Choosing between cement board siding and stucco

Choosing between cement board siding and stucco

Fiber cement siding is trusted by many builders because it gives homeowners a long-lasting, low-maintenance cladding option that typically carries a 25-year or greater warranty. However, stucco also is a popular option for the exact same reasons. When you are looking to renovate your home, both types of wall covering may work well. Here's a rundown on the benefits of each to help you simplify the decision-making process.

Fiber cement costs and styles

Fiber cement cladding has made a large dent in the residential re-siding market, and some architects prefer it for commercial uses as well. Fiber cement has many inherent benefits. Made with real Portland cement, it's one of the most durable cladding materials on the market and it's also highly fire-resistant. It's resistant to most common problems with exterior cladding, namely insect infestation, rot, water damage and exposure.

Fiber cement costs more than new vinyl siding -- it's between roughly $5 and $9 a square foot as of August 2012 -- but is about 75 percent less expensive than natural stone products, about 37 percent less costly than real cedar siding, and roughly 25 percent less than other types of wood siding, the Portland Cement Association says. Manufacturers produce cement board cladding in a variety of textures, lap profiles and colors to fit a wide range of architectural styles.

You can generally use fiber cement siding in areas with historical preservation rules that do not allow vinyl cladding products.

Costs and styles of stucco walls

Stucco has long been a popular building material in all parts of the country. It's easy to maintain through annual washings, and the exterior coat can be applied in a great array of color choices and patterns, such as smooth, coarse, swirled or raked.

On average, stucco costs between $6 and $9 a square foot, as of 2012, but costs vary by region and by the quality of stucco used for the final coat. This wall covering is also highly energy-efficient, and can last for 50 years or more on average.

The bottom line

Clearly, both cladding options are appealing as well as comparable in both costs and benefits. Deciding on what type of wall covering works best for you mainly depends on geographical location and the architectural style of surrounding homes. Fiber cement is a great choice for coastal and heavily forested areas. Stucco is found in many parts of the country with ample sunny days, but it may not be the best choice for areas prone to earthquakes, such as California, because it can crack as the ground shifts. Stucco in natural earth tones is also popular throughout the Southwest.

As a good starting point, you can ask a pre-screened, certified contractor for advice; the licensed, bonded and insured* builders available through this site can tell you what type of cladding would be best for your home.

*See terms and conditions at: http://www.streetcertified.com/about/Terms.jsp

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