Fiber cement board vs. insulated vinyl siding: which is best?

There are multiple various options when it comes to covering the sides of your household. These additions provide an improved, fancy look to your house and protect it from the outside weather conditions.

Even better, their insulating properties can save you lots of cash in the long run by decreasing the heating you need to produce. Among all these variations, two gain popularity at a steady pace. These are insulated vinyl siding and fiber cement boards. They’re both fantastic at everything a covering should do. That’s mainly why choosing between those two can be rather hard.

Let’s look at both of them and compare them side by side to figure out which one to buy and when. You may have recently upgraded your shower and entryway. Now it’s time for the outside.

Fiber Cement Lap Siding

How long do cement board & vinyl siding last outside?

Both vinyl siding and cement boards are very durable. They’re designed to withstand rough weather conditions and protect your house from them. Nevertheless, they still require some maintenance work to work for longer. Without proper care, both of these additions will break apart. 

Durability

Vinyl siding khaki color

Regarding the durability of the vinyl covers, its design shows its real genius. This covering is highly immune to:

  • cracks
  • chipping
  • and water damage

It does so by being made of resistant plastic material. Traditional vinyl is made in a way that creates a hollow space between itself and the wall. That makes it very susceptible to impact damage. Because of the insulation, the insulated vinyl siding is also resistant to that. Its foam insulation makes it perfect against even the toughest of possibilities. That includes heavy hail, rocks, or even baseball.

Fiber cement is made out of a thicker, denser material. It has cement-like properties, making it more prone to cracks and chips. Additionally, it’s highly absorbing. The moisture it absorbs may lead to problems such as mold

white vinyl siding

Maintenance

Comparing both of these items, fiber cement is the more demanding when it comes to maintenance work. It requires regular sealing up as well as painting. Not doing that may lead to the siding losing its original look or becoming less resistant to weather. 

On the other hand, vinyl siding is much easier to manage over time. Not only does it keep its protective properties over time, but it also doesn’t lose its color that fast. As a result, you only need to clean it from time to time with a regular water hose to keep it looking nice and fresh.

What is the average price?

These additions can be quite costly to install in your household. Considering all their properties and attributes, they are worth it. Not only that, some of their characteristics can lead to saving money- but more on that later. 

Vinyl siding’s price varies from a lot of factors. The area where you live, the type you chose, your house design and size, and material market cost. These are all variables that determine the price of these installations. Simplifying, vinyl covering costs about $4 to $12 for a square foot. However, this price is higher than its counterpart’s. It’s important to remember that vinyl is highly insulative. Because of that, the costs of your heating will be significantly lower. In turn, this will lead to noticeable money savings. It amplifies with each day of using the siding. 

On the contrary, fiber cement’s market price is slightly lower than vinyl’s. Comparing the two options using a 12.5 squares plane, the cement’s cost has been estimated at around $14000. That’s more than a thousand dollars saved, compared to the vinyl cover estimated at around $15,100. Fiber cement is much more pricey to maintain, with the maintenance work costing as much as $6000 each time it’s repainted or sealed up. Adding to that, it possesses no insulating qualities. It makes it unable to save you any money on heating. 

In short, vinyl siding is the superior long-term solution here. Although it might be more expensive initially, its true cost will decrease over time compared to its cement counterpart.

Painting

Each siding comes in various artistic styles. Vinyl boards can be made in:

  •  clapboard
  • shakes
  • scallops
  • board and batten
  • dutch
  • Panels that resemble other materials such as wood

Fiber cement is originally available in flat boards, planks, and shingles. Both options can provide a rather wide selection of choices, well suited for your liking. 

If the factory look is not enough for you, then painting the covers may be your answer. Before you begin changing the look of your sidings, take a quick look at how the painting looks with each variation:

Painting insulated vinyl siding can be painted, albeit mostly theoretically. Doing so is much more problematic than working on the cement one. That is because the design of the vinyl covering doesn’t work well with the paint. Applying paint to the vinyl might cause it to absorb too much heat. In turn, it leads to the siding warping and cracking and generally degrading over time. Even with that in mind, painting your vinyl siding is probably the superior option to replacing it each time it loses its colors. This way will save you money in exchange for a bit more effort. 

On the other hand, fiber cement is made for being painted. Even though it has its base looks, it’s designed to be remade into any color you want after installation. Not only that, it’s advised to repaint your covering from time to time when it inevitably loses its primary colors. Although this process is pretty pricey, the results will be worth it.

How to paint vinyl siding and fiber cement board

Painting these additions can be intimidating, considering how easy it is to mess up accidentally. Wrong actions may lead not only to a failed end result but also destroyed siding. That’s why it’s important to know how to do it properly. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on painting your siding:

  1. Pick the proper paint- this is by far the most important step, especially for vinyl options. They can be very susceptible to paint damage when exposed to the wrong kind. You’re guaranteed to have none of these problems by choosing the right paint characteristics. Acknowledge the color of your house and its features to pick the paint that will match it well. Also, take note of the paint’s ingredients. Make sure they won’t destroy your siding.
  2. Make sure the weather is good- as intuitive as it may sound, this step should not be overlooked. Even the slightest weather changes may result in total failure due to paint not drying out properly, such as light wind or rain.
  3. Prepare the siding surface- the key to painting anything right is to have the paint on a clean, fresh surface. This scenario is no different. A simple rinse with a garden hose won’t be enough- you’ll need to do a thorough cleaning. Use ingredients such as household cleaner, laundry detergent, and laundry bleach. Create a cleaning mix that will do the work. After that, you should wait until the covering dries out completely before painting. 
  4. Set up your working place and tools the last step before finally doing the job is preparing everything as it should be. That includes setting up covers, ladders, and supplies in the right places. This will ensure that your working pace is consistent, and the results will also look consistent. 
  5. Begin the painting- after doing everything to prepare yourself, you can finally begin renovating your covering. Apply the paint evenly, ensuring no place has too much paint. Always remember that it’s better to have multiple thinner layers than one too-thick layer. Generally, you’ll be going for two layers. It’s enough, except for the cases when the paint you’re using contrasts the siding color by much. In every case, it’s advised to wait at least 24 hours before applying the next layer. 

Best alternatives

Vinyl or cement might not be your thing, and that’s totally okay. The market has many more options for house siding than just those two. Here are some of the best alternatives:

Wood siding

This is the oldest available siding on the market. It uses real wood, giving your house a specific, warm look. It comes in many different arrangements and can be painted or stained in any color you want. Its cost can vary from $7000 to $23000 for a full installation. 

Although this option looks promising, wood is a flammable material. This means that your house can be at risk of a fire if the siding catches too much heat. This variation also requires regular renovations, such as repainting and cleaning. It lacks some durability. Even with proper management, it’s projected to last from 20 to 40 years. 

Metal siding

Although typically associated only with roofing, metal is also a material that has its place in the siding. It’s much stronger than wood and can’t rot, warp, or be destroyed by animals. What’s even better, unlike the wood option, this one requires basically no maintenance work after it’s installed. 

The main downsides of this covering are its lack of insulation and soundproofing. This variation will not save you any money on heating and can be quite loud if you live in harsher conditions. 

Brick siding

Another solid choice, as well as a timeless classic. Bricks have cemented their place in the siding industry for a long time, mainly due to their durability. A typical brick covering installation is going to last about 100 years. It doesn’t require any repainting or cleaning. It’s also the best choice when turning your house into an investment opportunity. Acme Brick has reported that adding brick siding to your house increases its value by about $4000 more than other options. 

Unfortunately, bricks have one main downside- the cost. Being one of the more expensive variations on the market, they can cost up to $25000 for a full house. In addition, you’ll probably need to install additional coatings to make it fully effective. That can include a waterproof membrane, extra insulating layers, and such. 

Fiber cement board vs. insulated vinyl siding: pros and cons

Now that we know all about the characteristics of each option, let’s look at their pluses and minuses side by side. Let’s determine which one will be the best for you.

Vinyl siding

used vinyl siding

Pros:

  • Great insulation- vinyl has superior insulating properties. It will keep your house warm at all times and do so without the excessive use of paid heating. This will lead to more money being saved as time goes on.
  • Immune to damage- vinyl’s design makes it hard to be cracked, chipped, or withered. It works well even with the toughest conditions, ensuring your home is always safe.
  • Different styles- vinyl sidings come in various arrangements, each vastly different from the previous one. It adds lots of flexibility and personality to each household, allowing you to decorate your home just as you like.
  • Solid construction- the addition of insulation makes this covering much more sure and durable than its predecessor, hollow vinyl siding. It provides better weather resistance, more soundproofing, and overall bigger durability.
  • Easy to manage- this variation requires practically no maintenance work. To keep it nice and clean, rinse it with a water hose and some soapy water from time to time. 
vinyl siding

Cons:

  • Not paint-friendly- vinyl is not the best choice if you’re looking for a siding that can be painted easily. It requires a lot of preparation work. Even a slight oversight in terms of paint selection can lead to the vinyl siding being destroyed in some way. 
  • High cost- this is the main downside of this option. All vinyl options have a high price on the market and can be quite expensive, especially the insulated ones. It’s worth mentioning that the real cost decreases over time, considering the money-saving and lack of maintenance work needed.

Fiber cement board

fiber cement siding on a truck

Pros:

  • Resistant to salty air- this advantage is appreciated, especially in countries close to large water bodies. It includes places such as England. This option withstands harsh weather conditions for a long time without breaking, providing sure protection over many years.
  • Non-flammable- cement is not a flammable material. It means not only will it not catch fire by itself, but it will also protect you from nearby fires. 
  • Flexible appearance- fiber cement boards can be made in ways that resemble wooden planks and many other natural materials. It can also be painted easily to make it look exactly how you want.
  • Insect and rot protection- made from materials that can’t be destroyed by bugs or rot, this siding is perfect for protecting your house from these problems. 
fiber cement siding

Cons:

  • High installation costs- the average prices of installing fiber cement boards are usually higher than their counterparts, even by two or three times. It is mainly because this option is very susceptible to damage before being put on. 
  • Very maintenance demanding- fiber cement boards need to be repainted and resealed regularly, which is quite pricey by itself. Compared to the vinyl counterpart, this variation certainly has a higher price over long periods.
  • More damage-prone- Unlike vinyl, this siding is made from materials susceptible to impact damage, chips, and cracks. It makes it worse at protecting you from direct impact threats, such as hail or rocks.
pile of fiber cement siding

FAQ

What was the main problem with fiber cement board siding?

The main problem of this variation is its lack of insulating properties, susceptibility to impact damage, and lots of maintenance work needed. These qualities make this option quite hard to deal with and not the best at protecting your house from harsher weather conditions.

What should you look for when choosing siding?

There are general aspects, such as price, resistance to predicted weather conditions in your area, and durability. Then, there are also the more personal ones. It includes things such as your house’s look, the color of its features, and your personal style and preference.