Fiber Cement Siding vs Vinyl Siding: Which Is Best For Your Home?

Home exterior with blue siding.

Are you thinking about replacing the exterior siding on your home? Are you trying to decide between fiber cement siding or vinyl siding? One of the most important decisions you will make is what type of siding to put on your house. There are a lot of different options out there, but two of the most popular are fiber cement siding and vinyl siding.

This blog post will go over the advantages and disadvantages of each of these siding options so you can decide which one might be the best choice for your home. By the end of this article, you will know all the differences between the two types of siding so you can make an informed decision about which one is best for your home. 

Fiber Cement Siding vs Vinyl Siding: Which Is Best For Your Home?

Before we dive into the benefits and drawbacks of each type of siding, let’s quickly define what each siding type is composed of.

Fiber cement siding: As the name suggests, fiber cement siding is composed of a mixture of cellulose fibers, Portland cement, sand, and water. It is formed into planks that look like traditional wood but offer the extreme strength of masonry materials. Fiber cement siding can be nailed directly to your home’s exterior. If you want to learn more about fiber cement siding, be sure to check out our in-depth guide to fiber cement siding.

Vinyl siding: Vinyl siding is composed of rigid polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. Vinyl siding is also made to resemble natural wood, but it is usually formed into sheets that overlap each other when installed. It is typically attached to the home in a way that allows it to expand and contract with temperature changes.

Comparison Of Fiber Cement Siding and Vinyl Siding

house wall trimmed with vinyl siding

Now that we have covered the basic components of both types of siding, let’s compare the qualities of each to see how they measure up.

Energy Efficiency

When comparing the energy efficiency of fiber cement to vinyl, both types of siding have their pros and cons. On its own, neither vinyl siding nor fiber cement siding offers a notable level of insulation to your home.

However, insulated versions of vinyl siding that come with a layer of foam will increase your home’s insulating ability, or R-value, more than basic fiber cement siding. In terms of energy efficiency, the insulated version of vinyl is the clear winner when compared to fiber cement siding.

Eco-Friendliness

When it comes to eco-friendliness, fiber cement siding scores higher on this front because it is made with natural materials such as sand, cement, fly ash, and cellulose fibers, which are all sustainable resources. 

Vinyl siding is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic which is not biodegradable and can release toxins into the environment if not handled properly during production or installation. It takes a lot of energy to produce PVC, and it can also pollute the environment with hazardous chemicals if not disposed of properly. In this sense, fiber cement siding is much more eco-friendly than vinyl siding. 

On the other hand, vinyl siding is a much lighter product than fiber cement siding. This means that transporting vinyl siding uses less fuel than transporting fiber cement siding. So when it comes to eco-friendly transportation, vinyl siding wins out due to its lightweight nature.

Durability

Both types of siding offer good durability in different ways. As a plastic, vinyl is resistant to rot and damage from pests, but it can be vulnerable to water penetration or wind damage due to it being a lighter material.

When it comes to extreme temperatures, fiber cement siding is much more durable than vinyl siding due to its ability to resist warping or cracking over time. It also offers more protection to withstand winds and UV rays due to its dense composition compared to vinyl which can be blown off in extreme weather and can fade over time from UV exposure. 

On the other hand, fiber cement siding doesn’t fare as well against water damage over time because it can absorb water due to the wood pulp in its composition. This can allow water to penetrate the walls of your home and possibly cause them to rot. Fiber cement siding is also more vulnerable to cracking due to its rigidity. 

One final consideration when it comes to durability: if it does get damaged, fiber cement siding is easier to repair than vinyl. Since fiber cement siding is installed in shingles, you can easily repair it by replacing individual shingles. But since vinyl is installed in sheets, you will need to replace the entire panel if it sustains any damage.

Fire Resistance

James Hardie Fiber Cement

In terms of fire resistance, both options offer good protection against flames, but fiber cement siding has an edge here since it is non-combustible. Vinyl will melt or catch fire if exposed directly to heat or flames for an extended period of time. 

In fact, vinyl can even be marred by the sun’s reflection off a neighbor’s glass window. This makes fiber cement siding the safer option when it comes to fire safety in your home. 

Maintenance

Both types of sidings require regular maintenance. However, fiber cement siding requires a little more maintenance than vinyl since it requires caulked joints to make sure it is sealed correctly. 

Fiber cement siding also requires painting unless you opt for a prepainted version. For example, James Hardie offers a fiber cement product that has color permanently baked into the product, so no painting is required. But most other fiber cement siding products will require a new paint job every few years to maintain their vibrant color.

On the other hand, vinyl siding requires minimal maintenance. All you have to do to clean off any dirt or debris build-up on vinyl siding is to spray it down every once in a while with a garden hose or power washer. 

Cost

In most instances, vinyl siding will cost less upfront per square foot than fiber cement siding. According to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs Value 2022 Report, the national average cost for a vinyl siding replacement is $18,662. The average cost to install fiber cement siding is $22,093. And if you factor in things like maintenance requirements and energy efficiency savings (if you select insulated vinyl siding), vinyl is definitely the cheaper option. 

On the other hand, fiber cement siding installation has a slightly better return on investment (ROI) than vinyl siding when it comes to resale value. Per Remodeling Magazine, fiber cement siding recoups 68.3% of its value when selling a house, while vinyl siding offers a slightly lower ROI of 67.2%.

Aesthetics

Both types of siding come in many colors and styles, so there are plenty of options available depending on what look you want for your home. However, if you want something that looks like real wood, then opt for fiber cement siding since it offers textures that closely mimic natural wood grain texture better than most vinyl siding. 

Fiber cement siding is also easier to repaint, but vinyl is offered in more colors. Not only does fiber cement siding hold paint for greater longevity and appeal, but it also gets as close to the natural look of real wood as possible.

Vinyl siding may be able to mimic some of the visual aspects of wood siding, but where it really matters –material-wise–vinyl is nothing like what you’d get with real wood siding options. Fiber cement siding’s ability to look like natural wood can be an especially important quality if you live in a historic area where there may be restrictions on what types of siding you can install.

Ultimately though, this choice comes down to personal preference, so choose what appeals the most to you! Let’s take a closer look at style options for both types of siding.

Fiber Cement Siding Style Options 

fiber cement board samples swatch containing metallic and rough textures in grey tone

Fiber cement siding comes in several types of shingles, including half-round, staggered, and square designs, as well as plank boards. Plus, you can make it whatever color you’d like by painting or staining! For an even easier option, there are now prepainted siding products that come in a variety of hues, so all you have to do is pick your favorite.

Vinyl Siding Style Options

While the earliest versions of vinyl definitely looked like they were made of plastic, newer versions of vinyl have come a long way in architectural style. With a greater range of decorative options than any other siding option, vinyl siding can help recreate almost any look or feel on your home–whether you want to maintain the appearance of a traditional home or create something more modern. You can now get vinyl siding that looks like shingles or planks, traditional lap siding, clapboard, board and batten, or Dutch lap. For something truly unique, you could even hang some panels sideways for a striking vertical siding design. 

Contact Urban Exteriors For All Your Siding Installation Needs

As you can see, both fiber cement siding and vinyl siding have their pros and cons. It’s important to weigh all of the factors before making a decision on which is best for your home. Whether you prefer fiber cement siding or vinyl, the professionals at Urban Exteriors can make sure that it gets installed efficiently and correctly. We offer multiple high-quality siding options, including vinyl, James Hardie, and LP SmartSide siding.

If you’re still unsure about which type of siding is right for your home, or if you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our experienced team would be more than happy to help you make the best decision for your home. Fill out our contact form today, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!