Wood vs. Fiber Cement Siding: Making the Best Decision for Your Home

By Steve Getsiv, 09/04/19

Combination Wood / Fiber Cement Sided House

When it comes to siding for a home, there are many different options to choose from. Two of the more popular materials are fiber cement siding and wood siding. Like with everything, each of these siding options has its own set of advantages and disadvantages that require consideration.

Before you make any decisions on new siding for your home, take some time to learn about the differences between fiber cement and wood siding.

An Overview of Fiber Cement Siding

Fiber Cement Siding

Benefits of Fiber Cement Siding

1. Customization

Fiber cement siding is easy to customize. So, if a homeowner decides they suddenly want the siding a different color, all they have to do is buy some high-quality paint. This means the siding will have no issue conforming to their style.

2. Durability

When installed correctly, fiber cement siding can be reasonably durable, resisting damage to a certain extent. This ensures your home will be protected from the elements and the harmful UV rays from the sun.

3. Easy to Clean

When it is time to clean fiber cement siding, it's easy to do. All that it requires is a good power washing every so often to remove any dirt and debris.

Disadvantages of Fiber Cement Siding

1. Maintenance

While there are different kinds of fiber cement siding, options like Hardiplank do require maintenance. With this kind of siding, the boards will require regular repainting to keep their appearance beautiful and clean. Some brands offer special factory-applied paints that are meant to last longer and come with special warranties. However, these paints do not always last long and the warranty may not cover repainting.

2. Moisture Absorption

Another issue with fiber cement siding is that it tends to be absorptive, meaning it holds moisture, if not correctly installed. If there are any gaps between panels, roofs, decks, corners or anywhere else on the siding, water can seep in. This can lead to the panel becoming damaged, beginning to rot and even lead to mold growth. Once this begins to happen, those panels need replacing with new, undamaged pieces, along with the repair of anything behind the siding.

3. Installation Difficulties

Although it may sound like fiber cement siding is easy to install, it's actually difficult and very important to do right. As mentioned above, if not installed correctly, fiber cement siding can cause significant issues.

To cut pieces of fiber cement siding, special saw blades, ventilators and respirators are required to help reduce the levels of silica that enter the air and avoid respiratory issues. The pieces also need to be stored appropriately and managed during installation, as they can become brittle and break over time when exposed to the elements.

4. Not Very Environmentally Friendly

Another big debate is how environmentally friendly fiber cement siding is when you consider fiber cement siding vs. wood siding.

Due to the process used to make fiber cement products, many utilities are required, which means more electricity is required. Plus, fiber cement creates copious amounts of carbon dioxide. In fact, "The cement industry is one of the two largest producers of carbon dioxide (CO2), creating up to 5% of worldwide man-made emissions of this gas, of which 50% is from the chemical process and 40% from burning fuel."

Then there's the fact that the finished fiber cement boards are not very light, which can make shipping them more difficult and time-consuming. All of this leads to more greenhouse gases entering into the environment.

5. Not Energy Efficient

Besides not being environmentally friendly, this siding is also not really energy efficient. Products receive an R-value rating, which denotes how insulating a product is. Fiber cement siding has earned an R-value of 0.15, which is relatively low compared to other products. These homes will require additional insulation; otherwise, the HVAC system will have to work harder and utility costs will rise.

A Look at Wood Siding

Wood Siding Close Up

Benefits of Wood Siding

1. Natural Beauty

Nothing beats the natural beauty of real wood siding, which has natural wood grain and comes in stunning colors and a wide range of shades. While products like fiber cement siding advertise a "real wood look", the designs are usually painted on and will eventually fade, leaving you without that desired wood-like appearance. Beyond the natural look of wood siding overall, it is available in many different styles, from panels to shakes and even shiplap.

2. Easy to Paint or Stain

Another benefit of wood siding is that it's easy to paint or stain any color you desire, depending on the style you want for your home. These paints and stains will not hide the wood-grain texture, and in some cases, may even help to enhance it further.

3. Durability

Real wood siding is a highly durable material that will last for years if installed correctly and when well maintained. Species like Batu are unique in the sense that it offers a Class A Fire Rating, the highest fire safety rating on the market. This wood is also resistant to issues like cracking and other types of damage that could otherwise occur with other kinds of siding, like fiber cement.

4. Low Maintenance

There is a common misconception that wood siding requires a great deal of maintenance, but that is not the case. All you need to do to maintain real wood siding is clean it every so often. You will also need to apply an oil finish every three to five years to preserve the original color. Without the stain, the wood will turn a - still beautiful - weathered gray.

5. A Sustainable Carbon Sink

Unlike fiber cement siding, wood siding is a sustainable, environmentally-friendly product. Reputable companies will abide by strict guidelines and practice selective logging, rather than taking every tree they find. In addition, they will also help contribute to regrowth efforts to keep forest areas thriving. Plus, unlike fiber cement, the lumber industry actually reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment.

6. Energy Efficient

Unlike fiber cement siding, the R-value of wood siding is around 0.81. As a result, wood is a very insulating material, which helps to keep heating and cooling from escaping the home and causing the HVAC to have to work harder. Because there is less leakage, homeowners will be able to save a significant amount of money on their heating and cooling costs.

Disadvantages of Wood Siding

1. Cost

While wood siding is typically more cost-effective than fiber cement, it can still fluctuate based on what you choose. Like with any siding, there are different factors to consider: species of wood, home size, where you live, size of the panels and stain or paint choice will all play a role in how much you pay.

Fiber Cement Siding vs. Wood Siding

Hardwood Siding Spotlight

While wood siding may cost a little more than other kinds of siding, the difference in price is not always that drastic. The benefits are especially evident when you take into account the different features, qualities and brands of wood available. When it comes down to it, wood is a superior choice that offers a beautiful, sustainably sourced, highly durable product that will look great on any home.

Nova USA Wood Products offer kiln-dried Ipe, Batu and Cumaru hardwood siding that are naturally stunning. Each of these woods is also incredibly strong and can handle rough environments. Their Batu siding is even Class A Fire Resistant, making it allowed even in states with strict fire building codes such as California.

There is no denying that there is a lot to consider when it comes to fiber cement siding versus wood siding. While each has its advantages and disadvantages, wood siding has more to offer for what you will pay. Wood siding will look beautiful for years to come without the worry of the wood-grain design fading over time and is incredibly durable.

When you are ready to replace your siding, check out the wood siding offered by Nova USA Wood Products, which is sure to impress.

By Steve Getsiv, 09/04/19

"I like this type of material to extend my house"

By David mosia on 07/26/22

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