Busting the Myths about Fiber Cement Siding

Fiber cement siding has labored under a bad reputation for many decades, and sometimes with good reason. But today’s newer technology has made fiber cement siding one of the safest and most reliable options for exterior cladding on the market today. Here’s why it could be the best choice for your home.

A great example of fiber cement siding. Image credit: California Energy Consultant Service

Myth: Fiber cement contains asbestos and is not safe.

Fact: Unfortunately, early versions of fiber cement were made with asbestos. When the health hazards of asbestos were realized, fiber cement fell out of favor. Over the last few decades, however, cellulose has replaced asbestos as a key ingredient in fiber cement, and the material is now considered just as safe as other exterior cladding options.

For homeowners who have fiber cement siding that was installed many years ago, it is important to remember that the simple presence of asbestos in the siding is not dangerous. It is when those asbestos fibers go airborne, such as during a renovation or removal of the siding, that it becomes an issue. In many cases, simply covering the old fiber cement siding with new is preferable.

Myth: The siding is too difficult to install.

Fact: Installation of any type of siding takes some experience and a healthy knowledge of tools. However, fiber cement siding is more rigid and sturdier than other types, and that can mean that do-it-yourself installation is tough. That’s why fiber cement siding manufacturers usually recommend hiring a professional contractor to handle the work.

If you are determined to handle the work yourself, make sure to read all instructions carefully, especially those about cutting the fiber cement siding to the proper length. Since it is so sturdy, special tools are required to make the cuts. Because so much silica dust can go airborne during the process, it is also important to wear some sort of respirator mask or other protection for your lungs.

Myth: Fiber cement siding is more expensive than other options.

Fact: This is actually true in many cases, but there is good reason. Fiber cement siding offers superior quality in terms of durability, maintenance and safety. Fiber cement siding can last for well over 100 years, as many early installations have proven. The siding requires only the most minimal maintenance, which usually means a simple cleaning with water. Fiber cement siding is resistant to rot, insects and fire, making it a great product for those with safety concerns. Fiber cement siding costs might be higher than that of competing types of cladding, but the longevity and safety can be worth every extra penny.

Myth: Fiber cement siding is not a green product.

Fact: The greenest products are those that stand the test of time. The fewer times you have to replace the siding in your lifetime, the more efficient and environmentally-friendly that siding is. Fiber cement siding has a sterling reputation of lasting for the lifetime of the home; in fact, some siding put on homes over 100 years ago still looks great today.

Myth: Fiber cement looks cheap, even when painted every few years.

Fact: Nothing could be further from the truth. Fiber cement cladding looks so much like wood that it might take a very close, hands-on inspection to see the difference. The siding comes in all sorts of finishes and colors, making it a very versatile option for even historical neighborhoods. If you do choose to paint your siding, it takes paint very well and looks great for many years before repainting is necessary.

Don’t let the old myths about fiber cement siding turn you off to the options available today. If you are looking for a versatile, durable look that requires little maintenance and offers peace of mind, fiber cement siding could be the best choice for your remodel.


About Shannon Dauphin

Shannon Dauphin has written 13 posts in this blog.

Shannon Dauphin is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. Her current home was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her necessary hobbies.


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