Shopping for vinyl siding is not a fun experience. With so many different colors, styles, textures and thicknesses out there it quickly becomes a headache trying to pick out the perfect siding for your house.
As a contractor I often tell people to do a little research before calling anyone for a price. Drive around the neighborhood a few times and notice the nicest looking homes. Take pictures of the homes with your phone camera. Have a notebook and make notes on the different types of siding people use on their homes. Clapboard on some, board and batten on others, and some use two of three different types of siding together.
After you have spent a few hours checking out other houses, you will come up with some ideas on what you think will look the best on your house. Example, you like Cedar Shakes on the main house with board and batten on the garage. Or you could want that smooth look of clapboard. Once you decide on the type of siding, you have eliminated about 90% of all the products out there and can focus on finding the right cedar shake or board and batten siding. That is what you want to go shopping for.
Next head to the local home depot and Lowe's and look at the different brands of siding. Get all the brochures they have and bring back home to read. Compare the textures, thickness, and colors of each of the different brands. Write everything down in a notebook. Brand A is this thick and it comes in 30 colors, brand B is not as thick but has 41 colors. Take the notebook with you when you go shopping at other stores to use as your reference. If you see something you like write it down so you can compare it to the others products you have looked at.
Keep this in mind, the labor to install siding is the same whether you buy economy brand siding or premium brand siding. So the only real differences in prices you are going to get from contractors when you do call are the different qualities of the siding and trim the contractor uses and the quality and skill of the installation. Price to install the siding is the same, prices for the siding and trim varies greatly.
The contractor needs to know the quality or thickness of the vinyl siding you are interested in. If you tell him you are looking for a premium brand with a lifetime warranty, and can handle tropical storm winds, he can help you find that product. He is less inclined to spend hours going over different color combinations with you. So pick your own color!
The only way you will be able to compare different price quotes from different contractors is to make certain that each contractor is bidding on the exact same siding product. When a contractor gives you a price quote on a particular siding you have chosen, then the only differences in price should be his labor.
So that is why it is important for the homeowner to have done a little research in products and picked out the siding that they think will fit their home. Ask your contractor for more suggestions.