Composite Siding: A Sustainable And Stylish Choice

Written By Kenneth Wilson  |  0 Comments

Installing new siding on your home can transform its appearance, just as choosing the right style of siding on a new house could have a massive impact on its appeal to potential buyers and on its market value. There are so many types and styles of siding, some traditional, others new and innovative. Composite siding is one of the newer ones and well worth considering as a sustainable and stylish choice.

Composite siding has been available for decades but has been constantly refined and, in its more recent form, is usually made from reclaimed timber and recycled plastic. It is exceptionally durable, as well as being considered stylish, environmentally friendly, and sustainable.

A composite combines two or more materials to create a new material stronger than any of the individual components. A simple definition of siding is the cladding of the exterior walls of a home or commercial unit that protects it from all weather conditions. In this article, I will take a close look at composite siding compared to other options as a stylish and uniquely sustainable choice.

Composite Siding – Sustainability and Style

Composite siding is available in various forms, all attractive and durable, but each with its unique pros and cons. Choosing between them means working out which one best suits your particular requirements.

What is Composite Siding?

House with Composite Siding

Siding is effectively the outside “skin” covering the exterior walls of a building (usually a home), and its sole purpose is to prevent harsh weather conditions from damaging that building. It also acts as an insulating layer, keeping the house cool in summer and warmer in winter.

The earliest siding material was sun dried brick, made of clay mixed with straw, used in Turkey in 7000 B.C. Other early siding included thatch, stone, and wood, the latter still a popular choice for modern homes. Metal siding including sheet iron and aluminum was introduced in the 20th century, and then new innovations such as vinyl siding in the 1960s and composite siding in the 1990s revolutionized the industry.

The term “composite siding” generally refers to wood/plastic composite or WPC (of which more later), but in fact refers to any siding made up of more than two materials, such as fiber cement and fiberglass siding.

Being manufactured according to specific requirements, composite siding is more effective as a protective material than most natural alternatives and is usually more durable, sustainable, and cost-effective.

Fiber Cement Composite Siding

Some experts may disagree, but fiber cement is, by definition, a composite, so I'm including it here, although it may not compare that well with other composite sidings.

Is fiber cement sustainable?

It’s made by combining cement with cellulose, recycled wood, sand, and water, so fiber cement is amongst the most sustainable and environmentally friendly of all sidings. The water used in its manufacture is recycled several times, and the final product can also be recycled, although this takes a certain amount of processing as it needs to be ground down into a powder.

The Stylish Qualities Of Fiber Cement:

It’s been called the chameleon of sidings as it is available in so many forms, textures, and colors. Fiber plaster siding is available as shingles, panels, or boards in plain, stucco, or woodgrain textures and can be pre-painted or painted after installing it.


  • It’s versatile, which makes it a stylish addition to almost any home. 
  • It’s water-, insect-, and rot-resistant, as well as being non-combustible.
  • It’s cheaper than brick, stucco, and wood but is more expensive than vinyl.
  • Extremely durable – this type of siding can easily last fifty years, with very little maintenance needed.


  • It’s relatively heavy and, therefore, more difficult to install than lightweight sidings.
  • It is more expensive than vinyl siding and slightly more than aluminum on average.
  • Installation is more labor-intensive than with lighter sidings and, therefore, more expensive.

Engineered or Composite Wood Siding

The term “engineered wood” siding is sometimes used synonymously with composite siding, but it is, in fact, only one of the forms, so it should be referred to instead as composite wood siding. It is also broadly referred to as WPC or Wood/Plastic Composite.

It is made by combining wood fibers and resins, which are then bound together using extreme heat and pressure to form an extremely strong and durable product. Its performance is further enhanced by treating it with water-resistant wax and zinc borate to protect it from fungal infestations.

Composite Wood Siding Is A Sustainable Product.

Some composite wood is made using timber from sustainable forests, while some utilize recycled wood and wood products, so it can be considered sustainable. The finished product, with its plastic and resin content, can’t be easily recycled, however, except to be used in a new WPC.

How Stylish Is Composite Wood Siding:

Because it's synthetic wood, manufactured and highly versatile, composite wood can be tailor-made to suit every style of home, from traditional to ultra-modern. The whole “look” can be coordinated, with trim and window frames all made from the same material and the siding cut to any design or shape, so there’s almost no limit to its stylishness.


  • Easy to install, with no special tools required.
  • It is lighter and more impact-resistant than fiber cement.
  • Exceptionally durable and highly resistant to rot and borer infestation.
  • The cost of engineered wood is about half that of natural wood, with a look almost identical to the real thing.
  • Pre-treated to allow for painting or can be left unpainted as it is available in a wide range of colors and textures.


  • Once painted, it will require repainting every five to ten years.
  • Depending on the type of resin used, it may not be easily recycled.
  • The resin content may crack if left unprotected, resulting in moisture being absorbed into the siding.

Fiberglass Composite Siding

While fiber cement and engineered wood are by far the most common type of composite siding, there is an alternative, and that is fiberglass composite.

Fiberglass itself is a composite made primarily from recycled glass mixed with sand (silica) and resins. This type of siding is one of the latest, made available only within the last decade.

Is Fiberglass Siding A Sustainable Product?

Being made from recycled glass and sand makes fiberglass exceptionally sustainable, and it’s environmentally friendly as well, as it can be repurposed to make other fiberglass products if it is removed as a siding.

Being lightweight and exceptionally durable also means transporting the material is easier and less frequent, and its production is less energy-intensive than other siding materials.

How Stylish Is Fiberglass Siding?

It can be molded into any shape or form, so it's not only the latest innovation in siding but the most versatile. Being lightweight also means that it places less weight on the home’s structure, and using longer boards means fewer visible joints – all in all, fiberglass is the siding that sets the standard for other materials to follow.


  • Available in an extensive range of finishes, shapes, and colors to suit all styles of home.
  • As an outstanding insulator, it will save homeowners a great deal in heating and cooling costs.
  • With a very low rate of expansion and contraction with temperature changes, waterproofing qualities are excellent, and no caulking is needed when installing it.
  • Extremely strong and durable, fiberglass shows little deterioration and should last for at least 40 years.


  • Being relatively new in the market, fiberglass siding is not that widely available and is one of the most expensive options, being 20 – 25% costlier than fiber cement.
  • Working with this material is not a task for the home handyman, and professional installation is an added but unavoidable expense.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right material for the siding of your home, whether you’re updating a dated exterior or completing a brand-new building, is a difficult decision.

Which one you decide on will affect not only the appearance but also the value of your home, so selecting a composite siding that offers style while at the same time being sustainable and environmentally friendly is the best choice you can make. (Related article: Understanding LP Siding: Pros, Cons, and Maintenance Tips)

About the Author

I can build it, and I can help you get the patio enclosure you want! I got my start in the Florida patio industry back in the 70s as a young general laborer looking for something to make a few bucks. At the time I never thought it would end up as my career. Over the years I grew beyond the laborer position, becoming a foreman, superintendent, and then into executive management for some of the largest patio contractors, and material vendors. Now into retirement and slightly bored, I offer consulting services to new and existing contractors, and publish this website to help the people who love their patio's and screen enclosures the most - YOU!

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