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Should You Install Fiber Cement Over Wood Siding?
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Should You Install Fiber Cement Over Wood Siding?

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There are a few questions about siding installations that come up frequently, especially if remodeling and retrofitting the exterior is part of the equation. You might want to consider removing the old siding for a few reasons. But one of the more common questions both homeowners and pros have on siding remodels is: Should, or can, fiber cement siding be installed over wood siding?

Professionals and industry experts have weighed in on how to handle exterior renovation when it comes to installing fiber cement over wood siding. Planning ahead with these insights in mind might help save time and money on that remodeling project you’ve been putting off… 

Installing Fiber Cement Over Siding

Fiber cement is a popular exterior material in modern home design because it gives homeowners a versatile and weather-resistant solution for protecting their investment. While you can install fiber cement siding over a few existing exterior materials, it’s important to ask questions before you begin the work. 

What’s the condition of your original siding? 

If you’re doing a retrofit, do the legwork and inspect the home’s current condition before doing anything else. Make sure the existing siding isn’t warped, delaminated, rotting, or damaged. Why? The long-term performance of your exterior siding panels is reliant on the framing, sheathing, and weather-resistant barrier (WRB) underneath.

Because wood siding is especially prone to damage from pest infestation, you’ll need to inspect the exterior for any signs of mice, termites, or other visitors. “Other issues that are important to address are possible rodent nests or damage from woodpeckers or other birds,” writes Jenica Lee with Southwest Exteriors

How trustworthy is the original siding? 

When you’re doing the legwork, be sure to get some history on your home before a remodel starts. Did a professional do the old siding job, or was it the previous homeowner?

siding-over-siding-rot-rottingSome fiber cement panels act as a rain-screen system, so when retrofitting fiber cement onto wood or any other material, the substrate should be in great shape prior to installation. Adding another layer onto the original siding might cover up existing issues, some of which can be serious, like previous water infiltration or foundation problems. 

“[I]t seems obvious that the right thing to do is to remove old cladding before installing new, but there are installers out there that will do whatever it takes to keep the cost of the job down,” says Anthony Ferrara with Northeast Remodeling

To do a thorough inspection and to ensure longer lasting home protection, it’s recommended that the existing siding be removed. “Cutting corners can end up cutting into your wallet when all is said and done,” says Ferrara.

Wood can be a strong exterior material, but it requires a lot of maintenance that homeowners can’t always maintain over the years. If your home has wood siding, take the safe bet and remove the siding before installing fiber cement.

Can I install fiber cement over any existing siding?

Other than wood, yes, some exterior materials can be successfully retrofitted with fiber cement siding, but it’s critical to ensure the job is done correctly and thoroughly.

“Man on scaffolding being handed a panel from a man on the ground” 

Installing fiber cement over brick siding provides a highly durable exterior, however, ensure that local energy requirements for insulation are followed and that furring strips are used to attach the fiber cement panels. 

An engineer or building envelope specialist should conduct a thorough evaluation of the existing brick’s capacity to support the additional loading imposed on it by a cladding retrofit.  “Building codes will usually require installing siding over water-resistant barriers and nailed into the studs every 16 or 24 inches,” writes Juan Rodriguez for The Balance.

Some professionals will also install fiber cement over stucco and other exterior insulation and finish systems such as EIFS, but anything that’s going to deteriorate over time should be removed and replaced entirely. If you’re not able to confidently verify what’s going on underneath the stucco, remove it. This saves on time, money, and headaches. 

(For more information on retrofitting, check out our Retrofits with AWP guide.)

Fiber cement siding specialists from Nichiha also suggest removing any sheathing and WRBs before the retrofit. This ensures that best practices are in place for exterior envelope waterproofing and weather protection. 

Thinking Ahead About Your Fiber Cement Siding

Fiber cement siding is a popular choice with pros and homeowners alike because it’s a smart way to protect a home exterior even in severe weather and coastal climates. Moreover, fiber cement siding is easy to maintain; it won’t need to be repainted or refinished like a wood exterior wall. 

Fiber cement siding also comes in an array of finishes, textures, and colors. Anyone can get their dream home design accomplished with fiber cement, whether classic, contemporary, transitional or otherwise. Nichiha’s high-quality architectural wall panels come in dozens of designs and residential architects around the world use them for both retrofits and new construction for completely unique home designs. 

Homeowners need solutions that will last for decades. Unlike many other siding materials, fiber cement siding gives homes a durable and stylish exterior without the aggravation of frequent maintenance. 

Take a look at the other ways Nichiha fiber cement has enhanced modern home designs

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