Many homeowners desire the beauty and tradition that lap siding provides, and a variety of siding options can deliver this look, from true cedar planks to engineered wood to fiber cement to vinyl. But the wet Portland climate leaves many homeowners seeking a siding that needs less maintenance and offers greater resistance to the elements.
Homeowners often turn to vinyl and James Hardie fiber cement siding to meet these needs. Both siding materials require minimal maintenance, and manufacturers claim they last for decades. But you want to know which one will better suit your home before making the decision to replace your siding. While both forms of siding offer many benefits, here is a comparison of how vinyl and Hardie siding compare to one another.
What Is Fiber Cement?
Hardie siding is a fiber cement product, a composition of wood pulp, silica sand or ash, Portland cement, and water. The product design contains grooves and grains that mimic the look of cedar planks, shingles, and shakes. It can also be designed to mimic the look of stucco. The boards come prepainted or primed, depending on your preference.
What Is Vinyl?
Vinyl is a plastic siding composed mostly of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin. It is designed to mimic wood planks and is extremely lightweight and easy to install. While vinyl used to be easily damaged, modern advancements have developed the material into a more durable siding.
Time to Compare the Two
It all comes down to which form of siding suits your home’s needs. The key areas to consider are performance, look, maintenance, and cost. So how do vinyl and James Hardie fiber cement compare in these areas?
Siding’s primary job is to protect the interior of your home from the exterior world. However, most homeowners choose siding for appearance’s sake. Traditional plank siding is sought after all over the world. And while both vinyl and fiber cement siding mimic the look of wood planks, fiber cement does the job exponentially better — especially James Hardie fiber cement.
The grooves and grains of HardiePlank® lap siding provide a more realistic imitation of the variances in wood. Their density and beveled designs also provide greater dimension and luxury than that of vinyl.
Both forms of siding have their benefits, but for the most part, James Hardie siding is more durable. While both vinyl and fiber cement are rot resistant and pest resistant, unlike traditional wood planks, Hardie board siding is inflammable, warp resistant, Engineered for Climate®, and impact resistant.
On the other hand, vinyl is more susceptible to warping and cracking. It can expand and contract with the weather, causing it to buckle. It can even melt under great heat (by situating a grill too closely to the material or even reflections from the sun). But with proper attention and care, both forms of siding will protect your home for many years. However, both forms of siding require proper installation for durability. Reach out to a licensed contractor for your replacement siding project.
The Installation Process
When it comes to installation, fiber cement requires special skills and a great deal of time to install. Hardie board is thicker and heavier than vinyl. Its density makes this process more difficult. Vinyl’s lightweight makeup makes it easy to transport, and it can be installed far more easily than fiber cement.
The HardiePlank comes in two different options: pre-primed and ColorPlus®. If you select the pre-primed option, which has its benefits, the installation process will also require onsite painting. Vinyl and ColorPlus boards arrive painted and ready to install.
Maintenance is required of every form of siding, but Hardie board and vinyl require far less care than most. Both materials will need to be cleaned annually with soap and water to remove dust and residue on their surfaces. Fiber cement needs caulking around its joints and may need repainting over time. However, James Hardie’s ColorPlus technology is baked on to provide lasting color.
Vinyl is less likely to need routine upkeep. However, the durability of fiber cement means it will need fewer replacements.
Vinyl is one of the most affordable forms of siding, but James Hardie is not far behind. Both sidings are more affordable than most other materials. And both forms of siding are designed to last for years, which means fewer replacements and more money saved. Where vinyl pulls ahead in cost is the installation.
Fiber cement siding’s composition makes it more difficult to install. It can also be a more time-consuming process, and a more time-consuming and laborious process costs more money. However, the lack of repairs needed with fiber cement should be considered in offsetting the upfront cost of the installation.
Quality siding can help save you money on your monthly energy bill, but only with good insulation. Vinyl typically provides better insulation than fiber cement. However, Hardie siding now has an insulated backing, giving it an R-value of 3, while typical vinyl has an R-value of less than 2. In short, Hardie siding makes homes far more efficient than vinyl.
The Environmental Impact
When it comes to helping the planet, fiber cement far surpasses vinyl. The creation of vinyl siding has negative impacts on the environment, not to mention that as a plastic material, it will not easily decompose and will remain in landfills for decades after removal. Fiber cement is created using more sustainable materials, and James Hardie utilizes sustainable practices in the creation of its products.
James Hardie fiber cement was acclaimed for its positive environmental impact and named the “Greenest Siding Brand” by the Green Builder Media annual Readers’ choice survey.
Your Siding Should Benefit You
If you are ready for a siding that provides your home with many benefits, our Lifetime Exteriors team is ready to help. We can answer all of your siding questions and provide a seamless installation so you will not have to worry about the durability of your siding. Get an estimate on your replacement siding today.