Fiber Cement Board vs Insulated Vinyl Siding: Which Is Best?

A home’s foundation is not just its pillars but also the walls or siding. They are protecting your family from what’s on the outside. And throughout the century, house walls have been developing. Today, we have various options to choose from and many materials to put on our walls.

Choosing the right material for your house wall can be challenging if you don’t know their differences.

We will focus on fiber cement board and insulated vinyl siding home walls. We will discuss in detail the difference between these two materials and which suits your home best.

vinyl siding

Here’s the ultimate guide on fiber cement board vs. insulated vinyl siding, along with alternatives you could consider for your home. Whether you’re building a budget 3-bedroom option or something else, your walls are important.

Functions and Benefits

The most evident is that protecting your property from the weather is critical. Ensure the security of your home while also aiding in proper home insulation. Water may enter your property without this overlaying structure, causing severe damage such as mildew or structural issues.

It helps to improve your home’s aesthetic appeal, which is vital in increasing its value if you intend to sell it in the future.

Moreover, it can also help you save money on your electricity bills. A poorly insulated home can cause your heating and cooling equipment to work harder all time. It will automatically raise your power costs.

Insulated Vinyl versus Fiber Cement

side of a house with vinyl

Both look excellent and can withstand extreme weather and insects. They are two of the most flexible materials, with several pros and cons. They will be discussed below.

They are great when it comes to cost and durability. They are great with regard to water resistance compared to other alternatives. Compared to alternatives with similar features, they are less expensive and more durable. The two types of sheathing are worth paying a bit extra for something that will last.

beautiful landscaping

Understanding Insulated Vinyl

It is a more advanced version of traditional vinyl siding. On top of the benefits of the standard version is that it has a rigid foam backing. It increases a home’s energy efficiency by up to 20%. Another advantage of installing this is that it can lessen outside noise from animals and traffic.

Maybe you have noisy cats or dogs in your neighborhood. You’ll know you can still get that lovely sleep at night if you install insulated vinyl.

It has long been the most popular choice among homeowners who want to update their exterior. This type comprises polyvinyl chloride (PVC), blended with additional materials for texture and color. It is set to the home in such a way that it may expand and adjust freely in response to fluctuating temperatures.

side of vinyl

It can survive much longer in locations where there isn’t a lot of rain or a lot of humidity. It has intensified stucco, and it now lasts considerably longer than it used to by adding polymers. It makes it more flexible and hard to break.

When you go shopping, you may see a range of thicknesses. The material is far more durable and requires less maintenance. It has flawless aesthetics and never needs painting. It is also less costly.

The installation of this type of overlayer is a cost-effective and efficient way to improve the appearance of the house’s exterior. Many homeowners may find it an intimidating option, yet it is an excellent choice because of its longevity and appearance.

outside of a home

Pros

  • Affordability

One of the primary reasons is it is cost-effective for many households since it is available at lower initial pricing. It is also less expensive to install because no painting or caulking is required, and there is a low maintenance cost. It is budget-friendly because it always has options for you, whether you have a tight or large budget.

  • Resilience and durability

They are designed to last for decades. Because of its resilience and long-lasting nature, the material is an excellent choice for outdoor décor. It is tough by nature due to the materials employed in its construction. This implies that it will not rust or corrode. Furthermore, it deters bugs and termites. It is far more durable than its equivalents, making it preferable to walling material.

  • Customizability

While it comes in various sizes and forms, sheets may be customized to meet specific needs. Furthermore, manufacturers make it in almost every color and texture. It looks considerably nicer and so contributes to your home’s curb appeal.

It’s widely utilized and acceptable in terms of style and appearance. From a distance, it appears attractive.

  • Ability to resist moisture and heat

Due to its moisture resistance, it has quickly become a popular choice among homes. This attribute has made it more effective than any other alternative. The rain blocking and drain properties decrease the probability of moisture and mold. Deformation is also lessened over time. It is not quickly damaged or fractured and does not rust. It can endure the effects of heavy rain or storm, making it very durable.

The material is also more difficult to ignite and naturally flame retardant since it is mainly made of PVC. It means it has a chlorine basis. PVC will not usually contribute to the spread of a fire. Because of the low oxygen content, this material extinguishes pretty quickly.

However, it will most certainly melt when in contact with extreme heat or a flame for an extended time. Even nearby sources of external heat might cause damage.

  • Reduces home heating and cooling costs

The right type helps you save money on heating and cooling by better insulating your home.

Consider insulation as the most logical strategy to avoid heat leakage between the wall framing. In most cases, insulation is installed between the wall studs. When the studs are joined to the exterior siding, they deplete heat. The insulated joining works as a protective blanket over the studs. It keeps the home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. It makes it a cost-effective alternative.

  • Colors, textures, and designs availability

There is a large selection of colors and designs to pick that complement those of wood or stone. You can also find ones that go well when brick has been used. If you want to give more substance to the elements, it is best to employ a color combination. Modern versions are pretty well shielded from UV deterioration, so they retain their structure and color well. The most common styles and colors include clapboard and board-and-batten.

vinyl siding
  • Portability and Installation

The material is usually light and portable. It can be transported in non-commercial vehicles. This quality has made it a popular choice, particularly for small construction personnel.

Installing vinyl will help you reduce the amount of exterior repair you do. If you choose to do it yourself, you should be better prepared and completely grasp the installation process.

Because it is lighter than cement and does not require painting, it requires less fuel to transport.

  • Low Maintenance

Its key selling point is the significant reduction in maintenance required when compared to other materials.

Another advantage people prefer this over other materials is its minimal upkeep costs. It can preserve its original forms for years since it is resistant to bugs and ravages like rot. In contrast to other materials, it does not need to be painted. A quick washing with water every once in a while is required to keep it in good condition. This allows you to save money on maintenance instead of other materials, such as wood. Wood takes a lot of upkeep.

Cons

  • High vulnerability rate

In severe winds and hail storms, it is somewhat vulnerable to damage. With the latest generation of rigid panels, it can withstand high gusts of up to 240 mph. It can also be a feasible alternative.

  • Not so eco-friendly

It’s a non-reusable material since it comprises PVC and generates harmful dioxins when scorched. It discharges significant paint-related pollutants into the environment.

Fiber Siding Cement

It is often known as Hardiplank or Hardie board. It is fashioned into long planks or shingles and erected similarly to wooden products by nailing attachments to the house’s façade.

The material is an excellent example of combining natural materials and innovative engineering results in a unique walling material. The resultant panels are made from sand and cement. In it, polyose fiber composite has been blended with waxes and resins. The fabric is next autoclaved, which is a process in which the mixture is exposed to carefully regulated steam. It pushes the material into its final form.

Pros

  • Long-term investment

Many people say that fiber-cement wall panels can last for over a half-century. The most practical aspect is that it is pretty pricey but long-lasting. However, it is a bit more costly than the latter.

  • Resilience and durability

It becomes an object resistant to fire and insects. It’s also great when it comes to water and various elements. It even does better with flying debris. Better still, it is fire resistant. Some manufacturers offer a limited transferable warranty. It also looks like wood, but termites won’t consume it. It adds an extra layer of fire safety to your property. It should be painted presently for better results, much like wood siding. But in terms of pricing, they are somewhat more expensive than the latter. Weight is a factor to consider.

Furthermore, it aids in the prevention of hail and rain damage and cracking. It is the most outstanding equivalent for painted wood. Yet, it will never be harmed by fire or termites.

They are more durable than their vinyl counterparts. It comes in several sizes and can be painted whatever color you like to get the right final product. Because you cannot patch vinyl, it has to be replaced in sheets. Fiberboard can be quickly replaced if something goes wrong.

  • Customizability

Fiber panels are also manufactured in sheet form. It can be molded and cut into many different boards. It means you will have several options for width with varied textures and colors.

In general, it is the market’s fastest-growing walling product. The first step in installing it into your wall is to remove all previous panels entirely and all trim boards. They may be painted whatever color you like, or they can be purchased pre-finished with more extended paint assurance. What’s more, it’s non-combustible and available in various designs and quality levels.

They are used as a protective cover, sidelining, and tile underlay on decks and in ditches. If you want to have a low-maintenance house, having this is one of the simplest ways.  It is solid and does not expand or contract.

  • Designs

Cement flex is an eco-friendly alternative. It’s the most preferred material by prominent architects and designers to form imaginative designs while remaining environmentally aware.

Make sure to read our articles on converting watts to amps and zero-waste life. We have also written extensively on utility sinks.

Cons

  • Dusty

Because the main ingredients are cement and fiber, there is a significant concentration of sawdust. Sawdust absorbs practically everything, especially water. The first layer of cladding closest to the ground may be in higher moisture conditions. It will eventually begin to soak up water like a sponge. It doesn’t take long to degrade once it turns mushy.

  • Weighty and fragile

It’s pretty hard to work with and very weighty. It’s very fragile if not handled upright at all times. It will snap on quickly if you let it. It’s only available in 12″ lengths, which is why it’s so hefty. Even at 12″ sizes, it’ll snap in a split second.

  • Requires specific saw blade

Aside from the fragility and weight, it’s a pain to cut and not cut with a knife or shears. Although it is not as difficult to cut, it does fly through your saw blades and is quite dusty. It’s also difficult to attach to walls. Every nail you use must have a pre-drilled hole in the siding, or it will damage the siding. Even with pre-drilling, there will still be some accidental breakage.

  • Absorbs moisture if unsealed

During the winter, a daily melting and freezing cycle means it will absorb part of the runoff moisture. Even if the backside is primed, moisture would still be trapped. It creates a massive water catch if not sealed.  Even if the moisture level is low, the damage is significant and visible.

Because it cannot be sealed at the end joints, house insulation requires pre-installation. When the ends are not completed and sealed, the home is subject to dampness.

  • Complex installation

It’s nearly complicated for one person to install due to the weight and overall flimsiness of the material. And installation needs the use of a specific saw blade.

  • Fades

After some time, the surface begins to fade. You’ll need to repaint it when the impacts of nature begin to appear.

  • Increases initial costs

Special saw blades and other workforce are only two of the numerous considerations contributing to the installation’s upfront cost. Labor expenses are higher since delivering and installing need more personnel. The price might be two to three times that of vinyl.

The bottom line is that this option provides a layer of fire safety to your home’s covered areas. In some cases, this can be a significant advantage.

The cons outweigh the pros. For example, it is more costly than its equivalent. Because of its weight and being somewhat more challenging to cut, it may cost more to install. It may decay like wood without the maintenance, but it takes longer.

The benefits are that it lasts a long time and requires little maintenance. It is classified as a masonry product by insurance providers. It has ten years or more lifespan with no care if correctly placed with flashing and painted and caulked. It will even last a lifetime if properly maintained.

How Long Do Both Last Outside?

Any construction that is built and properly maintained can have an indefinite lifespan. Externally, vinyl will need to be changed after around 30 years to preserve resilience to the weather. It is also destroyed by UV radiation over the years, causing its color to fade. Brittleness is a typical failure mode. It will break and lose its resilience, thereby losing some of its advantageous features. It will fracture if it is affected.

Fiber siding cement will last a lifetime. However, you need to repaint it every 5–15 years. Paint deteriorates when exposed to the elements and UV radiation.

What is the Average Price?

Vinyl does not have a predetermined price. Prices will vary.  Suppliers determine the overall cost and are sometimes reasonably different from one consumer to the next. If this is a one-time purchase, go with a reputable brand and ensure that the thickness is 0.44.

vinyl siding on a house

Vinyl is less expensive at roughly $250 per 100 square feet, whereas fiberboard is more expensive at $400 per 100 square feet. Bear in mind that these are trade estimates, and prices may and will change regularly. There is an estimated cost from the housing business range. The numbers are from $4.50 to $9 per area unit. It equals $5,600 to $11,250 for 1,250 external square feet, and they always vary.

Painting

There are several colors and textures to select for your chosen wall. You need to paint anything prone to water and moisture.

Paint helps shed water, preventing water from accumulating and settling on it. Left on it, it allows rot to form and eat away at your wood. They recommend that you paint 4″ up on the backside. That is because water from rain and snow can get inside and cause it to deteriorate due to dry wrought.

Painting Vinyl

It has been painted specifically for this purpose. It is best to carefully follow the instructions and adequately prepare the surface to ensure proper adherence. But don’t expect it to last as long as the walling. I’m sure you’ll need to repaint it in a few years. It is a less expensive option than replacing siding entirely.

Before painting, get a broom or feather duster to clean it. Remove all bird droppings and anything else on it. If you power wash it, wash it from the top down because you don’t want water getting into the siding. Choose the best paint. As for me, I don’t use a dark color as dark draws the sun and heat and will warp the siding if it is too dark. Light colors and olive green colors are acceptable.

But because it expands and shrinks often, the paint eventually peels off in lengthy strange chunks. It leaves the piece looking like a shredded mess.

The painting necessitates precise attention to detail; the smaller the surface, the less chance for error. If you are unsure about completing the task yourself, always search for a contractor who will complete the job. If you are confident in your painting ability, it’ll save you money.

Painting Cement Fiber Boards

Painting this type of house wall is pretty straightforward, and its paint can endure the weather for up to fifteen years. However, you may install an already painted board. Painted fiberboards look like a wood walls in appearance. It’s strong and has good impact resistance. It’s great how it won’t decay, and we know you’ll love it.

FC boards are manufactured in factories and are often painted throughout the manufacturing process. The paint is applied uniformly and baked into the fibers, making it highly durable while saving time when painting it.

Other Alternatives

Stucco

When it comes to fire, stucco has an advantage since it is fire resistant. But suppose you don’t install stucco correctly. Disturbing things can happen, such as water coming into the wall without a way out. It will rot away your sheathing and portions of your frame. Stucco is a superior insulator, like vinyl. As a result, having a stucco façade naturally cools the house. It lowers the frequency with which the air conditioner is used.

Wooden Walls

Although some people like the look of wood siding, it is less adaptable. It’s harder to install and does not provide the same value and benefits.

Brick Walls

These days, brick is mainly used to cover up wood. A brick home would be costly to build. Either that or it’s brick over a block, although it’s usually brick over wood and sheathing. It looks great while not needing to be painted. It lasts a long time but periodically requires expensive re-pointing.

FAQ

What was the main problem with fiberboard cement?

The major drawback is the weight and the initial upfront cost. It required very technical installation. If you decide on FC, be sure you know how to put it up. There’s a craziness about it. For example, you must attach a piece of steel flashing behind each joint. There’s no need for caulking.

What to look for when choosing veneer siding?

It depends on the type of siding you have. Check out the life expectancy. Consider how long you’ve lived in your home to get an excellent objective idea of whether or not it’s time to replace it. There are specific techniques to extend the life that can delay the cost for years.

Before making a purchase, you should think about a few things.

Cracks or dents are an obvious sign that your siding needs require replacement. Mold or fungus growing on your property are indications of leakage. Everything has a life cycle, and wall covering is no exception. If you begin to see the effects of the atmosphere, it is evident that a patchwork is needed.

Consider the material first, then the quality and how long it will endure. Most importantly, how does it interact with its surroundings? Durability and pricing are the next factors to be considered.

How long does fiber cement siding last?

Fiber cement siding offers an almost-lifetime guarantee, as it typically lasts around 50 years. However, you may be required to schedule a few touch-ups every 10 to 15 years.

Is fiber cement siding expensive?

Fiber cement siding settles at a slightly higher cost than vinyl siding. It costs about $15 per square foot, including labor and material. In contrast, the vinyl siding finishes up to an average cost of $8 per square foot.

What is better than fiber cement siding?

Vinyl siding is a more acknowledged option amongst homeowners. It is typically low maintenance and offers a certain degree of energy efficiency. It is also installed at a lower cost and is much easier to clean.     

What’s the R-value of insulated vinyl siding?

Insulated vinyl siding provides R-values ranging from 2 to 3.5.

Is foam-backed vinyl siding worth the extra cost?

At a 50% higher cost, the foam-backed vinyl siding offers more than the traditional siding. It has a higher R-value, so the thermal efficiency is considerably better. Additionally, it is generally viewed to improve the overall outlook of your house. With such a drastic price increase, it comes down to installation. Improper installation fails to provide a higher aesthetic value and even lowers the thermal performance.   

You may get an idea of what has to be done through these. Because the work is pricey, it is usually best to contact a specialist.

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