If you're thinking of having your home sided, you have several material choices to consider. Vinyl and metal may be the siding materials you think of first, but they're not the only ones. Fiber cement siding, sometimes called James Hardie siding, is another option that is increasing in popularity. Made from a combination of wood pulp and cement, it performs well in the categories most homeowners care about.
How does fiber cement siding perform in terms of durability?
Fiber cement siding is an incredibly durable choice. Though it contains wood pulp, it is resistant to a lot of common problems that occur with standard wooden siding. Termites won't bother it, and if it is exposed to moisture for an extended period of time, it will not rot like wood siding often does. Fiber cement siding is also fire-resistant, which makes it an exceptional choice if you live in an area where forest fires are a common occurrence.
Of all of the common siding materials, fiber cement has one of the longest life expectancies. It is expected to last about 50 years, whereas aluminum siding has a life expectancy of 20 - 50 years, vinyl 25 years, and hardboard 10 - 25 years. Stucco and brick exteriors may last longer than fiber cement exteriors, but since these exterior materials won't give your home a "sided" look, they may not be on your radar.
Fiber cement siding does need to be painted regularly. However, it is known to hold paint very well, and most homeowners find that they only need to paint every 5 to 15 years. Siding that is exposed to a lot of rain or excessive sunlight will need to be repainted more often than that in milder climates. Homeowners can extend the life of their paint jobs by always applying two coats. Pressure washing the siding periodically can also extend the time between paint jobs by keeping contaminants off the surface of the siding.
How does fiber cement siding perform in terms of installation?
Fiber cement is more difficult to install than vinyl or aluminum siding, but only because it is heavier than these options. This means that several people often must work together to install fiber cement siding -- it's not a one-person project. However, an experienced contractor team should have no trouble at all installing fiber cement siding. You might be able to apply aluminum or vinyl siding yourself, but fiber cement really is best left to the pros.
The process of installing this siding involves first cutting the product to the correct size. Proper masks must be worn during cutting, since a lot of dust is generated. Then, the siding is nailed to the home in an overlapping manner, using corrosion-resistant nails.
How does fiber cement siding compare in terms of looks?
Fiber cement siding has a wood-like appearance, thanks to the wood fiber used in its creation. It comes in various textures, some that are smoother and others that resemble coarser-textured wood. Homeowners can choose from wider and thinner panels, based on personal preference, and vary the look of their siding with paint choices. There are not as many unique patterns and designs available as there are with vinyl siding because fiber cement is harder to mold into specialized shapes. However, there is no shortage of choices.
How does fiber cement siding perform in terms of eco-friendliness?
If you're trying to choose eco-friendly materials for your home, fiber cement is one that should be on your radar. Because it has a long life expectancy and won't need to be replaced as soon as vinyl or aluminum siding, it results in less waste generation. Also, many manufacturers use recycled wood in their siding. Sometimes, the sand and grit in the siding are even obtained from recycled materials.
Are you looking for a durable, eco-friendly siding materials for your home? It might pay to give fiber cement more than a passing glance.