So, you’re looking to replace your home’s siding and are interested in vinyl and fiber cement siding.
When you look at both of these types of siding strictly from the outside, they give off the same look and feel. Both materials are traditionally used in a horizontal lap and shingle style, so they look very similar to the common eye. Beyond that, vinyl and fiber cement siding are two of the most popular types of siding materials.
Each of these options comes with their own set of pros and cons, and while they may look the same on the outside, their differences in performance and quality set them apart.
Southwest Exteriors has been an exterior remodeling contractor in San Antonio since 1989. One of our specialties is siding replacement with James Hardie fiber cement siding.
We only install fiber cement siding because of its proven quality, durability, and longevity. We believe it to be the best option for the people of San Antonio, however, we know that it might not be the best option for every homeowner.
With so many options out there, we want you to be educated on all your options you might be considering so that you can make the best decision for you and your home.
This article will compare vinyl and fiber cement siding in cost, durability, maintenance, and aesthetics.
After reading, you’ll know about the key features of each type of siding and how they compare to each other. Then, you’ll be able to choose which type of siding might be the better fit for you.
How Does Vinyl and Fiber Cement Siding Compare in Cost?
Replacing your home’s siding is a large project, so you need to know that your siding is going to be worth everything you invest into it.
How much does vinyl siding cost?
Vinyl is one of the most affordable types of siding.
Vinyl siding can cost $20,000-$23,000 for 2,000 square feet of siding. This is for a standard area of square footage without gables or rake.
How much does fiber cement siding cost?
A fiber cement siding is on the upper end of siding.
It can cost around $35,000-$40,000 for 2,000 square feet of fiber cement siding. This is for a standard area of square footage without gables or rake.
Vinyl vs. Fiber Cement Siding: Which is better from a cost perspective?
When thinking about the initial cost of your project, vinyl is less expensive than fiber cement.
If you are looking for the least expensive option to replace your siding, vinyl might be a viable option for you. Masonite or oriented-strand board is another inexpensive option for a siding replacement.
Fiber cement is a siding that is a long-term investment, which reflects in the cost. If you are looking to replace your siding once and not have to worry about it in the future, then fiber cement might be the best option for you.
You must also consider the cost for installation and labor on top of the siding materials when you hire a professional contractor.
It’s important to remember that the highest quality installation and materials will never be the least expensive. Between vinyl and fiber cement siding, fiber cement will be more costly.
Comparing Vinyl vs. Fiber Cement Siding in Durability
After considering your budget for your siding replacement project, you also want to outline what you are looking for in the quality of your new siding.
If you want new siding that will last on your home, then you will want to choose a siding material of high quality and durability. The quality of the material and installation combined will directly influence how long your new siding will last.
How durable is vinyl siding?
Vinyl is a material made out of polyvinyl chloride or PVC. Like any material, vinyl can come cheaply made or engineered to be more durable.
The biggest risk you take with vinyl siding is that it can get easily misshapen from changing temperatures. When the weather changes from hot to cold frequently, the vinyl will expand and contract. While sometimes you want your siding to be flexible with the weather, vinyl is most susceptible to becoming permanently misshapen.
(This is the main reason why Southwest Exteriors only installs James Hardie fiber cement siding because of its proven success and durability against South Texas weather.)
The siding can become bent or bowed on your home, and constant contracting can cause cracking and chipping in the panels. Gaps can also form between panels, allowing water and insects to get behind your siding.
However, vinyl siding can still be durable and protect your home against harsh weather conditions. Insulated vinyl is also an option for added energy efficiency.
How durable is fiber cement siding?
Fiber cement is a material composed of wood fibers, sand, and cement and is the most durable type of siding out there.
It is a heavier material than vinyl and has more impact-resistant properties. However, it is not an exception to cracking or becoming damaged under heavy impact.
Unlike vinyl, fiber cement will not become misshapen, bend, or bow under changing weather conditions. Because of this, with fiber cement siding, the threat of water infiltration and rot behind your siding is minimal.
Vinyl vs. Fiber Cement Siding: Which is better in durability?
Both vinyl and fiber cement siding can be durable options for your siding replacement. However, fiber cement is proven to be more durable than vinyl.
If you live in an area that is constantly exposed to high heat or sudden changing temperatures, like South Texas, then fiber cement will be a more durable and long-lasting option for your home.
Vinyl can also be durable and last on your home if you live in an area with a moderate climate, but you must be aware of the potential risks you take with vinyl if you live where the weather is unpredictable.
Comparing Vinyl vs. Fiber Cement Siding in Maintenance
Whatever material you choose to put on your home, you first want to know how long it is going to last and if you’ll have to provide any upkeep.
Vinyl and fiber cement siding both require little to no maintenance once on your home. Pressure washing the siding once a year, or every few years, is best to wash away any buildup and dirt residue from the years.
Of course, if any damage occurs to your siding like a panel cracking or chipping, you will want to get it professionally repaired.
Overall, both vinyl and fiber cement will not cause you to worry throughout the years, and you can enjoy your siding without routine upkeep.
Comparing Vinyl vs. Fiber Cement Siding in Aesthetics
The last thing you want to look at when vetting for the right siding type for you is how it is going to look on your home. You want something that is going to reflect your style and allow you to customize it to your liking.
Vinyl and fiber cement siding can come in similar finishes and board profiles. Whether you want your siding to have the texture of wood or prefer a smooth finish, both can provide you with that look. Popular board profiles are horizontal lap, vertical, and shingle/shake.
The styles and aesthetics of your siding depend on the siding manufacturer. If you want to customize the shape, size, and color of your siding boards, then you must find a contractor that offers the customizable options you are looking for.
Vinyl vs. Fiber Cement Siding: Which is better for me?
Now that you know how vinyl and fiber cement siding compare in cost, durability, maintenance, and aesthetics, you can have a better idea of which siding type would be better for you.
Both materials can be durable and last for years on your home. However, they do differ in their cost and aspects of durability.
When looking for the right siding type for you, outline your budget, goals, and needs for your project. Consider these questions:
How long do you want your siding to last?
What is your budget for your project?
What kind of customizations are you looking for?
How energy efficient do you want your siding to be?
If you are looking for a forever solution to replacing your siding and want to invest in a high-quality product, then fiber cement siding might be what you’re looking for.
If you want a less expensive option for your siding replacement and live in an area with a moderate climate, vinyl siding may be an option you should consider.
With Southwest Exteriors, we install James Hardie fiber cement siding under Hardie’s set of best practices. Once your project is complete, we have an inspector come out to your house to ensure that it was installed to the highest standards.
While we do only offer fiber cement siding, we know that there are numerous benefits to other types of siding, and there are many options out there.
If you’re interested in vinyl or fiber cement siding because of their qualities, you might be wondering what kind of siding styles are out there.