Home siding is an important factor toward your home’s external value. It’s responsible for protecting your home against the elements, provides an insulating factor, and, perhaps most importantly, holds a tremendous influence in the aesthetic quality of your home. Over time, almost all siding degrades, so you’ll eventually be faced with a decision: what siding is best to use when upgrading your home?
Most modern siding contractors will offer James Hardie siding as one of the best all-around options for replacement, hailing it as durable, cost-efficient, and as visually impressive as it is practical. However, with all of these potential advantages, are there any downsides to this type of siding?
What Is James Hardie Siding?
James Hardie siding, sometimes referred to as Hardieplank siding, is a specific brand of fiber-cement siding and is the top name in the industry. Fiber-cement siding is an alternative form of siding that uses a composite material, rather than a straightforward substance such as vinyl or wood. Usually, this is a special blend of sand, cement, and cellulose fibers, which – when combined – yield a structurally powerful and durable material. Though it can be installed on almost any building, it does require some special considerations. It also has a high degree of customizability, able to be modeled into different styles and appearances.
The Advantages of James Hardie Siding
There are several measurable advantages that James Hardie siding offers, which collectively influence the vast number of contractors who recommend it as a siding option, especially when replacing failed stucco:
• Resistance to damage. This is one of the biggest advantages to James Hardie siding, as it maximizes the lifespan of the siding, reduces the need for maintenance, and therefore increases the overall ROI. Fiber-cement is a strong, thick material that holds up against windstorms, rain and hail, and other forms of weather. It resists insect damage, such as damage from termites, and will never suffer from rot. It’s even resistant to fire, thanks to its partial sand composition, and won’t warp, flake, or peel in response to most external stimuli.
• Resistance to deterioration. If left alone in reasonable conditions, fiber-cement siding has an unusually long lifespan. In fact, most varieties carry warranties of 50 years or more. Combined with the siding’s natural resistance to external damage, this is icing on the cake.
• Lack of maintenance or upkeep costs. Some forms of siding require regular upkeep and maintenance to remain in prime condition. For example, vinyl may crack or peel, requiring periodic checks and spot-replacement, and several types of siding require regular painting to keep them looking their best. For the most part, James Hardie siding doesn’t require any maintenance – though it may need to be painted eventually (more on this later).
• Home value considerations. Fiber-cement siding carries a high ROI because it objectively increases the value of your home. If you install this siding, then sell your home immediately, you’ll probably make back most of the money that you spent on the installation. If you know that you’re going to sell your home sometime in the next 50 years, you can consider this siding as an investment.
• Aesthetic value. Aesthetic value isn’t an objective quality, but chances are that you’re tired of looking at your old siding, and you want something newer that’s easier on the eyes. Fiber-cement siding has a number of finishing and design options, helping you to customize your home’s exterior, so you can almost always get the aesthetic improvement that you want with this material.
• Environmental considerations. Though a minor consideration, it’s worth noting that fiber-cement siding is, overall, better for the environment than vinyl siding. If vinyl siding catches flame, it releases toxic chemicals into the air, and it’s generally less biodegradable than its fiber-cement siding counterpart.
Even with all of those advantages, there are still some downsides to hardieplank siding that are worth considering:
• The cost of the product. The composite material of fiber-cement is the reason why James Hardie siding is more expensive than other materials. By comparison, vinyl is relatively easy to produce. The special blend of different materials requires precision and an extended process to create, so you have a higher cost basis, which unfortunately must be passed on to the consumer for the contractor to avoid taking a loss.
• The cost of labor. In addition to the cost of the process, you’ll be paying for the labor of installing the product. Overall, fiber-cement siding isn’t challenging to install, but it does require a bit of extra labor. For starters, the product is heavy and requires some additional staff to carry and to manipulate the material. It must also be cut precisely before it’s loaded into place; this process requires delicate safety procedures to avoid excessive dust dispersal or breakage.
• The aesthetics. This is a subjective quality and one that appears on both our “pros” and “cons” lists. Many people strongly prefer the modern, strong aesthetics of fiber-cement siding, but there are those who would consider this a disadvantage. Only you can decide which design elements and visuals that you’d like to accompany your house, so this is up to your judgment.
• The possibility of repainting. Though fiber-cement siding doesn’t require much in the way of ongoing maintenance or painting, it may need to be repainted eventually. After many years of exposure to the sun, wind, and other elements, a fresh coat of paint may be required to maintain its original luster.
The Bottom Line
There are pros and cons to fiber-cement siding, just as there are pros and cons to any brand, any siding, or even any home upgrade. There’s no such thing as a “perfect” choice. However, most of the cons of James Hardie siding have to do with its cost, which is justified by its high value and high ROI.
If you’re interested in learning more about James Hardie siding specifically, or if you just want more information about your possible siding replacement, contact Precision Contracting Services today! We’re here to make the process easier for you.