Need New Siding? Fiber Cement May Just Be Your Best Option.
Considering new vinyl siding for your St. Louis home? You’re not alone—vinyl is one of the most popular siding materials on the market.
But is it the right siding material for your specific needs?
Vinyl has dominated the siding market for decades. But another siding material—one that’s been around longer than you may think—has become a serious contender for the “most popular” crown: fiber cement.
Over the past decade, fiber cement siding—specifically James Hardie—has exploded in popularity. Vinyl siding accounts for 26% of all siding jobs. Yet fiber cement isn’t far behind, accounting for 21% of siding projects. James Hardie fiber cement alone has been installed on over 8 million homes in North America.
It’s easy to see why fiber cement siding has gained serious ground on vinyl. Today’s homeowners are more interested in getting the best value than the cheapest price. The question in homeowners’ minds has shifted from “How much will I spend?” to “How can I get the MOST for my money?”
That’s what this page is designed to answer.
If you’re like a lot of homeowners who need new siding, you may assume you have to automatically choose vinyl because of your budget. But as you’re about to find out, a more premium material like fiber cement is likely within your price range.
So let’s compare vinyl and fiber cement in three key categories to see which is right for YOUR home.
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Vinyl Siding Vs. Fiber Cement Siding: Cost
Most people believe fiber cement siding ALWAYS costs more than vinyl siding. But it’s not quite that simple.
Siding replacement costs have many variables: brand, thickness, and the quality of the contractor, to name a few. A product like hollow-backed vinyl siding can cost up to 50% less than fiber cement. Premium foam-backed vinyl siding is pretty close in price to fiber cement. And in a few rare cases, we’ve even seen foam-backed vinyl siding cost MORE than fiber cement!
As a whole, however, fiber cement siding does cost a little more than the average vinyl siding. And here are a couple reasons why…
Siding Material & Manufacturing Costs
Vinyl siding is made from PVC, which is an inexpensive plastic used in everything from pipes to flooring to shower curtains. It’s so common because it doesn’t cost much for companies to use and manufacture.
Fiber cement is different. It’s a unique composite of Portland cement, cellulose fibers, sand, and more. Brands like James Hardie have spent decades perfecting the optimal fiber cement formula for siding. Because it’s a special material that requires special manufacturing, fiber cement tends to cost siding companies more to procure and develop.
But the bigger investment is worth it. Fiber cement lasts up to three times longer than vinyl siding. It’s also substantially more durable and resists harsh elements (hail, heat, cold) much better.
Siding Installation Costs
Installing fiber cement siding is much more complex than installing vinyl siding. Brands like James Hardie have best-practice manuals that are well over 100 pages!
Why does fiber cement require such precision? Because it’s a challenging material to work with. It’s heavier than vinyl, needs MUCH higher attention to detail, and leaves practically zero margin for installation error.
If installing vinyl siding is like microwaving a frozen dinner, installing fiber cement is like preparing a five-course meal from scratch.
Installation costs also depend on which contractor you choose. As we explain in this article, just because a company installs fiber cement siding doesn’t mean they should. Only qualified and experienced specialists can pull off high-quality fiber cement installation. And these specialists will cost more than your average “Chuck In A Truck” or Craigslist handyman.
Siding Costs Summary
St. Louis homeowners who need new siding have one of two mindsets when it comes to cost:
- “What can I get at the cheapest price?”
- “What can I get that will give me the most value for my money?”
Vinyl siding is typically for homeowners in the first camp; fiber cement is usually for those in the second.
But while fiber cement costs more than vinyl on average, there are exceptions. Brand, quality of installation, thickness of material, and insulation all affect price. As such, vinyl siding can cost half that of fiber cement siding… or actually cost more.
Though price differences fluctuate, one thing remains constant: Fiber cement delivers better long-term value—and it’s not even close.
It lasts up to three times longer than vinyl, resists the elements much better, and simply does a far superior job of protecting your home. Simply put, fiber cement is the siding material for people in their “forever” homes.
Note: Think fiber cement siding is outside your budget? Think again.
Vinyl Siding Vs. Fiber Cement Siding: Appearance
When it comes to aesthetics (siding profiles, textures, colors, thickness, lengths), both vinyl and fiber cement give you a staggering amount of options. But there are some key aesthetic differences between the two.
Vinyl Siding Appearance
There are around 12 core styles of vinyl siding, including clapboard, horizontal, vertical, Dutch Lap, and traditional shakes. Once you understand the specific styles that suit the type of home you have, it gets easier to narrow the field.
Vinyl provides a massive cross-section of colors. The colors are typically baked into vinyl siding in the factory, which can be both a positive and negative…
The positive: The baked-on finish allows vinyl siding to resist fading from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The length of time vinyl siding resists fading depends heavily on the quality of the brand you choose. Fading can start in as little as a few years with cheaper brands. Noticeable fading typically occurs around within 5 to 10 years, regardless of the brand.
The negative: Vinyl siding is not well-suited to being painted. Vinyl and acrylic latex paints don’t bond well, which can cause the paint to deteriorate prematurely. Vinyl also expands and contracts at a high rate, leading to cracks in the paint.
Fiber Cement Siding Appearance
You can choose from a wide variety of styles, including shingle, straight edge, staggered edge, and beaded. Fiber cement siding can even authentically replicate the look of wood… without all the wood-related upkeep. (For a detailed look at James Hardie styles, visit our Style Options page.)
Fiber cement siding such as James Hardie siding can either be painted on the jobsite or prefinished in the factory. For example, James Hardie’s ColorPlus® Technology is a baked-on finish applied in a controlled environment in the Hardie factory. It’s a state-of-the-art finish that resists chipping, cracking, peeling, and fading longer than anything else on the market.
Unlike vinyl, fiber cement bonds well with acrylic latex paint. If you ever want to freshen up the look of your fiber cement siding, you simply need to clean it and paint it.
Siding Appearance Summary
Both siding materials offer a wide variety of style options. But fiber cement maintains an edge in this category.
All siding fades over time. Fiber cement siding, however, fades much more slowly than vinyl siding. And unlike vinyl siding, it’s easy to paint.
Vinyl Siding Vs. Fiber Cement Siding: Performance
This may be where vinyl and fiber cement differ most. Fiber cement is a heavier material, so it lasts longer and holds up better in harsh weather.
Let’s take a look at how each siding material performs in key categories.
Vinyl Siding Performance
Durability: Under the right conditions, vinyl siding can hold up relatively well. But it’s more susceptible to warping and cracking due to expansion/contraction caused by temperature changes.
Energy Efficiency: When insulated with foam backing, vinyl siding provides solid energy efficiency and R-value.
Longevity: Depending on the quality of the brand, vinyl siding typically lasts up to 20 years before you need to consider replacing it.
Weather Resistance: Quality vinyl siding can withstand winds over 100mph. It is, however, susceptible to cracking due to hail and debris.
Fiber Cement Siding Performance
Durability: Fiber cement is resistant to rot, fire, insects, moisture, and much more. It expands and contracts MUCH less than vinyl, so it won’t crack, warp, or pull apart as the temperature changes.
Energy Efficiency: Vinyl siding used to have the leg up here because of its foam-backing insulation option. But fiber cement brands such as James Hardie now offer a foam-backed option that can make fiber cement even more efficient than vinyl.
Longevity: Fiber cement siding can easily last 50 years or more. It will, however, need to be repainted in that time.
Weather Resistance: Brands like James Hardie custom-craft different models of siding based on a region’s climate. This means siding built specifically for St. Louis weather—a product that can withstand hail, freezing temperatures, and winds over 140mph.
Siding Performance Summary
This is the category with a clear-cut winner: fiber cement siding. Fiber cement withstands extreme weather better, lasts much longer, and resists potential problems vinyl cannot.
Get Your Free Siding Quote In St. Louis Today
Thank you so much for your time. We hope this information has helped you get closer to making a decision about siding for your home.
If you’re in the St. Louis or St. Charles areas of Missouri, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us for your Free Siding Consultation & Quote. We would be honored to hear from you.
Our prices align with what it takes to do your job 100% RIGHT the first time. No more. No less.
And remember: There are plenty of excellent financing options out there. You don’t have to settle for anything less than EXACTLY what you want.