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A Comparison of Two Common Structure Exteriors: Fiber Cement Siding vs. Vinyl Siding

Posted on by PortlandSEOGrowth
fiber cement board vs vinyl siding

You’ve been putting it off for too long and know it’s time to invest in siding or re-siding your home. Maybe it’s a project you’ve never had to tackle before, and you’re unfamiliar with where to start and what your options are.

You’ve asked around the neighborhood, and two suggestions keep coming up:

  • Fiber Cement Siding

AND

  • Vinyl Siding

But which option is best for your home, your lifestyle?

Don’t worry. This guide will provide you with all of the pros and cons of both materials. Additionally, you’ll learn important factors to consider when making your decision.

And — if after informing yourself on both siding options you still find yourself unsure, Elite Home Exteriors can:

  • Come to your location
  • Perform a free exterior inspection and consultation
  • Provide their expert opinion and an estimate for your siding project

Fiber Cement Siding Cost Vs Vinyl

Table of Contents

Understand the Materials Before Choosing Between Vinyl or Fiber Cement Siding

If you’re looking into siding, two products may be considering and comparing include: fiber cement siding and vinyl siding.

Both are good options. Your decision may come down to your aesthetic preferences, budget, or other factors.

What Is Fiber Cement Siding?

Fiber cement siding is a material used to cover a building’s exterior (residential and commercial.) Made from cement reinforced with cellulose fibers, it became a popular siding option in the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s thanks to its durability and resistance to fire and heat. 

The introduction of fiber cement siding cut into the market share of vinyl, wood-based, and aluminum siding, all popular products at the time.

What Is Vinyl Siding?

Vinyl siding is an exterior siding made of plastic. It was introduced into the home building market in the 1950s as a replacement for aluminum siding. Since 1994 vinyl siding has been the most popular material for the exterior of new homes. Vinyl siding is even more popular in the home remodeling market.

Which Is Better — Vinyl or Fiber Cement Siding?

Fiber cement board vs. vinyl siding? This is a tough question to answer as it’s entirely dependent on the project, the building’s location, and what factors are most important to the owner. The fact is, there are pros and cons to each product.

What someone wants for their home in Portland may be entirely different than what’s ideal for a business in Phoenix.

This guide will break down everything you need to know to make the right decision for you and your building.

Fiber Cement Siding Vs Vinyl

6 Factors to Consider When Comparing Fiber Cement Siding vs. Vinyl Siding

When comparing the pros and cons of Fiber cement (often called Hardie board) vs. vinyl siding, you may want to consider the following 6 factors:

  1. Durability
  2. Eco-friendliness
  3. Energy efficiency
  4. Fire/heat vulnerabilities
  5. Maintenance requirements
  6. Resale value

#1: Durability

Whether you’re replacing siding or installing it for the first time, durability should be a high priority for you. After all, this is an investment. You want your investment to last. You also want it to withstand extreme weather.

Fiber Cement Siding

Once properly installed, fiber cement siding gets high marks for durability, and deservedly so. The strong, dense material is resistant to damage from: 

  • Wind
  • Hail
  • Snow; 
  • And ice. 

        For that reason, fiber cement is a popular choice in parts of the country where hurricanes and tornadoes are prevalent. 

        In fact, when it comes to the ability to withstand weather conditions of all types, fiber cement is a winner. It fares better than other products in the damp and wet climate of the Pacific Northwest. Fiber cement is also resistant to deterioration from salt, making it an ideal material for homes near the ocean.

        No need to call the exterminator for termites or carpenter ants if you select fiber cement siding, as these pests leave the material alone due to the lack of cellulose fiber in the product.

        When maintained, fiber cement siding can last 50 years or longer–– that’s longer than most people stay in a home!

        Important to note: fiber cement is fragile prior to being installed. The material is susceptible to chipping and cracking during shipping and installation.

        Vinyl Siding

        When it comes to durability, great improvements have been made compared to when the material was first being used in the 1960s and 1970s. 

        You can expect vinyl siding to last 20-40 years.

        Impact can cause cracks, so you’ll want to be careful playing baseball in the yard (you won’t want a wild pitch to hit the house) and may have to worry about falling limbs causing damage to the vinyl siding during a storm.

        When shopping for vinyl siding, you may have the option of standard and premium vinyl. Premium vinyl is thicker, giving you better protection and durability.

        Vinyl doesn’t attract termites or other bugs. Rot is also a non-issue for vinyl siding, unlike wood.

        #2: Eco-Friendliness

        Many homeowners these days are more environmentally conscious and value prioritizing sustainable and eco-friendly siding options. 

        A number of factors must be considered when determining the eco-friendliness of a product, including:

        • Material
        • Labor
        • Manufacturing
        • Recyclability
        • Source

        Fiber Cement Siding

        Fiber cement is made of natural materials, including:

        • Sand
        • Cement; and
        • Wood pulp

        While the recycling of fiber cement siding isn’t currently available, due to the lifespan of the product, it’s less likely to end up at the landfill than siding produced from other materials.

        Vinyl Siding

        Vinyl siding is made of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). PVC is made of fossil fuels (including natural gas).

        Still, thanks to advancements in the product, manufacturing vinyl siding creates fewer emissions than other products, including brick.

        #3: Energy Efficiency

        Looking for a product that’s energy-efficient?

        Let’s take a look at how fiber cement and vinyl siding stack up in this category.

        The energy efficiency of insulation products, including siding, is measured in R-value. R-value is how well a two-dimensional barrier, such as… 

        • Window
        • Insulation 
        • Siding; and
        • Ceilings 

        …resists heat flow.

        Fiber Cement Siding

        The r-value of fiber cement is just .15, meaning it provides minimal energy savings. You can improve the r-value by adding a layer of foam or insulation when installing the product.

        Vinyl Siding

        If energy efficiency is a priority for you, you’ll want to select insulated vinyl siding over non-insulated vinyl siding. The r-value of insulated vinyl siding ranges from about 2-3.5, depending on the type of insulation used.

        While the insulated option may cost you more upfront, you’ll save on heating and cooling bills over the course of time.

        #4: Fire/Heat Vulnerabilities

        Fire and heat vulnerabilities are something to consider, especially if you live in a warm-weather climate or do a lot of grilling.

        Fiber Cement Siding

        Fiber cement siding is the clear choice in this category. 

        Fiber cement siding is resistant to:

        • Igniting
        • Burning 
        • Melting

        When exposed to heat or flames.

        Many fiber cement siding products feature a Class-A (or Class- 1) fire rating. This means the product can withstand several hours of heat before melting.

        Vinyl Siding

        Vinyl siding tends to be more vulnerable to the dangers of heat and fire. 

        Vinyl siding is made of plastic, and therefore, melts when exposed to heat and flames. When the vinyl melts, the interior walls of the home are exposed, allowing flames to spread quickly.

        You’ll want to make sure grills or smokers are kept several feet from the side of the home to avoid vinyl siding warping or melting.

        Fiber Cement Siding Vs Vinyl

        #5: Maintenance Requirements

        If you’re looking for something super low-maintenance, vinyl siding has the advantage in this category. However, in the grand scheme of things, both materials require relatively little regular maintenance.

        Fiber Cement Siding

        Fiber cement siding should be repainted every 8-10 years.

        Additionally, annual cleanings are recommended, as are recaulking of the seams to prevent moisture absorption and damage.

        Vinyl Siding

        Once installed, you’ll deal with very little maintenance for vinyl siding.

        Vinyl siding never needs to (and in fact shouldn’t) be repainted. Not a problem, unless you change your mind or grow tired with the color you’ve selected. If you do decide you want to change the color of your home, you’re looking at re-siding once again.

        Annual cleaning with simple soap and water does keep your investment looking fresh.

        #6: Resale Value

        When homeowners make improvements to their property, they often consider what that change will do to the home’s resale value. 

        If this factor is important to you, read on. 

        Keep in mind that no matter which product you choose, re-siding a home significantly improves its resale value, on average adding a significant return at resale.

        Fiber Cement Siding

        According to a 2019 survey by the National Association of Retailers, new fiber cement siding ranked third in exterior projects likely to add value to a home for resale.

        The survey estimated a 76% return-on-investment for the project.

        Vinyl Siding

        The same NAR 2019 ranked new vinyl siding as the fifth-best exterior project likely to add value to a home for resale.

        The estimated return-on-investment for vinyl siding was 63%.

        Hardie Board Vs Vinyl Siding

        Fiber Cement Siding vs. Vinyl Siding: Cost Comparison

        On top of durability, maintenance requirements, and the rest of the factors listed above, cost probably plays a significant factor when making your siding decision.

        Let’s take a closer look at fiber cement siding cost vs. vinyl.

        Is Fiber Cement Siding Cheaper Than Vinyl?

        In most cases, no. Fiber cement isn’t cheaper than vinyl. In fact, vinyl is known in the building industry as the most economical or budget-friendly siding out there.

        Fiber Cement Board vs. Vinyl Siding: Aesthetics

        When it comes to appearance, fiber cement boards and vinyl each have their pros and cons. 

        Depending on the aesthetic you’re going for when it comes to the look of your home or business, you’ll want to examine the style options for each.

        Style Options for Fiber Cement Siding

        • There are about 50 color options readily available for fiber cement siding.
        • When it comes to trim, most clients prefer the look of fiber cement.

        Style Options for Vinyl Siding

        • If you’re looking for a unique color for your home or business, vinyl siding may be your best bet. There are more than 360 colors of vinyl siding readily available. 
        • When it comes to trim, some think vinyl can appear somewhat “plastic-like.”

        fiber cement board vs vinyl siding

        Still Unsure on Vinyl vs. Cement Siding For Your Project? Let Elite Home Exteriors Provide a Free Consultation and Estimate

        Maybe you’ve read through the pros and cons of vinyl and fiber cement siding, and you’re still not sure what’s the better bet for your project.

        No problem. That’s where we come in. Not only is Elite Home Exteriors NW a family-owned business, but this is a family of professionals in the home exterior business.

        We’re experts when it comes to: 

        • Siding
        • Roofing
        • Windows
        • Doors; and 
        • Decks

                Give us a call. We’ll come to you for a free exterior inspection and consultation.

                Fiber Cement Siding Vs Vinyl

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