Fiber Cement Siding vs. Cedar Wood Siding

Siding has a major impact on your home’s curb appeal. So much so, in fact, that most people put a lot of time and energy into selecting the siding that will ultimately cover their homes. The final choice has to look good, but should also have some other positive attributes such as durability that can help make the selection worthwhile. Many people looking for an attractive siding option for their homes will consider cedar wood siding at some point. Cedar is a natural product that looks good, but it also has a lot of drawbacks to consider as well. When compared with fiber cement siding, in fact, cedar often does not make the grade.


Most people selecting a siding for their home rank the appearance of that siding high on the list of things they’re looking for. Siding can have a tremendous impact on your home’s resale value simply because of the way that it impacts the way that the home looks.

Cedar is an attractive looking wood siding that has a pleasant wood grain. It can be stained to let the natural color and texture of the wood show through, or it can be painted in any color that may be desired by the homeowner. Unfortunately, this has a few drawbacks. The cedar will need to be primed on all sides to help protect it prior to painting or staining. It will also need touch ups every few years, particularly if painted. Things like hailstones can ding or damage the surface of the cedar, which will require sanding and restaining or painting to help the planks match those around them.

Over time, cedar can also swell if areas around windows and doors were not properly caulked, allowing the wood to draw in moisture. This swelling could warp the boards, causing them to bow outward from your house.

Fiber cement siding has a very similar appearance to cedar wood, but without these drawbacks. Fiber cement can come in planks or shingles like cedar, and it can also be painted or stained to look exactly like the wood. Fiber cement siding is formed in a mold with actual wood, so the grain of the siding has a natural appearance. But because it never stains, swells, peels, or flakes, you don’t have to worry about the appearance of the siding changing over time the way that you do with cedar. Best of all, if you decide to change the color of the siding later on, fiber cement doesn’t require the same amount of preparation and priming that cedar siding does, making the job a lot easier.

Maintenance and Durability

There are a lot of different species of wood available for siding a home. One of the reasons that cedar is frequently chosen is because it’s one of the more durable types, requiring less maintenance than fir or other wood species. That doesn’t mean that cedar siding is maintenance free, or the most durable siding option available, however.

Cedar is insect resistant, but if the boards have not been primed properly, or if areas have not been properly caulked, the planks can absorb moisture. This leads to swelling of the wood, and eventually to rotting planks that need to be removed and replaced. In addition, you need to be aware that things such as impacts and hailstones can damage the surface of the cedar, which could result in the siding needing to be sanded down and refinished, or individual shakes or boards being replaced. Cedar also requires a special chemical flame retardant applied to help decrease the risk of fire that comes with a wooden house.

Fiber cement siding has none of these maintenance issues. This heavier material does not absorb moisture, swell, or rot, even if your windows are lacking proper amounts of caulk. It’s also insect resistant, and naturally flame retardant with no additional chemicals required. And because the surface doesn’t peel or fade, you don’t need to worry about restaining or refinishing the siding at any time over the life of its use.

In fact, fiber cement siding is so low maintenance that many homeowners find that it pays for itself over the life of the planks or shakes. There’s no scraping, staining, priming, or need to replace any boards, so you can save a lot of time and money even after your siding is installed. Most people find, in fact, that even five or 10 years after the fiber cement siding was installed, it looks exactly the same as the day it was put in.


The final factor that a lot of homeowners need to consider when purchasing new siding for their homes is the cost. Wood siding like cedar typically runs around $3 to $6 a square foot, and may cost more when you add in the amount of priming, staining, or painting that is required before the cedar can even be installed.

Fiber cement siding usually costs around $1.50 to $2 a square foot – a significant saving over the cost of the cedar. And while fiber cement siding does require painting or staining prior to installation, you need to consider the fact that this is the only time the material will need this done over its lifetime, and add in this cost savings when compared to the maintenance required by cedar. Some manufacturers also offer a pre-stained fiber cement siding as well, which while adding to the cost of the initial material purchase, will cost you less in installation than cedar siding will, when considering the addition of primer and stain to the shakes or planks.

Make the Right Choice for Your Home

While cedar siding is a beautiful and traditional siding for many homes, the cost, durability, and maintenance can all be major drawbacks for many homeowners. Fiber cement siding can give you the same beautiful look as cedar planks or shakes, but at a lower cost and with a lot less maintenance. When making the choice for your home, be sure to consider the attributes of fiber cement siding. You’re likely to find that it’s the right siding for the job.