Home Siding: Where You Live Determines What You Pay

Home Siding: Where You Live Determines What You Pay

Siding Installation: Regional Differences in Labor Costs

Home siding contractors work in very local markets. Therefore, you can expect that labor costs for your project will mirror those of your metropolitan area. In expensive markets like Boston or Los Angeles, residents understand that the costs for a home improvement job will be higher than they are in Orleans Parrish, Louisiana, where the average single adult earns just 16,847 per year!

A survey of home siding contractors in those three areas bears this out. Contractors in all three locations were asked to provide estimates for siding materials and installation to cover a two-story 2,000 square foot bungalo-style home (removal of the old siding was not required). In Boston, labor costs for siding installation averaged $9,760 and ranged from $6,000 to $12,000. In Los Angeles, labor charges varied from $3,000 to $30,000, averaging $9,985. And in New Orleans, labor estimates ranged from $2,115 to $9,000, averaging only $5,064!

Contractor Labor Charges Vary According to Siding Type

Within these broad regional differences, siding installation labor charges also vary according to the type of siding chosen. In general, fiber cement siding is more complicated to install than vinyl and costs more accordingly. Wood siding installation costs are all over the charts from very cheap (for factory pre-finished, pre-primed, or pre-stained products) to very spendy (for special patterns and custom onsite finish work). In Boston, installation charges averaged as follows:

  • Fiber cement: $9,690
  • Vinyl: $7,590
  • Wood: $12,000

Los Angeles contractors charged the following:

  • Fiber cement:$9,749
  • Vinyl: 9,099
  • Wood: $11,108

New Orleans labor prices break down as follows:

  • Fiber cement: $5,572
  • Vinyl: $4,556
  • Wood: (insufficient data)

Contractor Labor Charges Vary According to Siding Grade

One reason that siding installation costs vary so much is that within each type there are grades of finish that require more work than others--pre-finished products that don't need sanding, staining, or painting keep labor costs down but then materials are more expensive. That is how you get a $3,000 installation quote in pricy Los Angeles--the contractor stipulated that the material would be a high-grade pre-finished and pre-trimmed brand. The cost of the materials in that case is higher than average.

In parts of the country where labor is cheap, it may make sense to buy materials that require more finish work; in more expensive towns it may be be smarter to buy "turnkey" products and keep your labor costs down. When comparing installation quotes from siding contractors, make sure that the siding estimates contain all the same materials, services, and measurements. Trimming, crown moldings and corner boards may be included in one quote and not another. If measurements vary substantially, consider the reasons that might account for the difference; perhaps one contractor allows for more material overage.

Siding Material Costs Vary Too

Of course, siding materials vary according to the quality of materials selected. You would expect that. However, this survey also found that the cost of materials varied by region as follows:


  • Fiber cement: $12,810
  • Vinyl: $9,223
  • Wood: $8,000

Los Angeles:

  • Fiber cement: $16,798
  • Vinyl: $13,640
  • Wood: $17,558

New Orleans:

  • Fiber cement: $4,928
  • Vinyl: $4,076
  • Wood:(insufficient data)

What then would account for regional disparities? Shouldn't the same prefabricated siding produced in the same factory cost the same regardless of where it ends up? It should, and it probably does.

A University of Massachusetts study found that siding preferences are highly regional and you will find marked partiality for specific types from state to state, town to town, and even neighborhood to neighborhood. It seems reasonable then that there would be similar regional preferences in siding grade or features. The study also found that one of the most important criterion for homeowners selecting siding is that it match or "go with'' the house. So you would expect to see high-grade expensive materials in expensive areas and lower-grade choices in less expensive areas. It makes little sense to slap cheap aluminum siding on a mansion or construct an elaborate brick facade on a small tract home.

Does a comparison of housing markets support the difference in average materials costs in Los Angeles, Boston, and New Orleans? It appears to. Average housing prices in these three metropolitan statistical areas are as follows:

  • Boston: $360,200
  • Los Angeles: $339,900
  • New Orleans:$161,900

What your neighbors pay for siding, then, can significantly influence what you pay. Your siding choices are guided by the preferences of the residents in your state, town, and neighborhood.





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