Vinyl siding is slightly less expensive than steel siding. Vinyl also is easier to install over siding that is already in place, and the top brands allow transfer of lifetime guarantees to others who buy the home. Steel shows its dents permanently but has a finish that doesn't require repainting.
Steel lasts longer than vinyl, as with proper care it can remain in place for more than 50 years, while vinyl lasts between 30 and 50 years. However, steel always shows dents, and if scratches appear, it's necessary to touch them up with a paint that matches the house. Also, steel is not as easily available in some parts of the country as vinyl.
With vinyl, the color is part of the material, which reduces the likelihood of fading. However, standard installation comes with 12-foot panels, and where the panels overlap, the seams show. People willing to pay about a third more can get longer panels that don't meet to form seams.
Steel siding comes in more styles than vinyl, appearing in some finishes that resemble the look of wood. Metal is also resistant to insect infestation and fire, often requiring less maintenance than vinyl. People who want a metal siding but prefer a green alternative can choose aluminum, which sometimes contains as much as 30 percent recycled metal.