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.
Note: Value recouped at the resale refers to the percentage of the total cost of the siding homeowners typically recoup when selling their homes. For example, if the ROI/Cost to Value Return on siding were 70% for a project that cost $10,000, the siding would increase the sale price by about $7,000.
Both materials are engineered rather than naturally occurring.
The James Hardie company blends cement, fine sand, wood fibers and water to form HardiePlank siding.
The cement gives it strength and impact resistant while the fibers hold the cement together to prevent cracking. The materials are naturally resistant to rot and insects.
LP Building Products makes SmartSide siding products from wood strands that have been coated with wax for moisture resistance and bonded with resin and other binders.
Zinc-borate SmartGuard solution is added that protects against rot and insect infestation. The coated fibers are compressed for hardness and durability. Planks are finished with a resin-saturated overlay.
These are very attractive siding products made in a range of options.
There are four series of HardiePlank siding. They are Cedarmill plain and beaded and Smooth plain and beaded.
The cedar-style siding has an open-grain finish. Each of the series are available in more than 15 colors, and all are applied with Hardie’s baked-on ColorPlus technology.
HardieTrim boards are often used to complete the installation.
LP SmartSide siding is manufactured in six different styles. They are Cedar Texture lap, Cedar Texture shakes, 12” bold double-lap and triple-lap profiles, 16” double/triple/quad profiles, Colonial beaded and Smooth.
LP has a unique program of selling unfinished siding to qualified prefinishers that put a finish coat on the material for retail sale.
As a result, LP SmartSide lap siding is available in dozens of colors.
Some of the LP Preferred prefinishers are Diamond Kote, Coastal Coatings, PSPI and Northwest Factory Finishes. Primed LP SmartSide is available at a lower cost and is ready for you to paint.
There’s more overlap than differences in the pros and cons of HardiePlank and LP SmartSide.
- The 30-year warranty is not reduced each year (prorated), as is LP’s SmartSide warranty
- The HardiePlank warranty is transferable once
- Can be repainted
- Resists warping and cracking due to the wood fibers in the mix
- Is very resistant to fire and insects
- Is moisture-resistant when the paint finish is in good condition
- The material is heavier than LP SmartSide and might require two installers per piece, a fact that increases installation costs
- Must be repainted as needed, usually every 3-10 years
- Improper installation such as fastening the material too tight will cause cracking, and data shows these issues are more common than installation issues with SmartSide engineered wood siding
- What seems like minor impact from a baseball or wheel of a push mower can cause crumbling of the area affected
- A cement blade is required for cutting
- A respirator, or at least a quality dust mask, should be worn when cutting HardiePlank
How does LP SmartSide compare to HardiePlank in this regard?
- The LP SmartSide 5/50 warranty covers a total of 50 years
- Hail damage from hail up to 1.75” in diameter is covered
- Good general impact resistance from balls, bumping into it, etc.
- Planks are available up to 16’ vs. 12 for HardiePlank, and this means fewer seams and faster installation for lower cost
- More styles are available
- Lightweight and easy to work with for one person
- Cuts more easily than fiber cement, so a standard saw blade is sufficient
- Locking clips speeds and secures installation
- Less dust when cutting
- The warranty covers defects 100% for just the first 5 years. The pro rata deduction is 2.2% per year starting in year 6. So, for example, defects that develop in year 10 would be covered 100% less 2.2×5, or 11% resulting in 89% coverage (67% after 20 years)
- The warranty does not cover Alaska and the Pacific Northwest where heavy rain and high humidity are part of the climate
- Improperly applied coatings are likely to flake, and the coatings are covered by the applier, not by LP
- Must be repainted as needed, usually every 3-10 years
- Edges cut during installation should be primed and painted to prevent moisture penetration
- The predominance of wood in the mix makes SmartSide siding more susceptible to fire, though it does have a 1-hour fire rating
Here are things to consider when deciding on these materials:
Hardie uses what it calls the HardieZone system. HZ5 (climate zones 1-5) materials are made for climates prone to freezing. HZ10 (climate zones 6-10) are made for zones where winter temperatures are milder.
Also, at elevations above 2,000 feet in CA, OR and WA, HZ 5 products should be used. Make sure that you use the right product for your zone.
Keep in mind regions of the country where some SmartSide siding is not warrantied, specifically in Alaska, Hawaii, Northern California north of 1-80 or west of the Cascades in WA, OR, and CA.
Most building supply retailers in those high-rain, high-humidity regions don’t sell this material, but it’s ultimately up to the homeowner to make sure they’re installing a product suitable to their area.
If either product is available in your region, climate zone, then consider these “bottom line” points:
If you’re planning to install the material yourself, LP SmartSide is a clear winner because it is lightweight and easy to cut.
If total cost is a “must” factor, then LP SmartSide siding is slightly more affordable.
If you plan to move at some point, then either product’s warranty is sufficient.
However, if you plan to live in your current location indefinitely, Hardie’s 30-year non-prorated warranty gives you worry-free peace of mind.
Frankly, while the LP SmartSide warranty lasts 20 years beyond Hardie’s, it is prorated, so it loses value every year, and most homeowners are ready for a siding change by that time anyway.
Finally, LP SmartSide engineered wood lap siding is easier to install than HardiePlank fiber cement lap siding, and there’s some data to suggest there are fewer installation errors with it.
If you don’t want the hassle of calling the installer back to repair loose or buckling material, then SmartSide has a clear advantage.
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SmartSide Strand siding and trim does have a warranty in “Alaska, Hawaii, Northern California north of 1-80 or west of the Cascades in WA, OR, and CA”. The fiber products that were not warrantied, or sold, in these areas are no longer produced.