Sand-colored stucco-style fiber cement siding on a home above the brick half wall.
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The Best Options for Rainscreen Siding

Close-up of blue, stone-look fiber cement siding on the corner of a home.

By managing moisture and boosting ventilation, rainscreen siding can effectively protect an exterior and help it last longer. Rain, humidity and everyday moisture can cripple residential siding and create unsightly aesthetic issues — as well as costly damage. Rather than dealing with moisture damage after the fact, rainscreen siding provides a proactive solution that enables homeowners to avoid moisture damage altogether.

Before you order rainscreen siding materials, familiarize yourself with the design concept and consider the options. Though it’s easy to find rain shield siding in various materials, fiber cement tends to offer the best protection and advantages. Keep reading to learn more about rainscreen applications that can protect your biggest investment — your home.

Moisture Control and Wall Assembly Failure

Moisture damage remains one of the biggest threats to building exteriors. Yet some property owners think they can get away with skipping rainscreen applications and deal with damage when it comes up. As most find out, this decision typically ends up being a big mistake.

Water damage contributes to a wide range of issues, causing devastating repercussions for both the aesthetics and functionality of the siding. Rotting, cracking and peeling are problematic because they can compromise the curb appeal of the home and drag down property value.

Plus, these issues can be costly to repair. What’s even more bothersome is that these common signs of moisture damage are often the tip of the iceberg. When they go unaddressed, they can lead to more significant issues like structural damage, building leaks, rapid mold growth and wall assembly failure.

Rainscreen Siding Details and Design Functionality

A diagram of a wall with a gray rainscreen and Nichiha fiber cement panels being installed over top. A pink arrow points up from a panel towards the rainscreen layer.

Managing moisture is an essential step in avoiding wall assembly failure overall. Yet it’s impossible to eliminate moisture altogether, no matter how dry the climate and surrounding setting. Humidity, rain, snow, dew and condensation can all pose risks. 

When moisture seeps underneath the outermost layer of the building exterior, built-in rainscreen cladding becomes invaluable. Always look for rainscreen cladding that attacks moisture in three ways, as this proves to be the most effective way to deal with moisture in a consistent manner. The most effective rainscreen siding designs are those that minimize the threat of damage by deflecting, draining and drying moisture.

Reliable rainscreen designs consist of various elements that provide a multi-level approach to moisture management. Look for exterior cladding with a vented rainscreen, a draining space behind the cladding that enables airflow and an air/water barrier. The air/water barrier is pivotal in creating the proper conditions for ventilation so that moisture can evaporate.

This space also plays a role in pressure equalization. In windy conditions, well-designed rainscreens will experience equalized pressure on both sides of the cladding. This is crucial to keep more rainwater from getting sucked into the ventilation space. The less water that makes its way behind the cladding, the better.

Standard Rainscreen Siding Materials

Home with off-white fiber cement siding with a palm tree.

Not all rainscreen siding materials perform with the same caliber of protection. Though it’s generally safe to say that any rainscreen siding is better than no moisture management plan at all, homeowners should be aware of the varying degrees of quality that exist with each rainscreen siding material on the market.

Wood and vinyl rainscreen cladding designs are similar in quality to siding options made from those materials. As most homeowners already know, wood siding is associated with high maintenance needs, seasonal damage and routine deterioration — especially when it comes to rotting due to excess moisture and saturated siding panels.

Similarly, vinyl rainscreen designs can be considered comparable to vinyl exterior siding, offering similar risks and rewards. Vinyl tends to be particularly vulnerable to mold and mildew stemming from lingering moisture on its slick surface. It’s also more susceptible to surface damage, like scraping and bending.

Stucco cladding may be sold with a water-resistant barrier, but that should not be confused with effective rainscreen applications. While water-resistant barriers may help deflect water runoff, they are not designed to assist with drainage or ventilation that leads to drying. Remember, well-designed rainscreen details will feature all three factors: deflection, drainage and drying.

Rainscreen Siding with Better Performance and Longevity

Sand-colored stucco-style fiber cement siding on a home above the brick half wall.

By comparison, rainscreen siding materials made from fiber cement typically provide better performance overall. Offering more reliable compositional strength and resistance to the elements, fiber cement siding rainscreen solutions are better equipped to help residential exteriors last longer and keep them looking their best year after year.

Help Is On The Way

Looking for design or pricing assistance? Nichiha representatives are on-hand to answer your questions, ensure your detailing is technically sound and that your project meets all product and design requirements.

Beautiful Siding with a Built-In Rainscreen from Nichiha

Three-story beach home with wood look and gray fiber cement siding with white staircase leading to porch and front door.

Not sure how to install rainscreen cladding? Consider a built-in rainscreen design! 

Here at Nichiha, we make durable fiber cement siding with a built-in rainscreen that effectively minimizes the risk of moisture damage from the elements.

With plenty of styles — including wood-look designs with detailed wood grain patterns — Nichiha makes it easy to apply a reliable moisture management strategy without giving up the gorgeous aesthetics that you want for your home.

Contact our team at Nichiha today to explore effective rainscreen solutions and fiber cement siding styles that are designed to beautify and protect your home.

Rainscreen Siding: The Best Options & Applications

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