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How Much Does it Cost to Replace Siding?

Most homes still in use today have some form of siding product as an exterior facade. Over the years, siding materials have come in and out of vogue and technology has improved. 

Some siding materials weather better than others, eliminating the need for paints and sealers. Some materials install very quickly, while others require more effort. Removing and replacing siding is not especially complex, but accuracy is extremely important. 

Today, we will discuss how to know if your siding needs to be replaced, and the typical costs involved. We will include materials such as vinyl, aluminum, sheet siding, natural wood shakes, hardboard, and the processes involved in a replacement project.

What Are the Different Types Of Siding I Might Replace?

Vinyl

Vinyl siding is overwhelmingly the most popular residential siding in use today. Vinyl siding is used on everything from starter homes to luxurious mansions. Vinyl siding tends to last a long time, so it is uncommon to replace vinyl siding less than 15-20 years old, due to normal wear.

Vinyl siding does fade however, so a common alternative to replacing vinyl siding is pressure washing. Often this will restore vivid colors and revive a flat looking appearance.

Occasionally, vinyl siding does become damaged due to severe weather and rocks thrown from lawn mowers. In these instances, vinyl siding can be removed and replaced, or simply disassembled for a spot repair.

Aluminum

Aluminum siding was the go-to exterior facade from the 1940’s to the 1970’s. Aluminum siding solved many of the earlier problems presented by wood siding, such as instability, maintenance heavy surface, and inconsistency.

At the time, aluminum siding was primarily available as a horizontal lap siding, which is why so many homes from the period look the same. Aluminum siding used standardized installation techniques, which provided the same crisp, clean look from project to project. Aluminum siding did have its downsides, however.

The first issue with aluminum siding is that it would dent. Since the aluminum was quite thin, anything from a bird to a rock thrown from a lawn mower would irreparably dent the surface. Although this did not necessarily cause the siding to fail, over time these unsightly dents ruined the overall appearance. 

An additional upside to replacing aluminum siding is that the materials can be recycled. Aluminum is a commodity, so constant price fluctuations had a negative effect on its popularity with builders. The upside is that after removal the scrap materials can be resold to recyclers and help offset the cost of the overall project.

T1-11 Sheet Siding

Sheet siding usually comes in 4’ x 8’ sheets. Also known as T-111 and T-1, T1-11 usually has a rough texture (that’s what the “T” stands for) with grooves milled into the outward surface.

These grooves give the appearance of individual boards, installed vertically. T1-11 also incorporates a lap feature on both of the long, vertical sides, reducing the ability of water to get under the sheet.

This is very important, because T1-11 is rarely painted on both sides before installation. Like other wood products, T1-11 must be sealed against moisture. If water can penetrate behind T1-11 and contact raw, unpainted wood, the result is often wood rot. 

T1-11 is usually made from plywood or oriented strand board, also known as OSB. Both plywood and OSB combine wood by-products and resins to form a solid, stable material that accepts paint well. The downside to sheet siding is again, constant maintenance. 

Natural Wood Shakes

Natural wood siding is obviously the oldest method of protecting a home from the elements. Before the invention of synthetic materials, thin pieces of naturally rot resistant wood were used as shingles.

These pieces, referred to as “shakes” were installed similarly to a roof shingle, starting at the bottom of a wall. Overlapping joints were avoided during installation to retard water from getting trapped behind the shakes, leading to mold, mildew, and eventually, rot of the underlayment.

These days, shakes are typically made from farm grown, sustainable trees. These may include cypress, redwood, and probably the most popular, cedar. These wood resist both rot and insect damage, but must be sealed periodically to prevent premature failure. Shakes can be sealed using paint, stain, or any number of transparent sealers.

Hardboard

Hardboard siding uses wood pulp materials to create a rigid lap siding that holds its shape and can last for years if well maintained. Hardboard siding is stable, and installs relatively easily.

Used from the 1920’s through the 1980’s, hardboard began to fall out of favor as aluminum and vinyl products became more popular. When it was discovered that the product was especially vulnerable to water damage unless it was well maintained with good quality paint and caulk, the use of other materials became standard in new construction.

One advantage to using hardboard siding is that it can be installed with, or without trim. However, as with any porous material, hardboard siding requires periodic repainting and sealing to maintain its shape and strength. Therefore, trim pieces such as corner boards are often used to facilitate easier painting and caulking.

Fiber Cement

Fiber cement board came about in the 1980’s to create a product that was durable, stable, and long lasting. Fiber cement siding is generally a mixture of cellulose strands and cement, however each manufacturer will have their own formula. Fiber cement siding was intended to resolve durability and color issues surrounding popular products, such as vinyl.

Fiber cement siding was designed to last approximately twice as long as vinyl, however, fiber cement siding still relies on constant sealing to maintain its structural integrity. 

Many new users assumed that due to its composition, it would be weather resistant without paint, nor caulk. Unfortunately, that misconception has led to instances of fiber cement siding being replaced with vinyl to virtually eliminate the required maintenance hassle. 

What Are Common Siding Replacement Costs?

Siding replacement costs often vary widely, depending on the zip code. Some siding materials are very easily removed, while others can be a chore. Generally speaking, the easier a siding material is to install, the easier it will be to remove.

As an example, from a professional installer’s point of view, vinyl siding is both the easiest to install and the easiest to remove. Fiber cement board is both the most difficult to install and quite labor intensive to remove. For these reasons, costs to remove and replace siding on a home will vary.

There may also be dump fees or other small expenses as well. Here we will discuss the typical costs involved in a siding replacement project, by material:  

Vinyl Siding Replacement Costs

As mentioned, vinyl siding is the easiest to remove, and will often only require a few hand tools. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Pry bar
  • Flat bar
  • Claw hammer
  • Cat’s paw (special tool for removing nails)
  • Shears or utility knife
  • Safety Gear

Obviously, the most important gear for any home improvement project is safety gear, so always utilize the most protection available.

As a rule, the pros will remove vinyl siding in sections (as opposed to uninstalling each piece) by starting at the bottom, inserting a pry bar beneath the first course, and pulling up. Since vinyl siding has a locking tab connecting each piece (called a “stick”) to the piece above and below it, it will usually stay locked during removal.

Often this allows several courses to detach as a unit, so care should be taken not to remove too much at one time. If the vinyl was installed using galvanized roofing tacks, they tend to detach with the siding, making the job even easier. If the siding was stapled on, it can be a little harder to remove.

Average Cost to Remove: $.25 to $1.00 per square foot

Average Cost to Replace: $2.50 to $11.00 per square foot

Aluminum Siding Replacement Costs

Removing aluminum siding is done in much the same way as with vinyl, however aluminum siding tends to tear during removal. For this reason, aluminum siding can be more time consuming to remove. 

However, not all aluminum siding manufacturers used the connection system of locking tabs, so some brands are easier to remove than others. Removing aluminum siding will often only require a few hand tools to remove, but safety gear is strongly recommended. Aluminum siding can be very sharp, especially when torn, so care must be taken to avoid injury. 

The tools needed may include, but are not limited to:

  • Pry bar
  • Flat bar
  • Claw hammer
  • Cat’s paw (special tool for removing nails)
  • Metal shears
  • Safety Gear

Average Cost to Remove: $1.50 to $2.00 per square foot

Average Cost to Replace: $2.50 to $7.00 per square foot

Hardboard Siding Replacement Costs

Removing hardboard requires not only special consideration for airborne fibers, but removal of the fasteners as well. Hardboard siding is also quite brittle and can be easily broken during installation, or even just carrying it.

During removal, hardboard siding tends to flex and snap unexpectedly. For this reason, hardboard removal requires great care when removing fasteners to prevent unexpected movement of the hardboard. Hardboard siding is also relatively heavy, so professionals will always wear steel-toed boots to avoid injury in the event a section detaches or breaks without warning. Hardboard siding can be installed in a number of ways, but the most common is by using either ring shank or twist nails. 

These special nails are designed to resist removal, so many times during removal hardboard siding will break off, leaving the fastener. Removing any remaining fasteners is critical to re-installation as the siding will not sit flat on the wall surface if a nail head is left protruding from the wall. 

The tools needed to remove hardboard siding may include, but are not limited to:

  • Pry bar
  • Flat bar
  • Claw hammer
  • Cat’s paw (special tool for removing nails)
  • Metal shears
  • Circular saw or reciprocating saw
  • Safety Gear

Average Cost to Remove: $.50 to $1.00 per square foot

Average Cost to Replace: $2.00 to $3.00 per square foot

Wood Shakes Replacement Costs

Removing wood shakes is fairly straightforward and typically employs the same tools and methods as removing hardboard, or sheet siding. However, wood shakes are usually installed individually, as opposed to a stick or sheet. This requires more fasteners to install, so there are also more fasteners to remove. 

Often, wood shakes are installed over foam sheathing, so care must be taken not to severely damage the foam with pry bars and hammers. 

To accomplish this, the pros will often turn to a cat’s paw tool. This tool is specifically designed to remove nails, while minimizing damage done to the surface. Because removing these fasteners is so involved, removing wood shakes is often time consuming and tedious.

The tools needed to remove wood shakes may include, but are not limited to:

  • Pry bar
  • Flat bar
  • Claw hammer
  • Cat’s paw (special tool for removing nails)
  • Circular saw or reciprocating saw
  • Safety Gear

Average Cost to Remove: $3.00 to $4.00 per square foot

Average Cost to Replace: $4.50 to $6.00 per square foot

Sheet Siding/T1-11 Replacement Costs

Uninstalling T1-11 siding is probably the easiest wood siding product to remove. This is due to the large sheets and attachment methods commonly used. T1-11 is usually installed using galvanized ring shank or twist nails, which are often installed with a pneumatic gun for speed.

Traditionally, the pros start to remove T1-11 by using a utility knife to break the caulk seal all around the sheet. This also severs any bonds created by paint, which facilitates easy removal.

Unfortunately, some builders opt to glue T1-11 siding to wall studs as well, which makes removal extremely difficult. In these situations, many remodelers will opt to install new siding over T1-11 as opposed to removing it. 

The tools needed to remove T1-11 siding may include, but are not limited to:

  • Pry bar
  • Flat bar
  • Claw hammer
  • Cat’s paw (special tool for removing nails)
  • Circular saw or reciprocating saw
  • Safety Gear

Average Cost to Remove: $1.00 to $2.00 per square foot

Average Cost to Replace: $3.50 to $6.00 per square foot

Fiber Cement Replacement Costs

Removing fiber cement siding requires not only special consideration for airborne fibers, but removal of the fasteners as well. Fiber cement siding, similar to hardboard, is also quite brittle and can be easily broken during handling.

So much so that professional installers often avoid handling less than two or three sticks at a time. Care should be taken to carry the pieces vertically, as most fiber cement comes in 12’ long sticks. If these sticks are lifted horizontally, often they will snap under their own weight.

During removal, fiber cement siding tends to flex and break, releasing dangerous fibers, so wearing an appropriate respirator is required. This also applies to cutting fiber cement siding, as the use of typical carpentry saws also exposes harmful fibers.

Special shears made for cutting fiber cement siding are used as it reduces the dust created. Fiber cement siding is usually installed by using either ring shank or twist nails, which can be hand driven or installed with a pneumatic nailer. These special nails are designed to resist removal, so many times during removal fiber cement siding will break off, leaving the fastener. 

The tools needed to remove fiber cement siding may include, but are not limited to:

  • Pry bar
  • Flat bar
  • Claw hammer
  • Cat’s paw (special tool for removing nails)
  • Metal shears
  • Fiber cement shears
  • Safety Gear

Average Cost to Remove: $.50 to $1.00 per square foot

Average Cost to Replace: $2.00 to $3.00 per square foot

How to Save Money On Siding Removal and Replacement

If your siding replacement project is on a tight budget, there are a few ways to keep costs to a minimum. Here are a few ways a homeowner can make a siding replacement project more cost effective:

  • Make a Small Repair Yourself

One way to save money is to do some, or all of the work yourself. Experienced do-it-yourselfers likely have the experience and tools needed to perform a small siding project, such as making a repair. However, removing large sections of siding usually involves working on ladders, so unless you are very comfortable on ladders and walk boards, replacing large sections of siding yourself is not recommended. This is because from a professional’s point of view, setting up the ladders and workspace is half the work. Therefore, often a section will be removed and replaced consecutively without moving the ladders.

  • Purchase Your Own Materials

There’s no special trick to obtaining the materials for a siding project as long as they are correct and available when they are needed. Some do-it-yourselfers save money by buying materials directly from a manufacturer or distributor. This method has pitfalls, however.

For example, it may be difficult to find an installer that will provide the labor only, because many would not commit a crew to a project unless they have great confidence in the homeowner’s material list. In addition, most installers have preferred brands and may show no interest in working with brands they are unfamiliar with.

  • Shop Around

Generally speaking, most siding installers will charge a similar price for a similar job. However, shopping by price does not guarantee a good deal. If they are busy and have plenty of work, some installers will raise their price on the off chance they actually get the job.

Others may offer a very low price, but it may not include services like debris haul away or site clean up. The best strategy is usually to get at least three to five estimates and make sure each one includes the same services. Then, ensure that the installer has the appropriate licensing (if required in your jurisdiction), and insurance coverage.

If any company submitting a bid cannot produce the documentation, hiring them should be avoided. The best installers will have not only Worker’s Compensation coverage, but liability coverage as well.

What Do I Do If My House Has House Wrap?

Prior to the widespread availability of house wrap, builders would often take the extra step and install felt paper before beginning a siding installation. This felt (commonly called tar paper) is still used as a roof underlayment, due to its water resistance and adhesion qualities.

Felt paper extended the lifespan of siding by providing a barrier to both drafts and moisture. However, felt paper usually comes in narrow rolls, typically about 48” wide. That meant that to use the product as a house wrap, overlapping joints were created in the paper. These joints then required sealing, usually with tape, to dissuade water from accumulating behind the paper.

This required extra time and effort, so house wrap was invented. House wrap usually comes in 9’ rolls of 150’ and is often installed with either staples, or button cap nails. House warp is often wide enough to cover an entire wall, eliminating the extra joints caused by felt paper. House wrap was specifically designed to resist drafts, provide a long lasting moisture barrier, and seal the thermal envelope of the home.

If your replacement project has house wrap, it is important to inspect it for any holes or tears. During demolition, tools can damage the surface and create tears that allow air and moisture to pass through.

Small repairs can be made using tape designed for house wrap, or for larger areas, the material can be easily patched together. House wrap will work under any type of siding, and is a normal part of a modern siding replacement project.

Are There Hidden Costs to Watch For?

Unexpected costs can be frustrating and stressful, so be aware of the scope of your project. The best way to avoid hidden expenses is a thorough knowledge of the project. Many unexpected costs stem from a miscalculation of materials, unknown obstacles, and poorly scheduled labor.

Much of the frustration and anxiety can be reduced or avoided by staying involved. Occasionally, unforeseen water or insect damage can cause a project plan to change, so a smart move is to reserve funds just for that purpose.

Avoiding sudden financial strain makes the project much smoother and less stressful for both the installer and the homeowner.

What is the Cheapest Siding Replacement?

Although some materials are less expensive to purchase and install than others, the real value usually lies in the finished product. If the front door of a home is the head, the siding is the body. Unfortunately, some homeowners have unintentionally sacrificed appearance for cost when replacing siding. Even a small home can easily require fifteen squares of siding, so saving a few dollars per square can seem attractive. Vinyl siding generally offers the most value when maintenance is considered, so we will use it as an example. 

Vinyl siding comes in different thicknesses. This thickness translates to how well the siding deals with heat, cold, and durability. For example, thin walled vinyl siding is less expensive than its thick walled counterpart, because it requires less material to manufacture.

However, vinyl siding flexes by design and heats up quickly on the sun-facing side of a home. Because the thin material reacts to heat more quickly, thin walled vinyl will often pucker and create visible waves in the vinyl.

Thicker walled vinyl tends to hold its shape more consistently and offer greater resistance to baseballs and rocks. Therefore, it’s a good idea to spend some time deciding if immediate costs, or long term durability and performance are most important.

Siding Makes a Big Difference

Considering that the exterior of a home determines most of the curb appeal, the effect of a good siding replacement cannot be overstated. With all of the choices available to the modern consumer, the decision to replace siding can be confusing.

A great way to ensure a siding replacement project is successful is to understand the process. Remember to take your time, do your research, and ask questions.

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