Fiber Cement Board Siding
Everything old is new again, or so they say. In the case of fiber cement siding, that's certainly true. Fiber cement siding has been in existence for over 100 years, but over time it faded to the back burner as exciting, new, 'modern' technologies such as vinyl hit the market. Fiber cement siding was invented in France, and it offers the look of wood without many of the maintenance issues associated with it.
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Fiber Cement Board Siding : A Time-Tested Solution to Modern Problems
Fiber cement doesn't rot, it won't warp or distort even in sodden climates, and it isn't very hospitable to termites or other pests. In forested areas that experience a lot of rain or other moisture, that makes fiber cement a welcome alternative to the maintenance demands of wood siding. And unlike vinyl, fiber cement is fire resistant a benefit to homes in fire-prone areas such as California. It's also recommended for hot, humid climates due to the fact that it is mold resistant.
Fiber cement siding weathers well, and withstands high impact. It can be cut like wood, although blades that reduce dust are recommended. Snapper shears or a guillotine cutter are also acceptable. Fiber cement siding is available from many home siding manufacturers, and usually comes with a 50-year warrantee.
What is Fiber Cement?
Fiber cement lap siding is a resilient mixture of cement, sand, and cellulose fiber. The cellulose fiber has been treated with pressurized steam, which makes it much more durable and dimensionally stable. The steam-cured fiber is also what helps prevent the siding from cracking. View fiber cement siding images.
The original French manufacturers exported fiber cement, then made with asbestos fibers, around the world during its heyday, promoting its resistance to 'fire, frost, acid, and ants.' Many of the homes outfitted with fiber cement siding all those years ago still have the original fiber cement siding even now. With the revelations of asbestos' dangers, cellulose was substituted instead.
Colors and Painting
Fiber cement manufacturers offer a wide variety of colors, sure to meet the needs of most homeowners. Custom color matching can also be accommodated. Some manufacturers offer 25-year paint warranties.
Unless a topcoat is factory-applied, you may need to repaint approximately four to five years. It is generally recommended that you buy primed and painted fiber cement siding, but primed and unprimed is also available. If you or your contractor will be priming and painting the siding, be sure to use an alkaline-resistant primer and a 100% acrylic topcoat.
Factory-painted siding also offers a choice of finishes. Smooth, colonial smooth, and colonial rough-sawn are some options, as well as woodgrain and stucco.
Installing Fiber Cement
Fiber cement is installed over studs, like most wood siding. Widths range from 6 to 12 inches, and are typically 12 feet long. Surface nails are recommended, but blind nails can be used under certain guidelines. With greater widths, blind nails are not recommended due to wind uplift. Take note: Staples shouldn't be used at all!
Fiber cement panels are also available, usually 4-foot widths and 9- or 10-foot lengths. These panels are excellent for Tudor homes.
Use only vinyl trim to join your panels or accentuate your siding not aluminum siding. (The alkaline in fiber cement causes corrosion.)
When milling your cement fiber siding, try to minimize the dust. While asbestos is no longer a concern, inhaling a lot of concrete and fiber dust isn't a great idea. The siding is heavy, and a bit flexible, so carry it on edge rather than flat. In pre-installation sheet form, it's also a bit fragile, so be careful not to chip or break it. Once installed, this is no longer a problem.
The Last Word On Fiber Cement Siding
Fiber cement siding is sturdy and low maintenance, every homeowner's dream. Fiber cement siding is comparable to vinyl in strength, durability and its resistance to cracking, but it's also a little more expensive. However, it's less expensive than stucco or wood siding. For the money, performance, and durability, fiber cement siding is a very good investment.