What is Fiber Cement?
Fiber cement siding is a durable mixture of cement, sand, and cellulose filaments. It is treated during production with pressurized steam, making it much more long-lasting and crack resistant.
While the original French manufacture included asbestos as a key ingredient, increasing its resistance to fire, cold, insects, and acid, fiber cement now uses a cellulose substitute instead of potentially harmful asbestos. Nonetheless, many of the homes outfitted with fiber cement siding all those years ago still have the original fiber cement siding to this day. Fiber cement siding is available from many home siding manufacturers and often comes with a fifty year warrantee.
Fiber Cement Siding Costs
Like all vinyl siding, fiber cement siding is available in a variety of styles and grades from different manufacturers. At the lower end, fiber cement siding cost is available at $5.00 per square foot. This cost can increase to up to $11 per square foot for premium grades and profiles from top end siding manufacturers and installers. Additional costs can include removal and discposal fee for old siding. If you are doing it yourself, see our list of vinyl siding installation tools, which can run you $700 - $1500. Click to use our vinyl siding cost calculator.
The Geography of Fiber Cement Siding
In thickly wooded areas that receive above average amounts of rainfall, fiber cement eliminates the high maintenance demands of wood and its fireproof characteristics make it the siding of choice in areas that are subject to periodic wildfires, like Californina. In hotter climates with higher humidity, fiber cement's imperviousness to mold makes it an attractive option.
Fiber Cement Siding Installation
One of the things that makes fiber cement attractive is its conventional application. Fiber cement is installed over studs, like most wood siding. Widths range from six to twelve inches, and are typically twelve feet long. However, although it can be cut like wood, blades that reduce dust are recommended, such as snapper shears or guillotine cutters. While surface nails are your best bet, blind nails can be used unless you're using wider sections, which are exposed to greater wind shear forces. However, under no circumstances should you use staples.
Because of the alkaline content of fiber cement, trim pieces should not be made of aluminum, which will corrode. Use only vinyl trim to connect your panels or highlight your siding. Although asbestos is no longer a problem, concrete a fiber can generate quite a bit of dust, which you should try not to breathe in. In addition to using care when milling, you should consider a mask or other protective apparatus.
Finally, the siding is both heavy and flexible. To avoid the danger of cracking or breaking it, carry it on edge rather than flat since its own weight can cause damage. You should also take care not to chip or break it during installation. Read more on siding maintenance.
Colors and Painting
Fiber cement is available in a broad spectrum of siding colors and can also be custom color matched. If the topcoat is applied at the factory, it is extremely long lasting. In fact, some manufacturers offer twenty five year paint warranties. If you paint it yourself, you may need to repaint in approximately four to five years. Therefore, it is generally a good idea to you buy primed and painted fiber cement siding. If you or your contractor will be priming and painting the siding, be sure to use an alkaline-resistant primer and an acrylic topcoat.
Fiber Cement Siding Finishes
You can choose from a variety of clapboard siding styles that have embossed wood grained texture or smooth finish. The siding come in a multitude of widths that will permit you to have clapboard exposures ranging from four inches to up to eleven inches. Factory-painted siding also comes in a number of different finishes: wood grain, stucco, smooth, colonial smooth, and colonial rough-sawn are a few of the options.
Fiber cement panels are also available, usually four feet in width and nine or ten feet long. These panels are especially appropriate for Tudor homes.
The Bottom Line On Fiber Cement Siding
For homeowners who want the look of wood but wish to avoid the shortcomings and costs associated with it, fiber-cement siding may be a satisfactory alternative. Fiber cement siding provides a traditional wood grain appearance without a number of the drawbacks inherent to wood. Fiber cement doesn't warp, buckle, twist, or fade, will not rot, withstands the effects of salt spray and ultraviolet rays, and cannot be pierced by birds or insects. It is impervious to bumps and direct impacts and temperature extremes. It's available in a variety of textures, profiles, and colors and in an assortment of configurations. Fiber cement siding holds paint well. Fiber-cement siding couples the look of wood with up to twenty-five percent lower siding cost as well as reduced maintenance. Based on overall expense, performance, and resilience, fiber cement siding is an excellent investment.