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Fiber Cement Siding Evolution

When you hear about exterior and interior design “versatility,” fiber cement siding might not be the first material that pops into your mind. Maybe something more positive like ‘fiber cement board is growing in acceptance.’

Not everyone knows the whole story about fiber cement siding, which has evolved over the decades. It’s a highly innovative, dependable material for the modern architect, designer, homeowner or builder. Cement board is offered in a variety of styles, finishes and colors, and offers better weather protection than other materials.  

Fiber cement cladding technology has enhanced millions of homes all over the world. Maybe a few of them will inspire your next exterior design.

Looking Back at Cementitious Siding Solutions

Homeowners have used materials like wood, stone and brick for centuries to protect their home’s exterior. But wood panels and shingles are prone to rot and insects, and they require additional maintenance and replacement. Materials like brick and stone are more durable, but can also be more costly and need to be installed in certain dry conditions. 

Ludwig Hatschek of Austria came up with a solution at the beginning of the 20th century: by using asbestos fibers combined with regular cement, he was able to manufacture a strong and long-lasting construction panel. 

By pressing the cement and fiber mixture through a cardboard press, he was able to create a thin cladding panel that was highly durable, but more affordable and low-maintenance than other materials. The asbestos-cement products were popular in Europe for decades, and it was widely used during World War II as a fireproof alternative to other roofing and siding panels. 

For several decades, the asbestos-cement panels performed without equal durability as exterior siding and roofing. Eventually, it was discovered that the asbestos fibers posed a health risk to building occupants, so a safer and equally durable replacement using cellulose-reinforced cement was created in the 1980s. 

Today’s fiber cement siding panels are tested diligently for compliance with safety and health regulations, retaining the same high-performance and affordability of the original panels that Hatschek invented. 

Over the last few decades, there has been much innovation to add new products, better finishes and robust installation components. Owing to this growing design flexibility, cement board sidings and claddings are trending. Here’s how.

A Growing Trend: Fiber Cement Siding 

Once an asbestos-free version of the panels was created, the trend of fiber cement siding for homes took off. In the last couple of decades, fiber cement has remained highly popular because it’s an affordable, high-performing and versatile solution for homeowners.

“It's the only type of siding that combines the performance of masonry—minimal upkeep, rot-, fire- and termite-proof unaffected by wind or cold—with the look of painted wood clapboards, shingles, even stone or brick,” writes Sal Vaglica with This Old House

You can find fiber cement siding on 15% of new homes today, a testament to the long-standing reliability of the product. Modern architects continue to find ways to use the durable panels in their designs, both residential and commercial. 

Fiber cement continues to grow as architects specify it more often due to its low cost but high performance and aesthetics. Sal points out, “It's even accepted for use in some historic districts.” 

Fiber Cement Around the World

Fiber cement siding was popular in Europe when it was first manufactured. Since then, we’ve seen impressive home designs using the material all over the world, from the U.S. to Japan to Chile. 

The fiber cement evolution is still going on today. Today’s cement board cladding products make it even easier to style your home. Nichiha’s fiber cement panels feature an easy-to-use clip-on installation system, making it simple (and faster) for pros to install. 

And while they can be installed to protect the exterior of your home, many homeowners also find unique ways to include fiber cement in their interior design, as well. Both the interior and exterior house panels come in an array of styles and colors making it easy to create your own unique design.

The Future of Home Design

Today’s homes need to be protected with lasting materials that support your design goals. Homeowners want reliable, quality-tested materials that offer their home a style they’ll love for as long as they live there

Nichiha’s fiber cement wall siding panels are also sustainably made from more than 50% recycled materials. They are classified as green products because they divert waste from landfills, put materials (like fly ash) to practical use and last longer on the building than other products. Nichiha is committed to implementing the best manufacturing practices, so 90% of all the materials used in the manufacturing process are sourced within 200 miles. 

Building codes today are more stringent than ever to ensure homes are able to withstand the effects of climate change and natural disasters. Nichiha’s fiber cement panels are specified all over the U.S. (and the world) for their weather-resilience and are quality-tested to ensure they protect your home from the elements. 

Fiber Cement Siding Solutions That Last

If you’re looking for a durable material that will protect your home and enhance its style, fiber cement siding has offered exterior solutions for decades and works with just about any home design

Nichiha’s innovative panels are easy-to-install and work for both interior and exterior applications. If you’re looking for ways to elevate the look of your home, check out a few modern design trends for inspiration!

Or take a look at how Nichiha fiber cement siding offers fire-protection (and lots of style) to these Southwestern homes.

Categories: Performance
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