The Official Homeowners Guide To Fiber Cement Siding

What is Fiber Cement Siding?

Siding is the exterior material that protects a house from the elements, so choosing a reliable Westchester siding product is crucial to the home’s long-term structural integrity, value and appearance. When original siding needs to be replaced or additional rooms are planned, most homeowners carefully consider which type of siding is more cost-effective and offers the most practical benefits.

Fiber cement siding is currently a feature of many newly built homes. It was originally created in France over a century ago and is now used across the globe for exterior cladding. The siding is made with a combination of sand, cellulose fiber, water and other ingredients mixed with Portland cement and cured using a high-temperature steam process called autoclaving. The result is an extremely durable, stable and long-lasting substance that is resistant to types of damage that affect other Westchester sidings. The product is enhanced by permanently imprinting a wood grain or other texture into the surface. This gives the finished product an attractive appearance that accurately mimics natural materials.

Benefits of Fiber Cement Siding

Investing in a home’s exterior is a major decision. A top home improvement magazine listed fiber cement siding as the best way to get a return on that investment. There are many reasons why it is considered such a desirable option.

Curb Appeal

Fiber cement siding can produce the aesthetic look of natural wood siding without the associated maintenance and inherent vulnerabilities. Considering the many styles and color options offered, there is something to suit everyone’s taste.

Durability

Unlike weaker materials, fiber cement products are impact resistant. Planks are not rattled by high winds and don’t shift with sudden temperature changes. Thanks to the precise, damage-resistant recipe, the cellulose-fortified siding does not crack, peel, rot, buckle, split or warp.

No Termite Damage

Wood siding is subject to rot and this is attractive to termites, but the components used in fiber cement blends are impervious to wood-boring insects that can decimate wooden materials even before the infestation is discovered.

Fire Resistance

Fiber cement carries a Class 1(A) flame spread rating. The Class A rating is the highest awarded for exterior fire resistance, making the material a wise choice for those who live in areas prone to wildfires.

Low Maintenance

Very little maintenance care is required for this type of siding. Cleaning is achieved with simple power washing, and annual inspection for gaps and caulking defects should be performed. If small cracks occur over time, a specially formulated patching material can be obtained from a hardware store to repair them.

Asbestos Replacement

Asbestos siding is a predecessor of fiber cement products. Some companies may produce fiber cement shingles that match the appearance of the older asbestos shingles. As an experienced siding contractor, Westchester General Contractor can help locate products that are appropriate for replacing asbestos materials.

Greener Building

Greener living helps to preserve energy and the environment. Because of its durability, low maintenance cost and longevity, fiber cement is designated as a green product by building programs. Unlike vinyl siding, which is a petroleum-based product, it is often made with recycled wood-fiber. Fiber cement is not a danger to the environment if it is sent to a landfill. A qualified fiber cement siding installer can recommend safe disposal methods for replaced siding.

Exceptional Warranties

Fiber cement siding manufacturers often provide warranties lasting from 30 to 50 years. Warranties also cover the surface paint if pre-finished products are chosen.

Cost-Effective

Although it is more expensive than some choices, it pays for itself through the saved maintenance, replacement and re-painting costs incurred over the lifetime of other products.

Weather Resistant

Fiber cement siding does not falter under extreme weather and other natural conditions that cause other types of siding to deteriorate. High winds, rain, hail, cold, heat and moisture levels do not pose any significant threat to fiber cement in comparison with other materials. It is an excellent choice for every kind of climate. One prominent fiber cement manufacturer, James Hardie, offers a line of products that are specially designed for specific regions based on their typical climate. A professional Westchester General Contractor can answer any specific questions about the HardieZone™ System availability and options. Other fiber cement siding manufacturers include CertainTeed  who produces Weatherboards & Nichiha who produces Nichiha board.

Flexible Painting Options

Homeowners may purchase products that are primed and painted at the factory. This offer the highest level of durability, since the priming protects from moisture penetration before the materials reach the site, and factory paint is applied under optimal conditions. Most companies offer a variety of colors, and some guarantee against color fading. If a budget cannot accommodate the pre-painted product, consumers can paint the siding using water-based acrylic paint with an alkaline-resistant primer and acrylic topcoat. Certain types of stain can also be used. A fiber cement siding installer can recommend specific paint or stain products for the brand of siding purchased.

Superior Paint Stability

On some forms of siding, the stretching, warping, swelling or cracking of material in response to environmental conditions causes paint to chip and flake. Because shrinking and expansion is minimal, the painted surface of fiber cement remains stable for a longer time without peeling, blistering or requiring frequent touch-ups. Whether buyers choose factory-painted planks or paint the siding themselves, the result will be an enhanced life span of the finish. If properly cared for, paint will last seven to fifteen years.

Styles and Types of Fiber Cement Siding

Practically any favorite look is achievable with fiber cement products. Most manufacturers produce fiber planks, shingles, panels and coordinating trim details in various styling choices. Planks resemble traditional long wooden boards. These are made in different widths to create various appearances. Horizontal lap siding, which is beveled with a lengthwise wood grain imprint, offers such styles as traditional, Dutch and beaded. Shaped siding options include traditional shingles, random-look squares and geometric shapes. Vertical panels can produce a stucco look. Other products can mimic cedar shakes, bricks of various shades and colors, and stone finishes such as quarried or sandstone. Most styles can be matched by length and width to supplement existing siding for room additions.

Cost and Installation

The cost of installing fiber cement siding depends on several factors including the size of the house, location, the specific product chosen and the time required to remove old siding and prepare the exterior. While it generally costs more than vinyl siding, it saves a homeowner substantial amounts of money over time. The durability and paint stability guarantees lower maintenance cost over the lifetime of the product, and the generous warranties dispel any worries of unexpected deterioration and damages. The total cost includes materials, installation and surface treatments such as paint or stain. For an average house using midrange materials and labor fees, the cost is generally between $1.86 and $2.46 per square foot.

Choosing a Product and Brand

To find the best fit for their home, a homeowner can do a little research on various fiber cement manufacturers to compare pricing, local availability and product styling options. Sometimes similar products will have different pricing across brands. With any purchase, a little homework may result in better value for the money invested. The various brands of fiber cement products are very similar and mostly follow the same formula with a few differences in styling and proprietary ingredients. The preferred choice of Westchester General Contractor is the James Hardie brand. Nichiha, MaxiTile, Cemplank, GAF and CertainTeed are a few other companies to consider.

Choosing an Installer

While it is possible for the homeowner to install fiber cement siding, it is generally recommended to leave the job to trained professionals. It is not a simple product to install; special tools and techniques are required, and incorrect installation can void the warranty. Some manufacturers will only honor the warranty if the siding is professionally installed. The time it takes to install the product will depend on weather conditions and various other factors. An experienced fiber cement siding installer can give specific details when supplied with some basic information about the house or building.

With the help of a qualified siding contractor, any home can be beautifully and solidly protected for decades by fiber cement siding. A Westchester Siding Contractor can address any specific concerns and work with homeowners to find the perfect solution to their siding needs.