Fiber cement vs. vinyl: Which siding is most eco-friendly?

Fiber cement vs. vinyl: Which siding is most eco-friendly?

The one ecological advantage vinyl siding has over fiber cement is that it can be recycled. However, the process is difficult and presently not a regular practice.

Although vinyl's main component is polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is one of the least recyclable plastics, The Vinyl Institute is hoping to encourage greater recycling efforts. Perhaps one day the recycling process may become less complicated and more commonplace.

Fiber cement vs. vinyl: battle for the green factor

Fiber cement siding, which is a composite of sand, cement, and cellulose, is completely inert and poses virtually no risks to the environment or atmosphere after its creation. While it does require large amounts of energy and releases significant amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during the manufacturing process, every subsequent stage in the life of fiber cement siding proves that the following environmental advantages do overshadow those of vinyl siding:

  1. Long Life Span--Fiber cement siding has a very long life span, often enduring 50 years or more, while vinyl siding may need to be replaced (most often due to warping or fading) after about 25 years.
  2. Fewer Emissions--Carbon dioxide levels are far lower in the creation of fiber cement in contrast to that of vinyl siding, and vinyl manufacturing also emits dioxins, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide.
  3. Fire Safety--Fiber cement is completely non-combustible and releases no dangerous fumes when exposed to fire, while the PVC in vinyl siding emits dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) when burned.

An important green factor for the individual homeowner is the siding product's overall durability and maintenance requirements. Where this is concerned, both products fare quite well.

Newer, thicker varieties of vinyl siding can withstand extreme weather conditions and winds over 100 miles per hour, similar to the sturdiness of fiber cement siding. In addition, vinyl siding does not need thorough cleaning, usually just some light rinsing with water, whereas fiber cement may require a bit more energy and water with occasional power-washing.

Make sure you are well-informed when deciding on the ecological features that are most important to you and your family as you weigh the siding options for your home.

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