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Buyer's Guide for Exterior Siding (page 5 of 6)

Getting ready to re-side your house? Compare costs, weigh pros and cons, and learn how each of today's most popular siding materials rank when it comes to being earth-friendly.

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Engineered Wood Siding

Engineered wood siding is made of wood fibers and exterior-grade resins. It's tough, strong and can stand up to extreme weather conditions. It comes in a variety of styles and textures, including beaded lap, rough-sawn clapboard and look-alike wood shingles. It comes ready-to-paint, primed or with factory finishes.

Engineered wood siding positions itself as a cheaper alternative to fiber cement and real wood, but with similar durability. Some brands provide 50-year warranties.

Upside: Easy to work, with no harmful dust. Borate compounds added to the mixture make engineered wood siding impervious to insects. It's half the cost of real wood siding.

Downside: Although now backed by serious R&D and warranties, early versions of engineered wood siding experienced failures due to moisture problems, resulting in class-action lawsuits. Newer varieties haven't been on the market long enough to prove their longevity claims.

Green meter: Binders are low-VOC. Manufacturing uses entire trees and select wood scrap so that production waste is minimal.

Cost: $3 to $5 per square foot, installed. Expect to pay $7,000 to $12,000 to cover an average two-story house.