Fiber Cement Siding: What It Is, and Why It’s One of the Best Siding Options

Fiber Cement Siding: What It Is, and Why It’s One of the Best Siding Options

Choosing the right type of siding for your house requires delicately balancing important qualities such as durability, affordability, and aesthetics. Although the most common siding choice is vinyl siding, fiber cement siding is rising in popularity because it possesses all three qualities. However, since it is a relatively new siding option, few homeowners know about fiber cement siding or the numerous benefits it provides.

What Is Fiber Cement Siding?

Fiber cement siding is a man-made mixture of Portland cement, cellulose fiber, sand, water, and other additives, depending on the manufacturer. The mixture is pressed together, resulting in a cladding material that’s durable and stable.

Who Are the Main Manufacturers of Fiber Cement Siding?

As with any successful product, there are numerous successful manufacturers of fiber cement siding. The important thing to keep in mind when choosing a fiber cement siding manufacturer is that all fiber cement products have the same basic ingredients. With that said, here’s a list of a few manufacturers:
James Hardie

What Are the Benefits of Using Fiber Cement Siding?

  • Durability. The amount of cement used in fiber cement guarantees that the siding will maintain its stability throughout its use. With the addition of wood fiber, the cement is less prone to cracks, further increasing its already great durability. Fiber cement siding has the added benefit of being resistant to moisture when installed properly. The proof of the durability of fiber cement siding lies in the 50-year warranty that most manufacturers offer.
  • Aesthetics. One of the most sought-after home looks is the traditional wood plank or wood shingle exterior. Through the years, manufacturers have mastered the technique required to ingrain fiber cement products with authentic wood-grain textures. In fact, several historical districts across the nation are now turning to fiber cement to replace the wood siding of old buildings due to its durability and natural look. Fiber cement siding can be used to attain almost any desirable natural wood aesthetic without the hassle of using a wood-based siding.
  • Sustainability. With environmental sustainability being an important quality of any product, customers can take solace in the fact that the United States Green Building Council recognizes fiber cement siding as a green product due its environmentally friendly ingredients list. However, the use of “green” ingredients isn’t the only reason fiber cement siding is a sustainable product. When used in combination with insulation and weather barriers, fiber cement siding can significantly decrease the heating and cooling costs of your house.
  • Low maintenance. One of the greatest benefits of fiber cement siding is that it requires very little work to maintain its quality. Due to its resistance to UV rays and insects, the only maintenance fiber cement needs is an occasional cleaning with a power washer or hose. Some manufacturers even have warranties for chipping and fading for the first 15 years.
  • Fire resistant. Fiber cement siding has a Class 1A flame spread rating, which means it is highly resistant to fire. Houses that are constructed with fiber cement siding are more prone to the fire dangers that exist outside of the home.
  • Insect and rot resistant. Because fiber cement siding is largely cement based, this material offers complete protection against wood-boring insects and animals, such as termites and woodpeckers. Fiber cement is laid with no overlapping seams, preventing the growth of mildew and mold (which cause rot).
  • Storm resistant. Fiber cement siding is water- and wind-resistant as well. This type of siding is designed to withstand hurricane-level storms. With fiber cement siding, storm damage is a thing of the past.
  • Lower home insurance premiums. Insurance companies offer lower premiums to homes that have a lower at-risk level. The durability and safety offered by fiber cement siding can cause your premium to drop, depending on your insurance company. Ask your insurance agent about whether this applies to you!
  • Pre-painted. Manufacturers of fiber cement siding often paint the siding before it’s installed, which can shorten the length of the installation period. Siding orders allow for you to pick a color of your choice too, so you won’t be stuck with an ugly exterior.

What Are the Negatives of Using Fiber Cement Siding?

While fiber cement siding is a fantastic siding option, it does have some drawbacks:

  • Cost. Fiber cement siding is more expensive than most siding options, mostly due to the high installation costs. With that said, fiber cement tends to pay for itself after a few years due to the low maintenance costs.
  • Difficult installation process. Fiber cement siding has a more difficult installation process due to the weight of the material, which means you need to find a highly skilled contractor to install the siding. JTI Siding is experienced in installing fiber cement, and receiving a siding quote is easy.

Can Fiber Cement Siding Be Customized?

Although fiber cement siding often comes pre-painted, it can still be fully customized to attain the look that you desire. Most manufacturers provide an array of colors to choose from before shipping out the order. If the manufacturer doesn’t offer a color that suits your need, you can order unpainted siding. However, it’s important that the siding is painted within 90 days after installation in order to protect your home.

Because it has a cement base, fiber cement can be easily molded into any shape you need. It’s widely available in the form planks, shingles, laps, and trim. Some manufacturers even offer the ability to customize the design that’s inscribed on the siding.

It’s important to remember that just because you don’t have to repaint fiber cement siding often doesn’t mean you can’t. If you decide after installing pre-painted fiber cement that you’d like a change of color, you can repaint the siding. If you choose to repaint your fiber cement, here are a few tips you should keep in mind:

  • Don’t prime your fiber cement siding. It’s already pre-primed.
  • Before painting, make sure the siding is clean.
  • Start at the top and work your way to the bottom.
  • Follow the pattern of the grain.
  • Use a “less is more” approach when applying paint to your brush.
  • Use a 100% acrylic paint.

What Is the Installation Process for Fiber Cement Siding?

Although the installation process isn’t terribly difficult, the installation guidelines must be followed closely. Fiber cement siding must be completely dry before it can be installed and should be kept in a safe, dry storage area until it’s needed. If wet fiber cement is installed, the siding can shrink. This will lead to a slew of problems. Fiber cement is also difficult to cut and will require special tools to do so.

Since fiber cement is mostly cement, it’s very heavy. Extensive manpower will be needed to ensure a smooth installation process. Fiber cement siding must be handled carefully as well. Although the material is very durable after it’s installed, it can easily break if mishandled.

Every manufacturer has their own set of instructions for installation. These can be obtained either directly with the order or online. Contact your manufacturer for further information, or check out their website.

Can It Be Done Without a Professional?

To ensure that all of the benefits of fiber cement siding are obtained, it must be installed correctly. The only way to guarantee that the siding is installed correctly is to use professional services.

Is Fiber Cement Siding the Best Option for Your Project?

Fiber cement siding is a great wood replacement that can simulate the look without demanding high levels of maintenance to sustain its quality. Because it is fire resistant, insect resistant, and storm resistant, product failure won’t be a concern even in the worst conditions. Should anything out of the ordinary occur, your investment will be protected by the number of warranties that manufacturers offer with every purchase.

The variety of customization offered when ordering your fiber cement further guarantees that the siding you receive will increase the curb appeal of your home. By having the ability to paint your siding after installation, the color of your house can evolve at the same pace as your preferences.

Due to its rather high cost relative to other siding options, fiber cement isn’t the best choice if you plan on changing the siding often. If, however, you are looking for a durable substance that performs as good as it looks, fiber cement siding is your best option.

How Can I Find a Professional to Install My Siding?

If you’ve decided that fiber cement siding is the best option for you and your home, your next step is to find a professional installer. Luckily, JTI Siding offers exactly what you need.
For over 15 years, JTI Siding has served the Fayetteville and Fort Smith areas with premium siding installation services. Our contractors can guarantee that you’ll be satisfied with our attention to deal and ability to complete the job on time. If you’re considering renovating the outside of your home, then choose the professionals at JTI Siding and get your free siding quote today!