The Pros and Cons of Fiber Cement Siding For Your Home

by Allison E. Beatty

Cement siding has been used in home construction for nearly 100 years and still adorns the exterior of thousands of home. Cement siding is available in many types and sizes, which makes it easily adaptable to the style of your home. If you like a more rustic look of wide clapboard, you can find widths up to 10 inches or so. This offers several possibilities for customizing the look and feel of your home's exterior fade.

You can also get fiber cement siding formed into shingles, trim elements, soffits and more.  The design possibilities are endless!!

What is fiber cement siding?

Cement siding is made of Portland cement, sand, water and various additives, a mix that is highly durable and ideal for home construction. The material is highly rigid, which makes it easier to install and put together without showing nail holes. This does require special tools for cutting, but the rigid nature helps improve the aesthetics of your home.

Cement siding can also be painted in a variety of colors and does not expand and contract as wood does, which keeps chipping and peeling to a minimum. It is competitively priced, close to the cost of vinyl siding or less. It has a long lifespan; some manufacturers offer a 50-year warranty on the material.

Cement Siding: Pros and Cons

Like any building material, there are pros and cons to cement siding. The primary advantage of cement siding is its resistance to rot, fire, wind and insect damage. This means the exterior walls and roof of your home can remain attractive for years. Sold in different textures, this product can be smooth, grooved or have stucco-like grains. These textures allow you to add a custom look to your exterior without the higher cost of redwood siding or stucco.

One factor that plagues many siding products is moisture. Faulty manufacturing or improper installation can allow water to seep behind the boards and cause rot and mold, as there is little evaporation through the siding.  The product is also very heavy, making installation somewhat more labor-intensive.  This isn't all bad...  the additional weight adds to the sound deadening and temperature-insulating properties. 

Proper Installation Is Key

One word of caution for anyone considering this durable product: monitor the installation carefully. As with many remodeling projects, the quality of the installation is key to a positive experience. Look for installers who have expertise with this material. They should be knowledgeable about the different styles and textures and how they can help customize a project. They also should know how to properly cut the material to reduce exposure to potentially hazardous particles. If you're thinking about handling this project yourself, make sure you have extensive experience and a good team to back you.

Cement siding has many advantages.  It may be the perfect choice for some, but not for everyone. Those who prefer natural materials, such as wood and brick, probably won't appreciate the manufactured look of cement siding, even though when painted it is indistinguishable from natural products.

About the Author:  Allison E. Beatty is a syndicated real estate writer who has been writing home improvement columns for 15 years.