooner than you’d like.

Dents and Damage

Steel siding can be prone to damage and dents, taking the luster out of its overall appearance. While it won’t warp or crack, a damaged panel can leave you prone to penetration by water, pests, and other debris. Have it replaced as soon as possible to avoid further damage.


Steel is significantly more expensive than other siding materials. The average cost of steel siding is between $5-$10 a square foot, making a re-siding process a large investment for those who choose it.

Vinyl Siding Attributes

Even with the strength and durability of steel, vinyl siding remains a preferred choice for many homeowners. Here are some of the reasons why it is still a popular choice in new and existing construction.


Compared to steel’s $5 starting price, vinyl is significantly more affordable at $1.60 per square foot. Of course, more expensive options can still yield a hefty final bill. Those looking to save on a siding project typically choose vinyl siding.

Easy Installation

Today’s vinyl siding comes with pre-drilled holes, making installation quick and easy for professionals. Vinyl is also significantly lighter than steel, allowing for a quick mount and secure setting. Many vinyl siding projects are completed in mere days, while other materials can take longer to install.

Vinyl Siding Challenges

There are a few challenges to consider with the installation of vinyl. Be mindful of these when you plan your construction project.


Vinyl siding cannot be recycled. The PVC production process of vinyl siding causes harmful exhaust gases that impact the environment as well. Vinyl releases a hazardous toxin called dioxin as it heats in the sun; if you live in warm and sunny climates, consider a safer option for your home.


Unfortunately, vinyl siding doesn’t last nearly as long as other types of siding. With proper care and maintenance, you can expect a maximum of thirty years from your vinyl exterior.


One of the most unappealing things about vinyl is that it fades when exposed to sunlight. As areas of your home receive inconsistent amounts of sunlight, your siding will eventually look patchy and faded in areas, leading to an unsightly exterior appearance.


Regardless of any other precautions that you may take to make your home fire-resistant and safe, the reality is that vinyl is extremely flammable. As it burns, it releases harmful toxins into the air as well. You and your family are at risk for asphyxiation even before the fire reaches you. Many homeowners choose to put safety first and take on the extra expense of installing safer materials when re-siding their homes.

Other Factors to Consider

Weather conditions and climate in your area play a big part in your siding decision. Consider the following factors as you make the best decision for you and your family.

Moisture and Humidity

Heavy rain, snow, and humidity can cause wear and tear on your siding. If you live in areas with excessive humidity and precipitation, you’ll need to make sure your siding has weather-resistant coatings to protect your investment.

Sun Exposure

As previously stated, vinyl siding can fade when exposed to the sun’s incessant rays. It can also warp and crack, causing buckling that leaves you susceptible to mold and mildew growth. In areas where your home is exposed to uneven sun exposure, steel may be a clear choice for you.

Property and Landscape

Take a look at your property and landscape before choosing your siding. Areas that sit in the shadows for long periods of time can be susceptible to mold growth between panels. Sharp branches and debris from trees can scratch and dent your siding. Understand that these small details will affect your home’s exterior, and make a plan to deal with them as needed.

Not Sure Which One to Choose? Call the Professionals!

Since 2001, the professionals at Young Construction have been offering a wide variety of roofing services, siding and window installation, attic insulation, and gutter services in Mason City and beyond. Our family-owned and operated institution prides itself on quality work, customer satisfaction, and ongoing service and maintenance to ensure the safety and security of your home. Up for a siding project? Let us provide you with the information needed to make the most informed choice for your home. For more information, contact Young Construction at one of our offices in Mason City, Cedar Rapids, or Waverly.

company icon