When the time comes to replace the siding on your home, the number of choices on the market can be overwhelming. Most homeowners are looking for something that is low- maintenance, durable, affordable, and attractive. Wood has a long history of being used to clad homes and is attractive, while vinyl siding is considered to be the more affordable and low- maintenance option. Materials like metal siding and stucco are often more expensive, difficult to install, or not as easy to maintain.
Fiber cement meets all criteria that homeowners want for their homes - it’s low-maintenance, durable, attractive, and relatively affordable, especially when you factor in the savings on maintenance.
What Is Fiber Cement Siding?
Fiber cement siding is a unique mixture of materials that gives you the best of both worlds - a highly durable siding that has many different styles, colors, and appearances to complement any home. It’s made from a blend of cellulose fiber (wood pulp), sand, silica, and Portland cement. It can be formed to take on nearly any texture or appearance including that of stone, although it’s most commonly found in styles that mimic the look and texture of wood, such as clapboard, lap siding, board and batten, or shingles.
Fiber cement performs well in nearly all climates, resisting many of the issues that plague other forms of siding. It’s impact and moisture-resistant, not attractive to insects, and flame retardant. The planks, panels, or shingles it’s formed into are heavy and durable, but fairly easy to install, going up similarly to wood siding.
Fiber Cement vs. Wood Siding
Fiber cement is most frequently compared to wood, simply because it looks so much like wood once it’s installed. That makes fiber cement the best choice for anyone who loves the traditional look of a wood-clad home, but doesn’t want the expense and issues that wood can bring.
Wood siding is very susceptible to moisture and moisture-related issues. It can absorb moisture and swell, shrink, and crack over time. If it’s exposed to enough moisture, it will also eventually begin to soften and rot. To help protect it, it needs to be scraped and painted every few years.
Fiber cement may look like wood, but it resists rot and other moisture-related issues. The finish also lasts for years longer than wood, so there isn’t the same level of maintenance required to help your home keep its good looks. Wood siding costs an average of $7 - $10 a square foot, and fiber cement has costs starting well under $5 a square foot, so it’s less expensive as well as lower in maintenance.
Fiber Cement vs. Vinyl
Vinyl siding gets a lot of attention because it’s supposed to be a low-maintenance alternative to wood. Compared to wood, it is indeed lower in maintenance, doesn’t require painting, and resists moisture and insect activity.
However, compared to fiber cement, vinyl starts to fall short. Vinyl is low-maintenance, but it’s not very durable. It’s so lightweight that high winds can easily tear it off a home, and in cold weather, it can become very brittle, cracking with impact. In a hot climate, however, the opposite can occur, and the vinyl can begin to soften, melt, and warp, so it’s only recommended for use in moderate climates.
Fiber cement can be installed anywhere, as it naturally resists both heat and cold. It’s more durable than vinyl and also resists high wind speeds, so you don’t need to worry about what climate you live in. Also, vinyl siding never looks as close to wood as most homeowners would want. It has very visible plastic seams, and it’s choices are limited for color and style. Fiber cement comes in a wide range of textures and styles, as well as sizes. In addition to clapboard style planks, you can also get a range of shingles, shakes, and architectural panels with different textures and finishes.
Vinyl also costs slightly more than fiber cement, coming in around $5 a square foot for high quality vinyl, while fiber cement’s cost is closer to $4 a square foot.
Fiber Cement vs. Metal Siding
Metal siding was introduced around the same time as vinyl for the same reasons; people wanted a lower maintenance alternative to wood. Metal siding is most commonly either steel or aluminum, and both are available in several different styles including lap siding and board and batten. They can also have a smooth finish or a simulated wood grain.
Steel is more durable than some wood alternatives, but if the finish is scratched the metal underneath can rust. Aluminum doesn’t corrode, but it’s so lightweight that it often has issues with denting. In either case, metal siding is more maintenance than most people realize.
Fiber cement resists corrosion as well as rot and other issues. It’s also impact-resistant, so it won’t dent the way that aluminum does. Metal siding costs between $5 and $10 a square foot, while fiber cement starts at $4 a square foot. This makes fiber cement the better option for price, as well as durability and maintenance.
Fiber Cement vs. Stucco
Stucco is a unique material that also uses cement as its base for a durable, rot-, moisture-, and impact-resistant siding. Depending on the aggregate used, it can be smooth or textured, and it works well in areas with high moisture content in the air, such as the Southern U.S.
Stucco’s biggest drawback is its installation. You need a highly qualified professional to install it, and since each type of stucco is unique, even if you find someone who can install the smooth variety, that person may not know how to apply rock dash or pebble dash siding.
Stucco also has a tendency to crack when the house settles, which means repair not only to that area, but also repainting of the entire structure to ensure that the repair matches.
Fiber cement comes in a wide range of architectural panels that can help give you the appearance of stucco, without the installation drawbacks or the worry about house settling. Stucco is also more expensive, with costs starting around $7 a square foot for a basic stucco siding.
Get the Best Option for Your Home
Of all these different types of siding, only fiber cement delivers on appearance, maintenance, durability, and cost. It comes in a wide range of attractive styles and can be installed in many applications. It’s less expensive than other types of siding, and lower in maintenance while remaining higher in durability.
If you’re looking for the best siding option for your home, choose Allura fiber cement for the job.