Fiber cement siding is one of the most durable, attractive, and versatile options out there for siding your home. It comes in many styles and colors, doesn’t fade, chip, peel, or crack, resists moisture, fire, and insect activity, and can go many years before needing to be repainted. With all of these positive attributes, however, there are also a few misconceptions that could be causing people to hesitate when it comes to installing it on their own homes. Thankfully, these misconceptions are just that – errors in thinking or fear of having fiber cement siding problems, but have no real bearing on how well the product will perform on your home.
It’s Hard to Install
Fiber cement is a mixture of cellulose fiber, sand, silica, and Portland cement. Therefore, the boards, planks, and panels that it produces are heavier than vinyl, aluminum, or wood. In many ways, this is to your advantage, as this heavy, dense product is also extremely durable.
The weight and inflexibility of the planks does mean that people who haven’t worked with it before may believe that it’s more difficult to install than lighter products. This isn’t true, however; fiber cement is easy to install over a variety of homes and substrates. In many ways, because it can be found pre-painted, and because it’s less likely to crack or splinter during transport, it may be even easier to install and finish than some other materials.
It Contains Asbestos
Asbestos fibers were used for decades in a variety of building materials, including the predecessor to modern fiber cement siding. When the fibers in asbestos become airborne, they risk becoming trapped in the lungs, where the heavy fibers are unable to be dislodged. Over time, this can lead to a rare form or cancer that is often discovered too late for treatment.
For this reason, most companies discontinued to the use of asbestos fibers in their products by the mid-1980s. Today’s fiber cement siding uses safe cellulose fibers in its makeup, rather than asbestos. Having fiber cement siding installed on your home or cutting the planks does not pose the same threat that older types of fiber-based siding once did. You can be confident that in choosing fiber cement siding, you’re making a safe choice for your home, your family, and even for the environment.
It’s Difficult to Cut
The same durability and dense materials that make fiber cement siding so durable and low maintenance also contribute to this third misconception – that it’s extremely difficult to cut. This is also untrue. Most traditional saws and even some newer equipment made just for the purpose are easily able to cut the fiber cement.
The only issue with cutting the material could be in the amount of dust that it produces. This is easily remedied, however, by using a saw that has a filter or bag to collect the dust, or by using a tool that will slice cleanly through the material in one push, rather than a rotating saw. Water saws may also be used to help keep down the amount of dust that the material produces.
So, while cutting fiber cement siding may be a bit dustier or messier than cutting other materials, it is no more difficult to cut than wood or vinyl siding. Just take care to contain the dust before you start to ensure an easier cleanup at the end.
Make an Informed Choice
Fiber cement siding can make an attractive, durable, and long-lasting covering for your home. While the material may be newer than wood and less understood than vinyl, it has many wonderful properties that make it a better choice than most other products on the market today. Consider siding your home in fiber cement, and make a better, more informed choice for your façade.