Wood or fiber cement siding? Cost could decide

Wood or fiber cement siding? Cost could decide

Home siding comes in a broad range of attractive and durable materials. That's why it can be a challenge to determine which material is best suited to your home.

Consider the following characteristics of your material choices when making that all-important decision and they can help narrow the field:

  1. Durability
  2. Appearance
  3. Cost
  4. Ease of maintenance, installation and repairs

Two siding materials popular for their appearance are wood and fiber cement. Here are some basic characteristics of each, including approximate costs.

Wood siding

Wood siding is as old as the original forests throughout the United States and Canada. Depending on your zip code, you can choose local wood species that include pine, spruce, fir, cedar or redwood.

In wood's favor, there are a variety of pattern options when it comes to style, including traditional clapboard, shakes and shingles, hardwood, shiplap and tongue-and-groove.

With proper installation, wood siding can last many years; however, installing wood siding can be time-consuming, as wood requires caulking and finishing. It also needs to be properly maintained. Power washing is a prerequisite, as is regular staining and sealing, which means maintenance costs for wood can increase over time.

What about initial costs? "Wood siding runs from $3.00 to $6.00 a square foot," says Tim Hawthorne, co-owner and manager of Northridge Lumber in Northridge, Calif. "Siding cost varies due to pattern, different lumber grades, and type of material, such as cedar vs. redwood and rough texture vs. smooth."

Fiber cement siding

For homeowners who would like the classic appearance of wood without some of its disadvantages, the solution might be fiber cement siding--a composite material made from sand, cement and cellulose fibers.

It looks very similar to wood, only with the added benefit of greater durability. Fiber cement siding comes in a mixture of textures, profiles and colors to match most design styles. Like wood siding, fiber cement boards can be installed either horizontally or vertically.

Some of its attributes include rot-, termite- and mildew-resistance. It generally does not buckle, warp and will need to be repainted less frequently than wood. It's also non-combustible.

So how does it compare to wood when it comes to cost? Hawthorne says, "Fiber Cement siding cost runs $1.50 to $2.00 a square foot, with some variation in pricing due to patterns and the manufacturer."

When it comes down to decisions and nothing else sways you, cost might just be the deal-breaker.

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