Choosing the Right Fiber Cement Siding for Your Home
There are certain elements of a home’s outer appearance that contribute significantly to that home’s curb appeal. If you are looking to add curb appeal to your home, to make the exterior of your home lower in maintenance or
simply to make a change, then changing your siding or updating your siding is definitely going to be an option well worth your consideration. One of the options that is available to you is fiber cement siding, which is proving itself capable of being a viable alternative to traditional wood siding options.
What is Fiber Cement Siding
Known in other countries as fibre cement cladding, fiber cement siding in the United States is a building material used in both domestic and commercial applications to cover building exteriors. Fiber Cement siding is easily the most important new product in construction in the last 25 years. It is a type of composite material that is made out of cellulose fibers, cement and sand that are combined together. Fiber cement siding most commonly consists of a number of horizontal boards that overlap in order to imitate shingles, clapboard and wooden siding. There is also fiber cement siding that is available in a sheet form, which is used for eave lining, tile underlay and as exterior cladding.
Fiber cement siding is manufactured using autoclaving, which is a high-temperature curing process involving steam that is used to increase the strength and the dimensional stability of the product. The cellulose fibers are introduced into the mixture in order to prevent cracking
from occurring. The fiber cement siding is typically manufactured in multiple layers that form into a sheet of a desired thickness. Most types of fiber cement siding are printed with a wood grain when the product is still uncured. It is lifted onto an accumulator roll and then cut into the individual pieces.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Fiber Cement Siding
One of the greatest advantages when it comes to fiber cement siding is the fact that there are a number of different design options as well as a full palette of different colors to choose from. One of the options that is available is lap siding, for example. This type of siding also opens up a lot of different architectural elements that you can utilize in order to add personality to the exterior of your home. Some of the shapes that are available for this purpose include half round pieces, shingles, octagon pieces, random squares, straight edge pieces and staggered edge pieces. There are also vertical siding options, including some featuring a traditional stucco appearance, smooth appearance or a cedar appearance with interval grooves or vertical grooves.
Fiber cement siding is capable of providing the exterior of your home with a traditional appearance of wood grain while avoiding all of the typical drawbacks that are associated with actual wood siding. The wide variety of different textures, colors and profiles available mean that you can match your siding to the design and style of your home and will have little difficulty matching colors and styles to the specific design requirements that you have.
Most fiber cement siding manufacturers offer up complete siding systems as well as decorative shapes, trim applications and soffit applications which means that you will be able to find the siding pieces that you need no matter what your individual expectations and needs are.
Another great advantage of fiber cement siding is the fact that it is manufactured using rigorous guidelines and specifications meaning that the product you receive is going to be consistent in terms of quality as well as dimensional stability. This fiber cement siding is designed not to buckle, warp or fade, and these are characteristics that were previously only associated with vinyl siding products. What this means is that you can get the durability and dependability of vinyl, the look and feel of wood and the ease of installation and value that come with fiber cement siding.
It is also beneficial to know that fiber cement siding has a Class 1 fire rating, which means that it will help to fight against fires that break out, which will keep the fire from spreading as quickly. Another advantage of fiber cement siding is the fact that it is not going to rot due to the materials that it is made out of, which is why it makes such an exceptionally viable alternative to traditional wood siding. Additionally, it is capable of withstanding the damaging effects from ultraviolet rays and salt spray, and it is also quite capable of withstanding damage from insects and birds so it will be difficult if not impossible for them to penetrate into the siding to cause damage to your home.
Different Types of Siding
The biggest difference in types of fiber cement siding is that there are both horizontal and vertical applications depending on the finished product that you are trying to create.
Horizontal lap siding is one of the options that you have available to you when you are selecting fiber cement siding. Horizontal lap siding comes in a wide variety of different profiles including beaded, dutch and traditional forms. This fiber cement siding is also available in different shapes, such as half round shapes, shingles, random squares and octagons.
Vertical siding options on the other hand typically include stucco, cedar an smooth depending on which option best addresses your needs. Some have vertical grooves, interval grooves or no vertical grooves.
Most fiber cement siding is designed to feature wood grain, because fiber cement siding is designed to be an alternative to traditional wood siding. Some forms of fiber cement siding do not include the wood grain, though you will find the wood grain stamped into most of the options available to you. Because there are so many different colors and styles of fiber cement siding for you to choose from, it is really going to be essential for you to shop around and consider the various options that you have to select so that you can make sure to find the perfect fit for your home.
Other Considerations when installing fiber cement
When you are choosing fiber cement siding, there are a number of things that you are going to want to put consideration into. First and foremost, you are going to want to be aware of the different options that are available to you. Choosing the right type of fiber cement siding for your individual needs is vitally essential in getting the most out of this product, not only in terms of installation expectations but the “finished product” as well.
Most people choose to buy fiber cement siding that has been primed and sealed in the factory, or that has been finished fully in the factory prior to being sent to stores. Factory priming is capable of keeping the product protected from moisture penetration which can become a problem on the job site. Many contractors will choose to buy the product in a raw state and then handle the priming and the finishing themselves, but this is not typically recommended by the manufacturer because it is capable of rendering the warranty null and void.
Another consideration that you are going to want to make has to do with how much fiber cement siding actually costs to buy and install. There are three different factors that are going to affect the cost of your siding product. The first is the cost of the materials. The second is the cost of the labor. The third is the cost of the paint, the stain or the finishing that you choose to apply.
Fiber cement siding is generally going to cost approximately:
- 75 percent less in comparison to natural stone siding,
- 37 percent less in comparison to cedar siding,
- 24 percent less in comparison to wood siding
- Only slightly more in comparison to hardboard siding.
Any time you are choosing new siding for your home, you are going to want to put consideration into how easy or how difficult the new siding is going to be to maintain over time. You should be aware of the fact that fiber cement siding is definitely a low maintenance product, but it is definitely going to require some basic care in order for you to maintain its new appearance over time. Accumulated dirt, insect nests and other superficial damage can typically be removed by way of a power washer. You should also regularly inspect the caulked joints, such as once annually, to make sure that the seals are being maintained. This applies to the butt ends of the boards, and along window and door lines as well.
The biggest consideration that you are going to need to make is what is going to ultimately work for your home. You have to consider what is going to be most aesthetically pleasing for your home, what will contribute to curb appeal, what will provide the easiest installation and maintenance, and what will be affordable within the confines of your budget. When you consider all of these options, then you can make the right decision about fiber cement siding for your home.
Fiber Cement Installation Tips
If you have any doubts about your ability to install fiber cement siding on your own, then you should make sure that you have access to a professional contractor that can help you with the project. About half of the cost considerations involved in a fiber cement siding installation project are actually related to the labor, however, so if you are looking to save yourself money you should consider doing as much of the work as you possibly can, within reason of course.
One of the biggest things that you can do for yourself is just to make sure that you have all of the requisite tools and materials before you begin. Once you begin the installation process you are not going to want to stop mid-project because you do not have a necessary component or tool on hand. Make sure that you have a hammer, tape measure, cordless drill, circular saw, chalk line, caulk gun, level, drill bits, dust mask, stapler, jigsaw, saw horses and a speed square.
Go over the installation plans for your fiber cement siding before you actually begin the installation. It will benefit you to go through everything twice so that you know exactly what you are doing and what you can expect before you get started. Your installation of fiber cement siding is going to run a lot more smoothly if you are already prepared before you begin, rather than running around mid-project trying to acquire tools or materials or trying to determine how to complete a specific step of the process. Keep in mind that more preparation is always better when it comes to this type of project. The more prepared you are, the better able you will be to meet the installation requirements for fiber cement siding on your home.