Photo by Charlie Vinz

Update: Fiber cement is a great material for protecting your home. It is very low maintenance yet is extremely durable, and protects against problems such as rot and water damage. It also acts as a blank canvas so you can add any pattern or color you want to, meaning that you can be creative as you want with your home’s exterior while still making sure it’s protected.

Fiber-cement siding is made up of sand, cement, and cellulose fiber. The fiber, which is treated with pressurized steam to increase its strength and stability, is added to the concrete to minimize the occurrence of cracks. Fiber plankes are cheaper than wood siding. Fiber-cement siding is growing in popularity and its cost will decrease as more people implement the use of it. They are available in widths ranging from 5? inches to 12 inches, the length can be up to 12 feet, and the thickness is approximately 5/16th of an inch. Fiber cement siding can also be applied in the form of shingles that have a height between 12 to 14 inches and the length can be either 24, 25, or 32 inches.

Fiber-cement boards are cut using a carbide-tipped saw blade or snapper shears. The siding is installed over an exterior wall of sheathing and a water-resistant barrier. The siding is available both primed and unprimed, with appearances of wood grain, smooth tiles, and or stucco. Along with the exterior walls, fiber cement can be used as soffits.

Fiber-cement siding is easy to mold into various shapes, it resists rot, seepage, and insect attacks. It requires low maintenance. Once painted; the paint does not peel or chip. However, care must be taken that the boards do not get scratched when they are moved around the job site.

Also, proper sealing and detailing of the joints is important to ensure a long life of the siding. With a little maintenance, fiber cement siding can last for up to 50 years. Periodic maintenance activities include renailing loose siding, removing shrubs and tree branches that rub against the siding, replace cracked caulking to prevent extended contact with water as this may lead to discoloring and an increase in fungus and mildew growth. The siding can be washed with water that is mixed with a regular detergent. The siding should be sponged from the bottom to top and then rinsed with clean water. Bleach is an effective remedy against mildew.

Fiber cement siding can be installed as a do it yourself project. Before starting, it is best to read the manufacturer’s instructions. Moving the 12-foot boards may take more than one person. The trims for the windows and corners should ideally be of vinyl, aluminum should be avoided as it reacts with the fiber cement material. If wood is used for the trims, it is important that it be backprimed before installation. The siding can be blind nailed like vinyl siding. Stainless steel nails are best suited for use in installing fiber cement siding.

The siding is installed after the window trims, starter strips, and the corner boards are installed. The butt joints should be caulked properly to prevent leakage.