Fiber cement siding combines the durability and resilience of cement with the appearance of wood siding.
The main advantage of fiber cement siding is that it is long-lasting, low maintenance and offers a premium look at a fraction of the cost of high-end siding materials.
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Average Cost Of Fiber Cement Siding
Across the US, installing fiber cement siding on a 2,000 sq.ft. home costs $16,000 – $28,000 depending on local labor rates, siding brand you select and complexity of installation.
On average, fiber cement siding costs between $1.99 and $9 per square foot for materials only.
Including installation, fiber cement siding costs $8 – $14 per square foot.
Fiber cement siding is a mid-range siding material choice that costs more than vinyl siding but less than wood or stone. Premium aluminum siding and fiber cement siding are priced roughly equivalently.
Although the material costs of aluminum, vinyl, and fiber cement are similar, fiber cement costs much more per square foot to install because it is a heavier material.
You can use our Siding Cost Calculator to estimate the cost of replacing siding on your home.
Factors Impacting The Cost To Install Fiber Cement Siding
Does your old siding need to be removed first? The first factor to consider is whether previous siding needs to be removed.
In many situations where fiber cement is installed, the previous siding must be removed and disposed of. The labor to remove old siding is fairly intensive for inexperienced workers and the garbage dumpster fees can add up, too.
What type and style of fiber cement siding will you use? There are less expensive boards and more costly architectural grade materials with superior structural integrity. Your choice will impact your cost.
Can you keep any existing materials on the house? While it may not be a huge expense, it will certainly save you money if you can keep materials like existing window trim.
The cost of fiber cement siding itself will vary depending on a variety of factors, including whether you choose clapboard, shingles, or planks.
Other factors that impact cost include the finish you select, size and thickness of the boards, the scope of the project, as well as local labor costs.
Cost Of Fiber Cement Siding vs. Other Siding Types
There are many different types of siding on the market, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
Cost-wise, fiber cement siding is one of the more affordable options on the market, although it is less popular than some other cheaper material types such as vinyl siding.
Here is the cost break down of the most popular siding materials, including fiber cement siding.
|Material||Cost per sq.ft.||Cost to install 2,000 sq.ft.|
|Fiber Cement siding||$4.5 – 9||$9,000 – 18,000|
|Vinyl Siding||$2.5 – 5.5||$5,000 – 11,000|
|Aluminum Siding||$2.75 – 4.5||$5,500 – 9,000|
|Engineered Wood Siding||$6.5 – 11||$13,000 – 22,000|
|Cedar Wood Siding (mid grade)||$6 – 7.5||$12,000 -14,000|
|Cedar Wood Siding (top grade)||$8 – 15||$16,000 – 30,000|
|Stucco||$7.5 – 11.5||$15,000 – 23,000|
|Stone Veneer||$15 – 30||$30,000 – 60,000|
DIY vs Professional Fiber Cement Siding Installation
Fiber cement weighs about 2.5 lbs per square foot and routinely requires two workers to install each lap siding piece. It has a tendency to crack if it is mishandled.
Specialized tools are needed to cut and nail it, and professional installers will be able to minimize material waste.
Check to make sure your contractor uses rustproof stainless-steel nails, primes all cuts, and caulks joints with a paintable exterior-grade sealant that will remain flexible.
In fact, these items should be written into your contract.
To reduce water absorption, fiber cement has to be installed at least 2 inches above steps, decks, and roofs, and at least 6 inches above ground level.
Fiber Cement Siding Types & Styles
There are essentially four styles of Fiber Cement: lap siding is the most common, shake and shingle, vertical panels, and architectural grade lap siding.
Each type of siding is available in a variety of finishes depending on the manufacturer, including smooth, wood-grain, or rough-hewn.
Fiber cement siding comes in boards and shingles that mimic wood grain patterns or rough-sawn wood. The siding also comes in panels that look like stone, brick and stucco. All have many different finishes and colors for every possible architectural and aesthetic option.
The board format is similar in dimension to that of vinyl siding and there are a variety of widths from 4 inches to 11 inches. The standard board length is 12 feet.
Shingles are sold either as individual shakes or in 4’, 8’ and 12’ foot strips with either wood-grain or hand-split wood-like textures. They are available in straight and staggered courses, as well as shapes such as half-round. Shakes and shingles tend to have the most natural, real-wood appearance.
Masonry-finish fiber cement comes in panels that are 5/6” or 5/8” thick and in varying sizes from 18 inches by 6 feet to 4 inches by 12 feet.
Finally, large-form boards are available for purchase in fiber cement. Large-form boards are commonly used in modernist architecture or for anyone looking to give their home a fresh, cutting edge look.
Fiber Cement Trim and Accessories
When purchasing new siding, you may want to match your trim and other accessories to the new siding. Many companies offer a range of fiber cement options for trim and accessories that can match or complement the fiber cement siding.
Additionally, some companies such as Woodtone offer wood trim and accessories to go with your fiber cement siding in order to give the home exterior a more naturalistic real wood appearance.
You can choose to match your trim and accessories with the color of your siding, or you can choose a complimentary color that will give your home an appearance that matches your desires.
Because fiber cement can be painted or stained into any color, it is easy to design an external home appearance that fits your needs.
Fiber Cement Siding Color Options
Fiber cement siding has to be painted or stained. This can be done before it’s installed or after, either by the manufacturer or by a paint shop hired by the lumberyard from which you purchase the siding.
Manufacturers charge about $1 per square foot and offer a 15-year warranty, but color choice is limited and you get only one coat.
Pre-painted siding cannot be repainted without voiding the warranty. The painted surface can usually last 7-15 years before painting is needed.
Paint shops provide two coats, 25-year warranties and hundreds of hues for about $2 per square foot, not including the cost to ship your order to and from the lumberyard. On-site painters generally offer one- or two-year warranties on their work.
Fiber Cement Siding Performance In Different Locations
Cold climates bring moisture, which in freezing temperatures can expand. Unlike vinyl, fiber cement does not become brittle in cold weather. It will not crack because of the freeze-thaw cycles.
In arid climates that are prone to wildfires, particularly in the western U.S., some insurance companies offer a discount for homes sided in fiber cement because it’s noncombustible. It’s also unaffected by the strong UV radiation typical at high altitudes.
Salt air, high humidity, and bright sun are constant challenges along the ocean but have no effect on this siding. With a proper nailing pattern, it will also withstand winds up to 130 mph. Almost every fiber cement manufacturer has Miami-Dade Hurricane Testing approval in Florida.
Fiber cement has a high alkaline content, which means insects like termites can’t digest it well. Termites and fungi thrive in the warmth and moisture of the southeastern U.S., such as in New Orleans, but they get no nourishment from fiber cement.
Advantages Of Fiber Cement Siding
Fiber cement has many advantages that make it a good choice for residential and sometimes even commercial siding projects. Here are some of the main benefits of fiber cement siding.
● Durable and Long Lasting: Compared with vinyl siding that only lasts about twenty years, fiber cement siding is durable and lasts for fifty years or longer with proper care. It is a strong material that is heat and fire resistant and ideal for hurricane or tornado prone regions because of its strength.
● Warp and Rot Resistant: Fiber cement siding will not absorb moisture from the air so you will not need to worry about rotting or warping like you would with vinyl or wood siding.
● Low Maintenance: Although many types of siding claim to be low maintenance, because of its moisture resistance and durability fiber cement siding truly requires minimal maintenance.
● Versatile Styles: Fiber cement siding has the advantage of wood in that it can be painted or stained any color imaginable. It also comes in shakes and shingles, clapboards, and vertical panels, giving you a wide range of choices for your project.
● Weather Resistant: Fiber cement will not warp in heat or crack and become brittle in cold temperatures, making it well-suited for more extreme climates.
Disadvantages of Fiber Cement Siding
Fiber cement siding has some disadvantages that you will want to consider before purchasing.
● Requires refinishing: Unlike vinyl siding, fiber cement siding will need to be repainted or re-stained to maintain its color and appearance.
● Dangerous Installation: Installing fiber cement generates a carcinogen that is dangerous when inhaled in large quantities, so installers have to be very cautious when installing. Special blades, ventilation, and respirators must be used to prevent inhalation.
● Environmental Concern: Producing cement requires a lot of energy, and the siding is very heavy so transportation uses a lot of energy.
Additionally, fiber cement siding cannot be recycled after use. Because of this, fiber cement is not the most
environmentally friendly siding option on the market.
Top Fiber Cement Siding Brands
Fiber-cement siding production is a large-scale, energy-intensive manufacturing process. As a result, there aren’t as many fiber cement siding brands and manufacturers as you find in other home-finishing industries.
Here are the top brands to consider:
James Hardie Siding
James Hardie is the top and most popular fiber cement siding. In fact, to most homeowners, Hardie siding is synonymous with fiber cement, and they are not aware that there are other brands available.
If you want quality fiber cement siding you cannot go wrong with Hardie. The company has been dominating the industry for over 100 years and has basically set the standard for fiber cement siding.
Their primary product is called HardiPlank, which comes in simple lap siding panels that are 5/16” thick by 12” long, with a range of widths available.
James Hardie also sells longer and thinner planks, vertical panels, and shingles.
If you have a high-end home or building, you should consider the Artisan Collection from James Hardie. This premium collection was especially designed for luxury homes, boasting deep shadow lines, wider and thicker boards for a truly stunning look.
Out of all large and trustworthy fiber cement manufacturers, only Hardie produces tongue and groove wood siding.
This product is part of their high-end Artisan Collection, and is called Artisan V-Rustic.
Currently, it is only available in California, Washington, South & North Carolina, and South Texas. Artisan V-Rustic panels are available factory-primed only.
Nichiha is a Japanese company best known for its commercial fiber cement siding.
In terms of residential siding, Nichiha is famous for making large fiber cement boards and panels with a modern look, although they do also produce shakes and shingles.
If you want an alternative to Hardie, there is VintageWood by Nichiha. This vertical siding is available in two beautiful shades of bark and cedar, with a cedar grain impression.
Since Nichiha specializes in commercial siding, their residential siding products boast commercial grade durability and design.
VintageWood would look great on its own, or paired with other siding materials, such as metal, glass, or block panels.
Keep in mind that Nichiha siding cannot be purchased through standard retailers, but can be ordered through your contractor.
Although GAF Weatherside is primarily a roofing company, they have almost monopolized the production of fiber cement shake and shingle siding.
Weatherside is readily available in retail stores such as Home Depot, so homeowners can purchase Weatherside shakes and shingles without a middle-man.
Weatherside shingles are well-suited for repairs or full building projects.
Allura fiber cement siding is the strongest competitor of James Hardie, in the US residential siding market.
Similar to James Hardie, Allura carries standard clapboard, vertical planks, and shake and shingle style fiber cement siding.
They also provide large panels for more modern applications, and a range of trims and color choices.
If you are looking for a bit more color and plank size options than what Hardie has to offer, you will be very pleased with Allura’s wood lap siding line.
There are 6 sizes, 12 solid colors, and 6 wood stain colors to choose from. As a result, Allura siding looks strikingly similar to real cedar wood, and gives you a lot more custom design options.
Moreover, if you want decorative shingle siding made of fiber cement, Allura is your best bet. The company offers either half-round or octagonal shingles with 7 inch exposure.
Half rounds are available in 21 different colors, while octagons have 22 color choices to choose from. With such an impressive selection, sky is the limit to the designs you can create.
In terms of pricing, Allura is similar in price to James Hardie, so ultimately you have to decide which look you prefer for your house.
Fiber Cement Siding vs. Vinyl Siding
Vinyl siding and fiber cement are both popular choices with distinct features and pros and cons.
Cost-wise, fiber cement and vinyl siding are both on the lower end of the price range, with vinyl being the cheapest option.
However, installing fiber cement siding is much more costly than installing vinyl siding, because the material is heavier and more difficult to maneuver.
Also, vinyl siding can be installed DIY, in contrast to fiber cement siding.
In terms of environmental impact, fiber cement siding is naturally well-insulated. However, when vinyl siding is insulated (this is not a given), it will be more energy efficient than fiber cement siding.
Fiber cement siding is considered more high performance than most vinyl siding. It is naturally warp resistant, and will not become brittle or crack in the cold.
Additionally, fiber cement is largely moisture resistant and will not rot or become moldy, whereas vinyl siding is more likely to have damage from moisture or temperature changes.
Overall, fiber cement siding is the preferred choice on more upscale homes, as it provides much better curb appeal and durability than even upscale vinyl siding.
Fiber Cement vs. Wood Siding
When compared with fiber cement siding, the main advantages of wood siding are its natural appearance and easy installation.
Wood has a naturally rustic and beautiful appearance, and although fiber cement attempts to replicate these qualities, sometimes it falls short.
Additionally, fiber cement siding is arduous to install, whereas installing wood siding is straightforward.
Aside from these features, fiber cement siding is almost always preferable to wood siding, even though its actually more expensive.
Compared to average quality cedar wood siding, which costs $6-10 per square foot, fiber cement is typically 20-30% more costly.
However, wood is susceptible to moisture damage and can experience rotting, warping, mold, and infestations. Fiber cement, on the other hand, is resistant to these ailments.
Fiber Cement Siding vs. Aluminum Siding
Aluminum is another affordable and popular siding choice. Aluminum is a soft, light metal, which makes it both advantageous and disadvantageous for siding.
On the one hand, aluminum’s lightweight nature makes it very easy to install, especially when compared to heavier materials such as fiber cement.
On the other hand, aluminum is not as durable as fiber cement siding, and is susceptible to denting or damage. This makes aluminum siding ill-suited for regions that experience hail or high winds and falling debris.
Aluminum siding costs on average $6-11 per square foot installed, and will have a lower installation cost than fiber cement siding because of its lightweight nature.
Keep in mind that aluminum siding will require extra insulation if you live in cold climates, whereas fiber cement siding will likely not require any extra insulation.
Because aluminum does not need to be painted or stained like fiber cement, it will require less maintenance.
However, aluminum siding is offered in a much more limited range of colors and styles than fiber cement, which limits the range of its applications.
Fiber Cement vs. Natural Stone Siding
Fiber cement siding has many of the benefits of natural stone siding but without the extremely high cost. Per square foot, stone siding costs between $30 and $50 per square foot, with high installation costs.
In comparison, fiber cement siding costs only $8 to $14 per square foot installed
Like natural stone siding, fiber cement is moisture resistant, weather resistant, strong, and long-lasting.
However, fiber cement siding has the appearance of wood siding, whereas stone siding has a distinct rustic and traditional appearance that cannot be achieved with fiber cement.
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What Is Fiber Cement Siding?
Fiber cement is made from a slurry of wood pulp, fly ash and Portland cement mixed with water and then allowed to harden.
It was first developed in the early 1900s by Ludwig Hatschek of Austria. He developed fiber cement to offer a stronger and less expensive alternative to using wood, brick and stone on the outside of houses. Originally, it was made from cement and asbestos.
When the health dangers of asbestos became known, particularly in the manufacturing process, asbestos stopped being added to the product. Today, fiber cement siding is no longer made with asbestos.
There are four ingredients used to make fiber cement today
Water: dissolves the wood pulp, and activates and hardens the cement.
Wood pulp: improves flexibility and resilience.
Fly ash: acts as a filler (some manufacturers use silica sand instead)
Portland cement: binds the ingredients
How Is Fiber Cement Siding Made?
Fiber cement is either processed as a wet or dry mixture depending on whether thick or thin panels are being made. The panels are then machined, finished and coated on all sides and edges. After they’ve dried, they are sorted and packed for delivery.
The dry process allows for more aesthetic definition and design options because the mixture is pressed into sheets, instead of rolled and then cured in high-pressure ovens so they harden. It’s impossible to achieve this design flexibility with a wet process.
The wet manufacturing process creates multiple layers of fiber cement, while the dry process creates just one layer.
The single layer makes the dry process more suitable for cold climates because the multiple layers of the wet process can become separated by the cold.
How Long Does Fiber Cement Siding Last?
With proper care and maintenance, fiber cement can last fifty years or longer, making it one of the more long-lasting siding material types on the market.
Although fiber cement is moisture resistant, there are some ways of preventing additional moisture from entering and causing damage. One method is regularly inspecting the caulking to make sure there are no cracks that need repairing.
You should also keep the siding clean and maintain your gutter system to reduce the risk of damage down the line.
How Durable Is Fiber Cement Siding?
Fiber cement siding is a long-lasting, durable product that costs a fraction of other siding materials.
Some manufacturers offer warranties for the life of the siding up to 50 years, although the surface usually needs repainting every 10 to 15 years.
There is very little maintenance required. Fiber cement is not damaged by UV rays, salt or sand. It can also hold up to very strong winds since it is heavy and stiff. Fiber cement siding is highly fire-resistant and also offers protection from rot and termites.
Do You Need To Repaint Fiber Cement Siding?
Fiber cement siding will require repainting or re-staining. Fiber cement siding will have to be refinished more infrequently than wood, only around every ten to fifteen years.
You will likely need to refinish your siding several times during its lifetime. Some fiber cement siding will come with a paint warranty of twenty five years, on average, which may cover refinishing when the time comes.
When you repaint or re-stain siding, you can choose from a large variety of colors and shades, allowing you to shift the appearance of your home without purchasing new siding.
Other siding types such as vinyl need to be completely replaced if you want a color change.
You can use our Exterior Painting Calculator to estimate the cost of repainting your siding
What Is The Return On Investment Of Fiber Cement Siding?
Fiber cement siding has a high return on investment (ROI) of as much as 87%. This means that when you sell your home, you can receive back 87% of the amount you paid for your siding in the selling price of your home.
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