Photo by Charlie Vinz

Update: Masonite siding is a great material to use on the exterior of your home. It’s easy to install and resembles wood, but is usually available at a much cheaper price. You’ll need to treat masonite thoroughly before having it installed as it is susceptible to rotting, cracking and peeling. Once you have installed it though, you will only need to re-paint and re-treat it probably once every five years, making it a pretty low-maintenance material.

Masonite is the brand name of a type of hardboard siding that is made from wood, wax, and resins. The manufacturing process involves the interfelting and consolidation of wood fibers under heat and pressure. The siding is available in the form of laps and panels that have equal strength on all sides. It is available in a wide variety of colors and textures that imitate the feel of lumber. Masonite is available in thickness of 7/16th inch and 1/2 inch. Lap siding is available in lengths up to 16 feet, panel siding is available in widths up to 4 feet and lengths up to 9 feet. The product is available in four different finishes, primed, prepainted, prestained, and pre-finished. Masonite needs to be painted every 5-6 years. Exterior latex and acrylic paint are the most suitable for painting Masonite.

Masonite siding is relatively easy to install and duplicates the look of wood. Masonite has the disadvantage of being susceptible to rot, peeling, cracking, fire, and insect attacks; the siding has to be primed correctly before application; blind nailing is not possible when face nailed and buckling takes place around the nail heads; it can take on a wavy appearance; the product has been discontinued in some areas due to several failures. Maintenance of Masonite involves treating it with fungus repellants and insecticides.

Even though Masonite is easy to install, it is best if installed by a professional. The majority of problems with Masonite have been traced to faulty installation. If the installation is faulty, it voids the manufacturer’s warranty.

During the installation of Masonite, the following points should be taken care of:

  • Siding fibers are exposed if the nail head is pushed beyond the flush position; this begins the process of moisture absorption. Ideally, the nails should be driven such that they butt to the siding. A nail head should be caulked if it is sunk less than 1/8″.
  • The bottom rows of lap siding should be hand-painted as most spray painting jobs neglect the bottom edges, which is where water droplets accumulate and get absorbed into the siding.
  • Uncut siding boards should be installed with the end edges painted and if the board has to be cut then the exposed edge that is unprimed should be caulked.
  • Masonite is installed at least six inches above the ground level to prevent the siding from absorbing moisture from the ground. It is important to follow this rule and provide the necessary clearance as the bottom portions of the sidings do not get painted properly and moisture can set in.