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J.H. Fiber cement is composed of 70% concrete and 30% celluoose. Cellulose being ground up paper. Both water and cement wick moisture so if you use these products be sure to read and follow installation instructions. Leave no surface unpainted or it will draw moisture and deteriorate. Seen it many times. It is also dusty if you cut it with a saw. It is heavy, breaks easily if flexed. It is also heavy so it only comes in 12 foot lengths for the most part. It has the insulation value of cement which R-1 per inch. It is 5/16 thick so you get 5/16 or R-1 which is not much.
Vinyl is plastic but it is about half the price and any handyman can install if they follow directions so it can expand and contractl. Don't expect it top lasd forever. Hail storms beat it up pretty bad if the stones are big enough. One caution with it is do not place a grill near i, vinyl melts at 150 to 165 degerees depending on how thick it is.
In my opinion steel is a little costiler but in most cases lasts for a long time. If you figure it out, you will replace vinyl about every seven years. My stleel has been on my home in a hail region since 1975, No hail damage. You do the math.
If you are unsure check with the BBB. your state licensing board, and go look at several references where they have done instalations. Talk to the owners if you can and see how they were treated. These three things should tell you a lot about who you are dealing with. also have them give you the name of the brand of cement board and have them describe exactly what they propose to do. also look to see if one is prefinished and one is not. Prefinished are more expensive Good Luck.
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