Fiber Cement Siding Problems You Can’t Avoid

Fiber cement planks are a popular choice for siding in modern construction. However, the product has some limitations and challenges that you can’t escape and should be fully aware before deciding to install it on your home.

fiber cement siding problems

Read on to learn about the five problems you just can’t avoid with fiber cement siding.

Why Fiber Cement Siding Isn’t a Smart Choice

Fiber cement siding is often thought of as an aesthetically pleasing siding product that many homeowners will consider putting on their home. While it’s generally a good looking, product it has some rather alarming downsides to it.

Here are five problems that come with having fiber cement siding installed on your home.


Fiber cement siding is one of the most expensive options on the market. While it does not reach the price of brick or stone veneer, it can be upwards of three times the cost of vinyl siding.

The cost-considerate homeowner may find fiber cement board to be too far out of the practical cost range. The material costs are further compiled by the need for skilled installation to maintain the warranty which leads us to the next problem.

Installation Needs to Be Perfect

The installation of fiber cement board can be tricky business for the novice. A great deal of care needs to be taken to ensure the cement fiberboard doesn’t come into regular or prolonged contact with water.

That said, all instructions and issues which void the warranty are focused on ensuring the fiber cement board doesn’t come in to contact with water.

The primary manufacturers of the fiber cement board will stand by their product as long as it is a manufacturer’s defect and not the error of the installation crew. Some crews are better than others at meeting the installation requirements to ensure the warranty remains intact.

Knowing how to prepare the surface, install the drip edges, drip caps, kick out flashing, etc. is crucial in ensuring that water flows cleanly off the surface and doesn’t cling to the siding.

Not only can improper installation void the warranty, it can do real damage to the substrate. OSB which doesn’t have a sufficient waterproof barrier between it and the fiber cement board, can also become wet and swell and crumble, leaving an open route for cold air and pests alike to enter your home.

It’s of the utmost importance that you choose a reputable and experienced contractor who understands the complexities of fiber cement board as a siding product. Spending a little more upfront can save you untold fortunes in the future.

Fiber Cement Siding Requires Gaps to be Made

You just can’t get away from it; fiber cement board has no aesthetically pleasing options to join two planks together at the “butt joint.” To make matters worse, you must leave a gap at each end of the fiber cement board to account for the expansion and contraction of the product.

If you cut it to fit perfectly on a cold day, your siding will warp and bend on a hot day, creating gaps under which critters and moisture can gain easy access into your home. Cut it to fit perfect on a hot day, and you’ll surely have gaps on a cold day.

When installing the fiber cement board, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on exactly how much space to leave between the butt joints as well as the end and the trim.

Butt wait there’s more (see what we did there?)!  Pro tip: when installing fiber cement board, butt joints are required to have 6″ flashing installed behind the joint to shed the water that’ll inevitably penetrate the open gap.

Also, don’t caulk the butt joint unless directed by the manufacturer. Caulking fills the gap which would allow for expansion, thereby defeating the purpose of the gap.

Annual Maintenance Requirement

Who doesn’t love spending their weekends maintaining their siding? A nice leisurely stroll around the house one Sunday, morning every six to twelve months, rinsing off the dirt build up with a low-pressure hose – sounds fun, right?

Follow that with a good gutter cleaning to ensure the water can flow away from your home properly- all good things to knock out regularly. Now it’s time to inspect for worn paint, cracked caulking, and crumbling of the fiber cement board.

If you discover any signs of wear, you must repair it as soon as possible. The fiber cement board is susceptible to longterm water contact, so a hasty resolution to any instance which compromises the integrity of the water barrier is imperative!

It’s recommended that you also maintain the plants and shrubs surrounding your home so that they remain off the structure. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the sprinklers as well, so they don’t continually saturate the siding or the area nearby.

One last one – snow. Ensure that snow remains at least two inches from the bottom of the siding. Also, avoid the use of salts for ice control, major manufacturers recommend using sand instead. Living in the Chicago, this can be a major problem to deal with.

That fiberboard might look good, but it comes with a long tail that can keep you busy for years to come.

Moisture Destroys Fiber Cement Siding

If you have not caught on by now, the death of fiber cement board is long-term exposure to water. Even the drips that hang on the bottom edge of the last row of siding will eventually wreak havoc.

Why? Why would someone make a siding material out of a product that can’t tolerate sustained exposure to water? Well, we can’t answer that. But we can surely explain why it happens.

The “fiber” in fiber cement board is made of wood fibers. These wood fibers, when exposed to water for extended periods, will swell with that moisture and begin to break apart the “cement” in the fiber cement. This process is expedited when the moist fibers freeze, expanding even more.

For this reason, and this reason alone, the fiber cement board is an inferior option when compared to other more cost-effective and robust longterm options like vinyl siding.

Vinyl Siding Doesn’t Have the Same Problems as Fiber Cement

Fiber cement board siding can bring a clean, modern look to your home at a high price. However, no matter how good your contractor is how expertly they install the product or how often you perform your maintenance on your siding you’ll always be in a conflict with water.

chicago vinyl siding

You could go with the tried and true vinyl which is cost-effective, resilient, and completely unaffected by water. There are even insulated models which offer increased rigidity as well as thermal protection.

Now that you realize fiber cement siding isn’t the right option for homes in Chicago, you need to find an alternative. Vinyl siding is the best route to go. It’s energy efficient, durable and made to withstand Chicago’s harsh weather. Get a free quote now and see why 350,000 homeowners have trusted Feldco with their home improvement projects.

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