When it comes to siding for your home, most people agree they love the look of real wood siding but hate the maintenance and upkeep that goes with it.
For this reason, many homeowners end up looking at siding alternatives for their homes, something that can give them a classic look and style but won’t require frequent scraping and painting.
There have been many products on the market over the years claiming to offer these benefits. Many never lasted long enough to become common while a few others are still around, like aluminum, but don’t get a lot of popularity or use. Two siding materials that have achieved a degree of staying power are vinyl and fiber cement.
Both materials deliver the texture and appearance of wood siding, and both are arguably more durable and require less maintenance than wood. But, these two materials are vastly different in terms of the way that they’re made, how they install and how they perform on your home.
If you’re considering re-siding your home with a wood alternative, make sure you understand the differences between vinyl and fiber cement so you can choose the right siding material for your home.
What Is Vinyl Siding?
Vinyl siding was first brought to the market in the 1950s. It was intended to be a better alternative to aluminum siding, and it was one of the first wood-alternative sidings to go mainstream. It gained popularity quickly because while aluminum was produced in flat planks that went chalky in the sun, vinyl could be molded to produce a textured plank siding that didn’t fade.
Vinyl siding is made of polyvinyl chloride — a tough, durable form of plastic. The color goes right through the siding, which is formed in a mold to give it the appearance and texture of wood. But because it’s a type of plastic, it’s far more durable and lightweight.
Vinyl siding is impervious to moisture, insect activity, deterioration and rot, all of which can affect wood. It’s also very easy to cut, carry and install, so it goes on quickly, saving money and time on installation. In fact, it’s often the preferred material for DIY homeowners looking to re-side their homes themselves.
What Is Fiber Cement Siding?
Fiber cement as a building material dates back to the 19th century when a mixture of cement was reinforced with asbestos fibers and sand. The material was used in a variety of ways, including a few early forms of siding.
It wasn’t until the 1980s, though, that fiber cement siding (as it’s known today) was introduced to the market. At that point in time, asbestos was replaced with cellulose fibers and sand, silica and sometimes glass was added to the mixture. Like vinyl, the material can be formed inside a mold to give it the texture and appearance of wood. Unlike vinyl, however, the color is applied to the boards after forming.
Fiber cement boards are tough and durable, but they’re also extremely heavy and can be difficult to cut and install. Cutting the boards produces large amounts of silica dust if traditional saw cutting methods are used.
However, silica dust can be harmful to the health of the people working with the product, so additional steps and equipment are needed to help make it safer. This, combined with the weight of the material, means that it can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive to install.
Like vinyl, fiber cement is resistant to moisture, insect activity and deterioration. However, because the color is painted on, unlike vinyl where the color goes straight through, it may eventually peel or chip. So, while the color will last longer than wood, you will still have to repaint it periodically, while vinyl siding never needs touching up.
Fiber cement can also be brittle if you are using thinner panels. Like all cement, it can crack due to lower tensile strength, so a hard impact from a baseball or hailstone could end up cracking it.
The fiber cement blends being produced today are also newer than vinyl and don’t have the history behind them yet to truly give an accurate understanding of how long they last.
While some manufacturers will optimistically say their product can last 50 or more years, this is just a prediction; it hasn’t been around long enough to actually prove this claim.
Choosing the Right Siding for You
Both vinyl and fiber cement will give you a better and longer-lasting option than wood, but there are important considerations to be made when choosing the right siding for your home.
Fiber cement is heavy, difficult to cut and install, and will require maintenance and upkeep. At the end of its lifespan, it can also be difficult to dispose of; it can’t be recycled and not every transfer station will accept it.
Vinyl, on the other hand, is lighter, easy to cut and install, and requires little to no maintenance and upkeep. Because it’s a type of plastic, at the end of its lifespan, it can be recycled, making it a more eco-friendly choice.
Vinyl siding has been on the market for more than 50 years, and beyond the introduction of some newer colors and styles, it hasn’t changed much. So, it has a known track record and you can trust it will protect your home for decades.
Replacing your siding with vinyl has a long history of improving the resale value of a home and always gets a good return on investment. Fiber cement siding hasn’t been around as long, and each manufacturer tweaks their recipe slightly, resulting in varying products that make it more difficult to predict how long it will last and how much value it will add.
Consider Vinyl Siding for Your Home
Lightweight, durable, long-lasting and low maintenance, vinyl siding has everything most homeowners are looking for in a siding, combined with attractive colors and styles. If you want a proven material for your home’s exterior, consider vinyl siding for the job.
For more info on vinyl siding, contact a professional at Rollex today. Or click here to get more information on Rollex’s vinyl siding.