Fiber Cement FAQs
Home / Blog

Fiber Cement FAQs: Materials Use, Longevity and More

Your home’s exterior is its first impression, and you want it to look its best. But you also want your exterior siding to do more than just look good. It needs to last and stand up to the elements, pests and even extreme events like hurricanes and wildfires.

Fiber cement siding is a modern residential siding solution that does it all. If you’re looking for home siding options, we’re here to answer your questions.

What is fiber cement siding? 

Fiber cement siding is made from wood fiber, Portland cement, water and sometimes other materials like sand. It’s a product with growing popularity among homeowners and can be manufactured to mimic the look of a number of traditional and modern siding products including:

How long does fiber-cement last? 

One of fiber cement siding’s key selling features is its durability. It is resistant to rot, fire, pests, extreme temperatures and severe weather like hurricanes. High-quality fiber cement siding can last for decades, and many of Nichiha’s fiber cement products have a 30-year limited manufacturer’s warranty.

Does fiber cement siding increase home value?

Updating your home’s siding is always a great way to improve your property value and curb appeal. As the most visible part of your home’s exterior, it’s key to making a great first impression. 

Installing fiber cement siding can provide up to a 78% return on investment. Coupled with cost savings related to lower maintenance and replacement when compared to other types of exterior siding, fiber cement siding is considered to be a generally positive investment.

Source: Houston Architectural Photographer, Houston Commercial Photographer, Houston Real Estate Photographer

Does fiber cement siding rot? 

Compared to other siding products like wood, fiber cement siding is far less susceptible to rot. It is moisture-resistant, meaning it won’t absorb water the way wood siding does. Since water is one of the key accelerators of rot, fiber cement board siding will last substantially longer than wood. 

For extra longevity, regular cleaning will keep your fiber cement siding in great condition for decades.

How to install fiber cement siding? 

Fiber cement siding is heavy and somewhat brittle before installation, so we recommend it be installed by a contractor to avoid wasted material, extra costs and to manage worksite safety. 

Fiber cement trim and siding are installed using nails which can be fixed in place with a hammer or pneumatic nailer. Because of its density, fiber cement siding needs galvanized or stainless steel nails instead of softer materials. These nails are also corrosion-resistant, so they won’t rust into your siding over time.

How to cut fiber cement siding? 

If you’re cutting your own siding, you can do so with a circular saw equipped with a diamond-toothed blade. This is the most common tool used by both contractors and DIYers. You can also use fiber cement shears, which are hand-held electric shears used to make straight and round cuts.

To make fast cuts, you can score fiber cement the way you would drywall. Use a carbide-tipped scoring knife along the backside of the fiber cement board panels and snap it. The downside to this type of cut is it often isn’t very clean, so while it’s useful to get boards down to size quickly, you may still need to cut again to get a clean edge or install it somewhere the edge will be covered.

Is fiber cement siding fire resistant? 

Yes. Cement has been a popular building material for centuries because of its fire resistance, and that property carries over to fiber cement siding. Installing it, particularly in areas prone to wildfires, is a great way to protect your home until help can arrive.


Can fiber cement siding be painted? 

Yes. While some products are available pre-painted, meaning no painting is required after installation, other primed products are painted on-site, just like wood siding. 

You’ll also want to periodically repaint your fiber cement siding to keep up its appearance over time.

Is fiber cement siding expensive? 

The cost of fiber cement siding is relative to its longevity compared to the other types of siding you may be considering. Upfront, fiber cement is more expensive than vinyl or steel siding, but less expensive than brick, stone or stucco siding.

Many fiber cement siding products are made to look like vinyl lap siding. While fiber cement is more expensive to buy than vinyl, it is longer-lasting, making the year-over-year costs much more affordable.

Is fiber cement siding waterproof? 

Fiber cement boards are treated with a waterproof coating, and their density makes them highly resistant to water intrusion. However, if they’re not being used immediately on a job site, they should be stored off the ground, and cut ends should either be sealed or protected with fiber cement trim.

Is fiber cement siding woodpecker-proof? 

If you’ve had problems with woodpeckers damaging your siding, then fiber cement siding may be the best choice for you. Its density makes it too hard for woodpeckers to get through. 

Fiber cement has long been touted as largely pest-resistant, which is a double bonus if you’re worried about insects as well as woodpeckers. Many woodpeckers damage wooden siding because organic material makes a great food source for insects. Since woodpeckers are on the hunt for bugs, they won’t find a free buffet in a fiber cement clad home.


Is fiber cement siding heavy?

Fiber cement is very heavy, compared to other types of modern exterior sidings. A sheet of fiber cement siding can weigh as much as five times more than a piece of vinyl siding the same size and also significantly more than wood siding.

If you are installing, or even moving, fiber cement siding without a professional, you’ll want at least one other person to help you. Not only is fiber cement siding very heavy, but it can also be brittle before installation, so you need to make sure you take precautions to ensure it doesn’t crack or chip.

Is fiber cement siding eco-friendly? 

Fiber cement is an environmentally-friendly and sustainable choice for residential siding. It uses wood fiber that is frequently a waste product from other wood product manufacturing facilities and generates very little waste of its own.

Can fiber cement siding be stained? 

Not in the traditional sense. Stain is used to bring out wood siding’s natural woodgrain look and while fiber cement siding can be manufactured to mimic that look, it doesn’t need staining to complete it. 

That said, if you’re looking for a classic and warm traditional siding look, then products like Nichiha’s Sierra Premium Shake or VintageWood bring a stained aesthetic, without all the extra work.


Can fiber cement siding be installed over brick? 

Yes, it can. While it’s not as straightforward as installing siding over a new home with studs and insulation, fiber cement siding can be installed over brick. To do this, you’ll want to hire an experienced contractor who can properly prepare your existing brick facade and uses the right tools to make sure your fiber cement stays properly attached over time.

Do Nichiha’s fiber cement products responsibly use raw materials?

Yes. Nichiha’s manufacturing process focuses intensely on making sure we use as many recycled and sustainable materials as we can. As with any siding product, there is always a trade-off between using purely natural materials, like wood, and the durability that comes from an engineered product, but Nichiha’s engineering process includes the following:

By balancing responsible use of raw materials and manufacturing our fiber cement siding in a lower impact manner, we can achieve a beautiful, high-design, high-performance modern rainscreen cladding product that's affordable, workable and long-lasting.

Can fiber cement only be used for siding?

No. In fact, fiber cement has many other applications, the most common being indoor wall panels, as well as exterior trim, fascia and soffits.

Fiber cement can be used indoors as wall paneling. Its various finishes mean you can achieve any look from flat industrial gray to warm wood tones and everything in between. Fiber cement is also frequently used in code-compliant situations, like around gas fireplaces, to achieve indoor fire resistance.

Nichiha also makes fiber cement exterior trim, fascia and soffits. These products work hand-in-hand with exterior siding to ensure your home’s entire exterior is durable, rot- and moisture-resistant.

I’m concerned about healthy living. Is fiber cement a good choice?

Yes! Homeowners, builders, building owners, architects and designers concerned about healthy living should definitely consider fiber cement products. Many issues related to poor indoor air quality and symptoms of sick building syndrome come from moisture intrusion. Fiber cement is moisture-resistant, leading to less water accumulation in indoor spaces over time, even as siding ages.

For builders and owners especially concerned, ventilated rainscreen systems create space for moisture-laden air to be recirculated and dry out before it ever has a chance to enter the building. These types of air/moisture/vapor, or AMV, systems need to be properly installed to make sure they are effective.

I’m not familiar with fiber cement at all. How do I know it will last?

Fiber cement has been a durable and long-lasting cladding solution in homebuilding markets outside North America for decades, so while it’s a relatively new product in the United States when compared to traditional materials like wood and masonry, it already has a long-standing track record.

Nichiha first began manufacturing fiber cement panels in Japan in 1974. That’s more than 40 years of experience refining and improving our product. Our operations have been ISO 9001 accredited for manufacturing quality since 1999.

Where do I find pricing and places to buy fiber cement siding?

If you’re looking for design and pricing assistance, a Nichiha rep will be happy to work with you. Contact us now or you can click here to try out our estimator tool.

Categories: Performance
mail_outline link

This website uses cookies for analytics, personalised content and ads. By continuing to browse this site you agree to this use.

I Understand