Sidings - Concrete Fiber Board vs. Cedar

sochiNovember 18, 2012

I kind of assumed we'd put concrete fiber board (CFB) on our small cottage/cabin to be built next year. I love cedar siding, but assumed we didn't want the upkeep.

Then I read reviews of CFB here on GW and elsewhere - it seems there have been quite a few problems with CFB and snow. We have snow (well, except last year when winter forgot about us), so I really need a siding that can handle snow. That said, our cottage may sit on concrete pillars at least two feet off the ground, so that may help.

What is the view here about CFB and snow? Are the peeling problems simply installation problems as James Hardie maintains? If so, why is it so difficult to install correctly?

After being frightened off CFB (for the moment) I went back to wood. How much time do you think needs to be devoted yearly to maintaing a small cedar board home?

Finally, does anyone have any knowledge of maintenance with reclaimed barn board as an exterior siding (accent only)?

Thanks again.

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I assume you are talking about Hardieplank that is made of fiber-cement and intended to simulate wood clapboard siding. Hardie also makes Hardieboard that can be used to simulate vertical board & batten siding. Hardie also makes Hardieshingle.

For a small cabin you might consider shingles with no corner boards in unfinished red cedar, factory stained white cedar or pressure-treated pine for low maintenance.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lifepine shingles

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 7:12AM
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Renovator, yes, I'm referring to the product made by Hardie and other manufacturers. I'm interested in their large modern planks, or a board and batten type siding.

Thanks for the link to LifePine, I had trouble finding information on the product other than that which is on the manufacturer's website. The warranty only covers insect and fungal problems, I couldn't find information on how well it holds up to snow and other moisture. Do you have any personal experience with the product? I also thought that there were still concerns over modern methods of pressure treating lumber?

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 9:58AM
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We have had hardieplank on our house since 2005. It was the pre-primed hardieplank and we painted it after it was installed, so I can't speak to the durability of the Hardie factory finish. But as far as our siding goes, there has been no problems with peeling, swelling, or any other issues - except for being slightly dirty, the paint looks as good as the day we painted it (wish I could say the same thing for the wood trim on the eaves). We get snow here as well, though not usually high enough for long enough that it would sit high against the siding for weeks on end. But we do get snow and haven't had any issues.

As far as installation, Hardie had a few specific instructions that are apparently ignored by a lot of installers. You want to make sure they prime any cut ends -- our contractor just kept a quart of cheap primer next to the saw and as soon as he'd cut a board, he'd slop some primer on it. Also, any butt seams (where two boards join together to make one "long" piece) should not be caulked but rather should have a piece of flashing behind them to keep water out of the seam - our guy used small pieces of aluminum. Finally, you need to keep the hardie several inches off any rooflines (of porches, etc.) -- I think at the time the guideline was 2". And yes, this does look a bit gappy and it would look better lower, but as our contractor said, you can have it lower and rotting and no warranty since you installed it wrong or you can have it higher and have it be fine. We opted for the latter and I don't even really see the gap anymore.

We used a rainscreen behind our hardie for other reasons (our house was being resided as part of a mold/stucco remediation and we knew the wall cavities weren't fully dry yet so wanted to provide as much airflow as possible), but I'd imagine that that also provides extra protection against any kind of moisture issues. If your cottage is small and you are concerned about snow, that might be something to look into. It didn't cost much to add and would provide extra protection against any moisture issues.

I'll link to the whole story of our house below if you're interested. There are some pics of the siding install, the rainscreen, and the finished product.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Our house

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 6:44PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

FWIW, looking for low maintenance, we went with cedar impressions vinyl siding and azek trim...

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 8:44PM
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lkaplatow - thanks for your information. I went through the pics of your saga - wow, I'm so sorry. What a nightmare. I hope you are in a much better place now.

The snow and hardieplank is still a concern for me, but I expect most people have positive stories to tell about concrete fiber board sidings.

Does anyone have any first hand experience with cedar siding?

Like most people, I instinctively think low maintenance, but I'm challenging myself on that. It is sort of like the search for the 'bulletproof' granite countertop. How many beautiful products are people overlooking simply because they can't be bothered with one or two hours of maintenance every few months? Or because the stone etches a bit? I understand that some people, due to age, illness, whatever, can't keep up with maintenance. DH and I are still young enough to do some work, but we certainly don't want to surrender hours every weekend to upkeep on cedar siding. In another five to ten years we'll have children old enough to help too (wishful thinking there perhaps??).

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 12:32PM
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My house will be almost entirely cedar on the outside... Cedar log post and beam, cedar plank siding, cedar shingles, and even cedar soffits and fascia. We're planning to have our house re-finished every 5 years as recommended by the finishing company. The stain that you choose will help determine how often your house will need maintenance. We did choose aluminum clad windows, however, and a metal roof.

We chose the Sansin brand of interior stain. The wood inside our house is finished with just a clear coat.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 1:39PM
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Sorry, that's Sansin exterior stain.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 1:40PM
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Thanks laurajane02, I saw your home in another thread, it is just gorgeous. I'm beginning to think that re-finishing the cedar every five years on a small home isn't that big of an ordeal. The hardieplank would have to be repainted eventually too. We will have a metal roof and probably aluminum clad windows as well. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 1:00PM
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I agree, refinishing cedar is not a big deal, as long as you can afford to hire someone to do the work. It would be a huge DIY undertaking.... The smell of fresh cedar is amazing! It would totally blend with your surroundings. And it would probably suit your modern-rustic style well.

As for other issues, you may want to plan adequate roof overhangs to protect the wood from the weather. Oh and if birds could be an issue, you can install bird sonar/repellant. The stain should protect your house from weather, mould, fungus, and bugs.

Thanks for the complement on my house! I'm looking forward to following your project.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 3:45PM
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