Consumer Reports' endurance tests determine the best vinyl siding options

We've spent a lot of time inside our homes over the past year, but maybe now it's time to think about the outside.

If you're in the market for vinyl siding, Consumer Reports revealed the results of its rigorous tests against wind, weather and other obstacles nature can throw your home's way.

New siding can boost your home's curb appeal and protect your home from damage caused by moisture and insects.

Consumer Reports says, compared to wood, vinyl and other siding alternatives are easier to maintain and cost less too.

"Vinyl siding is never going to look exactly like wood, but manufacturers are creating new styles and textures for a more wood-like appearance. And they're doing the same with alternative sidings," said Consumer Reports' Tobie Stanger.

The alternative sidings can cost $200 or more per 100 square feet. Vinyl siding, on the other hand, costs less, starting at about $100 per 100 square feet.

Which ones will stand up to years of weathering? That's where Consumer Reports' rigorous tests come in.

One test measures a siding's resistance to impact, like from branches and other debris, that can hit your home. Because temperature can affect how a siding performs, the test is done at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and then again at 0 degrees.

Consumer Reports also assesses wind resistance.

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For most homes, the top-rated Alside Charter Oak Clapboard Vinyl Siding earned top wind-resistance and warm impact scores. It's a Consumer Reports best buy at $95 per 100 square feet.

"If you're concerned that in winter your house might get battered by wind-blown branches or heavy objects, you might want to stick with wood or with fiber cement siding," said Stanger.

Consumer Reports says an alternative siding from CertainTeed costs about three times more than the vinyl. However, it earned top scores for resisting cold-temperature impacts.

Most of the vinyl siding samples Consumer Reports tested in its weathering machine showed a noticeable change in color when compared with new samples after the color change test. The alternative products held their color the best.

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