Fiberglass siding: does it beat the competition?

Fiberglass siding: does it beat the competition?

New innovations in exterior siding products don't come along too often. However, when they do, they often take the marketplace by storm -- especially if the new material offers many of the qualities homeowners look for when shopping for new siding. Fiber cement might be the perfect example: it's become one of the most used types of siding since it was first introduced a little over 20 years ago.

Well, there's a new kid on the block that gives homeowners another option for protecting the exteriors of their houses: Apex fiberglass siding. Industry insiders have given the material positive reviews -- Professional Builder magazine has named it one of their top 101 products for 2012. Will fiberglass siding experience the same success story as fiber cement? What qualities does it have that that might make it right for your home?

The pros and cons of fiberglass siding

At this point in time the only manufacturer that offers fiberglass siding is Apex, a company located in North Dakota. Apex is an affiliate of Marvin Windows and Doors: a long-time industry leader in high-end residential windows and doors.

Apex creates their siding from Ultrex, which is a patented material Marvin has been using in their window and door products for over 20 years. According to Apex, here are a few of the benefits of installing fiberglass siding on your home:

  • Weight -- Fiberglass siding is about one third the weight of fiber cement.
  • Length -- Apex offers their siding in 16-foot lengths, which is longer than most standard fiber cement and vinyl sidings. This means fewer joints on your exterior walls.
  • Moisture resistance -- Apex fiberglass siding defeats moisture damage on two levels: the material itself is resistant to water decay and the installation system allows a drainage and evaporation area between the siding and the surface of your home.
  • Eco-friendly -- A primary ingredient of fiberglass is sand: a sustainable material found in many areas.
  • Low-maintenance -- Apex siding doesn't require paint, sealant, or even caulk. The material may set a new standard when it comes to exterior siding products that don't need much upkeep.
  • Color options -- You can choose from 10 colors when installing fiberglass siding on your home. Each shade has an acrylic finish that's advertised as being four times thicker than standard factory applied paint.

Of course, no exterior siding is perfect and fiberglass does have a few downsides to consider. The product is fairly new and as such is only offered in two styles: four-inch and seven-inch clapboard profiles in wood grain or smooth finishes. There is also a limited dealer network at this time with most being located in the Midwest and Northeast regions of the country. If you live elsewhere, shipping costs may play a part in your decision.

However, the biggest drawback may be the material's cost. A recent price quote for the seven inch profile from J & L Building Materials Inc. in Pennsylvania was $326 per square. They said the price can vary slightly depending on which color is chosen.

The same distributor quoted $164 per square for a similar profile in fiber cement -- a substantial difference that might limit the use of fiberglass to higher-end homes.

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