Cut the cost of home maintenance

A new generation of materials promises to cut the work -- and cost -- of maintaining your home.

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low maintenance home

Homeowners once had to make a choice: the beauty of genuine wood and stone, or the easy maintenance of a man-made alternative.

Installing vinyl siding over wood shingles, for example, meant you'd never have to repaint again, but also required sacrificing architectural charm -- and possibly getting kicked off your neighbor's dinner party guest list.

Now, though, you can have it all. A new breed of manufactured products available at home centers and specialty shops looks realistic enough to preserve or even boost your home's appearance.

While some of these modern materials are pricier than the natural versions, they will save you money and effort over the long term.

Plus, "it's a compelling one-two punch for selling," says Lake Forest, Ill., realtor Carol Russ. "The traditional looks draw buyers in, and then I tell them that they're actually seeing new, super-durable materials."

On the slides that follow, you'll find six imitations that might be better than the real deal.

  @Money - Last updated February 05 2014 04:09 PM ET
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