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Fiber Cement Board Siding: Old technology, new face

A type of exterior siding that has been used for over a hundred years, but is often forgotten about, will give you the look of wood minus the hassles. We’re talking about fiber cement lap siding, a durable substance made of sand, cement and cellulose fibers. The fiber gives the siding a durability similar to vinyl and is crack resistant as well. Originally made by a French company, advertisers claimed that it would resist fire, frost, acid, and ants. The material seems to have lived up to its name as fiber-cement sided homes are still around today and show no signs of rot or wear.

In addition to being immune to rot, fiber cement is not attractive to termites or other pests; thus it is ideal in areas where wood siding would require all kinds of coatings and annual inspections in order to catch damage while in the early stages. Fiber cement even has an advantage over vinyl in that it is resistant to fire. It also comes in many colors and can be custom colored at the factory.

Fiber cement is a bit more costly than vinyl but cheaper than wood and is guaranteed to last at least 50 years. In addition to multiple colors, it can also be purchased in many different variations of texture including stucco. The material will not shrink or expand with weather changes, so it is suitable for extreme climates. And if you order it with a surface coat, you will never need to repaint it.

Fiber cement is not very flexible. Thus, it is usually finished with vinyl around counters and ventilation ducts. It is also somewhat fragile prior to installation, so it needs to be handled with care or installed by a professional who will take responsibility for broken pieces. However, once it has been mounted onto your house, it is highly durable.  It is worth noting that while some homeowners prefer blind nails, the manufacturer recommends surface nails.

Fiber cement has some disadvantages over vinyl. It has high dust content, so care needs to be taken—such as wearing a face mask—when cutting the siding. It is also much heavier than vinyl and can break if it is carried flat. The surface on which it will be installed needs to be clean and smooth as the individual sheets will not hide waves or bumps in the surface as wood siding would. Also, the individual sheets are easily broken or chipped until they are installed. In high wind areas, surface nails rather than blind nails must be used.

Most people who use fiber cement siding consider the disadvantages well worth the end results of durability and appearance. You will find manufacturers in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and California.

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