The top two engineered lap siding brands are the defending champion HardiePlank fiber cement and the up-and-coming contender LP SmartSide engineered wood siding.
This guide covers the HardiePlank vs. LP SmartSide comparison from all angles that matter to a homeowner – Looks, durability, cost of materials and installation, and more. We’ll uncover the differences between the two to help you decide which one fits your project requirements better.
Expect to pay between $9.50 and $16.50 per square foot to install LP SmartSide siding. For HardiePlank siding, your costs will between $10.50 and $17.50 per square foot installed.
Note: LP’s SmartSide relative cost advantage is due to slightly lower material and installation costs thanks to its lighter weight.
The possible cost range is broad, however, based on factors spelled out below. This table breaks down costs for these two leading siding alternatives to natural wood.
Material Cost per sq.ft.
$2.50 – $5.50
$2.50 – $4.50
Installation Cost per sq.ft.
$8.00 – $12.50
$7.00 – $11.50
Total Cost Range per sq.ft.
$10.50 – $17.50
$9.50 – $16.50
Average Cost per sq.ft.
$11.50 – $15.50
$10.50 – $14.50
Cost to Value Recouped
69% – 86%
70% – 87%
As you can see in the table above, these are comparably priced materials, so unless you’re watching pennies very closely, this probably won’t be the deciding factor.
How does natural wood siding stack up against LP SmartSide, the most popular engineered wood siding?
There are several important points of comparison – maintenance, durability, and appearance among them – but we’ll start with the bottom line: Cost. The rest of the factors are covered in pros and cons below.
LP SmartSide Cost vs. Wood Siding Comparison
Engineered wood siding such as LP SmartSide is generally less expensive than natural wood siding. On average, you can expect to pay between $9.50 to $16.50 per sq.ft. for LP Smartside composite siding vs. $10.50 to $17.50 for a premium natural wood siding fully installed. This translates to an average difference of $1.00-$1.50 per sq.ft. between the two.
Did you know? Many online LP SmartSide cost estimates are lower than what should be reasonably expected. It appears they simply take the cost per square foot of LP SmartSide, which can be as low as $2.50 per square foot and multiply it by the square feet of siding needed.
A somewhat random labor cost is added, and a total estimate is given. Estimating an LP SmartSide job that way fails to consider the many variables such as tear off and removal of old siding, supplies needed such as trim, wrap, building permits, professional warrantied installation, etc. and these costs can add up quickly.
LP SmartSide trim, for example, costs about $1.50 per linear foot and can add $600-$1,200 to the total job cost. Fasteners, construction glue, flashing, caulk and extra saw blades are among the accessories needed to complete the job.
Every job is different. Where on the cost spectrum your siding project falls depends on these variables.
Specific material: LP SmartSide ranges in price from about $2.50/sq. ft. for siding planks to about $4.50/sq. ft. for textured cedar shake siding, an increase of 100%.
Some homeowners don’t use any of the more expensive shake-look siding. A few homes use it exclusively. Most often, shake siding is used in gables and other select places to provide architectural interest.
In terms of wood, pine plank siding is the least costly. Cedar is most popular and in the middle of the cost range. Redwood siding costs the most.
Each type of wood is available in a range of grades too such as Clear or Heart (top grade), Select, A, B, C, Rustic and more. Each type has a slightly different grading system. The higher the grade, the costlier the siding.
The shape of the house: There is more material waste on homes with 6+ corners and complex design.
Installation difficulty: Labor costs are the biggest variable in engineered siding jobs. In term of complexity, installation takes longer on homes with a higher number of corners and architectural variations, so labor costs can be 50% higher. Installation above the first story adds about 35% to the labor cost.
This home includes material and labor factors that put the total cost near at the upper end of the range.
Where you live: Cost of living can swing installation prices up to 40%. Rural areas of the South and Midwest have the lowest costs. They are highest in major metropolitan areas on the Coasts. The rest of the country falls into the average range.
Who does the work: DIY installation costs nothing beyond the materials, accessories and specialized tools required.
Pro installation ranges from using an unlicensed handyman service at the low end to allowing a designer or builder to hire the installer while charging you a general contractor (GC) fee. 😉
Pro Tip: You’ll get the best combination of quality installation, pricing and peace of mind when you work directly with contractors that are experienced, licensed and insured.
Get several estimates from licensed contractors, and don’t be afraid to ask to see their current license and liability coverage.
Ask about the experience of the crew that will install your wood or engineered siding. Check Yelp and Google reviews, the BBB, and other sources. Hire a contractor with consistently good reviews and an experienced crew.
Did you know? LP SmartSide might not warranty its siding where you live!
LP SmartSide includes wax-coated wood strands at its core. The presence of wood raises a red flag. Moisture is the enemy of any material that contains wood.
Because some areas of the country receive so much rainfall and have high humidity levels, LP Building Products, the maker of SmartSide siding, does not warranty its products in these regions: Alaska, Hawaii, Northern California north of 1-80, and west of the Cascades in Washington, Oregon, and California.
If you live in one of these areas, it’s likely that your local building material suppliers won’t stock LP SmartSide or other engineered wood products.
In all other regions, SmartSide carries a 50-year warranty including the first five years of 100% coverage before the warranty starts being pro-rated through the rest of the coverage period.
Does Natural Wood Siding Come with a Warranty?
No, it does not. The producers don’t provide any warranty because they sell bare wood and have no control over how it is installed and finished. If it is not properly finished, warping, cracking, rotting and discoloration can begin in the first year.
Though the manufacturers don’t warranty the wood, whoever installs and finishes the wood with stain and sealer, or primer and paint should give you a warranty of at least 1 year on the workmanship. Some offer two years.
The materials applied will have their own warranty against manufacturing defects for 10-20 years. The warranty doesn’t cover normal wear and weathering, so the wood will require repainting or staining long before the warranty period expires.