Cement Fiberboard: Eco-Friendly Siding

Cement Fiberboard: Eco-Friendly Siding

If you’re looking to replace or upgrade your existing siding, cement fiberboard is a great material to consider. Less maintenance than wood, more durable than vinyl (and less toxic) and guaranteed for over 25 years. Sound too good to be true? Made primarily from cement, sand and recycled wood waste fibers cement fiberboard siding (also known as fiber cement or hardi board) is a solid green siding alternative.

One of the best things about cement fiberboard is its resistacet to rot, fire, insects bird and general decay. Used with a clip-in type system or a product like Home Slicker it works as a great rainscreen. The material comes in a variety of sizes and finishes, can be installed to look like stucco, concrete, cedar siding and shingles, or can be installed as larger panels for a more modern aesthetic. It also comes in smooth or wood grain finishes (we prefer the smooth for most applications). It can be installed be installed in overlapping horizontal boards, vertically, in large sheets, board and batten, or as soffits and trim. Many companies offer standard colors with the color baked in the panel. This means very little maintenance is required, only touch-up painting. Conversely, the panels can be painted on site for custom colors. James Hardie can factory finish in any Benjamin Moore color.

1 Michelle Kaufmann’s Smart Home used a combination of Cembonit cement fiberboard panels and Ipe wood siding.
2 This house used vertically oriented cement fiberboard in random widths for a modern look (house tour coming soon!)
3 Angie and Ed's Practical Green used James Hardie prefinished horizontal lap cement fiberboard siding.
4 This house used large horizontally oriented cement fiberboard panels for a running bond pattern.
5 A Barn Inspired Wisconsin Retreat utilized two different sized cement fiberboard panels in a Benjamin Moore red color from James Hardie.

Some things to be aware of is that the material price is less than or equal to wood, but more than aluminum or vinyl siding. Cement fiberboard is heavier than wood and vinyl siding and can be more laborious and costly to install. Lastly, use caution when working with this product. Cutting fiber-cement is dusty work, and the dust contains silica, which can lead to lung damage. Scoring and snapping the product to its desired length is the best way to avoid causing dust, otherwise dust-collecting saws or dust-free pneumatic or electric shears should be used whenever possible.

Cement fiberboard siding is pretty easy to come by and many contractors have experience working with the product. Well known manufacturers include James Hardie and CertainTeed (incorporates fly ash in its formula).

(Photos: Janel Laban, Rachel Wray, Angie & Ed, Rachel Wray)

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