"In the drawings for my home renovation you show “cement board siding”. What is that, and is it better than wood siding?"
Answer from Ross Sanders
Two great questions!
Fiber cement siding, or cement board siding, is a variation on a siding product long used in the U.S. It is commonly used in a lap-siding format, which essentially means that the upper panels overhang the lower panels. Lap-siding formats are used as a means for adding weather-resistance to your home by preventing seams; to help you better visualize what I am talking about, I have attached a photograph.
Fiber cement siding is usually made of cement as the binder, with ash, sand and cellulose fibers mixed in. In terms of cost, it typically falls between vinyl siding and wood siding. Some benefits include durability, although panels may chip or crush if dropped, fire-resistance and limited required maintenance. It is dimensionally stable so it doesn’t warp, cuts easily and can be ordered in multiple colors or be painted. Additionally, in termite or carpenter ant country, it is far more resistant to attack than traditional wood siding.
Conversely, wood siding requires more maintenance such as re-staining, can warp, costs more and may have a higher environmental impact. As vinyl, is cheaper, it tends to look cheap, can warp or crack and is difficult to paint if you want to change the color sometime down the road.
Major manufacturers of cement-based siding products include James Hardie and CertainTeed. These two companies offer a variety of profiles, from different styles of lap siding, shingles, flat panels, fake stucco panels and more. As with any product, proper detailing and installation is vital to long term performance, so be sure to talk your design professional before purchasing.