Fiber cement siding is pretty amazing. As a manufactured product, it provides the best of both worlds by mimicking the visual appeal of everything from stone to wood while also providing myriad benefits like fire and weather resistance. It comes in numerous shapes, colors, and styles. But just as with any other siding, it’s not without its faults. In the following guide, CLAD Siding discusses the most common problems with fiber cement siding.
Common Issues With Fiber Cement Siding
Highly durable, fiber cement siding is a popular siding choice. And unlike the natural materials that it’s patterned after – everything from stone to wood grain – it provides many options in shape, size, and so on that are more customizable and consistent. It can also last for many decades, virtually impervious to pest infestation and direct fire damage. Of course, there’s no such thing as a “perfect” siding. Below are the most common problems with fiber cement siding.
Fiber cement siding – Hardie Board being the most well-known version – typically comes with a warranty that ranges from 30 to 50 years (depending on whether it’s non-back or back coated). That’s impressive. This offers peace of mind that your siding will stand the test of time. But it isn’t maintenance-free.
Unlike siding such as vinyl, fiber cement requires repainting. Many pre-painted options come with a 15-year warranty against chipping and peeling, but a lot of homeowners discover they have to recoat sooner than that. Whether you opt for pre-paint siding or primed (so you can custom paint), this type of siding generally needs to be repainted every 7 to 10 years.
Caulking and Repairs
Along with having to repaint every so often, fiber cement siding requires proper caulking. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for dents, scrapes, scratches, and more. These issues can be filled with a patching compound and paint.
Though fiber cement siding requires maintenance, for the most part, it’s actually pretty easy to live with. Just make sure to keep up with recoating every few years while also making sure any needed repairs are taken care of as soon as possible. That way, you can enjoy many years of relatively hassle-free enjoyment and protection with your home’s exterior.
2. Moisture and Cracking
One unavoidable reality is that fiber cement siding is susceptible to moisture damage. Now, with proper installation, this siding can be highly water-resistant. When exposed to typical weather conditions and the like, it can hold up for many years without any issues. However, if water does seep into the material, it can lead to major issues. These issues include mildew, mold, and rot.
Proper installation is absolutely key. From caulking to gap clearances, every step must be carefully followed to ensure the best results. On a brighter note, fiber cement siding does hold less moisture than manufactured stone or stucco.
Another issue is cracking. Hardie Board, for example, is a fairly fragile material. Moisture can be a culprit, but the actual installation process is where issues can arise. If the installer fails to follow proper protocol – improper fastening and caulking, for instance – this can result in water being able to enter into the siding.
3. Cost and Installation
Offering a multitude of advantages – durability and resistance to pests, fire, and more – fiber cement siding does come with a hefty price tag. When comparing it to vinyl siding, it can cost two to three times more per square foot (depending on the style and shape).
Then there’s the process of installation. This type of siding requires a certain level of skill. One of the benefits of the siding is its strength, but this is an issue when installing the material. Cutting it can be difficult. This requires tools that include specialized saws. Fiber cement siding is also extremely heavy. This all adds up to a rather labor-intensive ordeal.
4. Energy Efficiency
Do you live in a state with sweltering heat during the summer? How about frigid winter weather? If you live in a region with extreme climate conditions, temperature regulation is most likely high on your list. There are several siding choices that offer decent insulation. Unfortunately, fiber cement siding is definitely not one of them.
On its own, this type of siding provides little in the way of energy-saving protection. Though it does have an R-value – this is the rating of how much heat a material can trap or keep out – higher than several other materials (including stone, stucco, and brick), it is far from a substantial insulation solution. As a result, your home will need to be properly insulated in order to provide the energy efficiency you need.
A common fix for this issue, in conjunction with standard insulation in the walls, is adding a foam layer underneath the siding. Obviously, this contributes to the labor and cost. But if you live in a four-season area or somewhere that experiences severe temperatures, it pays to make sure your place is properly insulated to combat the effects.
5. Asbestos and Silica Dust
Note that asbestos is no longer used in the manufacturing of fiber cement siding. However, up until the 1980s, asbestos was utilized for many decades. It provided robustness as well as fire resistance. Once it was found to cause cancer, asbestos was no longer used in the manufacturing of fiber cement siding.
It’s important to know about asbestos use, especially if dealing with an older home. If it’s cladded in fiber cement siding, there could be a chance it contains the hazardous material.
As far as modern fiber cement siding goes, you don’t have to worry about asbestos, but there’s another potential issue: silica dust. The main concern is during the installation process. When this type of siding is cut, silica dust can be released into the air. If inhaled, it can cause respiratory problems. Keep this in mind, whether you’re installing it yourself or hiring a skilled contractor. Keep yourself, children, and pets out of harm’s way.
Of course, this is a subjective matter. Fiber cement siding offers a plethora of advantages. But for some, it can look a little fake. For instance, this is more apparent with certain wood-like applications. If you’re going for as natural of a look as possible, you might want to consider another siding option. But if you’re happy with the texture and visual appeal of a particular fiber cement siding, then you’ll be able to enjoy many years of long-lasting performance. This comes down to personal preference, and in many cases, this siding actually offers a variety of highly attractive styles that fit well with virtually any home.
Fiber cement siding is an extraordinary material. And with proper installation and maintenance, you can rest assured that your home’s siding will shine for years. But when it comes to repainting, repairs, and several other concerns, you’ll want to keep on top of it.
Now that you know more about issues with fiber cement siding, you might be looking for a licensed fiber cement siding contractor. CLAD Siding makes it a cinch to find one in your area. Click here to learn more and request quotes for fiber cement siding repairs and more!