Vinyl vs. Fiber Cement Siding: Know the Difference

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Choosing the right home siding material and style is a huge decision. In fact, it may be one of the most important choices you make when designing or renovating your home. Siding contributes to the majority of your house's basic appearance. Good siding will offer protection, excellent curb appeal, temperature insulation, and durability against the elements. Poor siding will make your home look far less valuable than it actually is, and can force you to pay for expensive repairs.

Two of the most common types of siding are fiber cement and vinyl. Both of these manufactured materials are more affordable than cedar, steel, and other cladding options on the market. But which is the right option for your home?

Basic Differences

First, you should understand the composition of these two options. Never purchase a product for your home without knowing exactly what it consists of and what its pros and cons may be.

Fiber cement siding is a mixture of real wood pulp and cement. This mixture will be processed until it has a more uniform appearance. Then, it's shaped into a variety of cladding or siding shapes, including long boards or shingles. Fiber cement can be nailed directly onto your house.

Vinyl, meanwhile, consists mainly of PVC, a durable and long-lasting plastic. Plastic is easy to manipulate into a variety of shapes and textures, so it's a very common siding material for many types of houses. It will be secured onto the exterior of a house in such a way that it's allowed to "breathe," or expand and contract in reaction to temperature and humidity conditions. This flexibility prevents warping and cracking.

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Appearance

While both fiber cement and vinyl are manmade, they've been improved for many years and can now be sold in numerous shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. 

Fiber cement boards can be stained or painted, which gives you almost limitless control over its appearance. Of course, it's also sold in many colors so that it's ready for installation straight from the supplier.

Vinyl siding, meanwhile, is also available in many colors and stain effects. However, it has more texture and style versatility than fiber cement. It's considered the most versatile type of siding for this reason. Vinyl can be formulated to resemble wood with a real grain effect, and much more.

Benefits

While vinyl and fiber cement are both less insulating than real wood cladding, they're both durable enough to protect your home from the elements, including moisture and dirt. However, vinyl is available in an insulated version, which adds an additional protective layer between the vinyl and the exterior walls of your home. 

Vinyl tends to be easier to install because it's extremely lightweight. However, it still manages to be more durable and long-lasting than fiber cement, likely because the latter has been known to absorb moisture. 

Best of all, vinyl siding is cheaper than fiber cement siding. Regardless, you may decide between either of these materials for your home, as both will look elegant and effectively protect your home. For best results, always trust in a certified roofing and cladding contractor for installation.

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