Although natural materials like stone and wood were once a homeowner’s go-to siding options, today we have access to composite siding materials that are more versatile than their natural counterparts.
Often, composite siding is cheaper and boasts more favorable features overall.
If you’re looking for the right material to clad your house, composite wood siding is a solid choice.
Average Composite Siding Cost
There may be siding materials that are cheaper than composite, but the price of composite siding is still lower than many other siding options.
Since “composite” merely means that the siding is made of two or more materials, there are various types of composite siding that differ considerably in price.
While engineered wood is on the more affordable side, fiber cement is one of the more expensive siding materials.
Cladding a home that has a 1,000-square-feet exterior wall area with the most affordable type of composite siding costs about $3,500. This price excludes the removal of existing siding, which can cost up to $1,000.
Using high-end composite materials can cost about $12,000 for the same property.
Composite Siding Cost Breakdown
Engineered wood comes in panels. This material is lighter than natural wood and is fairly easy to install.
Engineered wood siding costs between $3.50 and $9 per square foot, labor included.
Fiber cement is a more robust material. It’s quite heavy, which makes the installation process more cumbersome.
Fiber cement siding is slightly more expensive and runs from $5-$12 per square foot, installation included.
Pro Tip: The best way to determine your budget for your project is by measuring your property and calculating the prices yourself. Determine the exterior wall area the composite siding will need to cover by multiplying each wall’s length with its height.
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What Is Composite Siding?
Composite siding is an engineered material used to clad the exterior of a property. Its purpose is to protect the walls from water and other outdoor conditions, extending its lifespan.
Composite siding consists of two or more components, each of which brings its own strengths into the mix.
Composite siding either wood- or cement-based and is reinforced with additional glues, resins, and fillers for maximum strength and durability.
The materials in composite sidings are further treated with chemicals to ward off pests and similar threats. The result is a special material that imitates the look of other types of siding while boasting a tailor-made set of qualities.
Types Of Composite Siding
Composite siding technically includes any siding that is composed of two or more materials. When we say composite siding, we usually refer to engineered wood and fiber cement.
Here’s a quick rundown of the two main types of composite siding.
Engineered wood is made from wood fibers and resin for a strong and attractive result. Its main component often comes from discarded wood scraps, which makes it a rather eco-friendly siding option.
Engineered wood is often preferable to natural wood, as its composite nature compensates for many of the original material’s drawbacks.
While natural wood is prone to rot, engineered wood contains glues that make it more resistant to moisture.
Wood is highly vulnerable to termite infestations, which is no concern with the engineered variety since it has been chemically treated against these pests.
Composite wood siding requires considerably less maintenance than natural wood.
It’s made of wood that is not prone to staining or bleeding through, so it maintains a clean appearance.
Depending on the style and manufacturer you go for, engineered wood siding can look identical to real wood while offering a more affordable price tag.
Fiber cement siding uses Portland cement as its base, combined with cellulose fibers, sand, wood pulp, and silica for an extremely durable result.
Currently, few siding materials can rival fiber cement when it comes to longevity. It’s considered a premium siding material, both for its strength and attractive look, and it can have a considerable return on investment if you plan on selling your property in the future.
Fiber cement siding can be manufactured to look like wood while remaining much more water-resistant.
It comes in countless styles and colors, so homeowners can tailor its look to their needs.
Fiber cement is highly fire-resistant, which makes it preferable to natural wood in that regard.
Fiber cement siding material is also low-maintenance; it can be painted, but it’s not mandatory.
Did you know? Fiber cement was introduced in the 1980s as a replacement for asbestos, which makes it a relatively new siding material. Its development can be attributed to the James Hardie corporation, which is why this material is also often called Hardie plank or Hardie board. James Hardie still makes the most popular fiber cement siding on the market today.
Composite Siding Styles
The great thing about composite siding is it provides a lot of freedom regarding their look.
You will find composite siding in the following styles.
Engineered Wood Siding Styles
Engineered wood imitates the appearance of real wood and comes in three main styles.
Lap siding consists of horizontal boards. The boards overlap, creating the classic look of wood-clad houses.
Lap siding is more affordable than vertical siding and comes in numerous colors. However, it’s not the easiest to clean.
While lap siding brings a traditional charm, vertical siding is often regarded as a modern take.
It’s easier to clean and is more durable, so it’s a popular choice among homeowners today.
Vertical siding can be more expensive than lap siding.
Finally, shingle shakes can lend the property a unique look. Imitating the appearance of cedar shakes, this siding is often used as an accent.
Shingle siding takes a longer time to install than lap and vertical siding boards, which makes it more expensive labor-wise. However, it’s easier to repair in case of damage, making it worth the investment.
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Fiber Cement Siding Styles
Fiber cement siding can be molded into any desired shape, so the different styles this material comes in is virtually unlimited.
Here are some of the popular fiber cement siding styles.
Fiber cement lap siding, also called clapboard, is undeniably one of the most popular styles.
Lap siding comes in various textures, so whether you prefer smooth or wood grain, you’ll find something to your liking.
Lap siding can also be painted for a custom look.
Beaded fiber cement siding is basically horizontal lap with a twist.
Added detail gives some extra flair to this style, resulting in a modern look.
Fiber cement comes in shingles in various arrangements, from straight-edge through staggered-edge to scalloped.
Shingles may come individually or in strips, requiring a bit more labor during installation.
Vertical fiber cement siding is a great choice for a farmhouse aesthetic.
Besides traditional vertical boards and the popular board and batten, fiber cement can imitate stucco and other materials with vertical dividers.
Sheet or Panel Siding
Fiber cement is available in large architectural panels that provide properties with a truly modern look.
Like all other styles of fiber cement siding, panels come in various textures, from fine grain to mounded sand.
Latest Advancements Of Composite Siding
The development of composite materials was a huge step in siding, as these engineered materials can correct the shortcomings of their natural counterparts. Fiber cement is a contemporary choice today that can hardly be rivaled.
The construction industry is constantly developing, and new solutions like TruExterior’s Polyash siding are making waves. This siding is made from fly ash, a coal combustion by-product that stands up excellently against heat, moisture, salt, and pests.
More and more companies are placing emphasis on eco-friendliness as well, so today homeowners can shop for composite siding made from 95% reclaimed material.
Did you know? While fiber cement siding is usually said to last up to 50 years, tests indicate that Hardie siding might last as long as 100 years with proper maintenance by trained professionals.
Pros And Cons Of Composite Siding
Engineered wood and fiber cement bring different pros and cons to the table, so it’s important to be aware of each composite siding before you invest.
As mentioned, the very premise of composite siding is to achieve the most optimal material with the combination of several components.
Engineered wood is one of the cheaper siding materials on the market. Despite being less expensive than wood, it is not inferior.
Engineered wood siding is available in countless colors, and it’s easy to install and maintain. You’ll only need to repaint composite wood siding once every 8-10 years.
Composite siding is resistant to moisture, heat, and temperature fluctuations without expanding, which is not the case for some other siding types, like vinyl.
Composite wood siding tolerates water better than natural wood, and it’s treated to be resistant to mold, fungus, and pests.
High-quality engineered wood siding is durable and should last up to 30 years.
Fiber is a premium material with a lifespan of up to 50 years.
Fiber cement is extremely durable, fade-, warp-, and crack-proof, and resistant to outdoor conditions like UV radiation and hailstorms.
Fiber cement siding does not attract pests and it is fireproof.
Fiber cement is a very maintenance-friendly material; you likely won’t have to repaint your fiber cement siding for 25 years after installation.
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Each type of siding has some drawbacks, and the same is true for composite. You’ll need to factor in the following cons when making your decision.
Although engineered wood is manufactured to resemble natural wood, some still prefer the appearance of the real deal over this composite material.
Engineered wood siding fades over time, like the majority of other materials, so picking a high-quality option is key.
While natural wood will rarely crack, the same cannot be said for composite. Since engineered wood contains resin, there is a small risk of cracking when exposed to the sun for an extended period of time.
Fiber cement isn’t perfect either. Firstly, it’s a rather expensive material, so homeowners need to make a large upfront investment.
The biggest drawback of fiber cement is perhaps its poor insulating property. A lack of insulation can increase energy bills, which can make this material even more expensive in the long run.
Fiber cement siding is more demanding when it comes to installation, which can further increase costs.
Composite Siding vs Fiber Cement
Composite siding refers to siding materials made of two or more components.
By definition, fiber cement is a type of composite siding. Many use the term “composite siding” interchangeably with “engineered wood,” which is another sub-type of the same category.
If you’re wondering whether engineered wood or fiber cement is the best bang for your buck, your decision will mainly come down to your budget.
Engineered wood is more affordable than fiber cement while offering similarly attractive options.
Engineered wood is less durable than fiber cement but is still a good overall choice.
Composite vs Vinyl Siding
Vinyl is one of the most popular siding options across the U.S., so you may be torn between composite siding and this affordable material.
Let’s see the differences.
Both engineered wood and fiber cement are more durable than vinyl siding.
While composite siding takes sunlight and temperature changes well, vinyl can easily deteriorate over time in such conditions.
The expected lifespan of composite siding is between 25-50 years, while vinyl often needs to be replaced after 10-15 years.
Vinyl wins this category, as it’s one of the cheapest siding options out there.
Both vinyl and composite siding come in a large price range, so your personal choice might play a more significant role here.
While fiber cement isn’t famous for its insulating properties, engineered wood can provide a better result.
As for vinyl, it highly depends on its type. Regular vinyl siding won’t insulate the property well, but there are insulated vinyl sidings that can rival engineered wood.
Is Composite Siding Right For Me?
Composite siding is a fantastic choice whether you’re looking for durability or style.
While engineered wood provides an affordable alternative to natural wood, fiber cement offers outstanding longevity.
Weigh each material’s pros and cons to make the best choice for your property.