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Pros, Cons, & Costs: Hardie Board Siding

by Matt Goering

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Hardie board siding is very popular these days, and it is always billed as a low-maintenance, long-lasting material. But does it measure up to its reputation?

Hardie board siding has been around forever, but its popularity seems to come in streaks. Typically billed as a low-maintenance, long-lasting material, yet does it measure up to its reputation? Here are the pros, cons, and costs of Hardie board siding to see how it looks under scrutiny.

Hardie Board Siding: The Pros
"Fiber cement siding is the trend in the siding industry," says 25-year industry veteran Bill Barr of All Star Windows and Siding in Loveland, CO. "It's a permanent product, it's beautiful, and it's affordable." The benefits extend beyond those factors, however, and when it comes to Hardie board siding, there is a long list of pros.

  • Longevity Most Hardie board siding comes with a 50-year, limited transferrable warranty. And according to Smart, "this type of siding is completely rot and insect resistant, and can even handle the corrosive environment of salt spray near the ocean."
  • Appearance Hardie board siding can be made to mimic just about any other siding material, including wood lap boards, cedar shingles, and wood shake siding. Tim Carter of writes that "your color options are virtually unlimited." These colors are typically accompanied by a 10 to15 year warranty on the finish.
  • Fire Resistance Freddy Scharf, technical services manager for James Hardie Building Products, states that fiber cement siding "is comprised of more than 90% sand and cement, making it inherently resistant to flames." Case in point, a St. Paul Minnesota house fire torched two fire trucks parked 60 feet away, but the fiber cement-clad home next door, 50 feet away, remained unscathed.
  • Storm Resistance Whether you're looking for a siding material that can withstand the next Katrina, or one that can fend off the next summer hailstorm without sustaining damage, fiber cement siding is a proven commodity in the weather department.

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The Cons
What's not to like about Hardie board siding? Two things stand out. First of all, because of its weight, fiber cement siding requires more resources to install than other siding materials. Second, it's not a maintenance-free siding material. You will have to repaint it in time.

  • High Installation and Labor Costs Fiber cement siding requires more planning, a larger labor force, and takes longer to install due to its composition. According to Barr, fiber cement siding weighs about 300 pounds per square (100 square feet), compared to 60 to 70 pounds per square for vinyl siding. "You don't want to move it more than once," Barr notes. You need more employees on the job to properly move and support the boards as they go up, which can escalate the labor and installation costs to double and triple the cost of installing vinyl or aluminum siding.
  • Maintenance Fiber cement siding has to be re-painted periodically. Barr warns that this aspect of fiber cement siding can be misleading for some homeowners, noting that while the product itself is warrantied for 50 years, the baked-on finishes sold by most suppliers are only guaranteed for 15. Your new fiber cement siding will likely outlive you, but the paint job won't.

The Cost
Fiber cement runs about $1,000 per square, or $10 per square foot. In more practical terms, due to the increased labor demand that fiber cement siding requires, plan on spending about 40 percent more if you choose Hardie board siding over vinyl. However, if the pros speak to you more than the cons, the price doesn't matter that much. To get Fiber cement and Hardie board siding quotes, click here.

Local Considerations
The costs and benefits of Hardie board siding will vary based on your climate, number of contractors, demand, and materials. See our general siding cost guide and how major cities stack up below.

Atlanta Hardie Board Siding Austin Hardie Board Siding Baltimore Hardie Board Siding
Boston Hardie Board Siding Dallas Hardie Board Siding Denver Hardie Board Siding
Houston Hardie Board Siding Minneapolis Hardie Board Siding Phoenix Hardie Board Siding
Philadephia Hardie Board Siding Pittsburgh Hardie Board Siding Portland Hardie Board Siding
San Antonio Hardie Board Siding Seattle Hardie Board Siding Washington DC Hardie Board Siding
Matt Goering, formerly a carpenter and house painter, is a freelance writer for the home improvement industry who has published over 600 articles.