Fiber Cement Siding Cost and Pros and Cons in 2017 – Exterior Home Improvements

Fiber Cement as a siding option continues to be a popular choice. A review of U.S. Census data for new single-family houses sold in America shows Fiber Cement garners nearly a quarter of all siding materials. Brick, Wood and Vinyl are on a downward trend while Fiber Cement continues to gain in popularity. Stucco is, perhaps surprisingly, the #1 siding option in America where its popularity in the Western portion of the U.S. is enormous, but so is Fiber Cement in that region. The two materials in 2015 combined for a whooping 92% of the overall market out west.

Fiber Cement is commonly referred to as James Hardie, which is the company that originally created this plank board. It’s also called Cement Board, as the materials are made of cement, wood pulp, clay and sand. Fiber Cement is relatively heavy, quite sturdy and will last up to 100 years, while its surface usually needs repainting every 20 to 40 years.

Pricing Information – Part 1

Due to its weight, Fiber Cement routinely requires two workers to install each piece. For this reason, along with the idea that waste adds great expense to the project, the material is not well suited for DIY installation. There are essentially four styles of Fiber Cement: lap siding is the most common, shake and shingle, vertical panels, and artisan lap, which equals architectural grade of lap siding.

Fiber Cement lap siding costs $5.00 to $9.00 per sq. ft. installed. The other styles usually exceed $10.00 per sq. ft. Sticking with lap siding, the overall project cost for installing cement board on a typical two bedroom American home is $15,000 to $25,000. As there are numerous factors that impact the price, we will help explain that, but first let’s break down the costs. Note: this is a ballpark estimate example based on the national average cost of materials and job tasks.

Costing Info – Part 2

Fiber Cement Siding: 2,000 sq. ft. x $7.50 = $15,000 (includes labor)
Additional Building Materials 1: (i.e. J-Channels, corner pieces, corrosion-free fasteners) = $1,500
Additional Building Materials 2: *Optional window trim updates = $4,500
Removal of previous siding: $1,600
Garbage Rental / Disposal Charge: $900
Housewrap: $250
Building permit: $250

Total Project Cost = $24,000

The $24,000 is on the high end of our earlier stated range and this is presumably for mid-grade fiber cement material. Which leads to our next section.

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Factors Impacting Overall Costs

The first factor to consider is whether previous siding needs to be removed. In many situations where fiber cement is installed, removal of previous siding is needed along with its disposal. While say $2,500 is expensive, the garbage rental fee isn’t cheaper for non-contractors and the labor is fairly intensive for the inexperienced worker.

The type and style of Fiber Cement would be an early consideration. Price would go up between $3.00 and $7.00 per sq. ft. with either differently formed boards or architectural grade material with its superior structural integrity. In our example above, this would add $6,000 to $14,000 to the cost.

The additional materials in the first case are often necessary materials to finish the job. Here you may save hundreds, but are likely to spend at least $500 on such items, or it is possible they would just be included in the top line figure of “Fiber Cement Siding.”

The second set of additional materials, regarding window trim replacement is best decided during estimates for the project. In other words, get multiple quotes on the project just as you would with any home improvement project. A professional will tell you if you can keep existing materials on the house and they can restore that or if replacement material is recommended / necessary.

Finally, there is the cost of labor, which for Fiber Cement is fairly competitive among contractors given its popularity throughout the U.S. This is another reason to get multiple quotes. A first quote may come in at say $35,000 for everything, and each quote after that averages at $23,000. In such cases where the gap is wide between prices, be sure to ask what additional building materials are included and/or why the overall quote is as high as it is.

The Good, The Bad and The Oh So Pretty

Here we list the pros, cons and chief reason for why to consider fiber cement siding.

The Good: Fiber Cement is a very durable, low maintenance siding option. It benefits from being non-flammable, insect resistant material that usually has warranties of around 40 years.

The Bad: Because of how heavy it is, it benefits from professional installation. Like any cement-based product, improper installation can be detrimental where moisture build-up would significantly impact the exterior wall of the home, behind the siding. Fiber Cement is also relatively expensive, but more so when comparing it to Vinyl which is its primary competition.

The Oh So Pretty: Saving the best for last. The ROI for Fiber Cement siding is great, coming in at 84%. And according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2015 Remodeling Income Report, homeowners with Fiber Cement siding claim a top notch 100% Joy Factor when choosing this option.


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