Two of the most popular siding options for the modern home are vinyl siding and cement board also called fiber cement siding. These two siding choices provide a cheap and secure exterior to your home and will be well worth the pretty penny you spend on them. But which one is the best siding choice for your home?
Let’s take a look at what makes vinyl siding and cement board so popular to determine which option is the perfect choice for your home.
Comparing Vinyl vs. Cement Board (Fiber Cement)
Here is a quick comparison between the durability, cost, and installation of vinyl siding and fiber cement siding.
Durability and Strength
If we were to lump these two siding options together and compare them to other choices like natural wood for siding, then we’d find that vinyl and cement board perform surprisingly well in terms of durability and strength. Both siding options can withstand the elements well on their own and do not succumb easily to the weather. It will take a hardened hurricane to damage either of these siding options.
Where cement board starts to fall behind is in absorption. Vinyl siding has a slight advantage over fiber cement in that it’s completely plastic which doesn’t absorb any water at all. Cement board, on the other hand, absorbs a slight amount of water which can lead – over time – to rot. This process will take years and may be counteracted in regions with plenty of sun and heat.
The price of vinyl siding is slightly lower per square foot than cement board. This is likely due to the weight of the siding as cement board is a heavier product than vinyl. Vinyl siding costs about $2.01 per square foot to install whereas fiber cement costs $3.00 per square foot. Though the dollar doesn’t seem like a massive difference, it will add up as the area of your walls add up.
Another reason for the increased price for cement board is the installation process which we’ll get into further detail about soon. The cost of fiber cement siding will also stack up over time as it requires more maintenance than vinyl siding does. Cement board is a high-quality siding option that is well worth the cost, but it does have its drawbacks.
Ease of Installation
One of the main benefits of vinyl siding is how easy it is to install. The installation process consists of attaching the plastic material to your wall and then painting it to match your desires. There are more details to the process, but those are the main steps installers have to take. This simple process cuts the cost of installation dramatically compared to more complex siding options.
Cement board, while relatively simple to install, is a bit more complex than vinyl siding which leads to a higher price for the installation. Fiber cement siding requires homeowners to caulk and paint the section they’re installing in which can quickly build the price of installation. The material might last longer than vinyl siding which could save you money in the end, but maintenance will be key to keeping the siding effective and looking good.
Main Differences Between Vinyl and Fiber Cement
There are two massive differences between vinyl siding and cement board (fiber cement), the first of which is how they’re made. Vinyl siding, the more common of the two, is made using PVC plastic. It’s a sturdy plastic that can withstand the elements rather well and won’t succumb to wear and tear for years to come. Vinyl siding is attached to your home’s exterior securely so there’s no worry of breakage or separation.
Cement board is made using wood pulp and cement. This mixture provides sturdy security that matches real-wood siding but cuts the costs greatly. The siding is attached to your home’s exterior via nails which offers a decent strength and limits the compromisable areas.
What each type of siding is made out of is the biggest difference between the two. You’ll certainly find that the materials used to make each type of siding will affect their efficiency and durability which will lead to further differences down the road. But for now, the biggest difference is simply what they’re made out of.
The main issue with both vinyl and fiber cement is that they’re relatively thin. Other siding options like wood offer a sturdy wall that helps insulate the temperature and lower your energy bill. With vinyl and cement board, however, there is very little in terms of insulation when on their own. Both suffer from the thin nature they employ which could hurt your energy bill each month.
Vinyl siding does offer an insulated version of itself to help address this issue, but it costs more than the normal product. However, if you think about it as purchasing both siding and insulation for your home, the costs seem to even out. Whereas with cement board, there is no insulated version, so you’re left having to purchase insulation separately along with the siding.
Both siding options offer incredible weather resistance, however, as they’re relatively sturdy for the materials they’re made out of. While they won’t offer you the best insulation and may lead to a higher energy bill than you expected, they do provide proper protection from the elements.
How to Switch From One to the Other
Vinyl siding does seem to have some massive room ahead of cement board in terms of quality and dependability, but that isn’t the case. While vinyl siding certainly won some points in the topics we addressed, cement board does have its advantages. Cement board provides a much more aesthetic look with plenty of customizable options. If you’re looking for siding that mimics wood but cuts the cost of wood, then cement board might be the better option.
In terms of overall durability, cement board might have vinyl siding beat as well as it can withstand the elements better. You’ll find yourself replacing vinyl much faster than cement board which can lead to pricey replacements over time. Both materials have pros and cons, so deciding which is better for you comes down to the situation and region in which your home is placed.
Switching from one to the other could be costly but might be worth it in the end. You will have to completely redo your exterior walls and replace your current siding with the material you prefer. Any insulation currently in place may have to be replaced as well. Going from vinyl to cement board will be more expensive than the alternative due to the recaulking and repainting.