Where's the siding market headed? According to new research by The Freedonia Group, overall demand for siding materials will be flat through 2010 at some 116.7 million squares annually. The residential segment of the market will shrink, but what the researchers term the “residential improvement and repair” portion — i.e., replacement of existing siding — will rise, offering replacement contractors a likely net gain.

SHIFT IN MATERIALS The Freedonia Group projects that demand for siding materials used for replacement will grow 9.7% through 2010, to 41.5 million squares. In addition, the group notes a more dramatic shift in demand for particular siding materials that is likely to continue, if not accelerate.

At Southern Siding, in Bonita Springs, Fla., vinyl remains the dominant siding material, president Jim Atkins says. But fiber-cement installations, which were zero five years ago, now make up 20% of the company's total, he says. “Vinyl is flat, but fiber cement is a constantly growing option,” Atkins adds.

Ron Lynch, sales manager for Permalar Industries of Florida, in Jacksonville, sees a similar pattern, and the company now installs about the same proportion of fiber-cement siding as vinyl. “It was obvious there was a market out there and that we had to adjust to what is going on,” he says.

Even in the Pacific Northwest, a bastion of wood siding, “there's lots of fiber cement,” reports Steve Aufenthie, president of Northwest Siding Contractors in Portland, Ore. Ten years ago, wood siding dominated the market he says. Today, “we do Hardiplank and cedar, and it's 90% Hardiplank and 10% wood.”

HOW THINGS SHAKE OUT The research projects that demand for fiber-cement siding in the residential improvement segment will increase by 52% through 2010, with vinyl growing by 9.4%, while demand for wood siding will shrink by 15%. All other siding materials — stucco, brick, vinyl-coated steel, etc. — are projected to retain their current market share.

Meanwhile, even with the growth in market share of fiber-cement siding, “an awful lot of people still want vinyl because they don't want maintenance,” says Atkins, especially Florida's older demographic. And you still have to paint fiber cement, he adds.