Masonite Siding: A Solid Siding Option or a Thing of the Past?

Masonite siding took the siding market by storm in the early 80s, offering a fresh look with its own set of advantages. Also known as pressboard or hardboard, masonite siding makes for a customizable and uniform exterior fitting for a plethora of styles. While it’s not as popular as it once was, many homeowners still make use of it today.

What is Masonite Siding?

Neutral siding mixed with masoniteView in gallery

Masonite siding is a type of engineered wood hardboard siding made up of resin and wood chips, most similar to fiberboard wood. Its production began as a way to give homeowners the real wood look without the cost and maintenance that comes with it.

While the term “masonite siding” is used as an umbrella term for hardboard, it has further meaning. Masonite was once the name of a company that produced these popular boards. Though the company went out of business in the early 2000s, hardboard and masonite siding remain interchangeable terms when referring to this particular type of siding.

Pros to Masonite Siding

Popularized for a reason, there’s quite a few pros to check off your list for masonite siding.

  • Affordable: Cheaper than fiber cement, brick and sometimes even vinyl, masonite siding is one of the cheapest siding options on the market.
  • Customizable: In general, this type of siding is painted or stained. With no shortage of paint colors and finishes, you can achieve the look that matches your personal aesthetic.
  • Crack Resistant: This type of engineered siding is far more resistant to cracking than real wood siding is. This might be due to how firm and dense it is, wood fibers being hard pressed together in the manufacturing process.
  • Easy Installation: Masonite siding is one of the easiest exteriors to install, requiring simple tools and materials such as galvanized nails, hammer, level, saw and caulk.

Cons to Masonite Siding

With a few major downfalls, the cons below are something to keep in mind before moving forward.

  • Water Intrusion: Moisture damage makes up the biggest concern for this form of siding. Water trapped in wood fibers, either by constant contact or improper caulking and installation, leave homes vulnerable to water intrusion, even through interior walls at its worst.
  • Low Production: Masonite Corporation no longer manufactures this siding due to a lawsuit, somewhat tarnishing the masonite siding name. Since then, these types of exterior boards can be harder to find, though now manufactured by other companies.
  • Meticulous Upkeep: The threat of moisture damage means that upkeep on masonite siding can be laborious, not the low maintenance most homeowners desire. Continual siding checks and fast repair turnarounds mean more regular maintenance overall.

Common Masonite Siding Problems

Common Masonite Siding ProblemsView in gallery

There are several common problems to be aware of when choosing masonite siding.

  • Pest Infestation: Normal among wood products, insect intrusion can be a source of damage as pests burrow in. Termites, ants and bees are all major culprits. Visible mud tubes and hollow sounding siding are signs you might have an insect issue.
  • Warping: Due to its level of water absorption, masonite siding is at high risk for warping. Bowed and curved boards are the clearest signs of warping due to moisture.
  • Rotting: When masonite siding is overwhelmed by moisture, it can swell and in turn, rot can develop. If you press your fingers against the boards and it feels soft, it may be rot.
  • Mold: Unwanted mold and mildew growth can occur when masonite siding remains damp. If left untreated, it can permeate layers beyond the siding.

Cost of Masonite Siding

Often chosen over real wood for its affordability, masonite siding offers a great in-between.

  • Cost of materials range from $3 to $7 per square foot.
  • Cost of labor ranges from $3 to $14 per square foot.
  • Cost of painting siding averages $3,000.

Real Examples of Masonite Siding

Traditional

Traditional Masonite SidingView in gallery
Integrity Builders

Crisp white masonite siding gives this traditional house clean lines and a fresh finish.

Modern

modern home utilizing several earthy elementsView in gallery
@maibecinc

A modern home utilizing several earthy elements with brown masonite siding contrasting both color and material.

Craftsman

Craftsman masonite siding board and batten lookView in gallery
Red House Architects

Taking on a board and batten look, masonite siding creates a welcoming vibe in this craftsman style home.

Country

Neutral siding mixed with masoniteView in gallery

A deep red adorns this masonite siding, making for an eye-catching contrast with white trim throughout.

Contemporary

neutral siding mixed with masoniteView in gallery
woodtone

A neutral siding mixed with masonite shakes offers a unique visual result unlike any other.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How can a homeowner determine if a home has masonite siding?

It’s pretty simple to determine if your home has hardboard siding. Access an unfinished area of your home like a garage or attic and take a look behind the tar paper on the back of your wood. Look for a manufacturer name and product number. A quick google search should give you the answer.

How is masonite siding maintained?

Homeowners with masonite siding need to be consistent in checking siding for damages in order to make immediate repairs. Hosing down siding on low pressure will help keep the exterior clean too, reducing potential mildew problems. Repainting every 5 to 10 years will also help in keeping appearances up. Likewise, be sure water sources such as downspouts and sprinklers are positioned away from hardboard to mitigate long term exposure.

How long will masonite siding last?

The length of this engineered wood’s lifespan hinges on how it’s cared for. If repairs go undone, water exposure isn’t monitored and caulking isn’t done right you can expect it to last on the low end of 20 years. If well maintained, masonite siding can last up to 40 years.

How is caulk applied (or re-applied) to masonite siding?

Start by ensuring you have a strong latex caulk made for outdoor use. It’s crucial that all visible cracks and seams are caulked, in order to protect against rot and mold. It’s especially important to caulk in areas where the edges of the boards meet the trimming pieces. Caulking is a major defense that will protect against water intrusion, so it shouldn’t be a step where corners are cut.

Conclusion

While masonite siding had a rough start, it’s made a bit of a comeback through other manufacturers. With its level of affordability, it remains a viable substitute for the problems and cost that come with real wood.

Masonite siding also offers a level of versatility that’s sure to fit in with even the most unique of personal preferences. With easy installation to boot, masonite siding deserves to make the shortlist for siding options.