Hardie Siding vs. Vinyl Siding
Many of our clients love the look of wood, but don’t want to deal with the upkeep. They often ask our opinion on what kind of siding mimics the appearance of wood without the maintenance. The two popular types of siding materials that meet these requirements are vinyl and fiber cement, also known as Hardie Siding. We have created a comprehensive comparison of the two to help you choose the right siding material for your home.
• Hardie Siding is made from fiber cement, which is comprised of a combination of cellulose fibers, sand and cement. The product is made by the James Hardie brand so the term fiber cement is often interchanged with Hardie Siding, Hardie Plank, and Hardie Board.
• Vinyl is made from polyvinyl chloride, popularly referred to a PVC.
These materials can each mimic the look of wood or stone – but the realism differs. Hardie siding can resemble cedar shingles, wood shake siding, wood boards and stone. Vinyl can imitate wood shingles, boards and stone. Hardie Siding is approximately 5/16-inch thick, while vinyl siding ranges between .040 and .046-inch thick. Because Hardie Siding is thicker, patterns can be deeply embossed creating a more textured, realistic wood appearance than that of vinyl. Each material is available in a wide range of colors – and both can be painted.
Both Hardie Siding and vinyl are more durable than wood siding or cedar shake, which require regular painting or staining. They also both resist insects and woodpeckers. Hardie Siding, however, is more durable overall. Vinyl siding is more susceptible to damage. It can crack in freezing temperatures, warp in heat, and become easily damaged by objects. Because Hardie Siding is a plank of concrete, it may crack upon impact, but it will not warp or melt.
Hardie Siding is mostly comprised of cement and sand, so it stands up to heat much better than vinyl siding. The company states that the material is neither flammable nor explosive. Vinyl siding is treated with a fire resistant material that slows down the spread of fire.
With all of its benefits, Hardie Siding only has an R-value of 0.5. You can purchase an insulated version of the siding or install a house wrap before installing the siding for better insulation. With an R-value of 0.61, vinyl insulation does not offer much more value as it too needs to be installed with a house wrap for optimal insulation benefits.
To maintain its color and form, Hardie Siding needs to be re-painted and re-caulked every 5-10 years. It does have a 15-year warranty for maintenance related to peeling and paint. Yearly power washing can help maintain vibrance. Vinyl does not need to be painted, but should be power washed each year to keep it vibrant.
When properly maintained, Hardie Siding can last for many decades. It comes with a 30-year warranty. Vinyl siding usually comes with a 25-year warranty.
The right material for you home will depend on the aesthetic you are seeking, building needs and budget. Hardie Siding tends to be more expensive than vinyl siding. You will need to determine if its benefits outweigh its cost.