The outside surface of a home may be covered in one of many materials such as brick, stone, siding or stucco. Siding is one of the most popular choices for modern homes. While other types of siding are available, most homes feature either vinyl siding or fiber-cement plank siding (often called Hardiplank after the popular brand name). Each type has benefits and drawbacks that should be carefully considered before making a decision.
Siding does not affect the structural stability of the house, but siding types do vary in durability. While both products have similar standard-use durability ratings, vinyl siding is considered to be somewhat less impact-resistant than fiber-cement plank, because vinyl may crack or dent when hit with a tree branch or the neighborhood baseball. In addition, fiber-cement siding is flame-resistant, making it popular with insurance companies. This also means that, unlike vinyl siding, it won’t melt if you place your grill next to the house. The paint on fiber-cement planking is, however, subject to scratching and may require touch-ups.
Vinyl siding is often marketed as “maintenance free.” “”Low maintenance” would be a more accurate description. Vinyl siding can be damaged and may require replacement. Vinyl siding does get dirty and should be pressure washed every 2 to 3 years to keep the house looking fresh. Fiber-cement siding may also need to be pressure washed every few years and can also require repair. The major difference in maintenance is that fiber-cement plank must be painted. Manufacturer recommendations on repainting times vary, but most homeowners find that they need to repaint about every 10 years.
Fiber-cement plank is usually more expensive to purchase and install than vinyl siding, but the broad range of price points and brands for both products make a blanket price comparison impossible. Since fiber-cement plank must be painted and repainted throughout its life, the cost of these repaints should be considered when evaluating the overall expense of the two products. Fiber-cement plank homes may be eligible for an insurance discount because of their flame-resistant properties.
The need to repaint fiber-cement plank means that a homeowner can change the color of his home (or reverse a previous owner’s bad color decision) with relative ease. Any color of exterior paint can be applied, although some manufacturers recommend using specific paint brands. Vinyl siding is manufactured in a set variety of colors and cannot be painted. Therefore, the color of the house will remain the same throughout the life of the siding. Fiber-cement plank "boards” are wider than those molded into vinyl siding. Overall attractiveness is largely a matter of correct installation and personal preference.
Because of its cosmetic flexibility, fire-retardant properties and overall higher cost, fiber-cement plank is usually considered to be a higher-end product than vinyl siding. A freshly painted home with fiber-cement plank siding will usually sell for a slightly higher price than a similar home that has vinyl siding. However, some buyers will not buy homes that require regular repainting, preferring the relatively low maintenance of brick or vinyl siding. In addition, certain areas of the country show a marked preference for a particular type of siding.