The Benefits of Fiber Cement Cladding – Mother Earth News


You must install vertical strips of wood to attach the siding to before installing the siding over concrete or concrete block walls.



Safety first! Be sure to wear a dust mask and eye protection when sawing fiber cement cladding. And it’s always a good idea to protect your ears from the noise of power tools.



Fiber cement cladding is a great option for new builds. Made from cement, sand, and wood fiber, it resists fire, wind, insects (including termites), and moisture.



Fiber cement siding is made to resemble cedar shingles and wood shingles (either wood grain or smooth). You can also buy fiber cement cladding that looks like stucco.



Fiber cement siding is made to resemble cedar shingles and wood shingles (either wood grain or smooth).


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When you’re building a new house, garage, extension, workshop, or barn? – or when it comes time to replace your house’s old, weathered cladding? -? Consider fiber cement cladding.

What is a fiber cement siding and what are your options? Like conventional facade cladding, fiber cement cladding is attached to the outside of buildings to protect them from the elements. This product is available in a wide range of colors and styles that are similar to traditional facing materials, particularly stucco, cedar clapboard, and wood clapboard. It consists mainly of cement, sand, and wood fiber (often a recycled wood fiber waste product), a combination that results in an extremely durable material.

Fiber cement facade cladding usually costs a little more than vinyl cladding but less than stucco. It also outlasts its competitors – “often by decades” – because it withstands many common hazards such as fire, wind, insects and rain. Fiber cement siding is recommended in all climates, but is ideal for hot, humid regions. No matter how wet it gets, it won’t rot. And because of the cement and sand content, it is termite-resistant.

Because of its durability, a fiber cement siding reduces maintenance costs and is less likely than a traditional siding to land in landfills. Unfortunately, there are currently no recycling programs for fiber cement siding. However, it is an inert material and if it ultimately ends up in a landfill it should not endanger the environment.

Although many builders and homeowners are only just discovering its advantages, this material has been around for a long time -? Almost 100 years? -? So you are not going to experiment with a new product.

Fiber cement boards with a wood grain or smooth surface are popular. These come in widths from 4 to 12 inches so you can adjust existing siding when building an annex or garage. Wall panels with vertical grooves and reveal panels for the underside of overhangs are also available.

Fiber cement cladding can be primed and painted in the factory or on the construction site. (Some manufacturers prime all of their products.) I recommend factory primed and painted panels, which are often guaranteed for up to 25 years. If you want to prime and paint yourself, manufacturers usually recommend an alkali-resistant primer and a 100 percent acrylic top coat.

If you want to change the color at a later date, no problem. Water-based acrylic paints adhere well. And fiber cement siding doesn’t expand or contract as much as wood siding, so the paint stays in place better. It rarely peels or bubbles, reducing maintenance time and costs.

Fiber cement cladding is widely available and can be purchased from home improvement centers and wood stores. Perhaps the best known manufacturer is James Hardie, who offers three products: HardiePlank, HardieShingle and HardiePanel. Other manufacturers are CertainTeed, Cemplk and Maxitile. CertainTeed produces products in 16 color variations.

Siding installation

Before installing new siding, you will likely need to remove all of the old siding – a time-consuming and demanding job. You will also need to rent a dumpster to take the trash away. You may be able to recycle old cladding or burn it in a wood stove if it hasn’t been painted or treated with chemical preservatives or lead paint.

Installing new siding is relatively easy as long as you have basic construction skills, time, and patience. You will also need a few tools: circular saw or miter saw, cordless drill or hammer, sawhorses, ladder, dust mask, eye protection, spirit level, straight edge, chalk line and a bevel gauge for marking the gable ends.

If you don’t have the skills, hire a professional. A good contractor gets the job done right in a fraction of the time it would take a home improvement. For those looking to take on this project, first read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them carefully. Manufacturers like James Hardie offer detailed information on their websites. If the siding is installed incorrectly it can create costly problems and void your warranty.

Like traditional wood siding, fiber cement siding can be applied to both wood and steel studs, but is usually attached to the exterior wall siding (Oriented Strand Board or plywood) on a suitable weather resistant barrier such as Tyvek. Some fiber cement products can be applied over rigid foam insulation. You must install vertical strips of wood to attach the siding to before installing the siding over concrete or concrete block walls. Note the manufacturer’s recommendations for the spacing between the underlay strips.

Fiber cement is attached with corrosion-resistant galvanized or stainless steel nails or screws that penetrate bolts or external siding. Many fiber cement siding boards can be blindly nailed to the exterior siding so that no nails are visible (an advantage over traditional wood shingles). This is done by nailing each board down about 1 inch from the top edge. The next board is placed so that it overlaps the nails, making them invisible. Follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully as there are some restrictions on blind-nailing wider boards to prevent wind buoyancy. (Wind can lift wider boards if they are only pinned on top.)

Fiber cement linings can also be nailed to the face, leaving nail heads exposed. However, staples cannot be used due to the hardness of the material. Do not understate nails or screws.

Whichever system you choose, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for placing fasteners (nails or screws) in relation to the ends and top of the board. Refer to the manufacturers’ wind charts for recommendations on mounting spacing, bolt spacing, and other factors for your region.

What to look out for

When cutting fiber cement siding, use a circular saw with a special blade that minimizes dust, such as a circular saw. B. the Hardiblade from Hitachi or the PCD fiber cement blade from Dewalt. You may also be able to cut these products with snap scissors or a guillotine cutter.

Cut these materials outdoors, in an area away from other people and pets. Everyone nearby should wear a dust mask when cutting or sawing boards or other fiber cement materials.

When adding new siding, consider adding additional insulation in the wall cavity or above the exterior siding. If you are adding rigid insulation to the exterior trim, you will need to remove the window and door trim as well.

Check local building codes to see if you need a permit to install new siding? -? And to make sure the job is performing as planned. Local building codes can exempt fiber cement cladding from the usual requirement of a waterproof layer between the outer siding and the siding, but it is a good idea to put construction paper in place.

Weather resistant barrier materials

A good house covering under the cladding is an important part of green building, as it “breathes” and allows moisture to escape to the outside. This prevents mold, which can cause health problems and damage to your home. Alongside Tyvek, check out Home Slicker by Benjamin Obdyke, Delta Reflex by Cosella Dorken Products, and Construction Film by Gempack.

What will it cost?

Fiber cement is more expensive than vinyl, but similar in price to wood? -? If you only consider the cost of the material. Fiber cement products tend to be more expensive to install because they require removal of the existing siding and further preparation. (Vinyl siding can often be overlaid over existing siding.) Several factors determine cost, such as:

Estimated cost per square foot to remove existing clapboard siding and install fiber cement siding:

Material costs only: $ 2.50

Contractor’s total per square foot, including materials, labor, and mark-up: $ 9.00

Includes house cladding, insulation, and painting and priming the new siding. The costs are national averages and do not include sales tax.

Alternative materials cost per square foot installed (does not include removing existing shingles):

Brick veneer: $ 18.00

Cedar shingles: $ 8.00

White Cedar Shingles: $ 6.25

Vinyl: $ 6.50

What will you save?

Fiber cement cladding typically comes with an impressive (and transferable) warranty of up to 50 years. Less frequent painting (every 15 to 25 years as opposed to every three to five years for traditional wood plank cladding) means that fiber cement cladding can save you a significant amount over its life.

In terms of return on investment, Remodeling magazine’s 2007 annual Cost Versus Value report rated new fiber cement siding as one of the most valuable projects with an average return of 88 cents per dollar invested when houses were sold.

Plan carefully!

Whenever you are working on a home improvement project, plan what you will be doing and make a full list of the materials and supplies you will need. This saves additional trips to the hardware store or hardware store to buy or return materials, save time and reduce fuel consumption and wear and tear on your vehicle.

Dan Chiras teaches workshops on renewable energy and green building through the Evergreen Institute.

Published on May 7, 2009


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