Hardboard Siding: A Guide to Design Options, Installation, and Cost

Manufacturers make hardboard siding by binding wood fibers, resin, and wax under high pressure and heat. The result is a composite material that looks similar to wood but offers less maintenance.

Hardboard Siding Pros and Cons

Cost of Installing Hardboard Siding

Hardboard siding material costs between $3 to $7 per square foot. Labor charges range from $3 to $14 per square foot, depending on the complexity of installation. Materials such as paint, caulk, and fasteners increase the final cost.

Hardboard Siding Pros and Cons


  • Aesthetic appeal: Hardboard siding mimics the appearance of wood siding, making it suitable for various architectural styles. 
  • Cheaper than wood siding: The siding option offers similar aesthetics as traditional wood siding for a lower price.
  • Available in various textures and finishes: Hardboard siding comes in finishes that range from smooth to wood grain patterned.
  • Durability: With proper installation and maintenance, hardboard siding can last several decades. In contrast to natural wood siding, it’s more resistant to cracking, splitting, and warping.


  • Prone to moisture damage: Failing to seal hardboard can lead to water damage and issues such as mold, mildew, and rot.
  • Potential for swelling or deterioration: Due to moisture damage, hardboard siding tends to swell, warp, or deteriorate over time.

Main Types of Hardboard Siding

Standard Hardboard

Standard hardboard siding features a smooth surface on one side and a rough texture on the other. It’s paintable and stainable and works for residential or commercial properties.

Tempered Hardboard

Tempered hardboard has extra resins and treatments to increase its hardiness, strength, and moisture resistance. Unlike standard hardboards, it’s less prone to warping and swelling. Tempered hardboard siding is ideal for areas with higher humidity or extreme weather.

Pre-Finished Hardboard

Pre-finished hardboard siding comes with a factory-applied finish, such as paint or stain. The siding eliminates extra costs after installation. It offers a consistent and professional-looking finish. Homeowners looking for a low-maintenance, ready-to-install option should consider pre-finished hardboard siding.

How to Install Hardboard Siding

Tools and Materials Required

  • Hardboard siding panels
  • Galvanized nails or screws
  • Hammer or nail gun
  • Power drill (if using screws)
  • Circular saw or jigsaw (for cutting the siding)
  • Chalk line
  • Level
  • House wrap or building paper (moisture barrier)
  • Starter strip
  • Furring strips (optional for uneven surfaces)
  • Flashing and trim (for edges, corners, and around windows/doors)
  • Caulk
  • Paint primer
  • Paint/ stain

Hardboard Siding Installation Instructions

  1. Prepare the surface: The surface should be clean and flat. Remove any existing siding and check for any protrusions or rough spots that need to be sanded down.
  2. Install the moisture barrier: Install house wrap over exterior walls to prevent water damage. Use a breathable barrier to allow air circulation.
  3. Install trim: Lay the trim flat on the corners and around all windows and doors.
  4. Cut the siding panels: Measure the surface length where you will install the siding, and cut the siding panels to fit. Subtract ¼-inch from the actual length to leave a gap of ⅛-inch between the siding and each corner trim. This allows for expansion.
  5. Prime and paint the panels: Apply primer on the front and back sides of the siding panels. Leave to dry, then cover with two coats of paint on the front, back, and edges.
  6. Install the first row: Allow a 6-inch space between the siding and the ground to prevent water from seeping through. Install a starter strip on the sill plate, and nail down the bottom edge of the siding through the starter strip.
  7. Install the remaining rows: Install the pieces of siding up the house. Each course of siding should have a 1-inch overlap with the previous course. Nail through both courses into the wall studs, using two or three nails every 32 inches.
  8. Inspect and finish the installation: Apply caulking to gaps between the siding, trim, and around windows and doors.

Hardboard Siding vs. Vinyl Siding

Hardboard siding is made from compressed wood fibers, while vinyl siding is made from PVC plastic. Hardboard has a wood-like appearance, and vinyl siding is smooth and uniform. Vinyl siding is a low-maintenance option since it’s not prone to water damage like hardboard.

Hardboard Siding vs. HardiePlank

HardiePlank or fiber cement siding is a mixture of cement, sand, and cellulose fibers. While it’s more expensive than hardboard siding, HardiePlank is more durable in harsh weather conditions. Both siding types come in pre-finished options.

Hardboard Siding Maintenance

  • Regular inspection: Check the siding for water streaks, black marks, bulging, or flaking paint. These are signs of water seeping through seams, joints, and holes.
  • Proper sealing and painting: Repainting is necessary every 5-10 years to maintain the siding appearance. It also prevents moisture damage.
  • Repairing damaged boards: Repair any damaged sections by scrapping off loose paint and debris, repainting, and caulking. Replacing hardboard siding sections is also feasible.
  • Preventing moisture-related issues: Sealing exterior hardboard siding prevents moisture damage. If you notice any leaks around windows or doors, address the issue immediately.