Fiber Cement Siding for Beginners

Fiber cement siding is a durable and versatile material that’s growing in popularity. Here’s what homeowners need to know.

Siding is effectively your home’s suit of armor. As such, homeowners need to make the right choice if they want their property to stand up to the elements while looking its best. There are many siding options on the market vying for your valuable business, but fiber cement siding is arguably the best of the bunch.

What is fiber cement siding?

Fiber cement siding is a durable and often less-costly alternative to traditional siding materials like aluminum, stone, wood, vinyl, stucco and brick. The popularity of this siding choice has come to eclipse those older options since it was first embraced by the American public in the 1980s and began to take off in the 1990s.

Think of fiber cement siding as the best of three worlds: flexibility, beauty and toughness combined. In terms of its composition, this material has come a long way. It was originally a blend of cement, water, sand and asbestos, but since the damaging effects of the latter became clear, that ingredient has been replaced with cellulose fibers.

The switch to cellulose fibers made fiber cement much more human-and eco-friendly without sacrificing any of the reinforcing qualities. The precise makeup of the fiber cement may differ between manufacturers. For instance, some may substitute sand with fly ash, which is crushed coal residue. 

There’s no need to be confused if the term “cellulose fibers” seems overly scientific; we’re surrounded by them every day. The term in its practical application simply means natural plant fibers that have been manipulated by humans for different purposes, such as the fibers that occur naturally in wood or even in our clothes with cotton or linen.

Today, fiber cement siding is well on its way to becoming the option of choice for the majority of American homeowners and discerning decorators who want the functionality and attractiveness of traditional options without the headaches.

Why so popular?

Fiber cement siding not only offers durability and affordability, it checks three further boxes which homeowners love:

  • enhances the home’s aesthetic value
  • boosts retail value
  • is typically low-maintenance

Exactly how much maintenance will be required for each individual property depends on its geographical location and other factors, such as whether siding is pre-finished or painted on-site and the property’s exposure.

Generally speaking, the caulking around fiber cement siding should be inspected annually; gutter maintenance is a must to make sure your siding remains healthy year-round; and a semi-annual, top-down spraying should be gently performed. 

Pro tip: Always consult the manufacturer’s warranty and an experienced siding contractor on the best ways to care for your investment. This will improve the performance of fiber cement siding as an effective and long-lasting weather barrier.

What colors does fiber cement siding come in?

There is a wide range of elegant siding tones and textures available to help homeowners make a statement. Colors range from the coolness of an arctic white, through khaki or timber brown, rich espresso and country lane red, pearl grey and light mist to evening blue and mountain sage green (there are also the sleek and classic greys, of course). 

Whichever color you choose, modern cement siding keeps its shade far longer than any other siding option, providing decades of confidence for homeowners that their property will have an attractive outer appearance that won’t fade under the elements.

There are a variety of textures available once you’ve found the right color. Today’s siding can be stucco or completely smooth, be wood grain or have the rustic appearance of real planks. Fiber cement siding is extremely versatile when it comes to cutting and shaping. Homeowners can choose from horizontal or vertical lapping, trimmed planks, soffits, shingles, or more tailored shapes like octagons or half-rounds (for that “fish scale” effect).

What does fiber cement siding cost?

A quick look around will reveal that fiber cement siding can vary quite dramatically in price per square foot; a fact which may deter some homeowners from further research. The price disparity is because the final cost for fiber cement siding isn’t a “one size fits all” quote. Multiple factors, like property size, the color and texture preference, and the individual supplier’s proprietary mixture of ingredients all play a part.

The best way to price this project is to contact us at Blue Nail. As licensed contractors, we can speak to you about your unique vision for your home. Your consultation will be free, and we’ll provide you with our years of insight and experience to help make the most cost-effective siding decision.

Which brands offer fiber cement siding?

Blue Nail Roofing is a proud provider of James Hardie fiber cement siding, also known as HardiePlank. Unlike others in the sector, Hardie siding has never had asbestos in their product. It’s one reason why they dominate the market. Hardie is on course to become the nation’s biggest name in the field, and applying this leading brand boosts a home in terms of both curbside visuals and market value. There are three main options:

  • HardiePlank: Horizontal lap siding made with fiber cement that provides the appearance of wood with none of the associated risks or maintenance. This is the top-selling siding in America.
  • HardiePanel: A vertical siding option that comes in a wide variety of colors.
  • HardieShingle: Elegant cedar shingles that come in straight or staggered edge panel designs.

Hardie solutions are among the most environmentally firm and friendly siding options on today’s market. Built to withstand the climate of the North East, Hardie siding resists impact, swelling caused by extremes of temperature, mildew, rot, moisture and pests.

What makes Hardie such a solid investment?

Hardie’s superior durability comes from being five-times the thickness of vinyl siding, and its long-lasting beauty comes from multiple applications of baked-in special paint that fights fading and doesn’t crack or chip. The Artisan range from Hardie is a striking example of how beefed-up durability and density can still be among the most elegant siding solutions.

Even though the color is deeply set into Hardie siding, that color can be changed at any time to suit the homeowner’s taste, making it far more flexible than vinyl. In the event of a home fire, HardiePlank won’t add fuel to the problem because it’s non-combustible (another advantage that vinyl siding can’t provide).

This is a potentially huge money- and life-saver if flames get out of control. Hardie siding holds a Class A fire rating, meaning it provides further savings by reducing the homeowner’s insurance premiums. Hardie siding provides further peace of mind with a 30-year warranty and a 15-year color-plus guarantee against fading.

Hardie’s modern fiber cement siding techniques have eradicated the problems that affected this option in its early years, such as edge degradation and improper finishing. The company’s proprietary HZ5 fiber cement composition was specifically developed to handle the rigors of the freeze-thaw cycle the Northeast is subject to, and caulk shouldn’t need annual maintenance or inspection thanks to the OSI Quad Max Blue Nail uses with Hardie.

Lastly, eco-minded homeowners can save a little piece of the world while saving time, money and trouble. Fiber cement siding is a great emulator of wood without having to cut down forests to get it, and the wood pulp itself is often sourced from regularly managed and sustainable sources.

Let Blue Nail Roofing do the job perfectly

Many homeowners may feel they can take the DIY route and install fiber cement siding by themselves. We recommend speaking with us to see why it’s a job best left to the professionals. Fiber cement siding can be very heavy and requires specialized tools, expertise and risk awareness to size and fit it successfully.

Hardie siding is a very particular installation and experience is necessary to install it. Many contractors say they can install it because they do vinyl siding and then the whole project goes bad. Fiber Cement is only a great option with a great installer. Vinyl can be installed badly and look fine. If Hardie is installed incorrectly, the project will end up a mess.

What’s more, a solo attempt at installation could void warranties or even damage the appearance and performance of the materials, tough as those may be. Our team has many years of successful siding under our belt, and we combine our practical experience with a passion for the trade and dedication to making your home safer, more beautiful and more cost-effective.

We’re happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have about fiber cement siding with our free consultation. We can help you draft an accurate budget and save every possible penny.

We’re proud of the customer relationships we continue to build through our desire to give homeowners the facts they need to decide, a quote they can be sure of and the comfort they want from a job well done. We can even provide a risk-free virtual estimate while COVID-19 distancing measures are in place thanks to the modern contractor’s newest tool, the drone.

Ready to upgrade your home? Contact us to get Blue Nail Roofing on your side!
Working with Blue Nail Roofing means coming home to craftsmanship. From first call to final inspection, we’re with you every step of the way to ensure you benefit from our experience. For more information or a free consultation, drop by our contact page or call 973-937-8876.

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