Siding shopping is definitely more exciting than, say, shopping for a new roof. (And yes, we are primarily a roofing company, but really, siding tends to be WAY more exciting than roofs.)  It is a serious investment; not just monetarily, but an emotional one as well.

We offer siding replacements in two different options: James Hardie fiber cement and vinyl. Both products are in high demand and are replacing wood and aluminum siding homes all over the Pittsburgh area.  So what really is the better investment? If value and peace of mind are at the top of your list, James Hardie can deliver that assurance and much more.

What it is

It’s a composite material that is composed of Portland cement, sand, water, cellulose fibers, and proprietary additives that enhance the product’s performance; the product is TOUGH!  James Hardie was the first to pioneer the fiber cement technology in the 1980’s and has continued to perfect the technology since.  It’s extremely durable, easy to maintain, offered in a variety of styles for total design customization, and there is an added safety benefit (that is not offered by other siding substitutions): it’s non-combustible. 

Vinyl is also a durable product made of polyvinyl chloride (aka a lightweight plastic). It has been adorning the sides of homes since the 1960’s as an alternative to aluminum siding.  It’s also easy to maintain and offered in a variety of colors and styles.  


Imagine this, you are outside mowing your lawn on a super sunny and WARM day (it’s currently an overcast 35 degree December day as I write this…so stick with me in my warm, sunny day story). You are mowing the lawn, the smell of fresh-cut grass is filling the air, and life is good.  Then, BAM! The mower picks up a small stone and shoots it directly towards your house and shoots it right through the vinyl! Now you have a HOLE in your siding and that’s now another project put on the do-honey list! …oooh that honey-do list!

The thing is, vinyl is just plain thin (it has a thickness of about .05”). And when it ages or is weathered, over time it becomes brittle. It eventually has a hard time standing up against strong wind or really cold temperatures (in freezing temperatures vinyl has a tendency to crack).  

Hardie Boards on the other hand are 5X thicker than vinyl (5/16” thick).  It won’t be penetrated by that stone shot from the mower in my sunny day story.  You would actually just keep mowing the lawn and continue singing the Allman Brothers in your head (or whatever your song of the day is). 


A lot of people have a misconception about James Hardie being higher maintenance than vinyl.  But, that is simply not true.  In the early days of Hardie installations, it was not being installed correctly, thus leading to issues, but the company has evolved by adding a team dedicated solely to proper installation and the performance is now second to none!  Another amazing aspect of the product is the ColorPlus Technology enhancement. During the manufacturing process, each board is finished with a layer of proprietary paint then baked within a controlled environment, ensuring consistency in the finish.  Their process protects against peeling, cracking, chipping, and against UV rays so the color you chose on day 1 will look the same 15 years later.  This process also eliminates any open pores from collecting and holding onto dirt.  All you need to do is give the outside of your house a light power wash to remove the dirt and make the home look new again.  

An added benefit to James Hardie is the option to re-paint your house in the future.  If you are like me (someone who thrives on changing things up now and again), committing to a color now is not something you have to commit to for-(eek)-ever!  If you get bored, you can just paint over the Hardie Board siding in the future.

Vinyl is also easy to maintain and keep clean with a light power wash to the outside. It’s color, however, will eventually fade from UV rays, and you are committed to the color choice for the life of the siding. 


James Hardie and vinyl products pretty much offer any architectural style that you would like to imitate for your home; Cedar shake,  Horizontal Lap, Vertical Panels, Scallops, Board & Batten, and more.  

Where they differ is in color choices. James Hardie offers a pre-painted siding color selection that matches top colors sought in your area; for Pittsburgh, there are 20 colors to choose from. I appreciate this from a “less is more” point of view (unless you choose their premium priced Dream collection which offers 700+ colors).  Vinyl on the other hand, has dozens of colors to choose from (if you can think of the color, the color exists). You will need to do more researching as vinyl manufacturers offer different colors. 


This is really where an added peace of mind comes with installing James Hardie. James Hardie conducted a fire test in a controlled environment where it tested its product against vinyl and wood siding. (You can watch the fiery video here.)  The result? Within 1 minute the vinyl siding quickly began to melt, exposing the sheathing (in real-life scenario, that means the frame of your house). The fire on the Hardie product actually began to dissipate, without spreading or exposing the sheathing, and eventually went out.  

James Hardie product is deemed noncombustible with an A2 fire rating and will not spread the fire. That’s because of the product’s composition (remember what I mentioned above?).  Its basic materials are cement and sand making up 90% of the product while the other 10% is water and cellulose fibers (wood fibers). The wood fibers will produce smoke and some flaming droplets; this is why it receives an A2 instead of an A1 rating. 

 Polyvinyl chloride (aka vinyl) is made of chlorine and ethylene. The vinyl siding institute says that because of the chlorine (a common salt) base, “vinyl siding does not ignite quickly and is inherently flame-retardant”.  Temperatures need to reach 730 degrees fahrenheit before it does combust.  But you will additionally want to keep things like your grill pulled away from the side of your house as vinyl can melt when exposed to hot temps.

All-in-all, fiber cement is the trend of where siding is heading in the Northeast (it is already the number 1 siding panel used in North America).  It is definitely more expensive when compared to vinyl, but when considering ALL the factors it is well worth the investment.  The curb-appeal alone will add value if you ever choose to sell your property. I do need to reiterate that in order to get the best value from your James Hardie installation, you need to find a contractor that is certified in installing the product properly.

That’s where we come in and will be happy to help.  Resnick Roofing & Contracting is a James Hardie Elite Preferred Contractor, which is the highest level of certification you can receive from James Hardie.  This means that the manufacturer has reviewed our previous installations with a fine-tooth comb for the highest level of craftsmanship and endorsed us for their approved contractor list. If you are interested in receiving a free consultation with one of our sales professionals, all you need to do is give us a call, send us an email, or shoot us a text.  We will be happy to set aside time to bring samples, walk you through the installation process, and fill you in on warranty information. It is a big decision, and we are here to help make it as painless and as fun as possible.