Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fiber Cement the Wood Alternative

Whether you're replacing hail damaged siding, preparing to put your home on the market or simply want to spruce up the exterior appearance of your house, fiber cement siding is a product that you should be aware of. The popularity of fiber cement is exploding as it makes excellent replacements or alternatives to aluminum, vinyl and wood siding and shingle products.

First, a little history: Fiber cement products have been in the market place for more than 100 years. Unfortunately, the composition of the original fiber cement products contained asbestos. They weathered extremely well but were eventually pulled from the market along with everything else asbestos laced. Modern fiber cement products are composed of cement (sand and concrete), cellulose fibers and water.

Most manufacturers of fiber cement products offer siding, shingle and stucco panel lines in their repertoire. All are designed to present the appearance of natural materials from wood lap siding to cedar shingles to cement stucco plaster.

Fiber cement products are "sustainable" or green products and have many advantages over their vinyl and wood counterparts. As a homeowner, one thing that probably concerns you the most about the exterior of your home is its maintenance. Wood siding and shingles are an American tradition. Just look at the number of products that have been designed to imitate wood and the way we use it: aluminum siding, vinyl siding and shingles, fiber cement siding and shingles, even pvc and urethane trim. The list covers just about every post-war innovation on the market. But what's wrong with wood? In short, it rots, it warps, it makes great fires, insects love it and it has to be painted or stained frequently.

Enter fiber cement. These products don't rot, they're cement. It doesn't warp or "oil can" like wood, vinyl or aluminum. It doesn't burn like wood or melt and produce noxious gases like vinyl. Insects don't like it but, as a rule, they have questionable taste anyway. The color range is limitless, unlike vinyl products, and most manufacturers offer 15 year paint warranties. But in the end durability is the key. In addition to wood's inherent shortcomings, vinyl becomes brittle and can be damaged by the weather or by the neighbor kid's wiffle ball. Fiber cement products don't suffer the same durability issues and many manufacturers extend 50 year warranties.

I think that the real testament to the popularity, if nothing else, of the fiber cement products is the fact that many, if not a majority, of the "price-point" production builders are moving away from vinyl siding and cladding their houses in fiber cement siding. The market demands it. In fact, some municipalities are creating ordinances that outlaw the use of vinyl siding. If you have any intention of selling you home in the near future, remember that most homebuyers are beginning to expect, desire or demand fiber cement siding on new or "updated" home exteriors. Check Renovation Resources Online Resources
for links to several of the most popular manufactures of fiber cement siding, shingles and stucco panels.

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