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Oct 8, 2020

What is the Most Popular Exterior Building Material?

House builder working on stucco exterior

What is the Most Popular Exterior Building Material?

If you guessed vinyl is the most popular siding product—you were wrong, but not off by much. According to the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction, stucco stood out as the most used principal exterior material for new single-family home construction last year. 

Vinyl siding, including vinyl-covered aluminum, came in a fairly close second place with 25% of new single-family homes featuring vinyl as the principal exterior material. Stucco was used in 27% of new single-home builds, or 217,000 of the 683,000 new single-family homes sold last year.

Roughly 903,000 single-family homes were completed last year, averaging out at 2,322 square feet, and sold at a median sales price of $321,500.


Stucco house exterior material


The other building materials that made the list were fiber cement, brick or brick veneer, wood or wood products, stone, rock, or other stone materials, and other. Fiber cement siding accounted for 21% of new single-family builds while brick or brick veneer was used in 20%. Wood or wood products came next, but with a large margin, at 5%. Stone, rock, or other stone materials were used in 1% of new single-family homes last year.

In 2018, both stucco and vinyl tied for most popular exterior material and were used by 26% of new homes. But in 2017, vinyl stole the first place spot by 2 percentage points.

Though these percentages are averages for new home construction, the primary exterior material changes drastically from region to region. The East North Central, New England, Middle Atlantic, and West North Central regions of the country utilized vinyl as the primary material.


Home with blue vinyl siding


The Middle Atlantic region chose vinyl the most, with 75% of new homes featuring vinyl as the primary exterior material. 

For stucco usage, the Pacific, Mountain, and South Atlantic regions chose the material the most. The Pacific region chose stucco for 57% of its new homes.

Both the West South Central and East South Central regions used brick, or brick veneer, as its primary exterior material. When the West South Central region did not choose brick, it went with fiber cement in 20% of new homes. Wood only appeared as the second-place choice for both the West North Central and New England regions.


Arizona house stucco exterior


Compared to data from 2012 new builds, none of these material choices have changed much. Vinyl and stucco remained most popular for the same regions, except for the South Atlantic region. This region experienced the greatest change. Vinyl was the most popular material in 2012, and stucco was only used in 27% of new builds.

The regions that utilize stucco the most are warm and beachy—minus the entirety of the Mountain region. Stucco is extremely durable and suited for a warmer, dry climate. As stucco is made from cement, sand, lime, and water, it's more natural-looking finish matches the styles in these warmer regions. But because the material’s durability and R-value of 0.20 per inch, it is suitable for colder regions such as some states in the Mountain region.

Caroline Broderick

Caroline Broderick is the associate editor of PRODUCTS.

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