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Exterior Siding & Cladding - Fiber Cement

 

Fiber-cement is a mixture of cellulose fiber material, portland cement and silica sand, water and other additives. It is rolled into sheets; pressed with pattern, the cut to shape before being autoclaved [baked under pressure] to reduce moisture and increase its strength.

This low moisture content gives into a material that is very stable after installation - no warpage or excessive movement - and one that promotes excellent paint adhesion.

The siding is compatible with most other types of material now on the market, so you can utilize any type of natural wood or composite wood product for corner boards and trim.

Fiber-cement siding is available in lap siding, panels, soffit, fasica, shingles and trim.

Most Suited To:

Durability of the product suits a range of climates. It can withstand hurricane force winds and the harsh snow of Northern climates.

High fire resistance makes it a great choice in wooded areas where wildfires are a concern.

It is also an excellent product for use in high-moisture areas where warpage or termite damage would shorten the life of wood or wood-composite siding.

Cost:

Generally costs more than vinyl siding but is less than masonry, wood, and stucco. Pays for itself over time due to decreased maintenance.

Benefits:

Warranted against rot, swell, and deterioration. 50-year warranty against manufacturing defects; transferable to the next owner.

Retains paint well - 7-10 years and resists moisture.

Designed for a homeowner to install.

Considerations:

Heavy, can be difficult to manuever if not handled properly. Weight is about half again as much as a comparable size composite wood sheet or board.

Contains sand (silica), it can be hazardous to inhale the dust. Manufacturers recommend cutting fiber cement outdoors with pneumatic hand shears, specific saw blades, and using dust control devices on circular saws.

Finishing:

Arrives prefinished [primed] from the factory; it only requires one coat of quality Acrylic paint. Paint bonds very well to the surface.

Maintenance:

Fiber cement siding is very nearly maintenance free.

Does not rot, twist, or breakdown due to moisture, insects, or weather.

Options:

Sizes - Large sheets similar to plywood, planks and shingles. Sheets match many standard plywood siding patterns.

As with plywood siding, sheet sizes are 4' wide and 8', 9' or 10' long.
Board siding is available in 9 ½" and 12" width and in 14' lengths instead of the 16' found in most composite wood siding products.

Styles - Available with a smooth face or embossed to resemble actual wood siding boards. Pattern repeats are widely spaced.

Accessories - Most manufacturers also offer metal inside and outside corner pieces and metal splice connectors for butt joints on long walls. These are available in both smooth or wood-textured finish.

Be sure to ask about accessory and trim pieces when you are deciding what product to use.

Installation:

Fiber-cement siding can be nailed with 8D common or roofing nails. It can be configured to blind-nailing or face nailing [fastened through the overlap for added wind shear].

See Manufacturers installation instructions. Carry on edge and hold in the middle of the plank. You will need:

  • Nail gun or hammer
  • Chalk line for creating straight lines on the wall
  • A 7 1/4” circular saw blade with polycrystaline diamond tips
  • Dust mask

Quality tool manufacturers offer product specifically designed for installing fiber-cement.

Fiber cement siding is installed in same way as wood siding. Over wood framing - fasten the siding using hand- or air-driven galvanized nails or wood screws

Over metal studes – use self-tapping screws.

Before cutting, score the face side of the material about one-third of the way through, using a special tungsten carbide-tipped scoring knife.

Place a straightedge along the score line, then snap the board upward along the score.

Special guillotine cutters can be purchased or rented to greatly speed up the cutting process or use a tungsten-tipped circular saw and jigsaw blades.

Cutting with power saws produces a fine dust with microscopic fibers, so it is imperative to wear both a respirator and goggles.

Manufacturers & Suppliers

  • Cemplank
  • Certain Teed
  • GAF
  • James Hardie Building Products
  • MaxiTile
  • Nichiha USA, Inc.


Fiber Cement Shinges

Shingles make excellent replacement parts for old homes that have broken siding shingles or to use for room additions to old fiber cement sided houses. They are availabe in three basic types:

  1. Wavy bottom edge
  2. Straight bottom edge
  3. Random notched bottom edge that resembles a thatched wood shingle.

All of the shingles have either a combed textured or a wood grained texture. Shingles come with factory punched holes that serve as handy alignment guides.

Single Sizes - Shingles range in height from 12 to 14 and 5/8 inches high and they are either 24, 25 and 3/32, or 32 inches long. All of them are just under 1/4 inch thick.

Installing Shingles

Most manufacturers require that asphalt saturated felt paper be used under the siding as an air and water barrier. Do not use coal tar saturated felt paper. The oils in this product can stain some fiber cement products.

Cover the structure with oriented strand board or plywood to provide a solid nailing surface.

The siding is cut with a saw fitted with an abrasive blade, a snapper, power shears, or it can often be scored and snapped like drywall.

Afix using small headed stainless steel nails; the nail heads are exposed.

Fiber cement shingles and siding can be painted. They hold paint very well, 15 to 20 years if well maintained by washing with soap and water.

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