Fiber cement truly is one of the best building materials available in today’s market. It’s called the “Wonder Siding” by one of the leading home improvement authorities, This Old House, offering a tremendous endorsement by anyone’s standards. That’s because of the many advantages of fiber cement siding you’ll get by renovating your home’s exterior with this wonderful product.
The best and most popular fiber cement products come from the well-known brand James Hardie. You’ll recognize terms like Hardieplank® and Hardieboard® as leading fiber cement exterior siding products. The James Hardie name to exterior siding products is as familiar as Coke is to cola. Hardie products stand out in the market because of their brand-name recognition, but they’ve earned their reputation thanks to the many advantages of James Hardie siding — the most trusted siding brand in America.
There are other fiber cement manufacturers and suppliers out there, but they don’t have more than 130 years of experience that James Hardie Building Products has in providing top-quality siding to more than 8 million homes in North America that proudly show fiber cement finishing. Although many people know Hardie products when they see them, you might not know exactly what fiber cement siding really is or why it’s such a beneficial product to use.
What Is Fiber Cement Siding?
There’s nothing new about fiber cement being used as an exterior siding and trim product. It’s been around since 1901 when an Austrian inventor patented reinforced fiber cement calling it “Eternit,” meaning an everlasting material that could withstand everything Mother Nature could throw at it. James Hardie, originally an Australian company started in 1888, saw the benefits of fiber cement siding and began manufacturing and distributing James Hardie fiber cement siding worldwide.
Fiber cement siding products became popular in America during the 1980s. Architects, builders and homeowners quickly realized that fiber cement products had enormous advantages with practically no disadvantages. Here’s what materials go into making Hardie-brand fiber cement building products:
- Portland cement: A limestone-based powder commonly used in all concrete manufacturing
- Wood pulp: Waste and recycled softwood fibers blended with cement powder to give it strength and flexibility
- Fly ash or silica sand: Binding and filling agents that increase durability and add bulk
- Water: Softens wood pulp and activates the cement powder to form a hard and permanent product
Portland cement, wood fiber, fly ash or silica and water are inert and renewable resources. They’re environmentally friendly and proven to be healthy and safe materials. However, when manufacturers first produced fiber cement siding boards, they included deadly asbestos fibers in the mix. Asbestos seemed a wonder material at the time by increasing strength and flexibility while reducing weight and adding fire resistant properties. James Hardie stopped using asbestos in the 1980s and, today, no American homes built or renovated with fiber cement siding contain asbestos materials.
Pros of Fiber Cement Siding
There are far more pros to renovating your home with fiber cement siding than cons. In fact, the pro list is extensive partly because of what’s available to you in the James Hardie line. You have many new fiber cement siding options available such as HardiePlank® lap siding, HardieShingle® wall treatments, HardieSoffit® eave protection, HardieTrim® detailing products and HardiePanel® for a board and batten look.
With so much to choose from, you can completely renovate your home’s entire exterior for a head-turning makeover. You can also add excellent resale value, making James Hardie fiber cement products a great return on investment. Here are the top pros on renovating with fiber cement:
- Durability: Fiber cement siding products are extremely durable. They withstand forces that other siding materials like aluminum, stucco and vinyl can’t handle.
- Longevity: You’ll get an exceptionally long life from fiber cement. James Hardie products come with a 30-year warranty.
- Appearance: Homes with fiber cement exterior finishing have outstanding curb appeal. You can recreate historic accents or develop a completely modern theme.
- Low maintenance: There’s very little upkeep required with fiber cement products. You’ll have more time to relax and enjoy life rather than repairing and maintaining siding.
- High return: James Hardie fiber cement siding materials add value to your home. You’ll have a high return on investment when you remodel with Hardie products.
- Fire resistant: Fiber cement is non-combustible. Hardie siding is the perfect choice in areas threatened by wildfire.
- Storm resistant: High winds from hurricanes or tornadoes are less threatening to fiber cement siding than other materials. Hardie products are well-suited to high wind areas.
- Rot proof: It’s impossible for fiber cement to rot. Unlike wood, fiber cement siding is impervious to water damage.
- Insect repellent: There is no food value in fiber cement. Insects such as termites won’t harm a HardiePlank home. The same goes for woodpeckers.
- Environmentally friendly: Fiber cement boards are made from natural products. These pose absolutely no environmental threat, unlike petroleum-based cladding.
These many advantages are enough to outweigh any disadvantages you might have heard about renovating with fiber cement products from James Hardie. Once your home is remodeled with Hardie siding, shingles and soffits, you’ll have years of durable protection that’s guaranteed to serve you without fail.
Cons of Fiber Cement Siding
There’s no such thing as a perfect siding material. Your exterior material choice depends on several factors, including the look you’re trying to achieve, blending with the neighborhood, protecting your investment and, of course, your budget.
The few cons identified about renovating your home with fiber cement siding are worth mentioning. There shouldn’t be anything unexpected when having your siding replaced with Hardie products. However, it is a significant investment, so it’s important to know both the advantages and disadvantages. Here are the perceived cons about fiber cement siding you should be aware of:
- Cost: Some people assume fiber cement products are much more expensive than alternate siding materials such as vinyl. It’s true that per-square-foot costs are higher with Hardie products than vinyl siding, but it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. Hardie siding, shingles and wallboard do cost more due to base material process and labor charges for installation. Fiber cement is a more substantial and more durable material, so purchasing this product does cost more money. Installing fiber cement takes longer and requires a high level of skill as well as specialized tools. This also adds to the price. Then there are the caulking, painting and sealing expenses. However, renovating with Hardie products is a true case of getting what you pay for. While the per-square-foot costs are higher, the year-over-year costs will be lower since you won’t have to replace fiber cement siding as soon. It’s worth noting that we work to offer extremely affordable prices at Sunshine Contracting to make it so that James Hardie siding does not cost you much more than vinyl siding!
- Time: Installing fiber cement siding and accessories is a time-consuming and laborious process. Your renovation project will take longer to clad in Hardie products compared to vinyl and that’s because there is more to the process. Fiber cement products are heavy and somewhat cumbersome to lift, especially when they’re up off the ground. Yes, it will take longer to remodel your home with James Hardie siding. In the scope of things, it really isn’t a great deal longer, especially when you consider the result. We are a trained and certified James Hardie Elite Preferred contractor, so you can rest assured that your James Hardie siding will be installed correctly and in a timely manner.
- Mess: You might have heard criticism that fiber cement products are messy to work with. There’s a lot of truth to that. Cutting dry fiber cement materials creates a lot of dust. It’s an outside job where wind can take the dust and cover everything around your property. This is easily overcome, though. Installing Hardieplank, HardieTrim and HardieSoffit is not a do-it-yourself weekend handyman task. Installers need proper training and specialized tools to do a professional job that enhances your home. Part of the professional’s job is dealing with the mess and dust control. By choosing a James Hardie Elite Preferred Remodeler, you’re assured your property is adequately protected. We always make sure to clean up after ourselves and ensure that your job site is clean!
These concerns are the main disadvantages people face when choosing fiber cement siding products for their home renovations. As you see, these cons really aren’t much of a factor considering you come away with an attractive and long-lasting look for your home. The pros certainly outweigh the cons when you appreciate the overall benefits that James Hardie siding provides for your home.
Benefits of James Hardie Siding for Your Home
One of the main advantages of choosing James Hardie siding for your home is protecting your investment. Re-siding your home is a significant investment both in time and money. You want reassurance that what you spend will be worth it over time. There is absolutely no question you’ll protect your investment when you renovate with fiber cement products from Hardie.
Return on investment is high with James Hardie siding. You’ll significantly increase your home value with Hardie siding products, not to mention making your home more marketable and easier to sell when the time comes. Here are additional benefits you’ll realize when you make the wise decision to wrap your home in James Hardie siding:
- Architectural design choices: There’s no end to creativity when it comes to mixing and matching James Hardie fiber cement products. Whether you have a Colonial, Craftsman or Tudor style home, you can recreate what the original builder’s vision entailed. Modern architectural designs also work well with Hardie products. Many homes built during the 1980s and 1990s can also up their curb appeal when renovating with fiber cement siding.
- Color selection: You have no color limitations with fiber cement products from James Hardie. Unlike vinyl and stucco, which have prescribed color choices, you have unlimited color creativity with Hardie products. You have the ease of selecting a factory-applied color coat with ColorPlus® Technology which is a fully engineered complete coating system with a 15-year non-fade warranty. Or, you can choose your own pallet and have it applied with 100 percent acrylic paint.
- Insurance credit: Because James Hardie fiber cement siding is wind, water, rot, insect and fire resistant, your insurance company may give you’re a favorable credit. Hardie products stand up to nature’s threats. Each year, insurance companies pay untold amounts in claims from wind, water and fire damage. Your liability lowers when you renovate with Hardie products. It’s only right that your insurance company recognizes the investment you’ve made to protect your home.
- Environmentally sound: Fiber cement siding materials are environmentally sound. They are natural products that do no harm when sourced. They also do no harm when they’re eventually returned to the ground. Hardie fiber cement products are recognized as environmentally sound through Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The same sustainability value also applies to your home.
Maintaining James Hardie Siding
James Hardie siding is not maintenance-free, but it is incredibly low-maintenance. If Hardie products are professionally prepared and installed, they require little more than routine dusting and washing. The amount of maintenance really depends on your property’s location and the surrounding environment.
Do take care when using a pressure washer to clean Hardie siding. The company recommends you never exceed 1,500 pounds of pressure and use a fan tip held at least 6 feet from the wall. Exceeding these limits will void the James Hardie warranty.
The best washing method is simply a hose under normal house pressure. For stubborn stains, mild detergent in warm water with a soft bristle brush should work well. Other than that, Hardie products require limited attention. Paint touch ups are easy should your fiber cement siding be nicked or scratched.
Contact Sunshine Contracting for Your James Hardie Siding Renovations
Sunshine Contracting is a family owned and operated renovation business serving Northern Virginia. For over 26 years, we’ve remodeled homes using fiber cement siding products from James Hardie. We have the trained staff with the proper tools and techniques to professionally turn your existing home into a head-turner.
At Sunshine Contracting, we’re proud to be a James Hardie Elite Preferred Contractor. We understand our products and processes to ensure you get the best protection and return on your investment possible. We can help you achieve that by renovating with James Hardie fiber cement siding.
Consider Sunshine Contracting for your fiber cement siding installation. Contact us today for a free estimate by calling 703-935-4663. You can also reach us through our online contact form.