House Siding 101: The Fiber Cement Vs. Vinyl Debate

House Siding 101: The Fiber Cement Vs. Vinyl Debate

Key takeaways:

  • Fiber cement refers to a mixture of wood fibers, Portland cement, silica sand, and water
  • This siding type is valued for its durability, wood-like appearance, and ease of installation
  • It is costly, however, and requires more maintenance effort than vinyl
  • Vinyl siding consists of PVC resin and other additives, making for a solid and weather-resistant product
  • It is easy to install, comes in various colors, and is more affordable than fiber cement
  • Durability is not a strong feature in this material, though, and it will not give that classic wood look

There are many different types of house sidings on the market these days. Two of the most popular options are fiber cement siding and vinyl. Both have pros and cons, so deciding what speaks your style can be challenging.

This blog post will break down the differences between fiber cement and vinyl siding and the benefits and drawbacks of each option. We’re sure this will help you make a more confident decision about which siding is right for your home.

What Is Fiber Cement Siding?

Before we jump into the differences, let’s first examine what fiber cement is. Fiber cement comprises wood fibers, Portland cement, silica sand, and water. This combination creates a material that is strong and durable yet still lightweight.

This versatile siding type can be made to look like many kinds of materials, including wood, stone, and stucco. It is also available in various colors to find the perfect look for your siding upgrade.

What Is Vinyl Siding?

On the other hand, vinyl siding is sourced from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) resin. This material is combined with additives to create a strong and weather-resistant product. Vinyl has become popular in recent years as a siding material due to its low cost and easy maintenance.

Vinyl siding is available in a wide variety of colors, including some that resemble wood grain. It is also simple to maintain since it does not require painting or staining and is not susceptible to rot or insect damage.

The Perks of Fiber Cement

Now that we’ve understood our materials let’s explore each siding option’s benefits.

No. 1: Appearance

A popular intent for house siding is to update the property. Many homeowners prefer something along the lines of classic wood siding without the hassle of maintaining wood. Fiber cement performs much better in this category than vinyl siding.

It isn’t easy to distinguish between fiber cement and wood siding with the naked eye. It can be painted or stained to resemble wood grain and often does a better job of fooling your neighbors than vinyl siding does.

No. 2: Durability

Going back to the specific materials that make fiber cement, it is made of cement, sand, and cellulose fiber. This combination makes it highly durable and weather resistant. Fiber cement siding has been known to last upwards of 50 years with regular maintenance.

No. 3: Installation

Despite the various components that make fiber cement, it is a relatively easy house siding to install. The cement is produced in panels which are then cut to size and nailed into the house. You’ll enjoy a quicker installation with fiber cement than other siding materials on the market.

The Cons of Fiber Cement

With all these perks, there must be a price for fiber cement siding.

The Cons of Fiber Cement

No. 1: Cost

Due to its incredible durability and other features, fiber cement is more expensive than other sidings on the market. You’ll have to factor in this higher cost when deciding if fiber cement is right for your home.

No. 2: Maintenance

While dirt and stains might show up faster on vinyl siding than other materials, it’s also one of the easiest house sidings to clean. All you need is a garden hose & some elbow grease (or hire a pro to do it for you), and your vinyl siding will look spick and span in no time.

The Perks of Vinyl Siding

Moving onto our next leading siding contender, we have vinyl.

No. 1: Cost

Good news for all homeowners hungry for some bang on a budget, vinyl siding is almost always the more cost-effective siding option. Not only does it have a lower upfront price tag, but it’s also easier and faster to install than fiber cement. You can likely expect your vinyl siding project will take about half the time of a fiber cement one to complete.

No. 2: Maintenance

While dirt and stains might show up faster on vinyl siding than other materials, it’s also one of the easiest house sidings to clean. All you need is a garden hose and some elbow grease (or hire a pro to do it for you), and your vinyl siding will look spick and span in no time.

No. 3: Energy Efficiency

Winter is right around the corner, and your house will need siding material insulated against the cold to keep your energy bills down. In this category, insulated vinyl siding is the clear winner.

Vinyl siding with an R-value of 0.61 is more energy efficient than fiber cement (R-value of 0.5), which might not seem like much. Still, proper vinyl foam board insulation can result in an R-value as high as 3.5.

The Cons of Vinyl Siding

There’s generally a tiny catch with anything in life, and with vinyl siding, that catch might be in the following for you:

No. 1: Appearance

Unlike fiber cement, which imitates the look of wood siding almost perfectly, most people can tell immediately that your house has vinyl siding. This is not necessarily bad if you like vinyl’s look and are proud of having a low-maintenance house. But if you’re going for that classic wood look, vinyl siding is not your house siding.

No. 2: Durability

While fiber cement siding is made to last for decades, vinyl siding has a different story. With good maintenance and cleaning habits, you might expect your vinyl siding to last about 10 years before it needs replacement.

For more on siding maintenance, check out Forbes‘ guide to repairing vinyl siding.

Wrapping Up

That was our fast and factual approach to the fiber cement vs. vinyl siding debate. We hope you found it helpful in your siding decision-making process!

To learn more about house siding, check out our article on what damage old siding can do to your home.

We at Level Up Innovations LLC are proud to serve Mechanicsville, MD, with the highest quality siding and roofing services.

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