Fiber cement product. The technology is nearly 100 years old. Cement fiber siding products are still manufactured today. New styles, sizes and products will allow you to cover the exterior of your new home with a rot, fire, wind and insect resistant material. Fiber cement siding products represent some of the most affordable, low maintenance and durable exterior products available to homeowners today.
At the turn of the century a French company was making fiber cement siding and roofing plates that had a unique ability to resist “fire, frost, acid and ants.” This material was exported worldwide in vast quantities from Australia to America. Many were referred to with the name “Hardie” plank siding. There are thousands of 80 and 90 year old homes in my own home town that still have this original material on their exterior walls and roofs. Fiber cement building materials have a proven track record for resisting rot.
Years ago the fiber cement products incorporated asbestos as the fibers. Soon after it was discovered that asbestos posed a serious health hazard, cellulose was substituted as the fiber material. Portland cement, ground sand, additives and water make up the balance of this wonderful building product.
Fiber cement building products are attractive. You can choose from a variety of clapboard siding styles that have embossed wood grained texture or smooth finish. The siding products come in a multitude of widths that will permit you to have clapboard exposures ranging from 4 inches up to nearly 11 inches. Stucco panels also are available. You can purchase those with a smooth, stucco, or vertical rustic groove appearance. The rustic panels have a wood grained finish with recessed vertical channels spaced at 4 or 8 inch centers. You can even purchase fiber cement soffit panels to finish the underside of your roof overhangs.
Fiber cement products are complimented by numerous weather resistant vinyl trim and ventilation accessories. The trim pieces are used at inside and outside corners, where soffit pieces abut against one another and as a flashing material when the stucco panels abut one another. They must be used for cement siding and stucco panels to block wind driven rain and snow. The vinyl trim readily accepts paint.
Fiber cement siding planks offer a unique capability. Because of the rigid nature of the product, you can “blind nail” many of the available sizes. Each clapboard is nailed approximately 1 inch from the top edge. The next overlapping piece hides the nails below. This allows you to produce a siding job free from the polka dot appearance nails cause on many traditional wood sidings.
Your color options are virtually unlimited. 100 percent water based acrylic paint grips cement fiber products exceptionally well. The siding planks and stucco panels also accept stains. Because the cement products do not expand and contract to the extent that wood does, paint rarely peels and blisters.
Aside from its many positive features, it is competitively priced. Fiber cement siding costs slightly less than the highest quality vinyl siding in many areas. Redwood siding typically costs two and one half times more than fiber cement siding. Fiber cement products are used for remodeling or repair jobs as well. Fiber cement siding should be given serious consideration.
Sometimes fiber cement siding shows a warped look to the exterior when viewed from the side.” This condition could be an installation defect and/or a workmanship error. The wavy appearance might have been caused by using wall studs that were not crowned properly (all humps pointing the same direction) or using wall studs that had a huge range of crowns or none at all.
It may be that the siding had not been backprimed. The point is this. Manufacturer’s instructions must be followed by the builder. You need to make sure that this happens. Most people expect the builder to do this but these are possible instances of where a builder might have taken a shortcut. The Web now allows you to gather good information about critical aspects of home construction. Take the time and educate yourself and you will be rewarded with a great job! Be careful out there!