Fiber Cement Siding

James Hardie Fiber Cement Siding
Fiber Cement Siding - James Hardie Siding

The siding you choose for the exterior of your home serves two purposes: add a distinctive appearance to your home that matches your aesthetic taste; and more importantly, to protect the structure itself from the harsh elements. If you are considering building your home 'green', the main criteria for siding is its durability.

Fiber Cement Siding: A Study in Durability

Fiber cement siding is manufactured with sand, cement, and wood fibers. It replaces a cement sheeting product that contained asbestos, certainly not a very green material, which was manufactured until the late 1980s.

Compared to other siding materials like vinyl and wood, fiber cement siding is extremely durable. Some of fiber cement siding's durability factors include:

Due to these highly durable qualities, many fiber cement siding manufacturers back their product up with long warranties, some up to 50 years; essentially for the life of the home.

Other Environmental Aspects of Fiber Cement Siding

James Hardie Fiber Cement Siding
Fiber Cement Siding - James Hardie Siding

Fiber cement siding's durability is its main green qualification, since replacing a home's siding more frequently generates a great deal of waste and the production of new siding is resource and energy intensive. But durability isn't fiber cement siding's only green attribute.

All natural materials: All of the materials used to produce fiber cement siding is natural: cement, wood pulp fiber, and sand. Other siding products, especially vinyl, are made from fossil fuels and other toxic chemicals and are non-renewable.

Fiber cement siding helps to create a super building envelope, the physical barrier between a home's interior and exterior. It allows for superior air circulation and the drainage of moisture.

Environmental Considerations for Fiber Cement Siding

While the materials used to make fiber cement siding are all natural, there are some environmental concerns over the huge amount of energy required to make cement. While this is a legitimate concern, the long term durability of the finished product should compensate for the high energy usage of manufacture. Some companies use wood fibers imported from far-off places like New Zealand and Russia. The transport of this material over such long distances is also energy intensive. Do your homework up front, as there are companies that source their raw materials domestically.

Installation of Fiber Cement Siding

James Hardie Fiber Cement Siding
Fiber Cement Siding - James Hardie Siding

As its durability (and its name) might suggest, fiber cement siding is HEAVY. It will require at least two people to carry the uncut siding sheets, which are also extremely fragile before they're installed and easily chipped or broken.

Cutting the siding requires power saws in a well-ventilated area, as long term exposure to the fine silica dust is a concern.

Your best bet: Leave installation to the professionals!

Fiber Cement Siding For a Beautiful Exterior

Fiber cement siding is manufactured in a variety of styles, and a huge selection of colors. It is available as overlapping horizontal or vertical boards, resembling wood or vinyl siding. It can also be made to look like cedar shingles.

Most fiber cement siding is primed and painted at the factory, and the paint job is as durable as the siding itself. Fiber cement siding takes paint extremely well, and the paint will last much longer than wood siding, often several times longer.

If you're planning to build a custom green home, and your budget allows for it, fiber cement siding is well worth considering. It will add beauty and class to your home, add to its value, and protect the structure for decades.

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