Fiber Cement & Hardie Board Siding Installation
Fiber cement siding is one of the most durable siding options available on the market today. Composed of a mix of wood fiber, sand, silica, water, and Portland cement, it’s a robust alternative to other siding options. Once installed, it typically lasts for decades, withstanding harsh weather, pests, and even fire. Fiber cement siding gives you the performance of masonry with a beautiful traditional look of clapboard, shingles, or even stone. The most common type, known as Hardie Board, comes in a range of styles, colors, and patterns.
Fiber cement siding is super long-lasting, but, like any form of specialized siding, it should be installed by a licensed, insured fiber cement siding contractor. If not installed properly, fiber cement boards can come loose; if Installed without proper gaps between the boards, it can buckle. To find the best fiber cement siding pros near you click now for a free quote in just minutes.
Fiber Cement Siding Repairs & Common Problems
Problems with fiber cement siding are uncommon, but they do happen. The siding itself is incredibly durable, but the problems come with sloppy installation and inattention to maintenance.
Hardie siding is a brittle product and can crack for a number of reasons – if it’s nailed improperly, the ground settles, or the material is in some way defective upon installation.
Because fiber cement boards are made with wood pulp (cellulose), they’re subject to many of the same problems wood has with water absorption. Even if it’s installed perfectly, it can swell or disintegrate when exposed to excessive moisture from rain, snow, or ice. And if it’s installed incorrectly, i.e. not caulked properly, moisture can seep in, leading to water damage such as rot or mold. Make sure you check caulking regularly to ensure the seal is still good – and re-caulk as needed.
Fading & Chipping Paint
If you choose primed fiber cement, rather than the option where the board is pre-painted by the manufacturer, you can paint it any color you like, but you’ll find that it will fade and/or chip much faster. Manufacturer warranty suggests you refinish typically within 7 – 10 years of install but perhaps sooner.
Fiber Cement Siding Pros and Cons
When looking to increase the curb appeal of your home, you can choose from many different types of siding in many different price ranges. One of the more popular choices today is fiber cement siding, an attractive-looking alternative to wood siding that gives you a classic look with long-term durability and a high level of versatility. It’s typically more expensive than wood siding but lasts much longer and has a bigger selection of colors and designs.
If you’re considering HardiePlank siding, the following is a list of its main benefits and drawbacks that can help you decide:
Most Hardie board siding comes with a minimum 30-year warranty for a nonback-coated product or 50 years for the back coated version. When installed correctly, it’s rot and insect resistant and can handle most moisture.
Fiber cement siding is so popular because it looks great and requires very little maintenance. Manufacturers recommend an annual cleaning and/or pressure washing to rid the exterior of dirt and dust buildup. They also suggest periodic recoating of factory seals and paint, as necessary.
Hardie board siding comes in a wide variety of textures and colors, and it’s surprisingly affordable. It can be made to look like any other siding material, including wood planks, shingles, and even stucco. Color options are almost unlimited.
Since its introduction in the 1980s, Hardie board siding has proven it can withstand all types of severe weather conditions with minimal damage. Whether you’re in a hot and humid area, next to the ocean, or in a rain and snow-prone area, HardiePlanks can handle it all.
Hardie board siding is made of 90% sand and cement which makes it virtually fireproof. It won’t ignite when exposed to direct flames, but heat will come through eventually. Because of this, the product is not 1-hour fire rated, but it will certainly slow down a fire.
Fiber cement is not recyclable but it’s environmentally neutral when removed from a home. Because it’s composed of primarily wood fiber, sand, silica, water, and Portland cement, it won’t release toxic chemicals into the air when it’s disposed of and broken down.
High Installation Costs
Because it’s a heavier siding material, fiber cement siding will require more resources to install than other siding materials. The board weighs about 300 pounds per 100 square feet, compared to 60 – 70 pounds for vinyl siding. It also requires a specially trained contractor who is an expert installer to avoid future problems. All of these factors can increase labor and installation costs.
If you choose primed fiber cement, rather than pre-painted color which is baked in, you can paint it any color you like after installation, but you’ll find that it will fade and/or chip much faster. Pre-painted fiber cement siding generally comes with a warranty against chipping and peeling for around 15 years, but if you’ve painted it yourself, you can expect to get around 7-10 years’ worth of use before repainting is necessary.
Fiber cement siding doesn’t add much by way of insulation to your home. HardiePlank siding is now available with built-in foam insulation which will give your home an R-Value of 3, helping to use less energy as well as staying cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Hardie siding is a brittle product and can crack for a number of reasons, for example, if the contractor doesn’t know how to nail it properly, if the ground the house sits upon moves or settles, or the material is already defective when it’s being installed. Cracks can also form if openings are left around the boards, allowing moisture to get into the siding and all of the layers behind it.
Moisture can seep into fiber cement siding in a number of ways: through the material itself, through cut edges at the end of the boards at installation, and through areas that haven’t been properly caulked and sealed. The material has its own set of unique installation guidelines that must be followed by skilled craftspeople, or damage can occur quickly and to detrimental effect.
Fiber Cement Siding Cost – Material and Labor Installation Costs
Fiber cement siding runs about $0.70 to $5.25 per square foot. Shingles cost from $2 to $8 each. It generally costs about $10 per square foot, installed. Hardie board averages $3.00 to $4.00 per square foot, and when professionally installed, will cost between $5 to $12 a square foot. You’ll also need to buy weather barriers and cement board to prevent moisture from getting under the siding. You can also buy soffits, the underside construction material; trim; and fascia for under the roof made from fiber cement to complete the job. The average home requires 1,500 ($7,500 – $20,250) to 2,500 square feet ($12,050 – $33,750) of siding material.
What to Consider When Shopping for Fiber Cement Siding
When choosing fiber cement siding for your home, there are many things you should consider:
Fiber cement siding is a great option because it comes in so many styles. Whether you’re interested in a New England clapboard profile; a classic stone front; a modern, textured effect; or even stucco; there’s a fiber cement siding option for you. Architects love working with fiber cement siding because of its strength, durability, and versatility. See the section below for some of the available profiles.
James Hardie siding is a fiber-cement product that comes with a 30- or 50-year warranty, depending on the product. It’s one of the most durable products on the market, but there are certain circumstances when the warranty can be voided. The most common problems occur when contractors don’t adhere to the specific installation instructions that are provided, i.e. leave enough clearance, nail the boards on properly, caulk the ends, paint with appropriate paint, etc.
Hardie board lasts a long time with minimal maintenance. The manufacturer recommends that you wash down the exterior of your home annually to remove built-up dirt and debris. You can simply spray with a low-pressure garden hose and then take off the remaining dirt with a soft brush and mild detergent. If you purchased primed siding and painted afterward, you’ll probably need to repaint every 7 – 10 years. And always make sure to inspect the caulking to ensure it’s not cracked or crumbling. If it is, you’ll need to recaulk so moisture doesn’t leach in.
Fiber cement siding is an incredibly sturdy siding material, but it’s also known to have some issues. Fiber cement is highly absorbent and can retain moisture which can potentially lead to panel damage, rot, or mold. It’s important that the installer follow all of the manufacturer’s installation directions and caulks suitably to prevent moisture permeation. In addition, make sure your contractor is using the right type of HardiPlank siding for your region –there are different products for different climates.
Fiber cement siding costs, on average, around $5 to $12 a square foot installed. Vinyl siding, for example, is more affordable at $4 per square foot installed. But, if you want the durability and long-lasting appeal of fiber cement siding, it’s well worth the price you’ll pay. With proper maintenance, it will last a lifetime and you’ll recoup your investment many times over.
Popular Fiber Cement Siding Manufacturers
Fiber cement siding, created from a mixture of sand, Portland cement, cellulose fiber, and other additives, has been used in various forms since the early 1900s. But it really came into its own in the late 1980s when James Hardie Building Products developed a strong, versatile version of this product that didn’t contain asbestos. They became the leaders in the field, leading to fiber cement cladding being referred to generically as Hardie board or HardiPlank today.
There are several companies that manufacture this low-maintenance, highly fire-resistant material that can be manufactured in any color, pattern, or texture. Following are some of the most popular options currently available:
Allura Plycem creates all the fiber-cement products you might need for your home improvement project, including clapboard siding, shingles, and vertical siding. They also offer large-format architectural panels that are perfect for larger, more modern buildings. They specialize in a wide range of accessory products including trim and soffits in matching colors.
James Hardie Building Products
James Hardie Building Products specializes in manufacturing fiber cement building materials and produce well-known HardiePlank and Hardie brands. They’ve taken note of the fact that their products can expand and crack in certain weather conditions, so have developed the HardieZone® system. They use different siding formulas for the northern US cold-weather zones and for the hot, wet climates of the south. Be sure that any contractor you choose is aware of these different products and uses the right type for your area. James Hardie’s 12-foot long clapboard siding, which is available in many different widths, comes in a wide variety of baked-in colors. If none of those are to your taste, you can buy the boards primed and paint them yourself.
Nichiha is a Japanese-owned company that has been in business since the mid-1950s. They are popular on the residential front for their shake and shingle products but are best known for their large format fiber-cement boards and panels. You can’t purchase Nichiha products in retail outlets; you must purchase through your architect or contractor.
GAF Weatherside (GAF)
GAF is primarily focused on manufacturing fiber-cement siding shingles which work well for any structure size. Their brands are easily available at most home centers, so homeowners don’t need to custom order. All of their products are 100% made in the USA.
If you’re looking for a fiber-cement siding product that really looks wood-like, another brand to consider is the much smaller Woodtone company out of British Columbia, Canada. Their RusticSeries lap siding, shakes, large panels, and matching trim products come in highly-embossed wood grains and more than 18 different colors.
Fiber Cement Siding Profiles
You can order any style of fiber cement siding imaginable for your home. It’s one of the most versatile types of siding available, not only for its durability but for the wide variety of profiles offered. Architects like it because fiber cement can be molded into an endless array of textures and profiles, imitating anything from traditional clapboard siding and stone, to brick and stucco – all at a much lower cost.
Following are some of the profiles available in fiber cement and the more popular looks they can help you attain:
Because cladding an entire building in wood is expensive, prone to warping, and difficult to maintain, most people who want the look turn to fiber cement products that resemble wood instead. Available in a broad range of colors and patterns, wood-grained fiber cement siding presents a great alternative to conventional wood siding, while providing a highly desirable traditional wood appearance.
- Horizontal (or Dutch) lap: Horizontal (or Dutch) lap is the most common style used for residential siding. This type of siding consists of long panels that are cut to be a little thicker at the bottom edge than they are on the top edge. They’re installed from the bottom up, each piece overlapping the one before. Dutch lap provides a distinct shadow line that runs along the top of each panel. Both Dutch lap and clapboard siding had been popular in Europe for centuries and when settlers arrived in New England, they brought the look with them.
- Traditional clapboard: Lapboard or clapboard siding can be ordered with a smooth surface for modern homes, or with a more rough-sawn, wood-grain surface for a more traditional appearance. Unlike Dutch lap, clapboard planks lie flat with no shadow grooves. The look was popular in New England as it came over with the ship-builders who utilized the same techniques in ship-building, leading to it sometimes being referred to as “ship-lap” siding.
- Beaded siding: With beaded siding, carpenters hand-cut a curved notch along the bottom edge of each board, creating a slightly fancier look. The deep “V” groove design creates a distinct shadow line between the panel and the rounded “bead.” This traditional style was heavily influenced by the South and the antebellum homes of early settlers.
- Shakes & shingles: Shakes and shingles are a very common New England look, available in strips or as individual shingles in either a wood-grain or hand-hewn texture. They’re also available in different shapes such as scallops and octagons. They can be ordered primed, painted, or stained.
- Vertical siding: While horizontal siding is the most popular on the market, more homeowners are opting for vertical siding to add visual interest to either the entire exterior or sections of their home. Known as “board and batten,” vertical siding’s long, lean look draws the eye upwards, creating a distinctive ornamental design. Dating back to the early 1900s, this style was traditionally used for siding barns, adding a rustic look. It was created using two types of boards: one thick plank, then one thin strip of siding (batten) covering the seams between the planks. Fiber cement vertical siding gives homes a rustic appeal with the appearance of wood, without all of the headaches.
With masonry-patterned panels, get the color and texture of brick, with no need for a mason or worries about the mortar cracking. Available in various thicknesses and lengths, they interlock creating the brick look and making the siding water-tight. Fiber cement brick veneer is a great option in areas like earthquake-prone zones where masonry isn’t an option.
Stucco is a highly popular cladding material in the Southwest because of its energy efficiency and high-quality insulation properties. It doesn’t tend to do well, however, in areas with heavy precipitation or excessive moisture. If you’d like to get the Southwest look in a region that isn’t hot and dry, fiber cement stucco siding might be a good choice for you.
Natural stone veneer is enormously popular due to the classic, upscale style it lends to any home. If you’re thinking about renovating your home with stone, but your budget is somewhat limited, you’re better off choosing fiber cement over natural stone veneer siding. Natural stone veneers are limited in color by the types of stone being used. While imitating the look of stone, manufactured fiber cement stone siding comes in any shape and color you can imagine, providing you with many more choices.
Concrete Tiles and Blocks
Here’s where the fun comes in. If your home is super modern and you’d like a look that deviates from traditional finishes, fiber-cement tiles and blocks can be manufactured in any color, texture, and pattern you can imagine. When applied properly, you’ll get the look of your dreams with the superior protection and durability that fiber cement siding provides.
Find Fiber Cement Siding Contractors Near Me
If you’re considering updating your exterior with fiber cement siding, it’s important that you hire a company trained and experienced in installing the product. You want to make sure the contractor is an expert in the material because if it’s installed incorrectly, it will be very expensive to repair. It’s costly to buy and install cement-fiber siding, so the failure of the product isn’t only disappointing, but preventable. Cement fiber siding comes with a great warranty, but that will be nullified if damage occurs due to inept installation.
Following are some things to consider when hiring a fiber cement siding contractor:
Get Several Estimates
Make sure to get 3 – 5 contractor estimates prior to making your decision. You may find that prices vary widely between various companies, depending on their depth of experience and knowledge about working with fiber cement siding. Late fall/early winter is a slower time for contractors so if you can wait until then, you may be able to negotiate significant discounts.
Installing cement-fiber siding is very difficult. It’s heavy and it must be installed following specific guidelines. Contractors need to know how to saw and caulk it properly, how to close gaps to keep moisture out, how to nail up the boards so they won’t crack, etc. Make sure you check references from other homeowners who have recently worked with the companies you’re considering.
Licensed & Bonded
Are the contractors licensed and bonded to install fiber cement siding in your state? Do they know all of the appropriate building codes? You won’t want to work with a company that answers no to either of these questions.
Insurance & Warranty
Do they carry an appropriate amount of insurance to cover your property should damage occur on the job? While the materials come with a healthy warranty, what kind of warranty do the contractors offer on the work they’ve completed? Make sure to get any stated warranty in writing before commencing with the job.
In your contract, also make sure a payment schedule is outlined with milestone payment dates clearly outlined. You’ll want to know when you’re expected to pay for materials, and then at what stages the next payments are due. Be sure that you don’t pay for the entire job upfront or some unscrupulous companies might take advantage. The final payment should be due upon completion once you’ve had a chance to review and approve.
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