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Is Vertical Or Horizontal Siding Better?

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Are you planning to build a new home?  Or is the siding on your existing home looking old and shabby? In either case, you may be thinking about adding new siding and wondering whether vertical or horizontal siding is best for your home.  We've done the research, and we have answers for you!

Many types of siding can be installed vertically or horizontally, so the decision is really personal preference.

  • If you want your home to blend in with its neighbors, stick with horizontal siding.  If, on the other hand, you want your home to stand out, vertical siding may be the best choice.
  • Vertical siding is more difficult and expensive to install; however, it is easier to clean.
  • Horizontal siding is more prone to water damage.

In the following article, we'll break down the advantages and disadvantages of vertical and horizontal installation.  We'll also show you the average cost, by siding type, for each. And we'll reveal which types of siding can't be installed vertically.  Keep reading to learn more!

New two-story contemporary home showing vinyl siding, stonework, arched entryway, roof and front entry door with two lights, Is Vertical Or Horizontal Siding Better?

Is Vertical Or Horizontal Siding Better?

Vertical Siding

Vertical siding can be installed on an entire house or used in combination with brick, stone, shingle, or horizontal lap siding.  It is typically manufactured in board-and-batten or tongue-and-groove style.  

Facade of home with manicured lawn, vertical siding, and backdrop of trees and blue sky

This home tastefully mixes vertical and horizontal siding.

Advantages

There are three major advantages to installing siding vertically:

  • Appearance:  Vertical siding is unusual, so it makes your house stand out.
  • Protection from water damage:  Unlike horizontal lap siding, vertical siding is not prone to water seeping into the underlayment and causing mildew, rot, and buckling.  Any water that hits vertical siding simply drops off.
  • Ease of cleaning:  Because water infiltration is not an issue, vertical siding can be easily cleaned with a power washer.  

Disadvantages

There are also two disadvantages to vertical siding:

  • Cost of installation:  Vertical siding is more complex to install, and it may be difficult to find a contractor with the right experience.  
  • May reduce saleability:  If you're planning to sell your home, having vertical siding may decrease the number of potential buyers simply because it is out-of-the-ordinary.

Horizontal Siding

Horizontal siding is much more common than vertical siding.  It comes in a wide variety of materials and styles and can be combined with stone, brick, shingles, or vertical wood siding for a dramatic look. 

Modern custom single-level suburban home with horizontal siding on a sunny summer day

This suburban home combines horizontal vinyl siding with cedar shingles.

Advantages

Horizontal siding has three advantages:

  • Appearance:  People are accustomed to seeing horizontal siding; it does not stand out negatively to anyone.  
  • Cost:  Horizontal siding is more common and easier to install than vertical siding, so labor costs are lower. It is easier to find a contractor with the experience to do the job right. 
  • Variety:  There are more options available for horizontal siding, so your choice of materials and styles is wider. 

Disadvantages

On the other hand, there is one major disadvantage to horizontal siding:

  • Water damage:  Horizontal siding, especially lap siding, runs the risk of water penetrating through the joints and into the underlayment.  This can lead to mold, rot, and buckling.

Types Of Siding

Now, let's look at the most common types of siding, their approximate costs, and whether they are best used horizontally or vertically.

Vinyl

Vinyl siding is popular and comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. It is lightweight and easy to install.  High-quality vinyl siding can last 30 to 40 years and requires little maintenance.

Vertical vinyl siding is most often manufactured to look like board-and-batten or tongue-and-groove.  Clapboard (lap) siding and panels made to look like shingles are the most popular styles of horizontally installed vinyl.  

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You can expect to pay between $3 and $8 per square foot for vertical vinyl siding (including installation).  Horizontal vinyl siding will cost a bit less -- $2 to $6 per square foot -- as it requires less labor to install.  If you have basic carpentry skills and experience with vinyl siding, you can save by installing it yourself.  

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Wood

Wood siding includes several different styles: board-and-batten, tongue-and-groove, clapboard, and shingles.

Board-and-Batten

This style of siding is exclusively vertical.  It features long, wide planks (boards) with the seams covered by narrow strips (batten) of the same wood, creating a three-dimensional effect.  The vertical siding adds a sophisticated look, while the wood's texture adds warmth and a homey feel.  

Small house under construction, wooden board and batten siding

Vertical board-and-batten knotty pine gives this cabin a rustic charm.

Because it is made of wood and relatively complex to install, board-and-batten siding is not cheap.  The average price for material and installation is about $9 per square foot, with a nationwide price range of $5 to $12 per square foot.  Like any wood siding, it requires annual maintenance and re-sealing every 3 to 5 years.  

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Tongue-and-Groove

This popular style of wood siding features a protrusion (tongue) along one side of each board and a slot (groove) along the other side.  One board's tongue fits into the slot of the board next to it, creating a strong joint with a seamless surface.  Tongue-and-groove siding can be installed either vertically or horizontally. 

Vertical tongue-and-groove siding uses cedar, redwood, or knotty pine; horizontal tongue-and-groove might also use pine or spruce.  

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Although these woods are not hard to install, the cost of the materials is relatively high.  You will pay from $6 to $12 per square foot; knotty pine costs a bit less ($6 to $10 per square foot).  Subtract about $1 per square foot for horizontal installation.  Both require annual maintenance and re-sealing every 3 to 5 years. 

Shingles

Cedar shingles are also a popular siding material.  Although their size and staggered joints make it difficult to classify their appearance on a home as vertical or horizontal, they are installed along a horizontal line.  Shingles can be used to side an entire house or to accent specific features, such as gables or turrets.

The cost of installed cedar shingles ranges from $8 to $13 per square foot.  The wood price is relatively high, and the installation cost is, too, because nailing each shingle to the underlayment is time-consuming.  

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Fiber Cement

Although fiber cement is usually manufactured in clapboard (lap) siding style and installed horizontally, a few companies make panels that can be installed vertically.  This allows homeowners to simulate the look of painted vertical wood siding without the maintenance.  

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Fiber cement is tricky to install and requires specialized tools.  It is also heavy, typically requiring two people to lift it.  So, installation costs drive up the overall price to $6.50 to $11.50 per square foot.  There is little difference between the costs for vertical and horizontal installation.

Engineered Wood 

Engineered wood is rapidly gaining popularity in higher-end modern homes.  It comes in panels that can be installed to create either a vertical or horizontal look.   The cost for materials and installation ranges from $3.50 to $8.50 per square foot. 

Minimalist family house villa with garage and a terrace, engineered wood used as siding

Engineered wood panels give this home a modern, sleek look.

Metal

Aluminum siding is typically installed horizontally, while corrugated steel is usually vertical.  However, each type can be installed either way.  Aluminum siding costs from $3 to $6 per square foot, while corrugated steel ranges from $4 to $8 per square foot. 

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Stone and Brick

Like shingles, these two materials are difficult to classify as horizontal or vertical because they do not come in long pieces.  However, both bricks and stone shards are almost always installed with their long axis horizontal rather than vertically.

Which Siding Is More Expensive: Vertical or Horizontal?

Vertical siding installation requires placing horizontal furring strips over the underlayment; the siding is then attached to the furring strips.  This adds extra costs for both materials and labor.  So, installing siding vertically is almost always more expensive than installing the same type horizontally.  However, vertical siding is easier to clean and tends to last longer, so it pays for itself over the long run.

Can You Install Vertical Siding Horizontally?

Tongue-and-groove siding can be installed both vertically and horizontally.  On the other hand, board-and-batten cannot be used horizontally because the batten strips would collect water, eventually leading to mildew, rot, and buckling.

Does Vertical Siding Make A House Look Taller?

Many proponents of vertical siding believe that it does make a house appear taller.  Vertical siding causes the observer's eye to move from ground to roof, rather than from side to side.  When it is installed on accent features such as peaks and gables, vertical siding can draw attention to those features, creating an illusion of greater height.

In Conclusion

If you're considering installing new siding on your home, all the choices available to you may seem a little daunting.  We hope this article's advice has helped you decide whether to go with vertical or horizontal installation.  That, in turn, may help you narrow down your options for material and style so that you can go confidently into your re-siding project!

You may also enjoy:

11 Awesome Exterior Wood Siding Ideas

10 Types Of Board-And-Batten Siding