Making its initial appearance in 1903, fiber cement siding was durable, easy to maintain and inexpensive to produce. It originally used asbestos to strengthen the panels and fell out of popularity due to the mineral’s harmful side effects. But when asbestos fibers were replaced with cellulose fibers, fiber cement siding became more widely used. Today, it is a popular siding material because of its versatility and compatibility in a wide range of climate zones.
Also know as cement fiber siding and Hardie board, fiber cement siding is a viable alternative to wood siding, especially in areas that experience high humidity or continuous rainfall. It does not experience weathering issues such as rotting, blistering or cracking. It also tends to be immune to fluctuating temperatures, so it does well in climates with freeze-thaw cycles. In coastal regions, fiber cement boards can effectively protect against high and abrasive winds.
There are several advantages to choosing fiber cement siding for your home. As a manufactured material mostly composed of cement, sand and wood fibers, it’s not a food source for rot or insects such as termites. It is fire-resistant, repels moisture and humidity, and does not warp, bend or fluctuate (expand in heat, contract in cold). It can be designed to look like any type siding including stucco, cedar shakes and wood plank.
While Hardie board or fiber cement siding is typically more expensive than vinyl siding and some kinds of wood siding, it lasts 15 to 20 years and requires minimal upkeep. Unlike vinyl siding, it is easy to paint if you need to change the color or repair a damaged section. It is heavier than other siding materials and can take longer to install. But most homeowners who have chosen fiber cement siding agree that the advantages outnumber the disadvantages.