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Fiber Cement vs. Vinyl Siding: How To Choose

Choosing the right siding for your home is not an easy decision and you should be as informed as possible before you make your final choice. If you’re looking at synthetic siding, two of the most popular options you will encounter are fiber cement siding and vinyl siding. While they may seem quite similar, it’s important to consider how they differ in terms of maintenance required and durability. This comparison will guide you through the ins and outs of the two materials to allow you to make the best decision for your home.

Cedar clapboard siding on Newburyport home

Similarities - Fiber Cement vs. Vinyl Siding

Synthetic siding
Both fiber cement and vinyl are varieties of synthetic siding as they are composed of all non-wood materials. While these materials differ between the two types of siding, all synthetic siding offers a variety of benefits, specifically related to durability and upkeep of the product.

Durability and ease of maintenance
Synthetic siding is extremely weather and pest resistant, which allows for a long lifespan and little maintenance needed. Synthetic materials are protected against rotting, warping, or chipping. Unlike wood, both fiber cement and vinyl siding are unaffected by moisture and do not attract pests such as termites. Synthetic siding is build to withstand normal factors that usually wear down siding, making both fiber cement and vinyl extremely durable siding options.

Variety of color options
James Hardie is one of the most popular fiber cement siding brands and in terms of vinyl siding, CertainTeed is one of the most well respected brands worldwide. Both brands offer a wide range of pre-painted color options. All products are offered in at least 20 different colors, allowing customers to achieve their perfect siding look. Additionally, both vinyl and fiber cement siding can be painted after installation.

Differences - Fiber Cement vs. Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding and fiber cement siding, while both synthetic products, are made up of completely different materials. Vinyl siding is composed of PVC or polyvinyl chloride, which is essentially a hard plastic. Fiber cement siding, however, is made of cellulose fibers, sand and cement. These materials are more eco-friendly and sustainable than those used to make vinyl siding.

While both products are able to imitate a realistic wood grain look, due to the thicker nature of the shingles, fiber cement achieves a more realistic and textured wood appearance. Vinyl siding is still able to imitate a the look of wood, but due to the thinner shingles, it is often less realistic. However, vinyl shingles are offered in a wider variety of color and decorative styles. This allows homeowners to achieve a more specific look than can be achieved with fiber cement siding.

As stated previously, both vinyl and fiber cement siding are much more durable products than wood lap and cedar shake siding. Both are very resistant to extreme weather and are suitable for a wide variety of climates. However, fiber cement siding is fire resistant, and won’t melt in extreme heat, whereas vinyl siding is only heat retardant. Both have the ability to survive for many years without the need for replacement.

When cared for properly fiber cement siding has a lifespan of upwards of 50 years and vinyl siding usually lasts for 20 to 40 years. Future repairs are typically easier with vinyl siding as it is a lighter material, and therefore, easier to work with. This is due to the fact that fiber cement siding is usually 5 times thicker than vinyl. Additionally, fiber cement siding will usually need a new coat of paint every 5 to 10 years to maintain its shine, whereas vinyl siding only needs to be painted in the case of a siding color change.

In terms of cost, homeowners are likely to note a slight difference between the two materials. Fiber cement siding is typically more expensive than vinyl, but also brings with it a higher resale value and longer life span. The process of installing vinyl siding is simpler and therefore less labor intensive, resulting in less expensive labor costs. Vinyl siding installation typically starts at $500 per 100 square feet and fiber cement siding installation typically starts at $1,300 per 100 square feet.

Vinyl and fiber cement are both great options for siding material. Vinyl allows customers to benefit from the durability and resistance of synthetic siding at an affordable price point. Although fiber cement siding is more expensive, it is a strong investment as it offers a longer lifespan and can often increase the resale value of a home. Additionally, if you are looking for siding that most accurately imitates the appearance of wood, fiber cement is your best option.

While deciding on siding may be difficult, becoming completely informed about your options will help you land on the perfect siding for you and your home. Synthetic siding is a fantastic low-maintenance option that can be found at a variety of price points to suit your budget.

Call us at 888.392.4236 or visit to connect with a licensed HireHaven expert and learn more about your options.