Fiber cement has grown in popularity over the years. In fact, James Hardie® fiber cement is now the number one siding in America. So, what is it that makes this form of siding so popular?
Homeowners desire a siding that will outperform, outlast, and overshadow other materials. Fiber cement may very well be that product. But while it has its benefits, it also has its downsides. As an Elite James Hardie Preferred Remodeler, we’ve seen what fiber cement has to offer. Here is our list of the pros and cons of fiber cement siding.
What Is There to Love about Fiber Cement?
Improvements in siding materials have created more durable and attractive siding options. Fiber cement provides these benefits and more when it comes to your home.
Longevity/Durability — Fiber cement is built to last. Its makeup of water, sand, wood pulp, and Portland cement makes the material inflammable, pest resistant, unsusceptible to rot, and warp resistant. It does not crack easily and lasts for years.
Unlike its counterparts, wood, and vinyl, the material does not swell or crack and will not melt under extreme heat.
Resistance to the Elements — Due to its makeup, fiber cement is weather resistant. It can withstand great impacts from hail and flying debris from wind. It is also moisture resistant, making it a great option for rainy, humid, and wet regions.
James Hardie siding is Engineered for Climate®, meaning it is engineered to survive in any area. The company created the HardieZone® System to provide various regions with performance measures their specific siding needs. No matter the climate or weather conditions, there is a product line that will provide the proper performance and durability for your home. Check out the James Hardie website to determine your HardieZone.
Environmentally Friendly — Portland cement, wood pulp, silica sand, and water all comprise fiber cement siding. These materials are more sustainable than other forms of siding such as vinyl (which is made from plastic). Fiber cement’s disposal is less harmful to the environment than other siding forms, but its sturdiness makes it less likely to be removed and replaced, keeping excessive waste out of landfills.
In the case of James Hardie, which is the most popular producer of fiber cement siding, the company utilizes sustainable practices in the creation, transportation, and onsite installation of its products.
Maintenance — When it comes to home upkeep, any product or material that can lessen the load is a major plus. Fiber cement is one of those materials. Upon installation, maintenance will consist of cleaning and inspecting the siding roughly once a year. Simply mix dish soap with water and use a non-abrasive rag to clean its surface. Then rinse it completely.
Appearance — While it is important for a siding to properly perform, homeowners desire a siding that has a visual appeal as well. Fiber cement excels in this area. The planks are designed to look like cedar, with grains mimicking that of true wood. The thick boards also add a level of appeal to their design, and with the numerous options the siding provides, homeowners can achieve almost any design they want.
James Hardie fiber cement also utilizes its ColorPlus® technology for lasting color. This baked-on color creates a lasting coat of paint that does not fade from UV rays and cannot easily crack or chip.
Energy Efficiency — For the most part, fiber cement does not provide good insulation for a home, and therefore, it is not efficient. However, James Hardie now offers insulation in conjunction with its planks which provides exceptional insulation. With the proper backing, fiber cement reaches an R-value of 3, which is almost double the R-value of vinyl and cedar with insulation. And the higher the R-value, the greater the efficiency of the product, making James Hardie fiber cement an extremely energy-efficient product.
What’s Not to Love?
While fiber cement is one of the highest-performing siding materials on the market, it still has its downsides.
Time-Consuming Installation — Fiber cement is thick. This helps its durability but makes it a more difficult product to properly install. Its weight and the specialty skills required for installation make it a rather time-consuming process. It can take up to two weeks to properly install fiber cement on an entire home.
Expensive Installation — Because of the great deal of manpower and labor involved in the installation process, fiber cement can cost more than other materials in terms of labor. While the cost of the siding itself is rather reasonable, installation can increase the price. Although the installation might be slightly more expensive, with proper installation, fiber cement can last for decades. This can help offset the upfront cost associated with the siding.
It is important to never attempt fiber cement installation yourself. The material requires special skills, tools, and manpower for proper installation, and any mishaps in the process can lead to the siding’s warranty being voided.
Repainting — While fiber cement is rather low maintenance, it is not no maintenance. Like most other forms of siding, fiber cement will need to be repainted over time (typically every 10 to 15 years). UV rays from the sun can cause fading, and exterior elements can cause chips or scratches in the paint.
On the positive side, James Hardie siding rarely needs repairing or repainting due to its durability and ColorPlus technology, and with proper installation, most damage will be covered by the product’s warranty.
Time to Give Your Home the Best
If you have been looking for a siding that will protect your home, look great for years, and last, look no further than James Hardie fiber cement. Our team would love to answer your siding questions and help determine the specific siding your home needs. Contact us to request a quote on your replacement siding.