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Is Fiber Cement Siding The Right Choice For Your Home?

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Fiber cement siding is the tough kid on the block in terms of siding choices. Made form a mixture of cement, wood pulp and sand, it can withstand the harshest elements and last for decades longer than other siding options, such as aluminum and vinyl. Very little maintenance is required, and the James Hardie siding comes in a wide array of colors and patterns, making it a fitting choice for most any style of home. While fiber cement siding certainly sounds like a stellar solution to most home exterior problems, it is not necessarily for everyone. Read on to gain perspective on whether or not it's the right choice for your home.

If you live in an area with harsh storms and high winds...

Fiber cement siding is likely worth the investment. Its incredibly rugged nature allows it to withstand not only hail and heavy snow, but also heat and extended periods of dryness. You don't have to worry about rot as you would with wood siding, and fire is not an issue either, since fiber cement is fire-resistant.

Because fiber cement rates poorly in terms of heat resistance, it does not provide much insulation on its own. This certainly does not mean that it's not suitable in areas where the summers are hot and the winters are cold -- just that you will likely need to add additional insulation to your home if you do choose fiber cement siding. Also keep in mind that there are different thicknesses of siding available. Thicker sheets are better suited for hot or cold climates since they offer more insulating benefits, while thinner varieties are better for moderate climates where you may actually want the heat of the sun to transfer to your home interior.

If termites are common in your area...

Fiber cement siding is a great choice because it allows you to mimic the look of wood siding without putting your home at risk of termite infestation. Since fiber cement does sometimes contain wood pulp, some homeowners steer away from it because they fear termites may feed on it. Rest assured -- this is just a myth. The sand and grit in fiber cement siding makes it unappealing to these and other bothersome insects. You might pay more for fiber cement siding than for wood, but in the long run, you're likely to save money because you won't have to replace damaged boards or spend money in insect-repellent treatments.

If you're dead-set on re-siding your home yourself...

One downfall to fiber cement siding is that it's more difficult to install than other siding types, thanks to its heavy weight. Applying fiber cement siding is not a DIY project -- it's one you'll want to hire an experienced contractor to tackle. If you're absolutely set on hanging your new siding yourself or with a few friends, aluminum or vinyl are better choices.

If you're worried about noise transmission...

Another unfortunate downfall of fiber cement siding is that it's not terribly resistant to noise transmission. If you live near a busy highway or a noisy neighborhood, you'll find that the outdoor noises carry into your home more easily than if you were to side your home in wood or vinyl. You can create a slightly more noise-proof home by choosing a thicker grade of fiber cement siding, but you still won't achieve as much noise resistance as you would with other siding choices. Of course, this is of little concern in quieter rural areas.

Fiber cement siding is an excellent option for many homeowners who don't want to worry about having to treat or repair their siding for decades. It's not a great insulator or very easy to apply, but if these factors are not at the top of your list, then there's no better choice than fiber cement.