Fiber cement: a vacation from siding maintenance

Fiber cement: a vacation from siding maintenance

What can be said about wood siding that hasn't been said so many times before? The material's unique graining and natural beauty has made it a homeowner favorite for generations, and it can be stained or painted to complement just about any exterior décor. Yes, wood could almost be considered the perfect residential siding, except for one drawback: its never-ending need for maintenance.

Fiber cement siding: the low-maintenance alternative

Do you dream of spending summer vacations perched on a ladder with a paint brush in your hand? If so, then wood might be the ideal siding for your house. However, if you like the look of wood but prefer less strenuous vacation pursuits, consider installing one of the many available fiber cement siding styles on your home.

Fiber cement looks so much like wood that even woodpeckers may have trouble telling the difference -- at least until the first peck. The reason: manufacturers such as CertainTeed use grain patterns from real cedar boards to simulate an authentic wood appearance in their fiber cement products. Here are a few other reasons why fiber cement might be a better choice than wood:

  • Moisture damage. Painting or staining wood every couple of years is the way to protect it against water damage and rot. But have you ever seen cement that rots? Didn't think so. That's why it's used for building foundations and sidewalks.
  • Insects. If you ever meet a termite that eats cement, run away very fast. Fiber cement, however, is immune to insect damage -- you cannot say the same about wood.
  • Fire. Fiber cement is non-combustible whereas wood … not so much.
  • Painting. Whether you hire a contractor or DIY, wood siding requires paint or stain on a regular basis. While fiber cement can be painted, manufacturers such as JamesHardie offer numerous factory-applied color options for their products. The company's HardiPlank lap siding is available in 23 colors that are warranted against fading for 15 years.
  • Cost. Depending on the species and style, wood siding can cost in the range of $6 to $8 per square foot of wall area to purchase and have installed. When you increase that price by $1 to $2 per square foot for several coats of latex paint, fiber cement's range of $4 to $6 for material and labor is clearly the better deal.

So it's your choice -- if you believe nothing beats the real thing, watch the summer sales circulars for good deals on paint and brushes. However, if you like wood's appearance but have other plans for your vacations, consider installing fiber cement siding on your home.

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