Engineered Wood Siding – Advantages and Disadvantages

A picture of engineered wood siding on the side of a house. It is light gray in color and oriented horizontally. Across the top of the image are the words, "Engineered Wood Siding - Advantages and Disadvantages." At the bottom of the image is a set of scales with a red cross on the left and a green tick on the right.

Home siding provides an extra layer that protects a home against elements like snow, wind, heat, and rain.

Although natural wood siding has been used for centuries, engineered wood siding has emerged as a sustainable and cost-effective option.

As a curious homeowner or builder, you may want to know the advantages and disadvantages of engineered wood siding before deciding which to use.

Engineered wood siding blends wood fibers or strands bonded by resins to create a strong and lightweight product. It’s specially designed to resist damage from moisture, pests, and other environmental elements.

However, engineered wood siding, like any other building material, has its drawbacks.

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss how engineered wood siding is made and its pros and cons. I’ll also help you assess if it’s the right option for your home.

Let’s get started!

How Is Engineered Wood Siding Made?

A worker with his back to the camera fixing engineered wood siding to the side of a house using a drill and screws. In the bottom right corner of the image are three yellow question marks in an arch-shape.
Engineered wood siding is made in a factory using wood fibers and resin binder. Once the pieces are cut to size, they are easy to fit.

Engineered wood siding, also known as composite wood siding or synthetic wood siding, is made by mixing wood fibers, resin, and other materials. The mixture is then pressed under high levels of heat.

Here is the general overview of the process:

  1. Raw materials: The wood fibers used in engineered wood siding are usually sourced from Aspen lumber. Aspen lumber is the preferred choice due to its excellent paint-holding ability. The wood is debarked, chipped, and screened to remove impurities.
  2. Mixing: The wood fibers are mixed with a resin binder, such as phenol-formaldehyde or urea-formaldehyde. Other additives such as wax, pigments, and water repellents are added.
  3. Forming: The mixture is pressed and heated under high pressure to form large sheets of engineered wood siding. The sheets can be textured to resemble stucco or designed like traditional wood siding.
  4. Cutting: The sheets are cut to the desired size and shape.
  5. Finishing: The engineered wood siding is finished with a protective coating such as stain or paint. This enhances its durability and weather resistance.

The table below summarizes the pros and cons of engineered wood siding:

Withstands temperature fluctuationsNot ideal for refinishing
Cost-effective installationNon-eco-friendly binding agents like formaldehyde
Versatile range of colorsUnnatural finish
Resistant to water damageThe resins may become delaminated over time
Resistant to warpingSusceptible to fading over time
Easy to cut and installIts longevity is still unknown

Table 1: The pros and cons of engineered wood siding

What Are the Pros of Engineered Wood Siding?

The pros of engineered wood siding include:

  • It’s cheaper than natural wood siding.
  • It’s lightweight, making it easier to install.
  • It’s resistant to weather damage and pests.
  • It withstands temperature fluctuations better due to its high stability.
  • It’s versatile due to its wide range of colors.
  • It’s made from recyclable materials.
  • It’s easy to cut and resize.
  • It’s resistant to mold and mildew.

How Long Will Engineered Wood Siding Last?

Engineered wood siding in a dark brown color with prominent wood-like grain. In the bottom left there is a calendar and in the bottom right, an hourglass.
Engineered wood siding can easily last for 20-30 years with regular cleaning and maintenance.

Engineered wood siding lasts between 20 and 30 years. The secret to longevity is proper installation and regular maintenance. Some maintenance tips include:

  • Applying a fresh coat of paint every 10 years.
  • Cleaning mildew and dirt regularly.
  • Moving sprinklers away.
  • Inspecting your home at least twice a year to nip any problems in the bud.

Is Engineered Wood Better Than Vinyl Siding?

Engineered wood is better than vinyl siding because it’s resistant to impact and weather fluctuations.

A significant drawback of vinyl siding is its susceptibility to high temperatures. Since it’s made of PVC, vinyl siding becomes brittle when exposed to extreme temperatures. Moreover, its color fades in direct sunlight.

Furthermore, vinyl siding can expand and contract about 12.7mm (0.5-inch) due to temperature changes, leading to gaps between panels.

Does Engineered Wood Siding Rot?

Pre-finished engineered wood siding doesn’t rot. The wood fibers in engineered wood siding have been pressed and bonded with resin. Resin prevents the wood fibers from absorbing moisture, protecting them from rot and decay.

With regular maintenance, your engineered wood siding can last for decades without rotting or becoming brittle.

What Are the Disadvantages of Engineered Wood?

The disadvantages of engineered wood include:

  • It’s unsuitable for refinishing: Refinishing engineered wood with thinner veneers is not advisable as this may expose the inner layer to weather damage. Engineered wood with thicker veneers should also not be refinished more than three times.
  • It’s prone to delamination: Delamination is when the resin binding the layers of wood fibers together weakens over time. This can cause the panels to separate or warp.
  • Poor quality issues: Some manufacturers may compromise the quality of engineered wood to save time and money. Such engineered wood siding can affect your house’s structural integrity.
  • Fading: Engineered woods are bound to fade when exposed to the sun due to UV rays. Therefore, you must check to ascertain that your engineered wood siding has a UV stabilizer.

Does Engineered Wood Fade in Sunlight?

A photograph of brown engineered wood siding with a faded area next to a sun icon.
Sunlight can cause engineered wood siding to fade over time, but the impact can be mitigated by repainting periodically.

Engineered wood fades in heavy sunlight due to UV rays. These rays break down the wood’s chemical bonds, causing the color to fade.

Besides going for UV-stabilized engineered wood siding, you can choose lighter colors since they don’t fade easily like darker colors.

Moreover, inspect your home regularly for signs of damage and consider applying a fresh coat of paint every 10 years. Doing so will help maintain your home’s aesthetic appeal.

Is Engineered Wood Siding Waterproof?

Although engineered wood siding can withstand water damage, it’s not fully waterproof. Pre-finished engineered wood siding is coated with a water-resistant layer, making it capable of repelling moisture.

However, if exposed to standing water for an extended period, the water can eventually penetrate the layers and cause damage. Therefore, ensure your home has adequate drainage systems and avoid placing sprinklers near engineered wood siding.

Vinyl siding may be your go-to option if you’re looking for a waterproof alternative.

Is Engineered Wood High Maintenance?

A photo of engineered wood siding with a small cartoon graphic of a workman kneeling down wearing a hard hat and opening a toolbox.
Engineered wood siding requires some maintenance, but not any more than solid wood needs.

Engineered wood requires high maintenance due to the delicate top layer made from hardwood veneer. This top layer can get scratched, dinged, and dirty easily.

Therefore, regular cleaning, just the way you would for solid wood, is necessary to keep your engineered wood siding looking fresh and new.

Final Thoughts

Engineered wood siding is an exceptional alternative to vinyl and solid wood. It’s highly resistant to weather fluctuations and offers outstanding energy efficiency.

Like standard wood, a drawback of engineered wood siding is its high maintenance requirement and susceptibility to fading.

Considering all these factors, engineered wood siding might be your best bet if you’re looking for low-cost but aesthetically-pleasing siding.

Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of engineered wood siding, check out this article for the top ten methods you can use to build sustainably.

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