If you are selling your home, vinyl is probably your best choice as it is an inexpensive material and the installation cost is low. If you are planning on living in your home for the next 50 years then brick is the traditional siding for durability, low maintenance and aesthetic value.
There are also many levels of quality within each type of siding. Some is insulated, while other sidings require that insulation be placed on the external wall prior to installing the siding.
Remember that the siding you choose will also have an effect on the costs of heating and air conditioning your home. Vinyl and aluminum siding have very low R factors, and while they are easier to maintain than cedar, cedar has a much higher R factor and hence will insulate your home much better.
The following chart will give you some indication as to the costs of the basic siding material, its durability, appearance and maintenance in relation to other types of sidings.
Numbers in columns for durability, appearance and maintenance are based on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the best. The numbers are also based on a proper installation. Poor installation of even the best material will lower the numbers dramatically.