Two of the most popular siding choices are vinyl and fiber cement. While they may share many benefits, like their low maintenance makeups, they are actually quite different. Here is a guide to help you choose which siding option is better for your home.
Vinyl vs. Fiber Cement
You can achieve a beautiful plank siding look with both vinyl and fiber cement. Both materials come in a variety of styles and colors. Each product can be designed to mimic cedar planks, shingles, or vertical wood panels.
Vinyl siding is a plastic siding material. It is composed mostly of polyvinyl chloride resin.
Fiber cement is composed of wood pulp, sand, Portland cement, and water. While there are many brands of fiber cement, James Hardie siding is the number one brand for fiber cement and the number one siding in America.
Which Is Better?
Which siding type is better for your home will be determined by a number of categories. Both materials have their pros and cons. So, what you will need to decide is what is most important for your specific home’s needs.
Some items to consider are:
- The location and climate where you live
- What you can afford to install
- Whether you want the option to change paint colors in the future
- How you want your home to look
- How quickly you need your siding installed
To help with these considerations, here are some comparisons of vinyl versus fiber cement.
When it comes to durability, fiber cement far surpasses vinyl. Both materials are designed to last for years. They do not rot or mold and are not susceptible to pests, which extends their lifespan beyond that of wood siding, which will rot and attract pests like termites.
However, fiber cement is thicker and sturdier than vinyl. The thickness helps to protect the home from weather. Fiber cement can combat severe winds and is not as easily harmed by hail or other harsh weather. It is also fire resistant, warp resistant, and impact resistant. By contrast, vinyl easily melts under extreme heat and can warp with weather changes.
Both fiber cement and vinyl are sought after due to their low maintenance makeups.
- Paint— Unlike wood, fiber cement rarely needs touchup paint (every 5 to 10 years) while vinyl will never need to be repainted. (However, if you desire a color change, check with the warranty requirements on your vinyl siding. Most fiber cement can be repainted, but paint can often void vinyl’s warranty. And dark paints can absorb heat, causing vinyl to warp.)
- Cleaning— With both fiber cement or vinyl, you will simply need to clean your siding once a year to remove dirt, mold, or algae buildup.
- Repairs— Stucco and brick may need repairing as stucco or mortar breaks away. However, fiber cement and vinyl rarely need to be repaired. But fiber cement will need to be caulked around joints every couple of years. Vinyl never requires such maintenance.
While both are low-maintenance, fiber cement may require a bit more work than vinyl. However, vinyl may need more partial or complete replacements, which adds to its maintenance factor.
Cost comes from three different criteria:
- initial cost
When comparing the cost associated with replacement siding, take into account more than just the upfront expenses of the material and installation.
Vinyl has an initial lower fee than fiber cement, but not by much. The price for material is relatively similar. However, fiber cement costs more to install due to the labor-intensive and time-consuming process involved.
When taking a step back, fiber cement’s durability means it will require fewer repairs or replacements, which can keep the overall cost you spend over the product’s lifespan more affordable than vinyl.
Many people wonder what form of siding they can DIY the install. However, with any product, you should hire a certified professional to ensure a seamless installation to ensure that all product warranties remain intact. James Hardie siding comes with lifetime warranties, but only when properly installed.
Vinyl is more lightweight than fiber cement and is, therefore, easier to transport, cut, and install. Fiber cement installation will take significantly longer and cost more.
Although siding’s main purpose is the protection of your home, the appeal siding material provides a home is one of the main reasons a homeowner will select a form of siding. When it comes to both vinyl and fiber cement, there is a wide variety of looks you can achieve, from vertical and horizontal planks to shingles. However, fiber cement pulls ahead in aesthetics.
Due to the thickness of fiber cement, the built-in grooves that mimic the look of real wood provide a more luxurious feel than typical vinyl.
Vinyl does not have the same depth to create such realistic looking grains. The same can be said for faux stone. The depth of fiber cement allows the materials to have a more realistic and luxurious design.
On their own, both vinyl and fiber cement are not great insulators. Vinyl has an R-value of 0.61 and fiber cement only 0.5, making them some of the lowest insulated sidings. However, with added insulation, they can be great insulators.
When insulated properly, both materials can have an R-value as high as 4, giving them a high-insulation rating.
Get Beautiful Replacement Siding
After careful research and consideration, our Refined Exteriors team can provide a smooth installation for the siding product of your choice. Our team is also available to answer any questions you might have about which siding option is best for your home.
You can feel confident in your decision and have a siding installation that keeps product warranties intact. Schedule a free consultation with us today to get started.