Siding Brands Compared

James Hardie vs. LP SmartSide: Which Siding Brand Reigns Supreme?

Choosing the right siding for your home is a significant decision that affects not only the appearance of your house but also its durability, maintenance, and value. Two of the most popular and respected brands in the siding industry are James Hardie and LP SmartSide. Each offers unique features and benefits, making the choice between them a challenging one. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll compare James Hardie and LP SmartSide across various criteria to help you determine which siding brand reigns supreme for your home.

Overview of James Hardie

History and Reputation

James Hardie is a well-established brand known for pioneering fiber cement siding. Founded in Australia in 1888, the company expanded to the United States in the 1980s and quickly gained a reputation for producing high-quality, durable siding products. James Hardie is renowned for its commitment to innovation and excellence, making it a preferred choice for many homeowners and contractors.

Product Line

James Hardie offers a wide range of siding products, including:

  • HardiePlank® Lap Siding: The most popular product, known for its classic look and durability.
  • HardieShingle® Siding: Mimics the appearance of cedar shingles, providing a unique aesthetic.
  • HardiePanel® Vertical Siding: Ideal for a modern or rustic look.
  • HardieTrim® Boards: Complements the siding with decorative trim options.
  • HardieSoffit® Panels: Provides protection and aesthetic appeal to eaves and overhangs.

Material and Composition

James Hardie siding is made from fiber cement, a composite material consisting of cement, sand, and cellulose fibers. This combination results in a product that is extremely durable, fire-resistant, and resistant to pests and rot.

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Overview of LP SmartSide

History and Reputation

LP SmartSide, a brand of Louisiana-Pacific Corporation, was introduced in the 1990s. The company aimed to provide an alternative to traditional wood siding with enhanced durability and performance. LP SmartSide has quickly become a leading name in the engineered wood siding industry, known for its innovative products and impressive warranties.

Product Line

LP SmartSide offers a variety of siding options, including:

  • LP SmartSide Lap Siding: Resembles traditional wood siding with added durability.
  • LP SmartSide Panel Siding: Available in various textures and profiles for a customized look.
  • LP SmartSide Trim & Fascia: Complements the siding with durable trim and fascia boards.
  • LP SmartSide Cedar Shakes: Provides a natural cedar appearance with enhanced durability.

Material and Composition

LP SmartSide siding is made from engineered wood, which consists of wood strands coated with a resin binder and compressed to create a strong, durable board. The siding is then treated with LP’s proprietary SmartGuard® process, which includes zinc borate for protection against termites and fungal decay, a water-resistant resin, and a durable overlay.

Durability and Performance

James Hardie

Weather Resistance: James Hardie fiber cement siding is designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, including high winds, hail, and heavy rain. It is also resistant to UV radiation, ensuring that the color remains vibrant over time.

Fire Resistance: One of the standout features of James Hardie siding is its fire resistance. Fiber cement is non-combustible, providing an added layer of protection for your home.

Pest and Rot Resistance: Fiber cement siding is impervious to termites and other pests, and it does not rot or warp. This makes it an excellent choice for humid or pest-prone areas.

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LP SmartSide

Weather Resistance: LP SmartSide siding is engineered to resist impact damage, making it highly durable in regions with hail or debris. The SmartGuard® treatment enhances its resistance to moisture, preventing warping and swelling.

Fire Resistance: While LP SmartSide is treated to resist fire, it is not as inherently fire-resistant as fiber cement siding. However, it still meets industry standards for fire safety.

Pest and Rot Resistance: The SmartGuard® treatment includes zinc borate, which provides excellent protection against termites and fungal decay. This ensures long-lasting performance even in challenging environments.

Aesthetic Appeal

James Hardie

Variety of Styles and Textures: James Hardie offers a wide range of styles and textures, allowing homeowners to achieve various looks, from traditional to modern. The products can mimic the appearance of wood, shingles, and stucco, providing versatility in design.

ColorPlus® Technology: James Hardie’s ColorPlus® Technology involves applying multiple coats of a baked-on finish, ensuring a consistent, long-lasting color. This reduces the need for frequent repainting and maintenance.

LP SmartSide

Wood-Like Appearance: LP SmartSide is designed to replicate the look of natural wood, with deep, realistic textures and grains. This makes it an attractive option for homeowners who prefer the aesthetic of wood siding without the associated maintenance.

Paint and Stain Options: LP SmartSide siding comes pre-primed and can be painted or stained in any color, allowing for complete customization. This flexibility enables homeowners to match their siding with their home’s overall color scheme and design.

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Installation and Maintenance

James Hardie

Installation: Installing James Hardie siding requires specialized tools and techniques, often necessitating professional installation. This can add to the overall cost but ensures that the siding is installed correctly and performs optimally.

Maintenance: James Hardie siding is relatively low-maintenance, thanks to its durability and ColorPlus® Technology. However, it may require occasional cleaning and inspection to ensure that the caulking and paint remain in good condition.

LP SmartSide

Installation: LP SmartSide siding is lighter and easier to work with than fiber cement, making it more straightforward to install. This can result in lower installation costs and the possibility of DIY installation for experienced homeowners.

Maintenance: LP SmartSide siding is also low-maintenance, requiring periodic cleaning and repainting or staining as needed. The SmartGuard® treatment helps protect against moisture and pests, reducing the likelihood of damage and the need for repairs.

Environmental Impact

James Hardie

Sustainability: James Hardie is committed to sustainable practices, using natural and renewable materials in its products. The company also focuses on reducing waste and emissions during manufacturing.

Longevity: The long lifespan of fiber cement siding means that it doesn’t need to be replaced as frequently, reducing the environmental impact associated with production and disposal.

LP SmartSide

Sustainability: LP SmartSide siding is made from sustainable wood sources, and the manufacturing process generates minimal waste. The company also emphasizes the use of environmentally friendly treatments and finishes.

Longevity: Engineered wood siding has a long lifespan and can be recycled at the end of its use, making it an environmentally responsible choice. The SmartGuard® treatment further enhances its durability and reduces the need for replacement.

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Cost Considerations

James Hardie

Initial Cost: James Hardie siding tends to be more expensive upfront compared to other siding materials. The cost is justified by its durability, aesthetic appeal, and low maintenance requirements.

Installation Cost: Professional installation is often necessary for James Hardie siding, which can add to the overall cost. However, proper installation ensures optimal performance and longevity.

Long-Term Value: While the initial investment may be higher, the long-term value of James Hardie siding is significant due to its durability, low maintenance, and potential to increase home value.

LP SmartSide

Initial Cost: LP SmartSide siding is generally more affordable upfront than James Hardie. This makes it an attractive option for homeowners looking for a cost-effective solution without compromising on quality.

Installation Cost: The easier installation process of LP SmartSide can result in lower labor costs, and some experienced homeowners may even choose to install it themselves.

Long-Term Value: LP SmartSide siding offers excellent long-term value due to its durability, attractive appearance, and low maintenance requirements. It can also enhance the resale value of your home.

Warranty and Support

James Hardie

Warranty: James Hardie offers a 30-year non-prorated limited warranty on its siding products, providing homeowners with peace of mind. The ColorPlus® Technology finish comes with a 15-year limited warranty against peeling, cracking, and chipping.

Support: James Hardie is known for its excellent customer support and provides extensive resources, including installation guides, maintenance tips, and design inspiration.

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LP SmartSide

Warranty: LP SmartSide offers a 5/50-year limited warranty, with five years of full coverage followed by a 50-year prorated warranty. This demonstrates the company’s confidence in the durability and performance of its products.

Support: LP SmartSide also provides robust customer support, with resources such as installation instructions, maintenance guidelines, and design ideas to help homeowners make the most of their siding investment.

When it comes to choosing between James Hardie and LP SmartSide siding, both brands offer high-quality, durable, and aesthetically pleasing options. The best choice for your home depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget.

  • James Hardie is an excellent choice if you prioritize fire resistance, long-term durability, and a wide range of styles and colors. Its fiber cement siding is known for its resilience and low maintenance, making it a worthwhile investment despite the higher upfront cost.
  • LP SmartSide is ideal if you prefer a wood-like appearance, easier installation, and a more affordable initial cost. The engineered wood siding offers impressive durability and resistance to pests and moisture, thanks to the SmartGuard® treatment.

Ultimately, both James Hardie and LP SmartSide are top-tier siding brands that can enhance the beauty, value, and protection of your home. Consider your specific requirements, climate, and budget when making your decision, and consult with a professional contractor to ensure that your chosen siding is installed correctly for optimal performance and longevity.

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