What Is Fiber Cement Siding Made Of?

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Fiber cement siding is a jack of all trades. It shares the durability of cement, but it looks like masonry or wood. It combines all the best elements of several different types of siding. You may wonder what fiber cement siding is made of since it shares characteristics with other types of siding.

We’ve put together this guide to answer your questions about the makeup of fiber cement siding. We also explain why this type of siding is a good choice and the properties it includes.

What Is Fiber Cement?

Fiber cement is a mixture of portland cement, fly ash, water and wood pulp. Each contributes to fiber cement’s unique properties. The wood pulp makes the mixture flexible but also strong. The ash acts as a filler and can get substituted with silica sand. The cement, made of iron, limestone and clay, binds all the ingredients together. Adding water catalyzes the mixture to turn into cement.

Fiber siding also requires minimum upkeep, which, in addition to its aesthetics, attracts many people to the material. Fiber siding has quickly become one of the most in-demand types of siding due to its versatility and durability. It also costs less than some other types of siding, including certain vinyl, wood, stucco and brick options.

Properties of Fiber Cement Siding

Fiber cement siding’s unmatched durability means it stands up to stressors that can degrade regular siding. Those properties include:

  • Termite-proof
  • Fire-proof
  • Rot-proof
  • Unaffected in hot or cold weather

Flaking and fading will not occur for some time when you use fiber cement. The durable mix withstands everyday weather and even the harsher stuff, with a manufacturer warranty of 30-50 years from James Hardie, depending on the type of Fiber Cement siding you choose. No other material can make siding that lasts that long. Most fiber cement siding also comes with a warranty on aging or cracking.

How to Make Fiber Cement Siding

You can make fiber cement siding using the mixture mentioned above. Then you can use it to make clapboards, which are more prevalent, and shingles. You need special tools to cut and handle fiber cement siding because of its delicate makeup. If you use the wrong tool, the fiber cement siding will crack or break.

You will need to paint or stain the fiber cement siding before applying it to your home. You can either order it with your preferred paint or stain or have your contractor paint it for you.

Fiber Cement Siding Materials

Generally, your contractor will provide all the materials you need when they install fiber cement siding. Still, you may want to know your options. Your contractor can advise you on how much fiber cement siding you will need to purchase. You should calculate how much you need by dividing the square footage of your walls by the square feet of a piece of siding.

You can combine fiber cement siding with wood trim for a sophisticated look for your home. You must caulk to fill the gaps between the siding and trim.

Why Is Fiber Cement a Good Choice?

Fiber cement creates a sturdy, reliable source for siding. We love working with it because it offers our customers versability. They love the way it looks on their homes, and they also appreciate the low-maintenance setup of fiber cement. If you are considering replacing your siding, consider choosing James Hardie fiber cement. Here are a few advantages of this material:

  • Less mold and mildew: In the sometimes humid climate of Virginia, you need siding that can resist mold and mildew, which build up in hot weather. Fiber cement doesn’t absorb moisture like wood siding. Without that moisture, termites will also avoid fiber cement siding.
  • Holds up to bright sun: Virginia can also be quite sunny throughout the spring, summer and fall. Fiber cement won’t fade or bleach in the sun, like so many other types of siding.
  • Resists cold weather: Though Virginia is a southern state, it still gets cold in the winter. Fiber cement can withstand sub-zero temperatures without cracking or fading.
  • Style matching: Does your home have a unique style you want to preserve? Fiber cement offers style matching options to keep the same character for the outside of your house.
  • Green materials: For those who are environmentally conscious, the sustainable materials used to create fiber cement are green and eco-friendly.
  • Insect resistant: Fiber cement is insect-proof.
  • Fire-resistant: Fiber cement is fire-proof.
  • Low-maintenance: All you have to do to maintain the look of your siding is wash it with a hose every six to 12 months. Don’t use a pressure washer, as that may damage the fiber cement.

How Fiber Cement Siding Compares to Other Common Materials

When choosing siding for your home, you may find that you are overwhelmed by the wide range of options available. Understanding how fiber cement siding stands up when compared to other popular materials can help you make the best choice for your home improvement project.

Below, we’re providing a quick comparison between fiber cement and other common choices.

Fiber Cement vs. Vinyl Siding

There are a few differences to keep in mind when comparing these two materials. One is that while vinyl siding can be more energy efficient due to the option to include an insulating layer during installation, fiber cement is more eco-friendly as it is made from more sustainable materials and, unlike vinyl siding, does not necessitate the use of fossil fuels. It’s also important to keep in mind that fiber cement is more flame-retardant and heat-resistant, as vinyl can melt when it is exposed to extreme temperatures.

Fiber Cement vs. Wood Siding

Many homeowners love the appearance of wood siding, but don’t necessarily take into account the drawbacks of using this material on their home’s exterior. For example, wood siding is less resistant to UV rays, moisture, and pests than fiber cement. Plus, fiber cement can actually be formulated to take on that classic cedar texture for a natural look without the disadvantages of using real wood.

Fiber Cement vs. Stucco

The unique beauty of stucco offers a special appeal, but there are numerous reasons why fiber cement may be a better choice for your home. Stucco installation is a labor-intensive process, with the high cost to show for it. In addition to being more expensive, it is also prone to water damage and will eventually develop ugly cracks. When compared to stucco, fiber cement offers superior moisture proofing and impact resistance.

Fiber Cement vs. Brick

While you may assume that a brick home is built entirely with brick, this material is typically applied to the surface of the structure as a veneer, much like fiber cement siding. Additionally, both brick and fiber cement are naturally durable and resistant to moisture and pests. However, the similarities between the two materials stop there. As a heavy material, brick is more challenging, time-consuming, and costly to install. Furthermore, the mortar joints between brick are not as durable as the brick itself, making this option a higher maintenance choice than fiber cement.

Maintaining Your Fiber Cement Siding

You can extend the already lengthy lifespan of your fiber cement siding through proper maintenance. In addition to regular cleaning with low-pressure water, it is also essential to call for repairs promptly if you ever notice any rare evidence of damage, such as cracks or chips. Periodic inspections by a professional with a well-trained eye can help you avoid missing any telltale signs of damage and will go a long way to ensuring your siding lasts as long as possible. You may also eventually choose to refresh the appearance of your siding with a fresh coat of acrylic paint, which should only be done after re-sealing any areas that could invite water infiltration.

When you invest in siding for your home, you want something that will last for decades to come. Fiber cement checks all your boxes, from durability to style to eco-friendliness. We are a James Hardie Elite Preferred contractor and can pass the benefits of that status on to you. Want to learn more about fiber cement siding or the advantages of working with Sunshine Contracting? Contact us today with questions or to schedule a free in-home consultation.

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