If you’re considering adding new siding to your home, then you likely already know the drawbacks to wood siding. While beautiful, most woods require a lot of maintenance and upkeep, which is why homeowners have been looking for alternatives for years.
For nearly 70 years, one of those alternatives has been vinyl. This molded plastic has color that goes straight through, so it doesn’t require the same scraping and painting that wood siding needs. But while it is lower maintenance, vinyl has a lot of drawbacks that make it a poor choice for many homes.
If you’re looking for a material that can be both a lower maintenance alternative to wood and a more durable option than vinyl, consider fiber cement siding for your home.
5 Problems with Vinyl Siding
On its surface, vinyl siding seems to be a great alternative to wood. It won’t peel, chip, or fade, and can be cleaned fairly easily with a hose. Unfortunately, while vinyl does have its attributes, it also has a number of drawbacks and disadvantages that most homeowners will run into at one point in time or another.
The first issue that most vinyl siding owners face is with appearance. While the material is given a texture to resemble wood, it’s still a form of plastic - polyvinyl chloride. And whether you’re looking at it up close or far away, it’s fairly obvious that you’re looking at plastic siding.
Vinyl is technically hollow, which is considered a benefit in terms of handling and cutting - it’s lightweight and easy to move - but that means that the planks are also very thin. The overlapping seams of the planks show up as a shadow on the siding, which in turn shows off just how thin they are, further detracting from its appearance.
2. Poor Cold Weather Performance
If you live in an area that experiences freeze/thaw temperatures during the winter, you may have problems with vinyl siding as well. While the material performs well in moderate temperatures, when it gets very cold outside the thin plastic can freeze. This in turn can make the material brittle, so an impact against the side of the house can cause a crack. If water gets into this crack during a thaw and then freezes again, the crack will expand, creating a hole.
3. Intolerance to Heat
In addition to becoming brittle in extreme cold, vinyl also has issues with heat. In hot climates, especially in areas where the siding is directly exposed to the sun, the vinyl can soften and begin to melt. This can lead to warping of the siding over time, with some sections of the home dipping or sliding down in areas of direct sun exposure.
4. Difficulty with Repair
If your siding does crack or warp and you want to repair it, you can run into further difficulties. Vinyl itself can’t be fixed, so the alternative is to replace the individually affected boards. The problem here, though, is that it’s difficult to match the color of siding that’s been in place for several years. Dye lots can vary between batches, while some vinyl colors can fade with time. Trying to replace boards without the ability to match them can make your home look patchy. And because you can’t paint vinyl, there’s no way to correct this issue.
5. Difficulty with Disposal
If you have leftover vinyl siding, you’ve replaced some broken pieces, or you’ve decided to replace your vinyl with something else, you’re going to find it difficult to dispose of. Vinyl is a type of plastic, so simply dropping it off at the transfer station isn’t environmentally responsible. Only a few recycling centers will accept it, and there can sometimes be fees attached to getting it there and having it recycled.
5 Benefits of Fiber Cement Siding
Most homeowners ultimately chose vinyl siding for their homes because they want a lower maintenance alternative to wood. Unfortunately, it lacks in both appearance and long term durability. Fiber cement siding is an attractive option that offers both lower maintenance and longer lasting durability than either wood or vinyl.
1. Versatile Appearance
Fiber cement siding is made to look like wood, with a realistic surface texture and a wide range of styles and sizes. It’s possible to find planks, shingles, shakes, and other decorative options. The boards are dense, and are made of a mixture of sand, Portland cement, silica, and cellulose fibers. They take color well, and can be purchased in a range of color options, including wood stain colors. Fiber cement looks very similar to real wood, with no overlapping seams or molded edges like vinyl.
2. Long Lasting Finish
While the color doesn’t go through the planks of fiber cement siding like vinyl does, the color is resistant to chipping, peeling, and fading. This can give your home longer lasting good looks than painted wood, which chips and peels more easily.
3. Better Durability
In addition to resisting surface wear, fiber cement siding is also very durable. The material is insect, fire, and moisture-resistant. It also resists rot and softening, so it performs well in all climates. It’s unlikely to be affected by either heat or cold, so no matter where you live, you don’t need to worry about how your siding is going to hold up.
4. Non Combustible
Homeowners living in areas prone to wildfires and other natural disasters need to pay close attention to the material they put on their homes. Vinyl siding not only melts with heat, it can also combust at high temperatures. Fiber cement siding is considered a non combustible material, making it a better choice for homes that may be impacted by stray sparks or flames.
5. More Environmentally Responsible
While vinyl is a form of plastic, and therefore gives off harmful VOCs during its production, fiber cement siding is a more environmentally responsible choice. It doesn’t contain plastics, can contribute to LEED credits, and because it doesn’t require painting as often as wood, you can lower your potential VOCs even more through its lower maintenance.
Make a Better Choice
If you’re looking for a naturally durable, low maintenance material with a lot of style and options, consider fiber cement siding for your home instead of vinyl. Fiber cement has curb appeal, durability, and is lower in maintenance than wood or vinyl. Make the better choice for your home.