What is fiber cement siding?
Fiber cement siding, different from the wood and vinyl sidings commonly used by builders today, is made of cement, sand, water, and cellulose fibers. Like any siding type and/or style, it has its pros and cons, so it's best for homeowners to do some research -- due diligence, as we like to say! -- before deciding whether or not it meets all of their home siding needs.
Pros of fiber cement siding:
Fiber cement siding is tough stuff! In other words, it is durable, non-combustible, and able to withstand the variability of almost any climate. If properly installed, it isn't prone to moisture issues, and it is unlikely food for termites, woodpeckers, and other home-eating pests. Additionally, this type of siding requires very little maintenance and typically lasts a very long time. In terms of cost, it tends to fall right in the middle of the pack. It is less expensive than brick, on par with wood and composite sidings, and more expensive than vinyl products. It offers great curb appeal for your home and is perhaps the best way to get the look of wood (or stucco) without the maintenance and hassle.
Cons of fiber cement siding:
Perhaps the greatest disadvantage of fiber cement siding is the fact that it's somewhat difficult and labor-intensive to install. Installation requires highly specialized tools in addition to a crew of very specialized contractors. As previously mentioned, it's also a bit more expensive than vinyl and aluminum siding.
Improper installation of fiber cement siding:
Because its installation requires such specialized skills and tools, there are a myriad of problems that often crop up on homes with fiber cement siding. The following issues are commonly found by homeowners and home inspectors.
*Gaps at butt joints
*Shrinkage gaps due to siding being installed in wet conditions
*Missing caulk at vertical trim joints
*Loose siding due to improper nailing
*Buckled or warped siding
*Missing head flashing at windows and doors
Perhaps the greatest threat of improper installation when it comes to fiber cement siding is that it makes way for moisture problems in the future. If installed correctly, this type of siding generally does not encounter moisture problems. Improper installation, however, is a different story and can lead to moisture problems within the cellulose fibers of the siding. For this reason alone, we recommend that homeowners and builders use only highly skilled contractors for the job. This will ensure a happy home AND homeowner for years to come!