This study reports on the use of polyvinyl alcohol-based needle punched nonwoven fabrics in cement-based composites as a low-cost reinforcement. In this study, a nonwoven reinforcement using crimped polyvinyl alcohol fibers for cement-based composites was developed. The incorporation of nonwoven fabric in composites improved tensile and flexural properties compared to a discrete polyvinyl alcohol fiber-reinforced composite. Formation of multiple fine cracks, crimped fibers and mechanical interlocking of fibers in the nonwoven fabric structure resulted in superior mechanical performance. The failure mode was due to a single macro-crack for the discrete fiber reinforced composite as opposed to a number of fine cracks for the nonwoven reinforced composite.