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James Hardie Siding vs. LP SmartSide Siding: Which is right for you?

June 27th, 2024 | 12 min. read

James Hardie Siding vs. LP SmartSide Siding: Which is right for you?

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When comparing James Hardie vs LP SmartSide, you aren’t quite getting an apple-to-apples comparison, as James Hardie is a fiber cement product, while LP Smartside is made of engineered wood. 

Nevertheless, these two premium brands of siding are absolutely worth comparing if you are looking for siding that stands the test of time (and the elements).

In this comprehensive article, you’ll find an unbiased, in-depth comparison of James Hardie Siding vs LP SmartSide. We’ll match them head-to-head in terms of lifespan, rot resistance, impact resistance, warranty, price, ease-of-installation, and more. 

By the end, you should have a much clearer idea of which one will suit you best.

Table of Contents

What is James Hardie Siding?

james hardie beige siding

James Hardie siding is a fiber cement siding product produced by James Hardie Industries, a company based in Melbourne, Australia that is a global leader in fiber cement technology. Their fiber cement is made from a unique blend of Portland cement, sand, and cellulose fibers - a chemistry that creates a strong, durable material that is more resistant to warping, cracking, and rotting than virtually any other siding on the market.

James Hardie Siding Key Features

You may not be looking for siding that can withstand a direct hit from a flamethrower, but if you are, James Hardie siding is for you - yes, it’s non-combustible. You also get their proprietary ColorPlus technology, a non-prorated warranty, and a host of other features:

Non-Combustible

Unlike wood or vinyl siding, fiber cement siding does not ignite when exposed to direct flame or high heat. Like we said earlier, you can quite literally torch it with a flamethrower without causing it to ignite.

ColorPlus® Technology

ColorPlus® is a proprietary finish that can be applied to James Hardie siding during the manufacturing process. James Hardie guarantees ColorPlus to last up to 15 years, much longer than a normal paint job (3-5 years).

Alternatively, you can opt for pre-primed siding, which is a little less expensive than ColorPlus and is designed to be painted by your contractor after installation.

Waterproof

Unlike wood siding, James Hardie siding is much more resistant to rot than wood siding. As long it’s properly installed, fiber cement is waterproof, remaining intact and sound even in damp or humid conditions.

Long-Lasting

James Hardie siding is built to last, boasting a lifespan of 40-50 years. The company backs its products with a robust warranty, typically offering a 30-year non-prorated warranty on siding and a 15-year warranty on trim products.

Not Appealing to Critters and Termites

The fiber cement composition of James Hardie siding is unappealing to pests such as termites and other critters.

This pest resistance helps maintain the integrity of your home’s exterior without the need for chemical treatments or repairs due to insect damage.

Does Not Bend, Bow, or Become Misshapen

James Hardie siding maintains its shape and structure over time. It does not bend, bow, or warp under extreme weather conditions, ensuring a consistent and attractive appearance for decades.

Aesthetic Options and Customization

James Hardie offers a wide array of styles, textures, and colors to suit any architectural design. Whether you prefer the classic look of HardiePlank lap siding, the rustic charm of HardieShingle, or the modern appeal of HardiePanel, there’s an option to match your vision.

What is LP SmartSide Siding?

wood-pillars=lp-smartside

LP SmartSide siding is a line of engineered wood siding made from a proprietary blend of wood strands or fibers bonded with resins and treated with zinc borate, which dramatically enhances the wood’s resistance to moisture, termites, and fungal decay.  The engineered wood is then compressed and formed into siding panels and boards.

With LP SmartSide, you get the natural beauty of wood with  enhanced strength and resilience.

LP SmartSide Key Features

One area where LP SmartSide slightly outperforms James Hardie is in impact resistance, which is definitely a plus if you live in a hail-prone state like Texas. It’s also easier to install, so you may save on labor costs.

Impact Resistance

One of the key benefits of LP SmartSide siding is its superior impact resistance. The engineered wood composition makes it highly resistant to dents, dings, and other impacts.

Ease of Installation

LP SmartSide siding is designed for easy installation, making it a favorite among contractors. The siding comes in longer lengths and is lighter than fiber cement, which reduces installation time and labor costs. Additionally, it can be cut with standard woodworking tools, making the installation process more straightforward and efficient.

Protection Against Rotting and Termites

Engineered with a special blend of resins and treated wood fibers, LP SmartSide siding is much more resistant to rotting and termite damage than traditional wood. This makes it a low-maintenance option that stands up to pests and decay over time.

Aesthetic Options and Customization

LP SmartSide offers a wide range of styles, textures, and colors to suit any design preference. Whether you’re looking for the classic charm of lap siding, the modern look of panel siding, or the rustic appeal of shakes, there’s an option to match your vision. The siding can also be prefinished in a variety of colors, or you can paint it to achieve a custom look.

James Hardie Siding vs LP SmartSide Siding: A Comparison

  James Hardie Siding LP Smartside Siding
Lifespan 40 to 50 years     20 to 30 years, depending on maintenance and environmental conditions
Rot Resistance     Excels in resisting extreme weather, moisture, pests (termites), rot, and mold due to fiber cement composition     Significant resistance to moisture, pests, and fungal decay due to SmartGuard® zinc borate treatment
Impact Resistance     Good impact resistance, but more brittle and likely to crack or chip     High-density fiber and resin blend offers exceptional resistance to impacts from hail or debris
Maintenance     Requires periodic maintenance, including cleaning and painting every 10 to 15 years     Regular cleaning needed, repainting every 5 to 10 years depending on exposure and paint quality
Ease or Difficulty of Repairs     Harder and more brittle, making repairs more challenging and likely requiring professional assistance     More impact-resistant and flexible, somewhat easier to repair but professional help is still recommended
Cost Considerations     Higher upfront cost due to material composition and manufacturing process, but potential long-term savings due to durability     More affordable initially in terms of material and installation costs, but may incur higher maintenance and repainting costs
Warranty    
  • 30-year non-prorated siding warranty
  • 15-year trim warranty
  • 15-year ColorPlus® Technology warranty
  • transferable    
  • 50-year limited warranty
  • 5-year 100% labor and replacement warranty
  • prorated coverage after 5 years
  • transferable
Aesthetic Options     Wide range of styles (lap siding, shingle siding, vertical panel siding) with numerous textures and colors    Diverse styles (traditional lap, panel siding, shakes, trim) with a variety of textures mimicking natural wood
Installation Process     Heavier and more rigid, requiring specialized tools and experienced contractors for best results     More forgiving, can be installed by contractors with standard carpentry skills, making it easier and potentially less expensive

 

James Hardie Siding vs LP SmartSide Siding: Lifespan

James Hardie typically offers a lifespan of 40 to 50 years. LP SmartSide siding, composed of engineered wood, also boasts a long lifespan, often around 20 to 30 years, depending on maintenance and environmental conditions.

Both products are designed to last, but James Hardie has a slight edge in terms of expected longevity.

James Hardie Siding vs LP SmartSide Siding: Rot Resistance

James Hardie siding excels in resisting weather elements such as extreme heat, cold, and moisture. Its fiber cement composition makes it impervious to pests like termites and highly resistant to rot and mold.

LP SmartSide siding, with its SmartGuard® zinc borate treatment, also offers significant resistance to moisture, pests, and fungal decay.

However, while both sidings are durable, fiber cement's inherent advantage over wood gives James Hardie the advantage here.

James Hardie Siding vs LP SmartSide Siding: Impact Resistance

LP SmartSide siding’s high-density fiber and resin blend makes it exceptionally resistant to impacts from hail or debris. This makes it a popular choice for homeowners in areas prone to hail.

James Hardie siding, made from fiber cement, has good impact resistance but is more brittle compared to LP SmartSide. While it can withstand impacts, it is more likely to crack or chip than LP Smartside.

James Hardie Siding vs LP SmartSide Siding: Maintenance

James Hardie siding requires periodic maintenance to keep it in optimal condition. This includes cleaning to remove dirt and mildew, and painting every 10 to 15 years, depending on the environment and exposure.

LP SmartSide siding also needs regular cleaning to prevent mold and mildew buildup. While it is pre-primed and can be painted any color, it might require repainting every 5 to 10 years, depending on exposure and paint quality.

James Hardie Siding vs LP SmartSide Siding: Ease or Difficulty of Repairs

Both siding types are designed to be durable, but repairs may be necessary over time. James Hardie siding, being harder and more brittle, can be more challenging to repair and may require professional assistance.

LP SmartSide, on the other hand, is more impact-resistant and flexible, making it somewhat easier to repair if damaged. However, professional help is still recommended for the best results.

James Hardie Siding vs LP SmartSide Siding: Cost Considerations

James Hardie siding generally has a higher upfront cost compared to LP SmartSide. This is due to the material's composition and the manufacturing process. LP SmartSide is typically more affordable, both in terms of material costs and installation expenses.

While James Hardie siding may have a higher initial cost, its long lifespan and minimal maintenance requirements can result in long-term savings. Its durability reduces the need for frequent repairs and repainting. LP SmartSide, while more affordable initially, may incur higher maintenance and repainting costs over time.

James Hardie Siding vs LP SmartSide Siding: Warranty

Both James Hardie and LP Smartside offer excellent warranties.

James Hardie Warranty

  • 30-Year Non-Prorated Siding Warranty: James Hardie offers a robust 30-year non-prorated warranty on its siding products. “Non-prorated” means that the warranty does not decrease in value over time, providing the same level of coverage throughout the warranty period.
  • 15-Year Trim Warranty: For trim products, James Hardie provides a 15-year warranty. This covers defects in materials and workmanship.
  • ColorPlus® Technology Warranty: James Hardie’s ColorPlus® Technology finish comes with a 15-year limited warranty. This covers peeling, cracking, and chipping of the factory-applied paint.
  • Transferable: The warranty is transferable to a new homeowner, adding value if you decide to sell.

LP SmartSide Warranty

  • 50-Year Limited Warranty: LP SmartSide offers a substantial 50-year limited warranty on its siding products. This warranty covers defects in materials and workmanship, providing long-term peace of mind.
  • 5-Year 100% Labor and Replacement Warranty: In the first five years, LP SmartSide covers 100% of labor and replacement costs for any defects, ensuring that any issues are promptly and fully addressed.
  • Prorated Coverage: After the initial five years, the warranty coverage becomes prorated, decreasing in value over the remaining 45 years. This means that over time, the amount covered by the warranty will gradually reduce.
  • Transferable: Like James Hardie, the LP SmartSide warranty is transferable to subsequent homeowners, enhancing your home’s resale value.

James Hardie Siding vs LP SmartSide Siding: Aesthetic Options

James Hardie offers a wide range of styles, including lap siding, shingle siding, and vertical panel siding, with numerous textures and colors to choose from.

LP SmartSide also provides a diverse selection of styles, from traditional lap and panel siding to shakes and trim, with a variety of textures that mimic natural wood. Both brands offer extensive customization options to enhance your home's curb appeal.

James Hardie Siding vs LP SmartSide Siding: Installation Process

James Hardie siding, due to its heavier and more rigid nature, often requires specialized tools and more time for installation. It typically requires a contractor with specific experience in handling fiber cement materials to ensure the best results.

LP SmartSide, while still benefiting from professional installation, is generally more forgiving and can be installed by contractors with standard carpentry skills. This can make finding a qualified installer easier and potentially less expensive.

Get the Ultimate Guide to James Hardie Siding

If you’d like to take a deeper dive into James Hardie siding, check out our James Hardie Siding Buyer’s Guide. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go over everything from a detailed discussion of warranties, to a complete review of Hardie siding styles and profiles, to how to choose a reputable Hardie-certified contractor.