Fiber cement may not be the hippest-sounding building material, but its design properties make up for it tenfold
Wood, stone, brick, and vinyl like to steal the spotlight in the home siding game, but there's one option that truly has it all. Fiber cement officially hit the market about 40 years ago, but its ability to stand against wind, rain, hail, and even fire—not to mention its eco-conscious perks—is still turning a lot of homeowners' heads. Check out some of the top perks of choosing fiber cement siding for your home, whether you live in the rainy Pacific Northwest or hot and humid Miami Beach.
What Is Fiber Cement Siding?
While this clever mixture came about over 100 years ago, it didn't burst onto the home-building scene until the 1980s. On a basic level, fiber cement is a clever composite of:
Portland cement (limestone, iron, and clay)
Wood pulp (cellulose fibers)
The combination of these materials makes it both flexible and strong. It cuts to the ideal size, shape, and style for your home's siding while still holding up against nearly everything mother nature can throw at it.
Fiber cement siding pieces either come pre-stained and painted in the shop or once installed on your home. You'll find a long list of finishes and styles, including one of the closest imitators of wood paneling without dealing with the real thing.
Before jumping into the major upsides of fiber cement, we should mention that fiber cement is not the cheapest option on the market, at least upfront. The cost of fiber cement ranges between $6 and $10 per square foot, which is quite higher than any of its competitors.
Additionally, you'll likely need a pro to install your siding, as it’s often hard to handle and releases silica dust when cut. That said, you will spot long-term price benefits on our list for its incredible durability.
Top Benefits of Choosing Fiber Cement
One of the biggest challenges when siding a home is contending with a region's local climate. Fiber cement siding works in many areas, including those with high winds, salty air, and wood-hungry bugs. In other words, these perks apply to you no matter where you live.
1. Impressive Longevity
There's a reason why a warranty for fiber cement can range between 30 and 50 years, but the siding itself even lasts much longer. While you will need to update siding's paint and finish after about 10 years, its durability against the elements stands the test of time.
By using less wood and plastic, earth-conscious home builders are often big fans of fiber cement. Its longevity also means using fewer materials over your home's lifetime. James Hardie, one of the most well-known manufacturers, prides itself on its dedication to environmental responsibility and community involvement.
3. Safe Against Fires
Fiber cement earns a Class 1A fire rating, the highest option for building materials. This means that fiber cement isn’t considered combustible and will not actively fuel a fire should one break out in or near your home. If you live in an area prone to wildfires, your insurance company may prefer this siding when offering lower rates.
Termites and other wood-boring insects live all across the country, either coming up from the ground or traveling from nearby trees. Luckily, the mix of cement and ash wards off these costly insects, making it an ideal material for both safety and peace of mind.
5. Durable Against Impact
When hail hammers into the side of your home, fiber cement stands up against the impact. It can also resist dents and dings by major impacts of tree branches and other windblown items.
Unlike natural wood siding, you don't have to worry about the threat of rot from moisture, mold, and mildew. This makes it a great choice for humid and seaside climates.
7. Holds Up in the Wind
One of the most significant concerns of vinyl siding is its weakness against hurricane-strength winds. Some fiber cement siding styles can withstand 130 mph winds, so those in storm-heavy areas turn to this option for extra strength.
8. Highly Versatile
With all this talk about durability, how does it look? As a manufactured product, you have your pick of siding shapes, colors, and styles. If you don't want to deal with the weight, price, and upkeep of fieldstone or brick, fiber siding can even fill in the gaps in renovated historic homes—even if you're mixing and matching siding materials.
9. Emulates Wood Paneling
Similarly, fiber cement is the go-to choice for those who want wood paneling but want to skip the high cost of upkeep. As we mentioned above, fiber cement is often also a safer choice in areas with high rates of wildfires without losing the classic wood look.
10. Low Maintenance Costs
Between its sharp look and hardy strength, low maintenance costs should come as no surprise. While fiber cement is not indestructible—a common myth about fiber cement siding—it doesn’t require as much upkeep for weather, pest, and rot damage as many other common materials.
11. Easy to Install
This perk comes with a caveat. Fiber cement siding is easy to shape, personalize, and install—when you hire a professional. Getting that tailored look may also take less time, and therefore money, than brick or stone. We strongly recommend against DIYing since it's heavy, breakable, and dust-prone during construction.
While fiber cement siding may cost a bit more at the offset, its trusted durability and low-maintenance needs make this an investment easy to care for in the years ahead. Chat with your local siding contractors about fiber cement options and how they can upgrade the look and longevity of your home.