Fiber cement siding is rapidly gaining popularity as a durable and affordable alternative to traditional wood, vinyl, and aluminum siding. This composite material can withstand moisture, insects, fire, and other hazards.
Unlike some manufactured siding products, fiber cement does not have an abbreviated life span. With proper installation and maintenance, fiber cement sidings will enhance your home’s curb appeal for decades to come.
What Is Fiber Cement Siding?
Fiber cement siding consists of sand, cement, and cellulose fibers bound together with a polymer additive. The cement makes the panels strong and rigid, while the fibers provide flexibility to resist cracking. Fiber cement doesn’t rot, warp, or swell when exposed to moisture like wood. Additionally, it doesn’t dent like aluminum and lacks the plastic-like appearance of vinyl siding.
Fiber cement sidings are available in a variety of styles. Lap sidings resemble traditional wood boards with overlapped horizontal lines, while vertical sidings create a more contemporary, sleek aesthetic. Fiber cement shingles mimic the layered effect of asphalt or wood shake siding. You can also cut, shape, and paint panels for full customization.
Structure and Finish Warranties
Strong manufacturer warranties back fiber cement siding to give you peace of mind on your investment. There are two types of warranties you’ll want to understand:
The structural warranty ranges from 30 years up to a limited lifetime, depending on the brand. This warranty means the manufacturer guarantees the siding will remain intact and will not crack, delaminate, or otherwise fail during normal use. The warranty does not cover damage from improper installation, accidents, or abuse.
The finish warranty is typically around 15 years. During this coverage period, the manufacturer warrants that the siding’s factory-applied finish will not blister, flake, or peel. Keep in mind that field-applied coats you add after installation are not covered under the product warranty.
How Long Does Fiber Cement Siding Last?
When weighing siding options for your home, longevity is a key factor, along with the up-front siding cost. With proper care and upkeep, your fiber cement siding life expectancy can be over 60 years. Keeping the siding clean and well-sealed will help it last for decades. Harsh weather takes the biggest toll on your siding by causing expansion and contraction that can stress the materials. Promptly sealing cracks and gaps prevents moisture intrusion that can cause deterioration over time.
Comparing Lifespans of Other Sidings
Here’s how fiber cement compares to other common types of house siding in expected life span:
- Wood siding can last 15–40 years before needing replacement. Frequent repainting and sealing are required to avoid rotting, warping, cracking, and other damage.
- Vinyl siding lasts around 30–40 years, but it becomes brittle and fades over time. Cheaper vinyl may warp and deform within 10 years.
- Aluminum siding lasts 20–40 years before the materials deteriorate. The finish usually shows signs of aging sooner.
- Brick lasts 50–100 years and requires repointing mortar every 50–75 years.
- Stone siding is extremely long-lasting, with a life span of over 100 years.
Fiber cement outperforms wood and matches aluminum and vinyl siding. With proper installation and maintenance, it provides decades of reliable performance. The siding will usually outlive its finish warranty, at which point it would need refinishing.
Benefits of Fiber Cement Over Alternatives
Beyond its life span, fiber cement offers advantages over other siding options:
For lasting performance and low maintenance, fiber cement is tough to beat. The materials provide durability and integrity, keeping your home’s exterior beautiful for decades.
So, Is Fiber Cement Siding a Good Choice for Your Home?
For most homes, fiber cement siding is an excellent choice. It provides long-lasting curb appeal with very low maintenance. The siding will likely outlive its warranties by decades, even under harsh weather. Fiber cement offers great value, providing durability and esthetics. Its strengths definitely outweigh its limitations.
If you want the authentic look of wood, consider high-quality wood siding or textured fiber cement boards that mimic wood grain. For the absolute lowest cost, basic vinyl siding may beat fiber cement on price alone, but you would sacrifice longevity, durability, and esthetics. Weigh your priorities, and if you seek durable, low-maintenance siding that will grace your home for a lifetime, we recommend fiber cement siding.
FAQs About Fiber Cement Siding
Does fiber cement siding need to be painted?
Fiber cement siding comes pre-finished from the factory with a durable paint or stain coating that has a warranty of about 15 years. Once the warranty period ends, the siding will likely need refinishing. Expect to repaint or re-stain every 10 to 15 years for optimal appearance.
How much does fiber cement siding cost?
Fiber cement siding costs around $5 to $13 per square foot on average installed. This price is comparable to mid-grade vinyl siding. Higher-end vinyl and authentic wood sidings usually cost more.
What are the disadvantages of fiber cement siding?
Fiber cement is brittle and can crack if mishandled during installation or struck by objects after installation. Proper installation is important to avoid moisture issues down the line, and it does require occasional repainting, unlike vinyl.
How long does fiber cement siding installation take?
The fiber cement siding installation process typically takes about a week or two. The time varies based on the size of your home. Prepping the existing siding for replacement can add time as well.
Is fiber cement siding environmentally friendly?
Fiber cement siding contains some recycled materials, but it also uses sand and concrete components that have higher carbon footprints. Overall, it is considered moderately eco-friendly among siding options. It doesn’t rely heavily on plastics or use old-growth wood.
Can fiber cement siding be installed over existing siding?
In some cases, you can install fiber cement siding over existing wood siding if it is structurally sound. Vinyl, aluminum, or asbestos siding should definitely be removed first. A professional can determine if your existing siding provides a suitable substrate for fiber cement.
Is fiber cement siding fireproof?
Fiber cement siding is non-combustible and will not ignite when exposed to fire. However, at extremely high temperatures, the cement can degrade. Building codes recognize fiber cement siding as having enhanced fire resistance compared to combustible wood or vinyl.
Is fiber cement siding waterproof?
The siding itself resists water intrusion but is not waterproof. Avoiding cracks and properly caulking, flashing, and sealing the siding during installation is important to prevent water infiltration behind the siding over time. Careful installation and maintenance help the siding remain watertight.
Can you install fiber cement siding yourself?
Fiber cement siding can be DIY-installed. However, precise techniques are required to install the siding properly while keeping it intact. We recommend professional installation to provide proper handling, sealing, attachment, and alignment. Any DIY mistakes during installation can compromise the siding’s performance and durability down the line.