How to Choose Siding for Your Home: Vinyl or Fiber Cement?
The siding on your home plays a vital role in protecting it from the elements, insulating your interior, and let’s face it, keeping your house looking good from the outside. Unfortunately, siding doesn’t last forever.
If you’re building a new house or renovating an old one, your choice of siding can play a central role, with regard to both the structural integrity of your home and your future costs when you have to update it.
Today, several different siding options are available, including wood, brick, and stucco. But the two most popular are vinyl and fiber-cement siding (such as hardieplank siding). Each type has advantages and disadvantages, but a direct comparison between vinyl siding and fiber-cement siding can lead to some interesting and powerful conclusions about the best type for your home.
The first difference you’ll notice between vinyl and fiber-cement siding can be found in the core materials. Vinyl siding is relatively straightforward: Made of plastic manufactured from PVC, it’s a flexible and relatively weatherproof solution for home siding. It is often painted and sometimes mixed with additional materials to enhance its impact resistance, gloss, or durability.
In contrast, fiber-cement siding is a composite material that hybridizes cellulose fiber, sand, cement, and water. All fiber-cement siding materials are environmentally friendly and non-toxic, which make them a superior environmental choice to vinyl siding … or wood, for that matter.
Durability is possibly fiber-cement siding’s greatest advantage. Vinyl siding will last for several years, but it’s vulnerable to environmental damage and less resistant to normal aging. It must be repainted frequently, and shows signs of wear and age sooner than fiber cement.
Fiber-cement siding is built to last, however. Most experts agree it can readily last 50 years or longer. It rarely needs repainting, and requires minimal upkeep to remain in good condition. Some brands, such as hardieplank siding, even come with an extended guarantee of longevity: upwards of 30 years or more.
When it comes to resistance to the elements, fiber-cement siding is the clear winner. It should be no surprise why. The material more dense and sturdy, and heavier than vinyl, so it’s more resistant to harsh storms that carry wind, rain, and even hail.
It incurs less damage from such weather conditions, and is less subject to deterioration from hot, humid environments as well. It does a better job of insulating your home because it’s thicker and denser, which should reduce your energy costs over time.
Perhaps most important is fiber cement’s resistance to fire. Because it’s made of sand and cement, fiber-cement siding is not flammable, so that reduces the risk of a house fire. Compare that to flammable vinyl siding, which can even produce toxic chemicals if it ignites.
Vinyl siding comes in a range of different textures, styles, and colors, but it isn’t nearly as flexible as fiber-cement siding. The advantage vinyl siding has over fiber cement is its thickness—it’s only a few millimeters thick, as opposed to a little over a quarter-inch for fiber cement.
Fiber-cement siding can be finished with a variety of different textures to mimic the natural appearance of wood, vinyl, or almost any other texture you like. It can also be painted any color, which gives you practically unlimited range for the external appearance of your house.
In addition, because fiber-cement siding is naturally more resistant to age and environmental damage, it’s able to sustain its appearance for much longer than a vinyl counterpart. It can stay looking newly installed for decades to come.
So far, you may be wondering why vinyl siding is still as popular as it is today; it’s because of the cost. For all its advantages, fiber-cement siding is more expensive to produce and install, which makes vinyl a popular choice for homeowners looking to save a few dollars.
However, it’s also useful to realize that fiber-cement siding greatly increases the value of a home, and furnishes long-term savings by requiring less maintenance and offering greater insulation. In the long run, you’ll surely recoup the initial cost of installation, even if they are higher.
The installation process isn’t especially more intensive or complicated for fiber-cement siding than vinyl siding. Both types can be applied to nearly any home by a certified, experienced contractor, and there are few other considerations for ensuring a quality install.
Which Is Best?
If you’re the type of person who wants a bottom-line answer, you’re in luck. If you take price out of the picture, there’s no question which type of siding is better.
Fiber-cement siding is more durable, requires less maintenance, resists the elements more effectively, increases your home value more, offers greater aesthetic value, and wins in terms of environmental friendliness as well. Vinyl siding isn’t inherently bad, and might offer some protection for your home, but even with cost incorporated into the equation, fiber-cement siding is almost universally and inarguably superior.
What Type of Fiber-Cement Siding Is Best?
There are several different brands of fiber-cement siding, just as there are different brands of paint or apparel. Some brands offer a higher quality than others, and some have a longer history of reliability.
When it comes to durability and brand reputation, hardieplank siding (sometimes called James Hardie siding or hardie plank siding) is the best in the industry. Hardieplank siding was the first fiber-cement siding in the world, and it currently has more than 30 years of history. Universally, hardieplank siding is the number-one rated consumer brand of fiber-cement siding.
When you’re shopping for the best price on fiber-cement or vinyl siding, you’ll also want to consider the quality of your installation contractor. Going with a cheap option with lower customer reviews and a shorter history of business might not necessarily work for you.
Instead, look for a good price from a reputable installer, such as K&B Home Remodelers. We have an average of 4.9 out of 5.0 stars, and decades of combined experience in siding. If you’re interested in a quote or more information about new siding for your home, contact us here.