2023 Fiber Cement vs Vinyl Siding – Costs, Options, Reviews

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Fiber cement and vinyl are among the most popular and used sidings in the US. Fiber cement siding vs vinyl – each one has carved its own niche in the market. The key to picking the best siding for your project is figuring out what siding material is most affordable and appealing for you.

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What Is Fiber Cement Siding?

A gorgeous and durable siding material, fiber cement siding is made from Portland cement and wood pulp. This combination results in individual planks, or shingles, that often replicate the aesthetic appeal of wood siding.

With similar looks and installation processes, fiber cement is a popular siding alternative to wood, especially in areas prone to fires and extreme heat.

Did you know? Fiber cement siding planks are also referred to as Hardie boards or Hardie planks. This moniker comes from James Hardie, arguably one of the best-known fiber cement siding manufacturers.

Fiber Cement Siding Cost

The cost of one square foot of fiber cement siding, accounting for installation and material costs, can be between $4.75 and $24.

Of course, material shortages, demand, and other factors can alter the price. Some of these include the region of the country where the siding is being installed, the experience and per-hour fees of the installers, and access to the sides of the house.

For example, a triple-decker home in a major city that’s only a few feet away from the house next door will take more time and effort to side. Sometimes specialized equipment, such as harnesses and pulleys from the roof, are needed.

A home way out in the country at the end of a long and winding dirt mountain road will cost more to side due to transportation costs.

Fiber cement siding material costs alone range between $1 and $14 per square foot, and labor varies from $3.75 to $9 or $10 per square foot. You should note that the workmanship costs differ between states, climates, job difficulty, etc.

Did you know? James Hardie was a big believer in not caulking fiber cement siding. However, it’s standard industry practice for the siding material that bears his name. The only time caulking wouldn’t be recommended is when the siding has metal flashing. Flashing can be the waterproofing layer that a fiber cement siding doesn’t otherwise have, but the caulking would keep the flashing from functioning as intended.

Fiber Cement Siding Styles

It’s safe to say that fiber cement siding has come a long way in appearance and durability. While long plank boards are perhaps the most well-known, this siding is available in other styles. Staggered, half-round, and even square shingles can make excellent choices to upgrade your home’s exterior aesthetics and curb appeal.

What’s more, you can find fiber cement siding in a painted or stained finish. For a long time, people would buy the siding style they wanted and then paint it to complement their home.

These days, manufacturers offer tons of pre-painted fiber cement siding choices with a lot of color and texture variety.

It’s a versatile, decorative element that translates well into modern, contemporary, and rustic architectural styles.

Benefit Of Fiber Cement Siding

There are many reasons why homeowners prefer to install fiber cement siding over more popular alternatives. The material has a lot going for it.


Unlike other siding options, fiber cement siding uses plenty of sustainable materials. Wood pulp, for example, consists mostly of wood waste. This means it doesn’t depend on harvesting trees, like natural wooden shingles. It also doesn’t require burning fossil fuels.

Although fiber cement siding is not recyclable, it can be easier to dispose of compared to other materials, thanks to its wood pulp composition.


If you plan on installing a siding that can last half a century or so, fiber cement is a reliable choice. Unless consistently exposed to harsh weather conditions, fiber cement siding has exceptional longevity. Furthermore, the material is less susceptible to damage from debris and strong winds.

Fiber cement siding is even recommended over other siding options in hurricane-prone regions due to having good water and wind resistance. That said, prolonged exposure to moisture without sufficient time to dry will accelerate the wear on your fiber cement siding.

Good Fire Resistance

You probably already know the importance of building your home from fire-retardant materials. The recent spikes in wildfires all over the world are concerning enough to make homeowners take notice.

If you live in a very dry climate and you’re worried about fires, fiber cement makes a safe siding material. Fiber cement siding boasts a Class A fire rating and is considered on par with brick, at least in some states.

Extended Warranty

The warranty length differs among fiber cement siding manufacturers. However, there are multitudes of companies offering extended lifetime material warranties, including transferable ones.

Pros of Fiber Cement Siding

Here are the top advantages that many homeowners find desirable about fiber cement siding.


With a service life of around 40 to 50 years, fiber cement siding is one of the best long-term siding choices, especially when considering its high fire rating, wind resistance, and durability.

Authentic Appearance

The mixture of wood pulp and Portland cement is arguably the closest you can get to an authentic traditional stone-wood siding texture.

Easy to Install

Installing fiber cement siding is as easy as it gets, thanks to the variety of board sizes available and the relatively lighter material weight. It’s lighter than natural stone and natural wood, thereby reducing the difficulty of the installation process,

Although caulking can take a while, you can cut down on installation time and costs by opting for pre-painted fiber cement siding.

More Environmentally Friendly

Using wood pulp and cement makes fiber cement siding more eco-friendly during manufacturing, processing, and disposal.

Fiber Cement Siding Cons


Fiber cement siding needs some level of maintenance to upkeep. Getting 50 good years out of it requires care, sufficient dry periods, the occasional painting, and caulking of the joints to minimize moisture absorption and infiltration.

Low Energy Efficiency

Some materials provide minimal insulation; unfortunately, fiber cement siding is one of them. Sure, it can protect the outer walls from the elements, but it won’t improve the R-value rating of your home.

What Is Vinyl Siding?

Vinyl siding is essentially plastic siding. It’s a PVC product that comes in many styles, colors, plank lengths, shingles, and shakes. Vinyl siding is relatively easy to maintain and install, and it is one of the most popular choices for DIY siding installations and replacements.

Cost Of Vinyl Siding

Just how budget-friendly is vinyl siding?

Entry-level vinyl siding can cost as little as $2.75 per square foot. High-end vinyl siding configurations can run you close to $5.50 per square foot.

But the vinyl siding installation is generally very affordable. Labor costs can be as low as $1.75 per square foot, and rarely exceeds $4.25 to $5 per square foot.

When you include materials and workmanship, this can make the total vinyl siding cost between $4.50 to $10.50 per square foot.

Vinyl Siding Styles

If you’re unsure what style of siding may go well with your walls, windows, doors, and roof, vinyl siding, such as Mastic, gives you a plethora of choices. The decorative options can be overwhelming at times.

Shingles and long planks are popular choices. But if you want to make your house more unique, panels featuring board or clapboard designs are also available. You can even find Dutch lap vinyl siding and grain finishes that try to mimic real wood.

You may even install vertically hung siding panels that look quite similar to traditional cedar shingles.

Benefits Of Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding has several standout features.

Easy to Maintain

If you’re not a hands-on homeowner or you have little time to do work around the house, you’ll want something that’s as close as possible to being maintenance-free. Vinyl siding is, in many respects, that option.

Additionally, painting and caulking are not necessary to maintain a vibrant look on your vinyl siding.

Pro Tip: Periodic washes using your garden hose and generic soap products are more than enough to keep your vinyl siding clean and looking fresh.

Great ROI

Getting a good return on investment comes down to a few considerations – low material and installation costs, longevity, curb appeal, and low maintenance costs. Luckily, vinyl siding checks every box and has the added benefit of being a decent insulator.

A lower initial investment combined with dirt-cheap maintenance costs, a lower utility bill, and gorgeous aesthetics can give you a better ROI. And you will raise your home’s resale value while you’re at it.

Accepts Insulation

Another reason homeowners use vinyl siding is for insulation. On its own, vinyl siding has minimal impact on your comfort level and energy efficiency. However, since it can be insulated, unlike other materials (such as fiber cement), it can be a great choice.

Creates a Tighter Seal

Properly installed vinyl siding will create one of the tightest seals you can achieve with house siding. Plastic also has sufficient water resistance by default, making it a reliable choice in humid environments.

Very Light

Its fragile nature can make vinyl siding slightly harder to work with. However, due to its lighter weight, being lighter than aluminum in most cases, vinyl is a preferred siding material, as it’s easy on structures and convenient to transport and operate on worksites.

Pros of Vinyl Siding

Great Insulation Potential

If you want a low-cost siding and affordable insulation, vinyl siding is arguably your best solution. While the insulation is optional, it’s easy to apply to improve your home’s energy efficiency.

Easy to Care For

It takes minimal skills, equipment, and maintenance schedule to take care of vinyl siding.


Vinyl is arguably the cheapest and most popular siding choice in most regions.

Vinyl Siding Cons

Little Similarity to Genuine Natural Materials

While all vinyl siding manufacturers try to mimic the real deal, few, if any, can. Most customers agree that, from close up, vinyl siding is markedly different than natural material grain finishes.

Lower Durability

PVC vinyl siding can be durable, but less so compared to other siding alternatives. The vinyl siding material dents easily, isn’t great against strong winds, and tends to fade faster than other options. Of course, to some customers, this drawback is offset by the low price point.

Not Eco-Friendly

Manufacturing vinyl siding is more taxing on the environment than the manufacturing process of other siding types. Vinyl siding is also more difficult to recycle or repurpose than other materials

Did you know? Despite its drawbacks, vinyl siding is found on roughly 26% of single-family homes. This puts it second only to stucco by a 1% margin.

While fiber cement siding has many clear advantages in a head-to-head comparison it ranks fourth, with a 21% usage rate on single-family dwellings. What these figures don’t show is that, on average, vinyl siding has been the top choice in the last decade or so.

Fiber Cement Siding VS Vinyl

Both fiber cement siding and vinyl siding are on the lower end of the pricing spectrum. They’re affordable choices for replacements, new constructions, and renovation projects. With that in mind, premium vinyl siding can be half the price of high-end fiber cement siding per square foot of installed siding.

Siding Type Material Cost per Square Foot Installation Cost per Square Foot Price for 100 Square Feet of Installed Siding
Fiber Cement $1-$14 $3.75-$10 $475-$2,400
Vinyl Siding $2.75-$5.50 $1.75-$5 $350-$1,050

Eco Friendly

Fiber cement siding is a better option for environmentally conscious homeowners. This is mainly because of the low carbon footprint of fiber cement siding manufacturing and processing techniques and the use of recyclable, reclaimed materials in the form of wood waste.


In terms of durability, both fiber cement siding and vinyl siding have slight advantages, but also plenty of drawbacks when compared to other siding materials.

For example, neither fiber cement nor vinyl is waterproof. At best, vinyl siding is more water-resistant because fiber cement siding can absorb a lot of moisture.

Of course, fiber cement siding performs better against strong winds, debris impacts, and fires. Vinyl siding has its own advantages, like offering a tighter seal when installed that can eliminate the issue of water infiltration.


While vinyl siding is considered slightly harder to install, the cheaper labor costs make the differences minimal. Vinyl is only slightly more complicated to work with when involving optional insulation. However, the option to add insulation gives vinyl siding an edge over fiber cement siding.


On the maintenance side, fiber cement siding loses ground to vinyl siding. Yes, fiber cement siding can last half a century under favorable environmental conditions, but it takes a lot of maintenance to make it happen. Caulking, painting, and a lot of other work go into maintaining fiber cement siding.

Despite vinyl siding being susceptible to warping, fading, and other issues, it can still be the better choice to lower maintenance frequency and costs.


Debating style and appearance is subjective being that a lot of it comes down to personal preference. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, look at any side-by-side comparison of fiber cement siding and vinyl siding in the same grain finish or color, and you’ll see a massive difference.

Fiber cement siding simply mimics natural material textures more closely. Someone who craves authenticity and thicker siding is less likely to trade slightly more color and plank variety for a more synthetic look. Especially when fiber cement siding can complement many architectural styles, paint colors, and roofing accents.


Siding replacement can have an ROI of up to 70% for many homes. Given the lower price of vinyl siding, its good curb appeal, decent longevity, and care-free maintenance, vinyl siding should easily hit a 70% to 75% ROI target in the right environment.

Surprisingly, fiber cement siding, with its superior durability and longevity, may reach as high as a 77% ROI, giving fiber cement siding a slight edge.

Is there a clear winner?

In many respects, fiber cement siding offers the best of both worlds with its well-balanced price-to-performance ratio. But vinyl siding is a good option too, when looking to enhance the curb appeal with minimal investment.

Which Is The Best Siding For A House?

Hurricane- and wildfire-prone areas will probably recommend or even insist that you use fiber cement siding over vinyl siding. In those cases, fiber cement siding is not only the better choice, but could be the only legal option of the two. Yet when pricing, maintenance, and insulation are your biggest concerns, vinyl siding wins every single time.

Before choosing a siding material, you should consider three aspects: your budget, your needs and preferences, and building codes. Take your time, and don’t rush this decision.

However, since neither siding costs an arm and a leg, try focusing on the other defining features to make the best possible decision.

Author: Leo B
For over 20 years Leo has run a successful roofing business in New England, specializing in metal roofing, as well as cool flat roofing technologies. Having replaced and installed hundreds of roofs in New England, Leo has first hand experience with pretty much every residential roofing material and roofing manufacturer available in the US.
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