If you’re designing or remodeling your home, one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is selecting materials to design your exterior. Fiber cement siding has grown in popularity in the last few decades, so it’s very likely on your radar when it comes to exterior design. But if you haven’t weighed out fiber cement siding pros and cons yet, we can help.
Here are a few aspects of fiber cement design to consider when you’re navigating new home construction or a remodel.
There are some common concerns when it comes to building with fiber cement siding, and they’re worth investigating if you want an exterior siding option that performs as you expect.
The composite used to create fiber cement panels usually includes, well, cement.
It’s true that fiber cement is heavier than some exterior building materials, like vinyl or wood, and carrying panels might be a two-person job during installation. But that means that your siding contains actual cement which allows for both strength and durability… and it’s not as cumbersome as masonry or brick installations.
Water is an issue for most building materials because it can penetrate seams or cracks in your exterior siding and become noticeable.
That’s why the installation process for fiber cement is such a crucial part of protecting your exterior. “Because this material is more porous than vinyl, it can absorb water, especially through the cut edges,” according to Hunker.
But innovations in some fiber cement products have made the process more streamlined with clip installation systems, which lead to fewer mistakes and ensure the panels stay aligned and secure. Plus, Nichiha’s clip system also includes a built-in rainscreen, which funnels water away from your home’s interior and provides enough space for any moisture to dry, so you get both a fast installation AND a dry, healthy house.
This myth has been busted before, but only original applications of fiber cement panels were made with asbestos. After the use of asbestos was banned in building and construction in the 1980s, a substitute was found.
Fiber cement products are now made of fly ash, sand, cement and cellulose, or some version thereof — no asbestos to be seen. Today’s fiber cement designs have evolved considerably, and some manufacturers have developed products that can help architects achieve LEED credits for their projects.
One of the biggest myths is how much maintenance fiber cement requires.
“After 15 years, refinishing becomes necessary, but maintenance duties are light otherwise,” according to Steven Bernstein for BobVila.com, who praises the durability and low-upkeep of fiber cement. “Indeed, manufacturers’ warranties attest to the product’s durability with 30- to 50-year warranties the norm.”
If you still have concerns about working with fiber cement siding, it might help to consider why so many architects, builders and homeowners prefer it over other popular building materials.
According to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report, the cost of installing fiber cement provides big returns for homeowners.
“Nine out of the top ten high return projects are exterior replacement -- or high curb appeal -- projects,” reports BuilderOnline. “The three exterior projects with the highest recoup on investment are manufactured stone veneer installation (95.6%), garage door replacement (94.5%), and siding replacement with fiber-cement material (77.6%).”
Even if fiber cement cost is slightly higher on the onset, you can be sure it will pay off in the long run.
All exterior materials offer some level of weather protection, but some fiber cement products can stand up to harsh climates including High-Velocity Hurricane Zones (HVHZ) in Florida.
Like Nichiha Architectural Wall Panel rainscreen, and Sierra Shake and Savannah Smooth Premium planks before it, 5/16” fiber cement lap, panel and shingle NichiProducts siding were also recently approved for compliance with Miami-Dade County building code, where HVHZ standards are more stringent for water and wind protection.
Nichiha’s full system, from clip system to fiber cement panels to flashing and trim, work together to provide unbeatable weather protection, protection that is superior to standard fiber cement systems.
It really doesn’t matter what type of home design you’re after. For over a century, fiber cement board technology has helped homeowners around the world enhance their exterior, whether their home design is traditional, contemporary, modern or anywhere in between.
“Fiber cement siding comes in a variety of designs: Lap, plank, vertical, shake, curved-shake and geometric patterns are all available. Some fiber cement siding products are made to resemble wood, while others imitate the look of natural fieldstone, stacked flagstone or brick.” (BobVila.com)
The durability of fiber cement makes it a solution for homeowners in wildfire and other disaster-prone areas. In fact, manufacturers like Nichiha have produced panels with fire resistance in mind:
The Final Verdict on Fiber Cement
After reviewing the considerations and benefits of fiber cement siding, it’s clear that fiber cement is the best siding options available to homeowners today. From design flexibility to weather and moisture protection, fiber cement is a cost-effective solution for high-performing exterior design.
Still not sure about choosing fiber cement for your design? Take a look at Nichiha’s website for more resources and inspiration.
Or use our pricing estimator if you’d like to get started on your next siding project.