People want to replace siding for different reasons. Maybe you are not the original owner of your home and the siding wouldn’t have been what you chose. Maybe your siding is dated and you would like to create a fresh new look for your house. Whatever the reason, there are a lot of options available. How do you decide on a siding that is durable, low maintenance and attractive when most siding choices don’t meet these standards?
Both James Hardie siding and vinyl siding are viable options. Vinyl siding has been popular for some time, replacing aluminum siding as the most popular choice. James Hardie siding is relatively new but growing quickly in popularity. Also known as Hardie Board siding, Hardy siding, and Hardieplank siding, this option is increasingly being chosen by homeowners to replace their old siding.
Home Replacement Siding Options & Products
There is a wide array of options available to homeowners who want to replace their siding. There are pros and cons to each of these options so it is important to understand what each product offers. The most popular siding options today are fiber cement, James Hardie, and vinyl.
What is Fiber Cement Siding?
Fiber cement siding was first introduced just 25 years ago and has gained in popularity ever since. A mixture of wood pulp and portland cement, it has the performance of masonry with the aesthetics of painted wood.
Like masonry, fiber cement is rot-, fire-, and termite-proof, as well as being unaffected by extremes in weather. It is a versatile material that can take the look of shingles, stone, or brick, in addition to painted wood clapboards. Costing just a fraction of stone or brick, it is quickly becoming the siding of choice for many contractors.
What is James Hardie Siding?
James Hardie siding is the most popular brand of fiber cement siding. Hardieplank Lap Siding is their top-selling product, available in a vast array of colors, shapes and sizes. In addition to Hardieplank siding, James Hardie also offers Hardieshingle Siding, which is great for Cape Cods and cottage-style homes; Hardiepanel Vertical Siding, for a rustic board-and-batten look; HardieTrim Boards for accentuating corners; and HardieSoffit to strengthen the vulnerable space between eaves and exterior walls.
What is Vinyl Siding?
Vinyl siding is a plastic siding manufactured mostly from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It is highly durable and regarded as a superior replacement for aluminum or wood siding. There are many advantages to vinyl siding, including:
- Low maintenance – easily cleaned with a garden hose and sponge
- Curb appeal – increases the beauty of your home
- Energy efficient – your home is better insulated
- Cost-effective – a budget-friendly way to increase your home’s attractiveness
- Noise reduction – helps decrease the infiltration of external noises
- Durability – holds color well
- Moisture damage prevention – prevents moisture from getting trapped between siding and walls
- Protection from weather – a protective shield for your home
Pros & Cons about James Hardie Siding
James Hardie Siding has been rising in popularity due to its durability and cost-effectiveness. It is available in a wide variety of colors and most James Hardie Siding comes with a 50 year, limited transferable warranty. The four main pros for James Hardie Siding are:
- Fire Resistance
- Storm Resistance
There are really only two main cons with James Hardie siding. Due to the composite material, 90% sand and cement, it is very heavy and usually requires more workers to install it. Secondly, it is not maintenance free. In time it will need to be repainted.
If you are looking for an attractive, cost-effective siding that is fire, insect, and rot resistant, James Hardie Siding delivers.
Pros & Cons about Vinyl Siding
Vinyl siding remains one of the most popular exteriors for homes being built today. It is made of a durable PVC plastic which makes it very strong yet lightweight. Unlike aluminum or metal siding, vinyl does not rust, conduct electricity or dent. The main pros for vinyl:
- Easy to install
The primary con with vinyl is, while being durable it is not impenetrable. If you catch it with a lawn mower or weed wacker it will tear. If you hit it with something with enough force in a focused area it will punch a hole. The PVC plastic makes repairs difficult so more than likely an entire panel will need to be replaced.
Overall, for an affordable, durable siding option, vinyl is popular for a reason.
What is the best replacement home siding?
To understand the merits of both James Hardie Siding and vinyl siding, a closer inspection of the materials is needed. It is the composite material used to manufacture these sidings that give them their various valuable properties.
James Hardie siding is composed of four ingredients. Each ingredient has a specific purpose.
- Water – this dissolves the wood pulp and activates & hardens the cement
- Wood pulp – this improves flexibility and resilience
- Fly ash – this acts as a filler
- Portland cement – this binds the ingredients. Made with limestone clay and iron
The modern manufacturing of vinyl involves a process of co-extrusion. Two layers of PVC are laid down in a continuous extrusion process. The top layer of PVC is weatherable and durable, comprising up to 25% of the thickness of the siding. This capstock can contain up to 10% (depending on color) of a pigment known as titanium dioxide. This is to help prevent the breakdown of color with exposure to UV light. The bottom layer, known as the substrate, is usually about 15% limestone, which is mostly calcium carbonate. This helps balance the titanium oxide and also reduces the cost of manufacturing.
Vinyl siding was first introduced in the 1960s as a replacement for aluminum siding. Vinyl siding does not rust or dent like aluminum and it provides a cost-effective alternative to metal or wood siding. Vinyl siding is not impenetrable and can be cracked or torn. However, its lightweight nature makes it easy to install and its durability still makes it an attractive option for siding your home.
James Hardie Siding is engineered to be a lasting siding. Its ColorPlus Technology keeps the vibrant colors from fading so your house will look beautiful for many years. It resists damage from weather and moisture, is immune to pests like termites, and does not succumb to fire. It is 5x thicker than vinyl, which makes it more durable but it does add substantial weight to the product. This weight can make it more difficult to install by requiring more workers.
Overall, both vinyl and James Hardie Siding have substantial value over wood or metal. They are durable, affordable, and come in a wide variety of colors and styles.
How much does replacement home siding cost?
The cost of siding varies depending on your location in the country and the amount of siding needed for the job. For fiber cement siding, the national average is $11,441. The typical range is $5,542 to $17,709. The low-end cost is $1500 and the high end is $30,000.
The national average for vinyl is $9,923. The typical range is $5,643 to $14,213. The low-end cost is $2,000 and the high-end cost is $23,000.
Obviously vinyl is less pricey than James Hardie Siding. If cost is your primary factor, vinyl provides a less costly solution while still giving you a variety of color options and solid durability. If long-lasting color and resistance to weather, insects, and fire are more important factors to you, then James Hardie Siding might be the right choice for your home.
How to clean your new home siding?
Cleaning and maintenance of your new siding is important to extend the life of your purchase and to keep the vitality of the color. Both vinyl and James Hardie Siding are fairly low maintenance. First, let’s look at a Q&A for vinyl:
How do I wash vinyl siding?
You can wash vinyl siding with a soft cloth or an ordinary bristle brush. Use a soft bristle brush for textured surfaces in order to keep the grooves free of stains. It is best to start at the bottom of the house and work up, rinsing the cleaning solution before it dries.
Can I use a power washer?
You can use a power washer on siding but make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Hold the power washer at eye level when cleaning. Do not point the washer up as this can force water in between the siding planks. Most manufacturers recommend not using a pressure washer around windows, doors, and electrical wiring.
How do I remove mold and mildew?
Small spots of mold or mildew can be handled with any common household cleaner. For bigger sections use a solution of vinegar (30%) and water (70%). For tougher stains, use a solution of ⅓ cup powdered laundry detergent, ⅔ cup powdered household cleaner, 1-quart liquid bleach, and 1 gallon of water.
For James Hardie Siding it is recommended that you clean it twice a year. Simply pull out your garden hose and douse your siding to maintain that clean sparkle. Do not use a pressure washer; a low pressure hose and a soft brush (nonmetal) is all you need to remove dirt and debris. You can also use a damp cloth, working in small areas from top to bottom and rinsing the area with a hose as you go.
In the case of oil or grease, you should saturate a cloth with dish cleaning liquid and water. Work in small areas and rinse frequently. Do not let soapy water dry on the siding. Use side to side motions with the grain of the planks.
For mold and mildew use a mildew-specific cleaner. Work on the specific area where the mold or mildew is located and rinse frequently with a garden hose. Take care to read and follow the instructions of the mildew-specific cleaner, as some cleaners can damage the finish of the siding.
The extent of maintenance necessary for your siding depends on your geographic area and level of exposure of your home. Follow the guidelines outlined in the James Hardie ColorPlus Technology Instructions and Precautions.
What to look for in a replacement home siding contractor?
When looking for a replacement siding contractor, you want to find someone who is trustworthy, honest and professional. Here are some questions you should consider asking any potential contractor:
- Where is your office located? How long have you been in business?
- What are examples of jobs you have completed?
- What sort of warranties/guarantees does your work and/or product include?
- Can you provide a certificate of insurance?
- Are you licensed to do siding in my state?
- How big is your crew? Do you use subcontractors?
- What is your policy for solving customer complaints and grievances?
- What materials are you most experienced with?
- Do you install James Hardie siding? Is your company credentialed?
Whether you choose to install vinyl siding for the affordability and durability or James Hardie siding for its resilience and strength, you can look forward to many years of beauty and vibrancy for your choice to replace your siding. If you have any questions or would just like more information, we would be happy to help you get started!