The 5 Biggest Problems with Fiber Cement Siding (2023)



Fiber cement is a siding material that was introduced to the market in the 1980’s as a replacement for asbestos cement siding products. It has become common in some parts of the country, offering design versatility and a solid feel. Some fiber cement manufacturers include James Hardie, Nichiha, and Allura.

With so many siding products available on the market today, it’s important to understand the benefits, as well as the possible problems with James Hardie fiber cement siding. While there are other resources that explain the benefits of fiber cement, this article will explore the five biggest problems with fiber cement siding, including:

Top 5 Problems With Fiber Cement

    1. Fiber cement siding requires maintenance

    2. Fiber cement siding absorbs moisture

    3. Fiber cement is difficult to install

    4. Fiber cement is not the most environmentally friendly siding

    5. Fiber cement is not energy efficient

1. Fiber Cement Siding Requires Maintenance

The 5 Biggest Problems with Fiber Cement Siding (1)

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Products like Hardiplank fiber cement siding will require regular painting to maintain their beautiful appearance, unlike other sidings such as brick or insulated vinyl.

Some factory-painted siding panels are available, and come with up to 15 year warranties that cover peeling, cracking, and chipping. However, many homeowners find themselves needing to repaint their home sooner, and warranties can be very particular about what is covered.

Caulking may also be required to help maintain the warranty and protect against the next problem with fiber cement siding we will cover, moisture absorption.

2. Fiber Cement Absorbs Moisture

The 5 Biggest Problems with Fiber Cement Siding (2)

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Absorptive claddings like fiber cement can hold moisture, leading to panel damage, rot, and even mold problems. It is critical that all installation steps are very carefully followed by a professional to ensure all penetrations and gaps are properly treated with the appropriate paint or caulk to protect the panels from moisture infiltration.

Close attention must be paid to all required gap clearances between rooflines and decks during installation, to not put fiber cement in continued contact with more moisture. Any violation of the instructions can create serious moisture concerns and void the product warranty.

A third party study by Home Innovations Research Labs spanning the course of over a year shows that fiber cement retained less moisture than products like stucco and manufactured stone, but performed worse than brick, vinyl siding, and insulated vinyl siding.

3. Fiber Cement is Difficult to Install

In addition to religiously following installation instructions to avoid moisture concerns, installers must also take special steps to protect their health when installing fiber cement. Cutting fiber cement siding generates respirable crystalline silica, a known human carcinogen. Inhaling too much silica can lead to silicosis, lung cancer, and COPD. Visit www.silica-safe.org for more information.

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Special saw blades, ventilation, and respirators can be used to limit silica inhalation to a safe level during installation.

Fiber cement can also be brittle before being installed on the wall. Care must be taken to properly store panels, which generally require two people to carry and install. Attention must be paid to the types of nails and guns used to prevent blowouts at the point of fastening on the panel.

4. Fiber Cement is Not the Most Environmentally Friendly

Some people believe that fiber cement is environmentally friendly because it is made from items like cement, fibers, or fly ash. However, the process to produce fiber cement requires the use of a lot of utilities, and the weight of the finished product makes shipping harder on the environment.

A third-party Life Cycle Assessment shows the overall environmental impact of fiber cement to be worse than real cedar siding, stucco, vinyl siding, and insulated vinyl siding, particularly in areas of global warming potential and water intake.

The 5 Biggest Problems with Fiber Cement Siding (3)

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5. Fiber Cement is Not Energy Efficient

Fiber cement is a cementitious product, therefore it serves as a bridge for energy loss, compared to other more energy-efficient siding products.

According to Table 5-1 of the ASHRAE Fundamentals Handbook, fiber cement has an r-value of .15, better than brick and stone, but lower than vinyl at R-.60, wood at R-.81, and insulated vinyl siding at R-2.0 - 3.5. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), is the leading source on design and construction related to heating, cooling, and energy efficiency.


The 5 Biggest Problems with Fiber Cement Siding (4)

Houses with fiber cement siding can be insulated by adding a layer of energy-saving foam underneath. However, this creates a second step in the install process, and sometimes special steps must be taken if the foam is thicker than the siding manufacturer recommendations. Alternative products like insulated vinyl siding add insulation and siding in one step, for an easier, more cost-effective installation. Read more about insulated vinyl siding vs. fiber cement.

The 5 Biggest Problems with Fiber Cement Siding (5)

(Video) Brick Vs Fiber Cement

Insulated Vinyl Siding vs. Fiber Cement: Which is Best?

Read the full article >>

Summary

Fiber cement is a common siding product that can improve the appearance of a home, but it also has some disadvantages compared to other products available today. Before investing in new siding, it’s critical to determine which characteristics are important for your particular project.

FAQs

What is not a benefit of fiber cement siding? ›

One of the supposed biggest disadvantages of contractors installing fiber cement siding is how difficult it is to work with. Granted the material doesn't cut as fast as vinyl or aluminum and the long pieces are more brittle than wood but labor costs and resources aren't that increased.

Why is my fiber cement siding cracking? ›

Common Causes For Hardie Board Cracking Or Splitting

Nails driven below the panel surface and directional nailing can cause cracking and splitting of fiber cement. Nailing too high or close at an edge. This can create a small crack which leads from the nail to the edge of the siding board. House Settling or moving.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of fiber cement siding? ›

Fiber cement board has all the benefits of other sidings with few disadvantages. Installation of fiber cement board siding is costly. Labor costs are higher because fiber cement requires more manpower to deliver and install. Cost can be two to three times higher than aluminum or vinyl siding.

What is the lifespan of fiber cement siding? ›

Siding Materials and Their Lifespan

Fiber cement siding, on the other hand, offers high durability and can last as long as 50 years. Both siding materials require minimal maintenance, but fiber cement can often be repainted after a few years to enhance curb appeal.

Does fiber cement siding mold? ›

Mold and Mildew. If you find mold and mildew on your cement fiber siding, do not blame yourself. Almost every home will at some point be targeted by mold and mildew, especially if you live in a warm climate with high humidity or your house is in an area with a lot of shade.

What are the disadvantages of cement board? ›

One major disadvantage of cement board is the weight per square foot. It is approximately twice that of gypsum board, making handling by one person difficult. Cutting of cement board must also be done with carbide-tipped tools and saw blades. Due to its hardness, pre-drilling of fasteners is often recommended.

What is the maintenance for fiber cement siding? ›

To give your fiber cement siding a good, thorough cleaning, rent a pressure washer from a home improvement store, or use a high-pressure hose if that's not an option. Spray from the top of the siding down. If the dust and debris is really bad, use a little dish soap to help get it clean.

Does fiber cement break easily? ›

Because fiber cement siding is made of brittle ingredients, it can easily break and crack, as well as shrink when exposed to moisture and temperature changes. Fiber cement is heavy and requires two people when handling to avoid breakage.

What is better vinyl siding or fiber cement? ›

By contrast, Hardie® fiber cement siding is more durable and up to 5x thicker than vinyl siding. It easily stands up to the elements, resisting damage from wind, rain, freezing temperatures and hail, and gives homes years of protection with low maintenance.

Does fiber cement siding rot? ›

Fiber cement siding, which was invented by manufacturer James Hardie®, is made from a mix of wood pulp and cement. This siding is very water resistant, and since rot is mostly caused by moisture, fiber cement siding is resistant to rot.

Is fiber cement siding a good choice? ›

If you are searching for a durable material, one that lasts for years, increases the value of your home, and is fire-resistant, fiber cement siding is what you need. It complements traditional or modern exterior home designs. A variety of textured or smooth finishes can be accomplished using fiber cement siding.

Can fiber cement siding get wet? ›

This type of siding is made from four simple ingredients: cement, wood pulp, water and a type of filler. None of these materials is affected by rot. For rot to grow, the material needs to absorb moisture. Fiber cement siding is very water-resistant, so water does not affect it as it would other siding materials.

Is fiber cement siding good in cold weather? ›

Fiber cement doesn't expand and contract with fluctuating temperatures like other materials. Instead, fiber cement siding is resistant to cold temperatures, so it won't crack or break. With proper installation, cement siding is also water resistant. Cement board siding protects your home from melting snow and ice.

How often does fiber cement siding need to be painted? ›

You can paint fiber cement siding to give your home a new look. For this project, you'll need 100% acrylic paint or acrylic latex paint. You should repaint your fiber cement siding every 10 to 15 years.

What is the longest lasting siding for a house? ›

What Is the Most Durable Type of Siding?
  • Engineered Wood. As the most durable siding on the market, engineered wood combines the aesthetics of real wood with engineered wood strand technology for superior durability. ...
  • Vinyl Siding. ...
  • Fiber Cement. ...
  • Traditional Wood. ...
  • Cedar Shake. ...
  • Aluminum.

Does fiber cement siding warp? ›

HardiePlank® is a fiber cement based siding, so it's impervious to water, termites, woodpeckers, and any other animal you can think of. It's dimensionally stable so it won't warp like wood or vinyl siding can, and it won't melt or warp when heat is applied to it.

Should fiber cement siding be caulked? ›

Many professionals, like those at James Hardie, also agree that you should not use caulk on fiber cement siding unless there is no metal flashing underneath. Flashing acts as a waterproofing layer for this type of siding, and caulking will prevent the flashing from doing its job.

How do you prevent efflorescence on fiber cement siding? ›

Pressure-washing the siding surface is often recommended by manufacturers to dissolve the mineral deposits. An acid wash may also suffice, but extra care must be observed when using acid-based cleaners. In some cases, cleaning might be repeated to completely remove this unsightly problem.

Can fiber cement siding be repaired? ›

Repair or Patching Fiber Cement Board Siding

Refer to manufacturer recommendations for products that are compatible with fiber cement. For small areas of damage you can use a sealant/caulk (preferably one designed for cement repairs) but then you will have to paint those areas of repair to match the original color.

Does cement board grow mold? ›

Unlike wood-based materials such as plywood or products that contain some wood such as drywall, cement board lacks organic matter, making it resistant to mold, rot, shrinkage, or decomposition.

What is the life expectancy of Hardie board? ›

With the proper care, your James Hardie fiber cement siding will outlast its 30-year warranty. It can even last up to 50 years if cared for properly.

Is Hardie board the same as fiber cement? ›

Fiber cement siding is often called “hardiplank” or even “hardie board” named from the most popular brand of fiber cement siding which is manufactured by James Hardie. Fiber cement planks are formed by combining wood pulp with Portland cement.

What happens when fibre cement gets wet? ›

Fibre cement cladding is water-resistant in that is not affected by exposure to water and won't disintegrate. Fibre cement cladding can be made waterproof with the application of a liquid or membrane waterproofing treatment.

Does mold grow on Hardie board? ›

Hardie siding products resist moisture, mold, and mildew. They save you time and money over the years because you can avoid the costly hassles water intrusion causes to your home siding.

How do you fix a hole in fiber cement siding? ›

Use a plastic putty knife to apply the patching material to the damaged area, filling in the area and shaping the patch to match the original contours of the siding. Allow the patch to thoroughly dry and apply another thin layer of patching material if the first layer shrank during the drying process.

What is the most energy efficient siding? ›

With an R-value of up to 4, insulated vinyl siding is by far the most energy-efficient option. It's also among the most durable options. Unlike wood siding, vinyl doesn't rot or swell, and it isn't susceptible to pests like termites.

Is fiber cement waterproof? ›

Fiber cement siding is waterproof, fire-resistant, and insectproof.

Does fiber cement siding increase home value? ›

Cement fiber offers better ROI than vinyl materials, making them a better option to increase home value. They generally cost less than wood materials upfront, and homeowners don't incur risks or hidden expenses later.

Can you pressure wash Hardie plank? ›

The manufacturer recommends that you do not pressure wash your Hardie siding. The hard spray of water from the power washer can damage the surface of the siding. In fact, pressure washing fiber cement siding is one of the only ways you can damage this durable type of siding.

What is the most popular siding color of 2022? ›

White. A timeless classic, this color is at the very top of the list for 2022.

How much does it cost to put fiber cement siding on a 1500 sq ft house? ›

Fiber cement siding costs anywhere from $2.45 to $12.85 per square foot to install. If you were to replace siding on the average 1,500 sq. foot home, you could expect to pay between $3,675 on the low end and $19,275 on the high end in total installation costs.

What siding is most durable and low maintenance? ›

Wood, vinyl and brick are not considered no-maintenance house siding options, so it's best to investigate other alternatives. Tougher materials, like steel and fiber cement, likely require much less maintenance than traditional materials. These low-maintenance siding options are superior, and the payoff is invaluable.

Which Fibre cement board is best? ›

Considered to be the best fibre cement board in India, Zykron fibre cement sheet is easy to handle, install & maintain. Zykron products offer superior resistance to moisture, borer & termite, fire & weather conditions, making it ideal for a variety of applications.

What is the best siding for extreme weather? ›

Cement Board Siding

They are strong and durable, with a warranty of 15-25 years. Therefore, they can withstand strong winds and hailstones that occur during harsh weather. Cement board siding can't burn. It can, therefore, withstand fire, cracking, or warp.

What is the most waterproof siding for a house? ›

Vinyl Siding: The Quintessential Choice for Budgets

Being made of polyvinyl chloride, vinyl siding is essentially waterproof. This house siding won't absorb moisture and easily sheds rain.

What siding is the most insulating? ›

Insulated vinyl siding offers much more protection than exterior construction like metal and aluminum because it provides an additional layer that makes sure little to no noise penetrates through walls, which generally need to be replaced every 5 to 10 years during the peak cooling season (approximately 65-70 degrees ...

What's better fiber cement or vinyl siding? ›

In general, insulated vinyl siding is going to perform better in the categories of energy savings, long term durability, and low maintenance. Fiber cement can create a completely unique look because it can be painted any color you want, but will require routine maintenance to upkeep that appearance over time.

Does fiber cement siding require maintenance? ›

There's a reason you spent a little extra for fiber cement. After all, this high-quality material requires little input from you to keep it looking great and performing throughout the years. Of course, “low-maintenance” doesn't mean “maintenance-free,” so you definitely do need care for it here and there.

What is the highest quality siding? ›

Durable and solid, fiber cement siding is an excellent exterior siding option for those who are looking for something that will last at least 30 years. Fiber cement siding is especially good for homeowners who live in an intense climate, because it can stand up to harsh weather, including hail and strong winds.

Which siding lasts the longest? ›

What Is the Most Durable Type of Siding?
  • Engineered Wood. As the most durable siding on the market, engineered wood combines the aesthetics of real wood with engineered wood strand technology for superior durability. ...
  • Vinyl Siding. ...
  • Fiber Cement. ...
  • Traditional Wood. ...
  • Cedar Shake. ...
  • Aluminum.

How often do you have to paint fiber cement siding? ›

Most paint cycles are around 10 to 15 years (though the coatings on our Architectural Wall Panels can last much longer), but that timeframe can be extended if the siding is maintained and inspected for damage on a regular basis.

What is the warranty on fiber cement siding? ›

How Long Is the James Hardie Siding Warranty? One reason James Hardie fiber cement siding is such a good investment is the generous length of its warranty. The Hardie Board warranty is 30 years for the following products: HardiePlank® lap.

What is the most energy efficient house siding? ›

Insulated vinyl siding is the only option that can save you money on your utility costs by conserving energy and lowering your total cost over time. It also protects the home from damage.

What is the most cost effective house siding? ›

Vinyl siding is almost always the least expensive way to side your home. You can even find vinyl siding for as cheap as $2 per square foot. Of course, you're going to be looking at your home's siding for many years to come, so it's important to balance the cost with what material you like looking at.

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