Cement Fiber Siding: (8 Things You Should Know)

Having a specific siding can more than likely make or break your home in terms of how sturdy it is and if the siding itself is aesthetically pleasing. 

In that case, choosing the right one for you is a daunting process as you learn everything there is to know about that particular one. 

Given that information, what exactly is fiber cement siding, anyways?

Fiber cement siding is a material used to cover up the exterior of a building in commercial and residential homes. The siding itself lasts a relatively long time, is highly durable, and provides low maintenance.

This article provides many things you should know about cement-fiber siding, like what maintenance is required, if the siding itself needs paint, initial costs, and the pros and cons. 

Continue reading to find out all you need to know on the subject! 

What is Fiber Cement Siding?

Fiber cement siding is a highly durable material and long-lasting siding that protects the exterior of your home while still keeping a bit of flexibility. 

The siding can be used on both commercial and residential areas, making it universal among many. 

Suppose a tree or bush caught on fire due to lightning striking it. In that case, you will typically be highly concerned about your house catching on fire. 

Well, if a fire like that occurs, your house has a much better chance of staying safe due to how it has fire-resistant qualities. 

Not only that, but cement fiber is resistant to moisture, making it a much better alternative to other sidings. 

The composition of fiber cement siding materials are as follows:

  • Wood pulp: Wood fiber provides strength and flexibility.
  • Water: Dissolves the wood pulp and hardens the adhesive.
  • Portland cement: Provides as a filler (sometimes, silica gets used instead.)
  • Fly ash: Binds the ingredients together (made out of clay, iron, and limestone.)

Does Fiber Cement Siding Products Require Maintenance?

Some sidings out there take a relatively long time to upkeep. You will need to devote multiple times throughout the year to ensure it looks the best. However, with cement-fiber siding, it is relatively easy to manage. 

1. Purchase Prefinished Siding

You first want to purchase prefinished siding, which provides a plastic covering and paints. 

In doing so, it sets you up with success for an easy-to-maintain siding from the initial installation process.

2. Spot Cleaning

Make sure your home’s exterior looks relatively decent at least once or twice a year by checking for spot cleaning and making visual inspections. 

You can easily spot clean by using a homemade vinegar and water solution. 

For larger areas outside your home, use a pressure washer that helps get all the excess dirt and grime off your house. 

If you do not have a power washer, you can just as easily rent one or purchase one online or in a store. 

3. Larger Projects

You want to handle the more significant projects, such as painting the exterior at least once every ten years or when you feel like doing so again. 

4. Recaulking the Siding

During the initial installation, the person who ensconces the siding in itself will need to caulk it down on areas like doorways, windows, bricks, other trim regions, etc.

You will need to check these areas at least once a year to ensure the caulk is doing well and not faltering. 

Otherwise, make sure to hire a contractor or tackle a DIY project for yourself. It is best to remember this little task when power-washing the area. 

Advantages & Disadvantages of Fiber Cement Siding

You always want to look at the pros and cons before purchasing anything. Doing so allows you to see the good and bad sides of things. We have provided a chart below for those who want to view it in a quick way:

ProsCons
1. It is durable1. The insulation is not the greatest
2. It lasts a long time2. Initial costs might drive you away
3. Environmentally neutral3. You need to uphold the maintenance
4. Better if fires occur4. There may be issues with installing it
5. Customer warning

Advantages

1. Durability of Fiber Cement

As mentioned before, fiber cement siding is highly durable and with proper installation can last up to 50 years. 

For example, if you want an exterior siding that does not fade away after exposure to the sunlight, as natural wood and vinyl siding do, then this would be one of your better choices. Also, unlike vinyl siding, fiber cement resists hurricane winds up to 150 MPH according to Global Home Improvement.

For the most part, you can maintain the same look and class as when you first bought it. 

The weather is one of your worst enemies regarding your home’s exterior, but not with fiber cement! Because of its composition, fiber cement material is resistant to damage from moisture. It can handle almost anything that comes its way, like snow, ice, hail, and wind. 

Buildings containing fiber cement siding have one of the best places you can go to for locations prone to getting tornadoes and hurricanes. 

Lastly, the material hardly cracks or warp if installed correctly. It also protects your home from pests trying to enter inside, such as woodpeckers and termites, who are less than interested in the product itself. 

2. It Lasts a Long Time

The siding in itself can last up to 50 years if it gets taken care of properly. 

For non-back-coated products, manufacturers can offer a maximum of 50-year service life and provide 75 years for back-coated items. 

Also, if the planks have been painted in the factory, then the paint might carry a 15-year guarantee of any defects, fading, peeling, or chipping. 

In hindsight, a warranty covers the product between 30 to 50 years.

3. Environmentally Neutral

Having fiber cement for your home’s siding is one of the most environmentally neutral sidings you can choose. 

The siding does not use PVC or petroleum products, which break down and release toxins in the air. Instead, the ingredients for fiber cement do not pollute the air. 

However, once the siding is no longer needed or has reached its lifetime, you cannot recycle it, which poses an issue and creates more landfills. 

On top of that, a 2018 study shows it is hard to extract resources from the end of its lifetime. Other sidings that have these issues include cedar, stucco, vinyl, and aluminum. 

Hopefully, we will have created a solution to this issue before too long. 

4. Better if Fires Occur 

One of the many other advantages fiber siding offers is that it is more resistant to fires. 

If you were to go with another siding, such as real wood siding, then you are at a higher risk of your home’s exterior catching on fire. 

However, fiber cement will give you more peace of mind, especially since it was one of the few sidings that contained a class 1 (A) for the flame spread classification and rating. 

Disadvantages

1. Insulation Value

Suppose your home does not have the very best insulation. In that case, you might be wondering if cement-fiber siding will help with that issue. 

However, this siding is not the best option to help with keeping your interior home warm or cool. During the summertime, your home will get hotter. When wintertime rolls around, the house’s heat can also suffer greatly. 

Make sure to look at the R-value of the siding, showing how well insulation prevents heat from coming in and out of your home.

Cement fiber siding does not have a 1 R-value, whereas vinyl siding can go up to R-2. 

Depending on your region, you will want a higher R-value, but the typical recommendation is R-13 and R-23.

2. The Cost of Fiber Cement Installation

If you were to pick one main issue fiber cement siding has, it would be the cost. 

Compared to vinyl siding, which is $1 to $12 per square foot, fiber cement contains an investment of $2.45 to $25. However, it is less expensive than synthetic stucco and brick. 

Overall, vinyl siding may be the better financial choice, but again, since it lasts so long, it might be worth spending a little extra. 

3. You Need to Uphold Maintenance

Upholding the maintenance is relatively easy, as we mentioned previously. However, if you did not purchase a siding with paint from the factory, you will need to keep it lasting longer. Use 100% acrylic paint or acrylic latex paint for best results. 

Another thing you may not want to do is pressure wash the area. It is relatively easy to let that go, but it will need to be done every 6 to 12 months. Make sure to clean dirty areas with vinegar and water with a sponge. 

4. Issues with Installing

If your siding decided to crack on you, you would have to get experienced professionals to replace them for you, as it is heavy and they have the tools required to work with this material. For vinyl siding, you can most certainly replace it yourself. 

Given that information, unless you have the tools and knowledge required to do it yourself, we do not recommend doing it. 

It might also be wise to look up product reviews on multiple websites to ensure you get the best out of the situation. 

5. Customer Warning

If you want to be sure you are getting a good quality product, then make sure to go to the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials.) However, fiber cement siding does not have any specific tests, yet vinyl siding does.

You must be getting your siding from a reputable company that is well-known and trusted, as going somewhere that you are unsure of may lead to an unwanted product. 

How Often Do You Need to Paint Fiber Cement Siding?

You will only need to paint your siding every decade, as it allows the siding to last longer. We have provided four tips below to know before painting the siding itself:

1. You’ll Need to Prepare to Paint First

When repainting Hardie siding, you do not need to use a primer, making it much easier to get to painting. 

However, it will need to be rinsed off with a garden hose beforehand to get the dust and dirt off the siding. Make sure it is dry before painting it. 

Make sure to lightly sand before rinsing if it does not come off with the garden hose afterward. In doing so, the paint will last much longer. 

Check it and re-caulk where necessary wherever it gets caulked outside the house. Most caulking in Hardie installers usually come with a 15-year warranty. 

2. Choose Which Paint You Want

There is a wide range of colors for you to choose when you paint, so make sure to pick the color that will bring you the most joy while looking modern or sleek.

Some of the best colors to choose from are as follows; 

  • White
  • Black
  • Greys
  • Light tans
  • Neutral greens
  • Navy blue

For James Hardie primed siding products, it is wise to use a high-quality waterborne 100% acrylic exterior paint for best results. 

3. Make Sure Repainting Does Not Affect the Warranty

Repainting voids a warranty that gets covered by the siding for some sidings. In that case, always want to ensure what is acceptable and what you should not do. 

Suppose you choose James Hardie material. In that case, if you select a paint that meets their recommendations, then your product will still be valid. 

Always make sure to check the specific advice for your cement-fiber siding to ensure you do not go out of warranty with them. 

How Long Will Fiber Cement Siding Last?

If you take care of your fiber cement siding well enough, it will last you up to 50 years. This time is more than plenty, especially if you have a forever home! 

To properly take care of the siding, it is wise to remember the following:

  • Clean the siding twice a year: Even though we mentioned above to clean it once or twice a year, it would be best to maintain it every six months. 
  • Inspect the siding periodically: Always check your home’s exterior to see anything wrong with it. Fiber siding is highly durable, but it does not mean it gets messed up entirely. Ensure the caulk is entirely intact to prevent moisture from occurring within your home. 
  • Paint every decade: As mentioned above, paint lets the siding last much longer, so make sure to give it a good paint job every so often.
  • Maintain gutters and downspouts: Water can cause issues with your siding in the long run. Keeping moisture away from your home is one of the best choices you can make when caring for your home.

    Make sure to direct the gutters away from your home. It is also wise to clean them twice a year to ensure they are not clogged by any leaves or dirt that happened to be inside of them. You also need to check and see if they have water flowing through them without any trouble. 

How Much Does Fiber Siding Cost?

Hardie board costs roughly $2.45 to $25 per square foot. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), installing this particular siding is approximately $19,700 for the average house siding project. 

Fiber Cement Siding Increases Home Value

Although it is relatively expensive, you have a better return on investment. If you decide to sell your home in the future, you will get a rough estimate of a 77.6% investment return, adding about $15,000 of resale value. 

What Was the Main Problem with Fiber Cement Board Siding?

We have already gone over the pros and cons of the Hardie board, but what is the main issue when it comes to this particular siding?

1. Cracking May Occur if Installed Incorrectly

Firstly, if the contractor installs it incorrectly, you are looking at the side of your home cracking. However, it might not be noticeable right away. 

The reason why it cracks is because of poor insulation. The person who installed the boards might have put a nail too close to the edge. However, you can quickly fix this issue by adding caulk to the gap. 

2. It Can Be Hard to Install

Unlike vinyl planks which are relatively easy to install, you should not lodge fiber cement siding yourself. 

You’ll need special equipment, such as saw blades, respirators, and ventilation to keep the process from going wrong. 

3. Hardie Board is Not Energy-efficient

Since the R-rating of the Hardie board is below R-1, it is not the best for energy efficiency. First, you should insulate your walls to ensure your bills don’t skyrocket to Mars if you wish to purchase this siding.

Do Termites Eat Hardie Board?

Termites are a massive issue in many areas and are a pain and extremely expensive to get rid of. 

As we all know, termites do eat wood. However, they will not get through the Hardie board because of the fiber cement materials. Because the cement is throughout the product, pests will not get in.

Woodpeckers can be an issue as well, but cement-fiber siding makes it to where they are less than interested in your home.

Overall, pests have a hard time chewing through the product, so they will scurry away once they realize they will not find a nice, cozy place to live in by your home. 

Is Fiber Cement Siding the Same as Hardiplank?

Some people may get confused when they hear the words “Hardiplank” and “fiber cement siding” when it comes to siding. However, they mean the same thing. Another word for fiber cement is “Hardie board.”

The Hardie board is a brand manufactured by James Hardie, but many people call it this because it is relatively well-known. It is similar to calling a generic tissue a Kleenex instead of the off-brand name.

Why Does Fiber Cement Siding Crack?

Some fiber cement siding manufacturers claim that fiber cement products are one of the best exterior siding products. In hindsight, it’s a popular choice for many reasons, as we went over above. However, Hardieplank can still crack if you or the contractor did not install it correctly or if structural movement occurs. 

If this happens, you will need a professional’s help to see if you can fix the damage with simple caulking or if there is something more severe with the issue. Let us go over some essentials below. 

Fixing Holes Over Fiber Cement Siding

Nothing will be perfect, so it is wise to be prepared to do something you were not expecting. 

Removing boards is a risk factor because you do not want to damage the other planks, but you will have to do so in some instances. If that is the case, please call a professional to help solve the issue. 

However, if you see a crack, it is best to repair it as soon as it is an issue. This is because squirrels, mice, raccoons, etc., can potentially make their way in that small crawl space, leading to more problems than you want.

In that case, you will want to get a special putty or caulk to repair that patch. The putty is included in every cement-fiber repair kit. 

The formula is mixed, formed, and spread to match the boards. After doing so, allow it to dry, then sand it to make sure it blends into the surrounding parts of the plank. Once it is dried, make sure to paint it the color of your choice. 

Styles of Fiber Cement Siding

There is a wide range of styles of fiber cement products. Let us go over them in detail down below:

1. Architectural Panels

Architectural fiber cement panels offer multiple contemporary and architectural lines. It helps create a design you wish to have, whether your style is modern, traditional, or in-between. These panels are a popular choice for multi-family structures like condo and townhouse structures.

2. Horizontal Lap Siding

Want a traditional horizontal lap siding for your home? It is one of North America’s most popular design options for is your home. You can create a comprehensive range of designs full of different colors and a variety of textures. The wood grain texture is the most popular because it mimics natural wood products.

3. Shingle Siding

Ah, yes, shingle siding, which goes back way beyond when you were both. Suppose you have a cottage-style home or a Cape Cod or wish to give the side of your garage spruce up. In that case, shingle siding will be an excellent choice for you. 

4. Vertical Siding

If you want to be different, go with a siding that will blow everybody’s minds. You can go with a rustic look or have easy, vertical lines.

5. Trim Boards

The saying goes, the sky is the limit for what you want to do. You can quickly accumulate trim boards on windows, doors, columns, corners, etc. 

If you wish to introduce colors within your home, you can contrast them with light and dark shades.

Conclusion

Cement fiber siding is an excellent choice to have for your home because of its durability, longevity and creates a safer environment within your home. 

Despite any cons it might have, that does not take away from anything glorious about it, making it one of the better options to have for your siding. 

Keep in mind everything that we mentioned today. We are more than confident that you are further in choosing the best siding for your house!

Sources

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.
DISCLAIMER: The content published on HomeInspectionInsider.com is not professional advice. You should consult with a licensed professional and check local permit requirements before starting any project.
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