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What is Fiber Cement Siding?

By B. Turner
Updated May 17, 2024
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Fiber cement siding is a construction material used to cover the exterior walls of a home or commercial building. This material serves as an alternative to traditional vinyl or wood siding, and offers many advantages over there materials in terms of durability and long-term value. Fiber cement siding consists of Portland cement, water, sand, and cellulose fibers pressed together to form sturdy boards or sheets. These boards can be cut or shaped to form different products to create the desired building design.

Many varieties of fiber cement siding feature long, rectangular boards that resemble aluminum or wood lap siding products. These boards are fastened to walls in overlapping rows in the style of clapboard siding. Some of these boards may be butted against one another horizontally or vertically to create a completely different look. Some fiber cement siding consists of smaller shingles that mimic the look of wood shakes or shingles. Some of these siding products feature an embossed surface that looks like real wood grain, while others feature a smooth finish.

Unlike wood siding, fiber cement siding won't rot or warp over time due to moisture or humidity. While aluminum siding is prone to dents, fiber cement won't dent or chip. It offers a high level of fire and termite resistance, and is strong enough to withstand high winds and harsh weather. Fiber cement siding is known for its durability, which gives it an expected lifespan much longer than that of similar siding materials.

Installers can paint or stain fiber cement siding to create the desired finish. This product holds paints and stains well, and requires very little maintenance over time. Some manufacturers offer pre-finished siding to make installation even easier. Pre-finished products often offer a better finish than those painted in the field, and the finish may last longer and be less prone to fading.

One of the primary drawbacks to fiber cement siding is its relatively heavy weight. This means it takes longer to install and requires multiple installers. Wall framing must be perfectly square before this siding is applied. Even small imperfections can show through because the siding is so stiff and rigid. There is also a risk of illness due to the silica dust contained within this siding. Installers should take care to protect themselves and others when cutting fiber cement siding. Silica dust only poses a risk during cutting, and is not a danger once installation is complete.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon346854 — On Sep 01, 2013

I replaced the cedar siding on the entire house in MA with Hardie five years ago, and the siding still looks new today. It was absolutely worth the money.

By anon311772 — On Jan 03, 2013

I had Certainteed fiber cement siding installed on my new home. Four years later, the stuff has shrunk and cracked so much that it is literally falling off the side of the house. The guarantee for labor is only two years so I have to pay again to get my house sided. I can't believe what junk this siding turned out to be. So much for the guarantee. -- Don, Benton, WI

By anon113743 — On Sep 25, 2010

I have had Certainteed fiber cement siding installed for less than two years in Michigan. This stuff is crap. It is warped so bad that I can stick my finger up under the above board. This is happening on the sunny hot sides of the house. It is also shrinking and cracking. Wausau Products prepainted it and I was told Certainteed has been having a lot of problems with some of their siding. I should have bought Hardie. $7000 shot plus installation. Denny, Jeddo,Mi.

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