When you step back and look at your home's exterior, what makes up most of its perimeter?
Maybe you said the roofing. The windows may be the first thing you notice. Or maybe you said your siding.
Whether you have stucco, brick, or any type of siding currently on your home, your exterior siding is the largest protector of your home.
Because of this, if you’re considering a siding replacement for your San Antonio home, you need to find the right siding type that you can trust.
At Southwest Exteriors, we expertly install James Hardie fiber cement siding. Since 1989, our priority has been to provide you with the highest quality products that will last in your San Antonio home.
Although we do not offer vinyl siding, we understand it is an affordable and popular option for many homeowners looking for a siding replacement.
We want to provide you with an honest and unbiased comparison of vinyl and fiber cement siding so you can have the right information to choose the right siding for you.
This article will compare vinyl and fiber cement siding in things like their material, durability, cost, and more.
Vinyl vs. Fiber Cement Siding: What Are They?
When comparing two or more types of exterior siding, one of the first things you need to consider is their material.
The material of the siding determines how durable the siding is, what maintenance is required, and how long it lasts.
So, let’s break down the material of vinyl and fiber cement siding to learn more about how they perform and how they will hold up on your home.
Vinyl is a material made out of polyvinyl chloride or PVC. Like any material, vinyl siding can come cheaply made or engineered to be more durable.
Vinyl siding can be manufactured in many different panel styles.
Higher-quality vinyl siding can be made with a wood grain profile or even stone.
Less expensive vinyl siding comes in large sheets with siding paneling imprinted in.
Overall, vinyl is a versatile material for exterior siding.
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.
Like vinyl siding, most fiber cement siding can be made in many different profiles and styles.
Whether you are looking for simple horizontal lap siding or a more elaborate scalloped shape, fiber cement siding provides you with various design options and exceptional strength for a siding option that will look great and last.
How do vinyl and fiber cement siding compare in material?
Vinyl siding is made of PVC. Fiber cement siding is made of fibers, sand, and cement. This makes fiber cement siding a heavier and stronger material than vinyl siding.
Both siding types offer many styles to fit any home. So, if you are looking for simple or more customized siding, vinyl or fiber cement is a viable option.
How Durable Are They?
Your siding makes up the majority of your home’s exterior. So, you need something that will hold up on your home and protect it from the harsh San Antonio climate.
Let’s look at how vinyl and fiber cement siding compare in their durability in San Antonio.
Because vinyl is a plastic material, it is about as strong as plastic can be. Depending on the quality of the vinyl siding, higher-quality vinyl will be stronger than cheaply-made vinyl.
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.
Fiber Cement Siding
Fiber cement siding is a cementitious material. 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. The threat of water infiltration and rot behind your siding is minimal with fiber cement siding.
Overall, fiber cement siding is rot and impact-resistant and does not become misshapen in constantly changing weather conditions. This makes it an extremely durable siding option for San Antonio homes, where temperatures can fluctuate 50 degrees in one day.
How do vinyl and fiber cement siding compare in durability?
Fiber cement siding is more durable than vinyl siding. While both are rot-resistant, fiber cement siding has better impact-resistant properties than vinyl siding.
Fiber cement siding also will not warp in the everchanging South Texas temperatures, whereas vinyl siding is susceptible to becoming misshapen in hot and cold climates.
If you are looking for replacement siding that will last and protect your home for decades, fiber cement siding is the better option.
What Sort Of Maintenance Is Required?
No matter what type of siding you invest in, you want to know if you’ll constantly have to work on upkeep or if you can just let it live on your exterior.
Do vinyl and fiber cement siding require any maintenance? What will you need to do to maintain your siding?
Vinyl siding requires very little maintenance over the years. Because the material is rot-resistant, the only major maintenance you may need is to wash the siding with a hose, power washer, or sponge and mop.
Cleaning your exterior siding not only helps keep it looking great but also helps make it last longer.
If any vinyl siding panels become chipped or cracked, which can happen, they must be replaced. These two tips are really the only maintenance required for vinyl siding.
This will help keep your siding fresh and make it last longer.
How do vinyl and fiber cement siding compare in maintenance?
Overall, vinyl and fiber cement siding require about the same little maintenance. Both are practically maintenance-free and may need a routine wash every few years.
So, if you want an exterior siding that you won’t have to worry about always taking care of, vinyl and fiber cement siding are both great options.
How Long Do They Last In San Antonio?
Now that you’ve learned about the durability and maintenance required of vinyl and fiber cement siding, we can discuss how long they will last on your San Antonio home.
The durability and installation of your siding directly affect how long it will last.
So, how long do vinyl and fiber cement siding last in San Antonio? Let’s get some answers.
When you Google, “How long does vinyl siding last?” you’re met with various answers. Some say 40 years. Others say it can last for 60 years.
The biggest factors that affect the longevity of vinyl siding are how well it is installed and what climate it is up against.
Because San Antonio experiences a wide variety of temperatures and weather conditions, vinyl siding is not ideal for a long-lasting siding solution. If you have vinyl siding installed in your San Antonio home, expect it to last 10-20 years.
Fiber Cement Siding
Because of fiber cement siding’s exceptional durability and strength against all types of weather conditions, it is extremely long-lasting for San Antonio homes.
When installed correctly, high-quality fiber cement siding can last up to 50 years in your home. It is a long-term solution for your home, and it is an investment.
If you want to replace your siding once for the rest of the time you’re in your home, fiber cement siding is a great option.
How do vinyl and fiber cement siding compare in longevity?
Fiber cement can last decades longer than vinyl siding in San Antonio.
Because of the fiber cement siding material, it is much more durable to withstand the San Antonio climate and last.
How Much Do They Cost?
One of the final things you want to know when comparing two types of exterior siding is what they cost.
The difference in cost between vinyl and fiber cement siding is wide. Depending on your goals for your project and your budget, this may be a large deciding factor for you.
Vinyl siding is one of the most affordable siding types on the market.
As a starting cost, 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 and includes installation and labor.
Fiber Cement Siding
Fiber cement siding is more expensive than vinyl siding because of its material, durability, and longevity.
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 and includes installation and labor.
How do vinyl and fiber cement siding compare in cost?
Overall, fiber cement siding is more expensive than vinyl siding.
But, no matter the siding type you choose for your home, it’s important to remember the factors that influence the cost of your project, like the size of your project, type of siding, customizations, additions, and more.
Which Is Better For Your San Antonio Home?
Now that you know how vinyl and fiber cement compare in material, durability, longevity, and cost, you can decide which siding type is best for you and your San Antonio home.
Deciding which type of siding you want for your home is your decision, depending on your wants, goals, and needs for your home.
Vinyl siding may be better for your San Antonio home if:
You are not a long-term homeowner
You want a more affordable siding replacement
You aren’t concerned with color retention or longevity of your siding
Fiber cement siding is the better choice for your San Antonio if:
You are a long-term homeowner looking for a lifelong solution
You want to invest in durable siding that will protect your home
You don’t want to have to worry about your siding again in the future
So you see, the type of siding that is best for you all depends on what you want for your home. What is your budget? How do you want your siding to perform? What do you want it to look like?
Southwest Exteriors recommends James Hardie fiber cement siding for San Antonio and South Texas homes, but this isn’t just because we exclusively sell Hardie siding.
James Hardie siding is specially manufactured for southern climates to combat moisture, harsh sunlight, and all types of weather we endure here in San Antonio.