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HardiPlank Siding: Is it Worth the High Cost?

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HardiPlank

HardiPlank

Copyright James Hardie Corp. - Courtesy James Hardie
For many homeowners, it is difficult to decide on the type of siding they want for their house. They may currently have beautiful clapboard wood siding that they are not anxious to obliterate. Yet sometimes the current siding is so bad that there is no other choice but to put on new siding.

They are caught between two choices: install cheap and often unattractive vinyl siding or spend a fortune renovating the current siding. HardiPlank represents a good middle ground between those two choices.

HardiPlank’s Composition

First, what is HardiPlank made of? HardiPlank falls in the fiber-cement siding class, which means that it is a combination of cellulose fibers, along with cement-like materials. In other words, it’s partly wood, partly cement. Break a piece of HardiPlank and inside you will see a brittle core interlaced with wood fibers.

HardiPlank: A Green Building Material?

In this day and age when everything is about green and sustainable, HardiPlank can make a strong argument for being such. The cellulose fibers that are used in HardiPlank do not come from endangered species of wood. The cement and sand used is certainly in great abundance. And no toxic materials (i.e., vinyl) are used in the production of HardiPlank.

Another oft-ignored aspect that makes HardiPlank a green building material is simply that it lasts so long. The James Hardie Corporation, manufacturers of HardiPlank, warrants the material for 50 years. But conceivably, HardiPlank can last longer than that, especially if painted and properly maintained.

Is HardiPlank Fire Resistant?

Yes, fire resistant, but not fireproof. But no siding is ever truly fireproof. Even brick, when used as a veneer siding, does not completely protect a house from fire. And while a true masonry-built building would be fireproof, we do not include this as solid brick walls are not type of siding.

HardiPlank does not contribute combustibles towards a fire. Vinyl siding, being a petroleum product, significantly feeds the flames. Wood, obviously, is a highly combustible product. So, the best way to look HardiPlank is as a type of neutral building material, as far as fire resistance goes.

HardiPlank Looks Much Like Wood

The main reason why many homeowners do choose HardiPlank vs. vinyl siding is because it looks very much like wood. No, it’s not a dead-ringer for wood.

No, HardiPlank will not hold up to close examination (nothing, short of real wood, really does). On close examination, you will see that the wood grain is fairly shallow and has a uniform pattern. But most people do not look at house siding so closely.

HardiPlank: Thick as Wood, Paintable

HardiPlank is nearly as thick as wood siding. Contrast this with vinyl siding which is extremely thin. Vinyl’s illusion of thickness is achieved by creating hollow spaces underneath. HardiPlank runs all the way through.

Also, unlike vinyl siding, HardiPlank can easily be painted. You can either go with the neutral color that HardiPlank comes with, or you can paint it. And there is nothing strange or unusual about painting HardiPlank. It is just the ordinary type of DIY painting you might do during the summer or by hiring a paint contractor.

HardiPlank vs. Insects and Vermin

Carpenter ants and termites are always a problem for wood siding. Insects do not care about HardiPlank because, even though it does have that cellulose fiber, there is not enough of it to interest the insects. HardiPlank is considered to be insect resistant.

Cost is a Huge Factor with HardiPlank

HardiPlank is not cheap. You will always find that HardiPlank is more expensive than vinyl siding. So, while you may begin with high-minded notions avoiding vinyl siding, in the end you may find yourself choosing vinyl siding simply because of the high cost of HardiPlank.

Costs do fluctuate, but as a rule of thumb you may find that HardiPlank is about three times higher than your vinyl siding quote.

Another thing to consider is that the world is filled with vinyl siding installers. There is no shortage of vinyl siding installation companies. Yet it is a bit more difficult to find a competent contractor who will install HardiPlank. So, you may find yourself spending more money on a specialized contractor who will deal with HardiPlank, as well as tolerating longer wait times to get the HardiPlank installed.

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