When it comes to picking the correct siding finish for your house it’s not always easy to get the correct balance between style, durability, maintenance and most of all affordability. When you pick materials such as wood, stone, brick, vinyl or stucco, then you may end up with only a few of the above options. The only way to achieve all four of these is to go with fiber cement, which is a mix of wood pulp and Portland cement that requires minimal upkeep. It is also rot-, fire- and termite-proof, unaffected by wind or cold, and has the option of a painted look resembling wood clapboards, shingles, stone or brick.
Fiber cement consists of four ingredients: wood pulp which improves the flexibility as well as the resilience, fly ash which acts as a filler, Portland cement which binds the ingredients that contain clay, iron, limestone and last but not least water which dissolves the wood pulp and activates as well as hardens the cement. On average the fiber cement will run you about $1.70 a square foot, which also will depend on the finish, overall size and where you purchased it. However, don’t think of this as an opportunity to do it yourself. It may weigh only about 2.5 pounds per square foot, but due to possible mishandling, it has a tendency to crack – not to mention the specialized tools you would need to cut it as well as nail it, therefore it would be best left to a professional.
This type of material is very durable and outperforms many of its competitors in a vast range of climates. It is very popular in the western U.S. and areas that are prone to wildfires as insurance companies offer a discount for homes that use fiber cement because of its noncombustible nature, as well as it not being affected by the strong UV radiation if your home is set at a higher altitude. In the South, especially lowland places like New Orleans, termites and fungi may try to invade the dark, moist nooks and crannies of the house – but they will get no nourishment from fiber cement as opposed to other materials! On the East Coast it’s very humid, filled with salty air and accompanied by the bright sunlight. These are the constant challenges of the environment but these challenges have no effect on this particular siding. If it is attached correctly it can withstand wind speeds of up to 130 miles per hour. A little further north, in New England climates, fiber cement doesn’t become brittle in the cold weather, it easily withstands below-zero temperatures. There’s no need to worry about repairing cracks in the siding after each winter season – fiber cement lowers maintenance costs all year round, but especially in winter.
Fiber Cement siding is available in a stunning variety of textures, finishes, and colors. It can masquerade as wood shingles, complete with minute fiber textures and authentic color, or pretend to be classy stucco with subtle color variations, or imitate aluminum siding, right down to the groove styles. Here are just a few of the many available options: