Fiber Cement Siding Guide: Is this the Right Choice for Your Home?

Fiber cement siding is fire, rot, and insect resistant, making it a top choice for new builds. 

If you’re in the market for new siding, vinyl and fiber cement are two of the most popular low-maintenance and durable options.

Fiber Cement Siding GuideView in gallery
Innovative Building Materials

While fiber cement siding was invented about fifty years before vinyl, it didn’t come to the market until 35 years ago as a way to replace asbestos siding. Now, it’s climbing in popularity and is a great low-maintenance choice for your home’s exterior.

Here’s what you should know if you’re considering a fiber cement product and how it stacks up against vinyl.

What is Fiber Cement Siding Made Of?

What is Fiber Cement Siding Made OfView in gallery
Sinoma

Fiber cement siding came on the market in the 1980s as a product to replace asbestos cement siding. The most popular brand comes from James Hardie.

It’s composed of pretty simple ingredients, including:

  • Portland cement
  • Wood pulp/cellulose fibers
  • Sand 
  • Water

Depending on the brand, there may be further additives to increase strength or help it better resist moisture, rot, and insects.

Is Fiber Cement Siding Low Maintenance?

Fiber cement siding is a relatively low-maintenance product.

If you go with an unfinished product that you paint yourself, you can expect to repaint every 5 to 12 years. 

If you purchase pre-painted siding, there’s usually a “no-crack, no-peel” guarantee for 15 years. So, in this instance, it should be at least 15 years before you need to paint.

Fiber cement is moisture, rot, and insect resistant. 

You can help maintain it by completing regular home maintenance tasks like cleaning your gutters and downspouts. Other than that, there’s no need to worry about sealing fiber cement siding or performing any other type of maintenance.

What Styles Does Fiber Cement Siding Come In?

From a design point of view, fiber cement siding is hard to beat. It comes in many shapes, colors, sizes, and textures. Here are the most common:

Clapboards

ClapboardsView in gallery
Angi

Clapboards are the traditional lap siding you see on vinyl or wood homes. You can find fiber cement clapboards in many colors and textures.

The clean lines of these boards look amazing on modern homes.

Fiber Cement Shingles

Fiber Cement ShinglesView in gallery
Builders FirstSource

If you like shingle siding accents, you can find a wide assortment of them in fiber cement. The ones with wood texture look like painted cedar shakes.

If you have a cape cod-style cottage, you can clad your entire home in fiber cement shingles. Otherwise, these look fantastic as an accent on the front of your house.

Stone, Stucco, and Brick

Stone, Stucco, and BrickView in gallery
Allura

If you’ve ever wanted a stone, stucco, or brick accent, you can find fiber cement panels to help you accomplish it. 

You can use the stone or brick as an accent to clapboards or clad your entire home in the stucco panels. The siding looks like the real thing, and most people won’t be able to tell the difference.

Fiber Cement Siding Cost

The prices of fiber cement siding vary by brand and type. Also, the installation costs will vary by location.

As a general rule of thumb, fiber cement siding costs anywhere from $1 to $15 per square foot for the material only. The cheapest fiber cement siding is panels, while the most expensive is clapboards.

The average cost of labor and materials to install fiber cement siding on a 1500-square-foot home is $15,750.

Fiber cement siding cost more than vinyl and wood but is less expensive than brick. Unfortunately, it’s also much more complicated to install than vinyl, making it a difficult DIY option.

What are the Disadvantages of Fiber Cement Siding?

What are the Disadvantages of Fiber Cement SidingView in gallery
New Ulm Siding

It’s no secret – fiber cement siding is a durable, long-lasting material. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any flaws.

Here are the most significant disadvantages of fiber cement siding:

Difficult to install – The siding boards are heavier than vinyl. They’ll crack, break, or warp during installation if not handled correctly. Plus, to install, you’ll need special saw blades and respirator masks.

When you cut fiber cement, it releases respirable crystalline silica, a human carcinogen. So, when installing this siding, you must keep safety in mind – work in a well-ventilated area and always wear a respirator mask when cutting.

Must repaint – If you install an unfinished fiber cement product, you’ll need to add a coat of paint and then repaint every 5 to 12 years. Even if you go with a prefinished product, there’s a chance you’ll need to touch it up after 15 years.

No insulation value – If you’re looking for an energy-efficient siding, fiber cement is not it.

Fiber Cement vs. Vinyl Siding: Lifespan, Maintenance, and Cost

Vinyl and fiber cement are two of the most popular siding choices. If you’re stuck between the two, here’s how they stack up against each other.

Fiber Cement vs. Vinyl SidingView in gallery

Vinyl siding:

Vinyl siding is a product made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resins. It comes in many types and colors and is one of the most used siding products in the country.

Vinyl is flame retardant, moisture resistant, rot-resistant, and insect resistant. It is low maintenance, never requiring painting. 

  • Costs to install vinyl on a 1500 sq ft house – $11,250
  • Maintenance – Very low
  • Durability – High
  • Lifespan – 20-60 years

Fiber Cement Siding:

Fiber cement siding is composed of water, wood pulp, sand, and water. It also comes in dozens of types and colors. 

Fiber cement siding is flame resistant, moisture-resistant, rot-resistant, and insect resistant. It is low to mid-maintenance, requiring painting depending on the type.

  • Costs to install fiber cement siding on a 1500 sq. ft. house – $15,750
  • Maintenance – Low
  • Durability – High
  • Lifespan – 20 to 50 years

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How long will fiber cement siding last?

Fiber cement board will last up to 50 years (sometimes more), depending on your location and how well it is maintained. If you live in a mild climate, your siding will last much longer than in an area with large temperature swings. Also, the lifespan of your siding will depend on how well you keep your gutters cleaned out and if you repaint as needed.

Is it easy to install fiber cement siding yourself?

Installing fiber cement siding is difficult. When not handled correctly, the boards are prone to warp and crack. There are also health concerns that stem from cutting this material. So, if you do the job yourself, work in a well-ventilated area and wear a respirator mask.

Is fiber cement siding the same as Hardie board?

The most popular fiber cement siding manufacturer is James Hardie. Because of this, you’ll often see fiber cement siding referred to as Hardie Board, James Hardie Siding, or Hardie Plank. Hardie Board is a brand of siding.

Final Thoughts

Fiber cement siding is a durable, long-lasting material. It comes in many styles and is a top pick for new construction. It’s more expensive than vinyl and wood but costs less than brick.

If you’re looking for a siding to give your home clean, modern lines, it’s an excellent choice. You can also fiber cement accents like shingle siding and stone-look panels to boost your home’s curb appeal.