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Fiber Cement Siding

Learn About This Viable Alternative to Vinyl and Other Types of Siding

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HardiePlank Fiber Cement Siding

HardiePlank Fiber Cement Siding

Copyright James Hardie Industries
Fiber cement siding refers to a relatively new type of siding material that looks like wood but doesn't act like wood (in the sense that it doesn't burn like wood). It doesn't require that you strip off your existing siding. It shares some indestructible qualities with vinyl siding. Yet unlike vinyl siding, it can be painted.

So what are some details about this miracle siding?

Composition

While percentages will vary according to the manufacturer, fiber cement siding is basically made of:
  • Sand
  • Cement
  • Cellulose fibers (i.e., wood fibers)
  • Fly ash

Major Brand Names

Vinyl siding is seemingly stamped out by millions of manufacturers across the world. By contrast, the number of fiber cement siding manufacturers is quite limited. Names and brands you may recognize:
  • Manufacturer: James Hardie Industries - Brands: HardiePlank, HardieShingle, HardieTrim, HardieSoffit, to name a few.
  • Manufacturer: Nichiha - Brands: NichiBoard™ Lap Siding, NichiShake™ Individual Shakes, NichiPanel™ Vertical Siding, NichiTrim™, NichiSoffit™, and others.
  • Manufacturer: CertainTeed - Brands: WeatherBoards™ Cedar Groove Vertical Panel, WeatherBoards™ Cedar Lap, WeatherBoards™ Cedar No Groove Vertical Panel, and many more.

Fire Rating?

Fiber cement siding will not completely protect you from fire. But it will slow down the progress of the fire, giving you time to escape.

Thickness of the fiber cement siding has a bearing on its fire rating. Average HardiePlank has what is referred to as a "1 hour fire rating." James Hardie Industries has a good analogy for this. Imagine a frying plan on a hot stove. The pan protects the food from direct flame, but the food can still cook.

Insulating R-Value

Again, impossible to generalize for all types of fiber cement siding and all manufacturers. But the R-value (its insulating properties) is quite low. Fiber cement siding by itself will not do too much to insulate your house.

One type of fiber cement siding that we researched had an R-value of 0.48 (or about half of an R-1). That's low, considering that the average type of fiberglass insulation installed in residential walls is R-19.

Positives

  • Can be painted (vinyl siding cannot)
  • Has a deep texture
  • Low combustibility
  • Thick like wood siding

Negatives

  • Expensive material
  • Brittle; breaks easily
  • Difficult, if not impossible, for the amateur homeowner to install
  • Labor costs tend to be higher than with other types of siding
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