Fiber cement siding is steadily cutting into vinyl siding’s market share due to its compelling blend of painted-wood appearance, outstanding durability and very competitive price. This cement fiber siding guide will allow you to make an informed decision about whether to use this material for your siding project. We will give you some background, compare and contrast fiber cement with vinyl, look at fiber cement siding pros and cons and fill you in on all the different fiber cement siding options. For Fiber Cement Siding prices and installation cost click here.
Knowing what is in fiber cement board makes it clear why it offers so many pluses as a siding material. It is made of:
To make siding planks or panels, the liquid mixture is partially dried and then pressed into thin sheets on huge rollers. Several sheets, still wet enough to fuse, are pressed together to form the board. Some rollers are embossed with a woodgrain pattern that is left on the board to mimic authentic wood. The sheets of fiber cement board are then baked to dry and harden them. The last major steps include cutting the large sheets into dimensional planks and panels. Some are painted or primed while other products are left unpainted.
As an alternative, the liquid material can be poured into molds to produce the look of brick, stone or cedar shake.
The first type of fiber cement board was created in by Austrian Ludwig Hatschek in 1901 and dubbed “Eternit” (Everlasting) due to its hardness. The material initially included asbestos fiber for additional strength, a practice that was phased out several decades ago.
In the 1980s, fiber cement (or fiber-cement) siding began its ascent to rock star siding status behind innovations introduced by the James Hardie Company in Australia. Boasting a long list of advantages, Hardie Board became a global building material popular in the United States. Seeing the obvious benefits of this material, other manufacturers including Nichiha, GAF and Allura went big into fiber cement siding. See our Fiber Cement Siding Manufacturers and Reviews guide for more information on these companies and their product lines.
This head-to-head comparison of cement fiber siding and vinyl siding exposes their relative strengths and weaknesses. So let’s look at the pros and cons of fiber cement siding compared to vinyl.
Where they are equal:
Where vinyl siding is better than fiber cement siding:
Where fiber cement siding is better than vinyl siding:
Where there are trade-offs to be considered:
Many of these were alluded to in the comparison with vinyl siding, so here’s a brief summary of fiber cement siding’s good and bad qualities.
The most important question for many homeowners is, “What will my house look like with fiber cement siding?” Let’s explore all your fiber cement siding options. All of these are available in unpainted, primed and pre-painted material.
Lap Siding Planks: The most popular fiber cement siding option remains siding planks that are installed in the same manner as wood clapboard siding. The planks come with pre-drilled nail holes. Some of your plank options are:
Vertical Panel Siding: These fiber cement board sheets allow you to customize the exterior of your home to look like it is clad one of several traditional materials. Your panel choices include:
Shingles, Shakes, Scallops, Bricks and Stones: The fact that fiber cement can be poured into molds while in a liquid state means that it can be formed to any shape. These are the more expensive fiber cement siding options, but they give you amazingly authentic looks without the maintenance issues of genuine wood or high cost of brick or stone. Sheets of shingles, shakes, scallops bricks and stones are available in many sizes, colors and styles.
Read our House Siding Options guide for a full rundown on styles in every siding material.