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What is the difference between weathered wood and CertainTeed driftwood?

When choosing exterior siding for your home, you may be considering options like weathered wood or CertainTeed’s driftwood-colored vinyl siding. Both aim to recreate the look of aged, grayish wood. But there are some key differences between real weathered wood siding and the engineered driftwood vinyl siding made by CertainTeed.

In this article, we’ll compare the pros and cons of each option to help you determine which is better for your home’s exterior. We’ll look at factors like cost, maintenance, durability, aesthetics, and more. Read on to learn all about the differences between weathered wood and CertainTeed driftwood siding.

What is Weathered Wood Siding?

Weathered wood siding refers to real wood siding that has been intentionally exposed to the elements to create a worn, faded appearance. This is achieved through methods like leaving the wood unfinished, treating it with bleaches/stains, or distressing the surface.

Here are some key things to know about real weathered wood siding:

Made from Real Wood

Weathered wood siding is made from real wood species like cedar, cypress, or redwood. The wood naturally grays and weathers to a silver-gray patina over time when exposed to sun, rain, snow and other elements.

Requires Maintenance

While weathered wood has an aged appearance, it still requires maintenance like any real wood siding. Over time, unchecked moisture and sun exposure can lead to cracking, cupping, splintering, and rotting of the boards. Maintaining the finish and repairing boards as needed is important.

Natural, Unique Look

Each weathered wood board ages uniquely based on its exact exposure over years or decades. This creates natural variation in the coloration and texture for an authentic, one-of-a-kind look. The weathering process can’t be replicated exactly.


Weathered wood siding is on the pricier end of exterior cladding options. The wood itself can be more costly than synthetic siding materials, and the intentional distressing adds labor and expense. Expect to pay $6 or more per square foot installed.

What is CertainTeed Driftwood Siding?

CertainTeed driftwood vinyl siding aims to replicate the look of weathered wood. But as a synthetic siding, it has some differences from real wood. Here’s an overview:

Vinyl Siding

CertainTeed driftwood siding is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin. The vinyl is molded into clapboard or shingle profiles to mimic traditional wood siding styles.

Consistent Gray Color

The driftwood color features a medium, ash gray tone. It lacks the variation of real weathered wood but offers a consistent weathered gray color across all boards.

Low Maintenance

Vinyl siding like CertainTeed driftwood is designed to be low maintenance. It doesn’t require refinishing over time. You’ll just need occasional cleaning.

Long Lifespan

The vinyl siding is engineered to be durable and stand up to weather with a lifespan of 50+ years. It won’t rot or splinter like real wood.

Lower Cost

At around $2-4 per square foot installed, the CertainTeed driftwood vinyl siding costs less than most real wood siding counterparts.

Comparing the Look

When it comes to aesthetics, there are noticeable differences between the look of real weathered wood versus CertainTeed’s driftwood-colored vinyl siding:

Color Variation

Real weathered wood has a mix of grays, silvers, browns, and tans for dimensional, natural color variation. Driftwood vinyl siding has a single consistent medium gray tone.

Grain Visibility

Weathered wood’s grain remains visible, adding to its rustic character. The molded vinyl driftwood boards lack any visible wood grain.

Texture Variation

Natural wood has knots, cracks, and other imperfections that add texture. The vinyl siding has a uniform smooth texture.

Pattern Consistency

Due to its manufactured nature, the driftwood vinyl siding will have very consistent board sizes, spacings, and alignments. Weathered wood is more random and uneven.

Up Close Appearance

From a distance, the CertainTeed product mimics weathered wood. But up close, its vinyl material may be more noticeable.

Feature Weathered Wood CertainTeed Driftwood
Color variation Yes No
Visible wood grain Yes No
Texture variation Yes No
Pattern consistency No Yes
Naturalness up close Yes No

Comparing Durability

For longevity, CertainTeed driftwood has advantages over real weathered wood:

Prone to Decay

Weathered wood can rot, splinter, cup, and crack over time when exposed to moisture and sun. Vinyl withstands the elements better.

Termite Risk

Wood siding is susceptible to termite infestation, especially in warm climates. Vinyl deters termites.

Impact Resistance

Vinyl stands up to dents, dings, and other impacts better than softer cedar or redwood.

Color Fading

Real wood grays further over time. Vinyl is formulated to maintain its color longer.

Fire Resistance

Vinyl is slow burning and won’t readily ignite like wood. It better resists fire damage.

Durability Factor Weathered Wood CertainTeed Driftwood
Decay resistance Low High
Termite resistance Low High
Impact resistance Low High
Color fade resistance Low High
Fire resistance Low High

Comparing Maintenance Needs

One of the main advantages of CertainTeed driftwood siding is its minimal maintenance needs compared to real weathered wood:

No Refinishing

Weathered wood needs periodic refinishing or resealing to protect it from moisture. Vinyl siding is inherently waterproof.

Infrequent Cleaning

Vinyl just needs occasional cleaning with a hose. Weathered wood may require more scrubbing to remove mold, mildew and stains.

No Repainting

Over time, weathered wood siding may need spot painting to cover damaged areas. Vinyl won’t need repainting.

No Board Replacement

With weathered wood, damaged boards must be replaced as needed. Vinyl boards are far less prone to damage.

No Prepping or Priming

Wood needs prep work like sanding, patching, and priming before painting or sealing. Vinyl doesn’t require these steps.

Maintenance Task Weathered Wood CertainTeed Driftwood
Refinishing Required Not required
Cleaning More intensive Low maintenance
Repainting May be needed Not needed
Board replacement Commonly needed Rarely needed
Priming/prepping Required Not required

Installation Comparison

Installing CertainTeed driftwood siding is generally simpler than weathered wood siding:

Skill Level Required

Weathered wood siding should be installed by an experienced carpenter. Vinyl siding can be installed by a handy homeowner.

Special Tools Needed

Wood siding requires more specialized tools for cutting and drilling. Vinyl can be cut with basic tools like tin snips.

Precision demanded

Achieving straight, well-aligned boards takes more precision with weathered wood. Vinyl is more forgiving.

Saving existing siding

Installing wood over existing siding requires precision furring. Vinyl can install over existing siding more readily.

Damaging siding during install

Fragile weathered wood is at risk for cracking, splintering, and breaking during installation. Vinyl is less prone to damage.

Installation Factor Weathered Wood CertainTeed Driftwood
Skill level needed High Low
Special tools required Yes No
Precision demanded High Low
Install over existing siding Difficult Easier
Risk of install damage High Low

Cost Comparison

One of the biggest differences between real weathered wood and CertainTeed driftwood siding is cost:

Higher Material Cost

Weathered wood siding costs $4-9+ per square foot just for materials. Driftwood vinyl is $2-4 per square foot.

Higher Labor Cost

Installing wood siding has more labor hours involved, increasing overall job costs. Vinyl siding installation takes less time.

Varies by Region

Material and labor costs for any siding vary by location. Evaluate quotes for your specific area.

Economies of Scale

The total square footage needed will impact per square foot costs. Larger jobs may have lower rates.

Contractor’s Rates

Individual contractor’s rates will influence overall installed costs for either siding type. Get multiple quotes.

Cost Factor Weathered Wood CertainTeed Driftwood
Material cost per sq.ft. $4-9+ $2-4
Labor cost per sq.ft. Higher Lower
Regional variability High High
Economies of scale Yes Yes
Impact of contractor rates High High

Environmental Impact

For an eco-friendly exterior, weathered wood is a better choice than vinyl siding:

Biodegradable Materials

Weathered wood is biodegradable at end of life. Vinyl siding is plastic and won’t readily decompose.

Renewable Resources

Wood siding comes from renewable trees. Vinyl is petroleum-based and consumes fossil fuels.

Recycling Options

At end of life, weathered wood can potentially be reused, recycled or composted. Vinyl is harder to recycle.

Lower Embodied Energy

It takes far less energy to produce and transport wood siding versus vinyl.

No Harmful Chemicals

Vinyl siding can off-gas potentially toxic chemicals, especially when new or heated by the sun.

Factor Weathered Wood CertainTeed Driftwood
Biodegradability Yes No
Renewable materials Yes No
Recycle options Yes Limited
Embodied energy Low High
Off-gassing of chemicals No Yes

Resale Value Impact

Both siding types can positively or negatively impact resale value:

Regional Preferences

Some buyers prefer weathered wood’s natural appeal, while others like vinyl’s low maintenance. Preferences vary.

Quality and Condition

Well-maintained wood can command a premium. Poorly maintained wood or lower-grade vinyl may deter buyers.

Energy Efficiency

Vinyl siding offers better insulation. This can recoup some costs at resale.

Curb Appeal

Both options can boost curb appeal and give a home an updated facelift. This helps attract buyers.

Cost vs. Value

Vinyl siding offers a higher cost recoup rate of around 80% per the National Association of Realtors. Wood siding returns around 75%.

Factor Weathered Wood CertainTeed Driftwood
Regional preferences Varies V