Homeowners Complete Guide to James Hardie Siding
Known by many names — Hardie Board siding, Hardie siding, Hardi Plank siding, Fiber Cement siding — James Hardie siding is the most popular siding in North America; and for great reasons!
This beautiful, durable, and easy to take care of siding material is the go-to for new homes and those evaluating residing older homes. It requires minimal work to maintain its quality. A power washer isn’t even required for regular cleaning! And its eco-friendly materials last for years!
Hardie siding isn’t known only for its functionality. If you’re looking for a way to help your home stand out from the rest, Hardie siding has dozens of style options from traditional to modern and colors that range from neutral whites to deep blues and rich and vibrant reds.
What is James Hardie siding?
Hardie siding is fiber cement which is made up of three key components: cement, sand (silica) and cellulose fiber (like wood fiber). Developed by James Hardie roughly 30 years ago, fiber cement can be found on more than 8 million homes across North America. The materials are dyed and formed into boards, which are offered in a variety of styles, finishes, and colors.
Fiber cement siding is environmentally-friendly, far surpassing vinyl when it comes to helping the planet. Vinyl, containing plastic material, does not decompose easily and remains in landfills for decades. Fiber cement is created using more sustainable materials. In fact, James Hardie fiber cement was acclaimed for its positive environmental impact and named the “Greenest Siding Brand” by the Green Builder Media annual Readers’ choice survey.
Dedicated to their product, James Hardie has spent over $100 million in research and development and continues to invest in product advancement. Since 2013, Good Housekeeping Research Institute has backed Hardie Plank lap siding. In order to receive the highly-valued mark, products go through rigorous evaluation for fade, weather, water, fire resistance, and more.
How does Temperature affect Siding?
Siding is exposed to the elements: rain, summer heat, winter cold — even wind affects the lifespan of your outdoor facade. Due to its composition, vinyl siding is very sensitive to temperature and climate changes.
- Warping or buckling
- Shorter lifespan
Damage to your siding isn’t just aesthetically unappealing, it’ll impact your home insulation and potentially lead to higher utility bill costs, as well as increase your risk for water damage. And vinyl isn’t the only victim to long-term exposure to moisture. Engineered wood is also susceptible and can expand and buckle as it soaks up moisture over time.
Replacing or installing new vinyl siding is difficult during hot and cold weather periods because the vinyl changes depending on the temperature. For example, vinyl becomes more brittle during cold weather. If installed during cold weather, the fitment may be off once warmer weather approaches and the vinyl relaxes.
On the other hand, fiber cement siding like James Hardie, does not buckle, swell, or crack due to changes in temperature or climate. It’s highly durable and offers an appealing substitute for vinyl siding. Fiber cement, made of wood fibers, cement and silica, doesn’t stretch and contract the way that plastic does. It also manages moist, wet, cold weather better than vinyl siding.
Hardie siding is Engineered for Climate®, meaning it’ll stand up to whatever Mother Nature brings your way.
What Warrants a Full Siding Replacement?
It’s important to regularly check the siding on your house, particularly after rough weather or as seasons shift. Take a walk around your house and evaluate areas of concern, signs of pests, and aesthetic changes. Also, take a look at your utility bills for any increases, which may indicate a problem with insulation or damaged siding.
Some problems can be resolved with minor repair, but repairing siding on your own can often be a patchwork job that won’t last.
Here are some quick tips to determine if it’s time to do a full siding replacement:
- You can spot damaged areas from a distance. If you can see them from far away, you might already have deeper damage.
- Fading, chipping, or peeling paint. Siding should be able to retain its color for 8 to 10 years.
- Mold or mildew beneath the siding panels or inside your home. This is often an indicator of water damage, which can result in structural home damage if not resolved.
- Indication of dry rot. This causes your siding to weaken and decay. Dry rot spreads quickly and can make your siding irreparable.
- Utility bill changes. Aging or damaged siding is less effective at insulating your home.
- Cracked, warped, loose siding. While some of these cases can be repaired, it depends on the size of the problem. The larger the area being affected, the harder a repair is and the less likely that repair job will hold up. Having a large area or multiple areas affected by cracking or warping can be signs of a larger underlying issue. In which case, new siding is needed.
What are the benefits to James Hardie siding?
Hardie siding will protect your home from the elements year-round. If you live in an area with changing climate and temperature, you’ll want to consider Hardie siding. It’s resistant against heat, mold, moisture, pests, and UV-exposure. Plus, it won’t buckle, warp, rot, or crack! Hardie siding is more resistant to heavy impact than other siding options. Hail damage is covered by the warranty.
Hardie siding, as you’ll find below, comes in a variety of styles, trim, and colors. Regardless of your neighborhood’s look, your house is sure to stand out. And, if you’re not too keen on the options, Hardie siding is primed and ready to paint by any painter you select.
One of the most popular benefits of Hardie siding? Low-maintenance! No really, it’s true. Use soap and water to clean regular dirt and grime off your siding. All you need is a garden hose. Give your house a quick wash every 6-12 months. If you do opt into using a pressure washer, Hardie recommends that you use a wide fan tip on the washer, keep a minimum of 6 feet from the wall, and keep the pressure below 1500 psi.
Other benefits include:
- 30-year limited transferable product warranty.
- 15-year finish warranty which includes paint and labor.
- Environmentally-friendly materials.
- Provides great insulation, which means lower utility bills all year.
What siding styles are available in James Hardie?
The last thing you want when selecting your new siding is to have to settle for a style or color that doesn’t really match your home or fit your style. Your siding is the first thing you and others see when approaching your home. You should feel confident in your selection. With James Hardie, you have a variety of siding products, colors, and styles to choose from.
No matter if you are looking to update your home’s style and look, or if you’re just looking for a more durable product, Hardie siding has a variety of options.
Hardie Plank Lap Siding
The most popular brand of siding in North America offers a traditional and timeless look. You can’t go wrong with Hardie Plank! It’s offered in a variety of styles like Select Cedarmill which has a soft texture that appears like wood or Smooth which offers a sleek and more modern appearance. Beaded Cedarmill or Beaded Smooth adds a rounded or “beaded” edge to each panel. Colonial, James Hardie’s take on Dutch lap siding, will give your home a more historic look.
Hardie Shingle Siding
Offered in Straight Edge, Staggered Edge, or Half-Rounds, Hardie Shingle will give your home the look of wood shingles with lower maintenance costs and better durability. For homeowners that like the attractiveness of wood but want to avoid the risks of wood rot or splits, then Hardie Shingle is the way to go.
HardieShingle Straight Edge
HardieShingle Staggered Edge
Hardie Panel Vertical Siding
Most homes today have horizontal planks. If you’re looking for a new look, consider vertical siding. It’ll ensure your home stands out from the rest of the neighborhood — in a great way! Hardie Panel Vertical Siding comes in Select Cedarmill, Smooth, Stucco, and Sierra 8 (a combination texture).
Hardie Trim Boards
Trim helps accentuate corners, columns, doors, windows, and in general, gives your home the finishing touch. Add a contrasting color to help features stand out. Hardie Trim Boards are available in Rustic and Smooth. Rustic offers a wood-like texture, whereas Smooth will give your home a sleek, more modern appearance.
Hardie Soffit Panels
Like trim, Soffits help finalize your home’s look by covering the underside of your roof eaves and exterior porch ceilings. Hardie Soffit Panels are available in both Smooth and Vented with stylistic options like Beaded or Cedarmill.
Designed to set your home apart with a unique and timeless look, Artisan siding offers deep shadow lines and extra thick boards. Think of beautiful cedar siding without the maintenance and complications.
James Hardie ColorPlus® Technology
All James Hardie siding is available primed and ready to paint. ColorPlus® Technology offers a consistent coat of finish which results in even coverage and color. During the process, multiple coats of finish are applied to the siding and trim. The planks are cured between coats to reinforce paint from chipping, cracking, fading, and peeling. While the paint is already durable and uses 50% more paint than the average house painter applies, it also comes with a 15-year limited warranty that includes paint and labor. You are covered for years to come!
Hardie siding has a variety of color options to choose from. The Statement Collection palette, being their most popular, ranges from Arctic White to Deep Ocean Blue and rich, vibrant colors like Countrylane Red. To get a better sense of exterior, trim, and accent combinations, Lifetime Exteriors can work together with you and your favorite James Hardie combinations to help inspire the best look for your home. You can also find inspiration in the James Hardie Pinterest gallery. When choosing exterior house colors, take into consideration:
- The hues you love
- Your local area
- The age of your home
- Any particular structural elements you want to highlight
- The first impression that you want your home to make
What is the process to install Hardie siding correctly?
Hardie siding installation takes roughly 10-12 days, or an average installation time. If the siding needs additional work like painting, you may want to add five more days to your timeline.
You’ll also want to take the following into consideration when talking with your contractor:
- Number of floors or levels to your home
- Overall square footage
- The grade of terrain immediately surrounding your home
- Landscaping features immediately next to your home, like trees or bushes
- Removal of existing siding
- The type of Hardie siding you are installing
But before you get started on your Hardie siding installation, it’s important to hire a qualified siding contractor, familiar and experienced with installing Hardie siding. This will ensure that the project is efficient and installed properly.
For an even more successful installation, hiring a single contractor is recommended. This will greatly reduce your need to manage and juggle separate but related work. It also reduces the possibility of rushed work and differences in building materials or work styles.
According to the Hardie Plank Best Practice Guide for HardieZone 5:
- The contractor installs a starter strip beneath the first course of siding to set it on the proper angle and to create a proper drip edge at the bottom of the siding.
- The first course of planking, straight and level, is installed at the lowest point of the home. “Blind nailing” is used, and so each subsequent course of planks cover the nails on the course below.
- After your contractor has secured the first course of planking, installation continues with full 12′ pieces until a door, window, or other feature interrupts the placement. Your contractor will notch these planks as needed.
How much does Hardie siding cost?
SImilar to installation time estimates, siding costs rely on a few different factors:
- Type of siding
- Home size
- Exterior design or shape of your home
- Removing old siding
On average, homeowners pay between $9,037 – $25,961 for siding in Washington, according to Home Advisor’s True Cost Guide. Vinyl siding costs about $0.90 to $2.50 per square foot, while fiber cement siding is estimated at about $0.70 to $5.25 per square feet. Even though it’s on the more costly side of the spectrum, Hardie siding costs must be weighed against the numerous benefits and longevity of its material.
Keep the scope of the project in mind when evaluating siding replacement. It is a higher initial investment that is accompanied with 15 & 30 year warranties, plus warp, rot, crack, fade, and flame resistant material. You can avoid the infrequent minor repairs stormy weather brings when your house is more susceptible to water damage or missing siding due to high winds. You can reduce your worry about melting and warping siding during summer heat waves.
Choose Hardie siding knowing you’ll finish the project feeling confident in having a beautiful, durable, and low-maintenance protective layer around your home. If you are ready for a siding that provides your home with many benefits, our Lifetime Exteriors team is ready to help. We can answer all of your siding questions and provide a seamless installation so you will not have to worry about the durability of your siding.