Learn More About Vinyl Or Fiber Cement Siding


Vinyl Siding Prices : Basics : Vinyl Or Fiber Cement Siding

Vinyl Or Fiber Cement Siding

When it comes to choosing between vinyl or fiber cement siding, homeowners need to compare aesthetics, energy efficiency, durability, maintenance and cost. Undoubtedly, vinyl and fiber cement are two of the most popular cladding options for your home - let's go through each of these categories and do a comparison.

Fiber Cement Aesthetics

Certainly a big consideration for many homeowners is how the product looks when it's installed on your home. Fiber cement does a very good job at replicating the look of painted wood boards. If you were to stand right next to the fiber cement, you might notice that the grain looks a little too even. However, from the curb even experts would be pretty hard-pressed to tell you whether it was fiber cement or a real wood siding.

Fiber cement products come in a variety of different styles that include clapboard, board and batten and shingle or shake. In addition, they also are available in a number of different finishes that all mimic the look of real wood, anything from a rough sawn look to a nice modern smooth wood grain.

Vinyl Siding Aesthetics

In terms of aesthetics, vinyl siding is much more of a mixed bag. Premium vinyl siding, including lap board and shingles, can be quite hard to distinguish from real wood, unless you are standing right next to it and run your hand along the board (vinyl panels are often hollow and have more flex than real wood siding). Economy and mid range vinyl boards, however, can be noticeably less pleasing to the eye than a fiber cement or a real wood siding. Most professional installers could tell the difference between cheap vinyl boards and wood from the curbside.

Vinyl siding is available in a huge array of styles and options, from clapboard to board and batten to shingles and in a ton of different finishes and colors. In terms of variety, vinyl siding is much more varied and provides homeowners with a lot more options and looks than fiber cement.

Energy Efficiency

Neither vinyl siding nor fiber cement is particularly good at insulating a home. Real wood siding has better insulating properties than either of these two options. The one exception to this is insulated or foam backed vinyl siding. IVS attaches a piece of high density foam to the back of each panel, which creates more rigidity, straighter walls, and better R value for the home. Of course, foam backed vinyl siding will typically run a dollar more per square foot for the panels themselves.


Vinyl siding is typically a pretty durable product. The one issue that it does face is denting from rocks, hailstorms, etc. Most warranties do offer a hail provision that protects the siding from damage. Likewise, fiber cement is quite a durable product as well. The issue with fiber cement in the past has been that the boards can occassionaly absorb water, which can shorten the durability and lifecycle of the boards themselves.


In terms of maintenance, vinyl siding is going to be much easier then fiber cement boards. Vinyl never needs to be painted and can typically just be sprayed down every six months with a normal garden hose to get off the dirt and debris. Vinyl siding does typically fade somewhat over 15 or so years. Fiber cement, on the other hand, will need to be painted every 6 to 10 years, which can be expensive unless you do it yourself and then it's obviously quite a time consuming task.


In terms of cost, fiber cement is probably right at the same price per square foot as either a premium vinyl siding or a foam backed vinyl siding. Economy and mid range vinyl siding boards will typically be less expensive projects due to the ease of installation and the higher number of installers and contractors who are familiar with how to hang these boards.

Related Topics: Hardie Siding Calculator

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