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How to Choose Between Vinyl, Steel, and Fiber Cement Siding
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How to Choose Between Vinyl, Steel, and Fiber Cement Siding

Choosing the right quality replacement siding is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a homeowner. Not only will the right new siding transform your home’s curb appeal, but it will also help you save money on your energy costs. But with all of the options available, choosing the best siding for your home can be a challenge.

At Powers Premier Contracting, we work every day with homeowners throughout the Twin Cities and surrounding areas to help them make a siding decision that works for them. In this post, we’re drawing on our years of industry expertise to create an easy guide to the differences between three of the most common types of residential replacement siding.

If you’re ready to update your exterior with new high-performance siding, give our siding contractors a call and get a free quote on your replacement siding services. We can’t wait to help you transform your Minnesota home!

Basics of Vinyl, Fiber Cement, and Steel Siding

Before getting into some of the similarities and differences between these three great siding materials, let’s take a look at some fundamentals about each type of siding.

Here’s what you need to know!

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is the most popular siding material in the United States due to its versatility and affordable cost. Vinyl siding is manufactured with PVC. Because the rigid material can expand and contract with temperature extremes, vinyl is designed and installed to accommodate these changes.

Fiber Cement Siding

Fiber cement siding is created with a blend of cement and wood pulp. It is much thicker than vinyl siding and is considered a higher-end alternative.

Steel Siding

Steel siding is manufactured with sustainable materials and is available in dutch lap, shake, traditional lap, or vertical siding profiles.

Siding Comparison

Here are a few of the primary differences between steel and fiber cement siding.

Budget

If you’re looking for premium siding, you’ll likely choose either fiber cement or steel siding. But if you’re looking to save, vinyl siding is your best bet.

Installation

Fiber cement and steel can be installed year-round, whereas vinyl siding is usually installed outside of the winter months since exposure to extreme cold can impact the installation process. Fiber cement siding installation can generate harmful silica dust, whereas steel siding is much cleaner and simpler to install and doesn’t require any special equipment for the installation process.

Additionally, the cut ends of fiber cement siding will need to be painted after installation. Finally, fiber cement installation requires caulking that will eventually need to be redone while steel siding installation requires minimal caulking.

Moisture Resistance

Siding materials that absorb moisture over time can end up harboring old, swelling, warping, or even rotting over time. That’s why other types of siding are a better alternative to traditional wood. Although fiber cement is fairly moisture-resistant, it is by no means waterproof.

Vinyl is also resistant to moisture. However, vinyl siding contracts and expands with heat and cold cycles, and if gaps form, water can get in. Steel siding, on the other hand, is by far one of the most moisture-resistant types of siding.

Appearance

Both fiber cement siding and steel siding can look similar to real siding in their appearance, reflecting the look of natural wood grain. Homeowners are often surprised to learn that metal siding is available in more than one profile and finish. Of the three types of siding, however, vinyl comes the closest to successfully mimicking the look of natural painted wood.

Durability

Vinyl, fiber cement, and steel siding are all exceptionally durable. However, steel surpasses the others by leaps and bounds as the most durable type of siding available for homes. Additionally, vinyl siding and fiber cement can sustain impact damage when exposed to wind that surpasses their wind rating. Vinyl is also not typically rated to sustain hail impact. Finally, many years of exposure to extreme temperatures can eventually cause vinyl to show signs of wear.

Fire Resistance

All three siding materials offer good fire resistance. However, steel siding is better than fire-resistant: it’s fireproof. While fiber cement contains materials that can become deformed or combust past a certain heat point, steel siding won’t become deformed even when exposed to high heat sources.

Like fiber cement, vinyl siding is technically considered combustible, but neither will combust unless they come into direct contact with flames. However, vinyl siding can melt or warp when exposed to extreme heat from flames or grills. It can also warp when exposed to solar heat from Low-E windows.

Shrinkage

Due to the manufacturing process, some types of fiber cement siding can experience minor shrinkage over time, leading to gaps that allow moisture to settle in the cracks. Steel siding, on the other hand, will never shrink.

Maintenance

In addition to needing regular caulking, fiber cement siding will eventually begin to chip, flake, or fade, whereas vinyl and steel siding will never need to be painted. Both vinyl and steel siding are fairly easy to clean with a little running water and/or gentle soap.

Ecological Impact

Fiber cement siding cannot be recycled. Steel siding contains some recycled materials and is completely recyclable. Additionally, as a synthetic product, vinyl is less environmentally-friendly and contains chemicals that can off-gas.

Warranty

Warranties on labor and materials are available with vinyl, fiber cement, and steel siding. Be sure to ask what type of warranty options are available when choosing a replacement siding material for your home. Ask about fading and hail protection as well.

Weight

Although it might seem like steel siding should be much heavier than other types of siding, it’s actually lighter than fiber cement at approximately ⅓ the weight. Vinyl is the lightest material of the three, weighing about half as much as steel.

Call for a Twin Cities Replacement Siding Consultation

Are you ready to transform your home with new siding from Powers Premier Contracting? Give us a call at 612-710-7283 or contact us online to get your free, no-pressure estimate. You’ll love what we can do for your home.

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