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Stan Suther's Blog

By Stan Suther | Broker in Mooresville, NC

Hardboard vs Fiber Cement Siding

Lately while looking at listings of properties to show my buyers, I’ve noticed an unfortunate apparent error on the part of some local real estate agents.  Our Multiple Listing Service asks for lots of information when we list properties ranging from the number of bedrooms to the type of foundation each house has.  This allows real estate agents to set up searches based on their buyer clients’ preferences.  The result is that we don’t waste time looking at properties that wouldn’t be considered by our client.  One of the most watched detail is the specification of what type of siding is installed on a home.  We can select multiple types to look for, and we can also select those to exclude.  Typical choices are brick, vinyl, stone, wood, hardboard and fiber cement.

What I’ve noticed is that I’m seeing homes that are of an age and price range that when I see that they listed as having hardboard siding, I question the accuracy of that detail.  The difference is important.  Hardboard siding became popular some years ago, I’m guessing around the 1970′s, as an economical alternative to wood or aluminum (yes, that was popular, too) siding.  It was made of wood fibers mixed with resins and other components that produced a type of siding that was smooth, easy to apply and took paint well.  The trouble came later when with age and lack of maintenance, it was found that the fibers would absorb moisture, swell and degrade.  A whole class action lawsuit was brought as a result of homeowners finding their siding didn’t hold up very well.  HERE is a useful article that gives more background info.  Hardboard siding can work well over time if it was installed properly and maintained properly.  The problem is that for many houses, poor installation and/or poor maintenance have damaged the siding beyond repair other than replacement.

Fiber cement siding was created to replace a popular product made of cellulose fibers and asbestos when it was found that asbestos was harmful.  The newer product is made of sand, cement and cellulose fibers resulting in a product that is very resistant to ageing and weather.  It is now a strong competitor of brick in terms of maintenance and longevity, particularly for those who like the look of wood siding but want an economical, low maintenance product that is more durable than vinyl siding.  HERE is a link to more about how fiber cement siding is made. 

The problem is that there are agents who apparently don’t know the difference between these two siding products.  Homes with hardboard siding are much more likely to display problems that should be of concern to a potential buyer.  For that reason and others, fiber cement siding is viewed by real estate agents and appraisers as a higher value type of siding.

If you have hardboard siding, be sure to pay attention to maintaining the seal on caulked areas, especially around windows and doors, and be sure to keep a good coat of paint on the siding, with particular care given to painting the bottoms of the boards.   If you’re considering buying a home with hardboard siding, be sure to have a licensed home inspector check it out to determine its condition.  If your home has fiber cement siding and is currently listed with a real estate agent, check the listing information to be sure the agent got that right.  Some buyers may not be seeing your home in the listings if they’ve chosen to exclude homes using hardboard siding.

For more observations and information about real estate and other interesting things around the Lake Norman, NC and Iredell County area, see my blog at www.StanSuther.com.


By Matt,  Thu Oct 7 2010, 08:45
Can i get any information about the hard board siding works in raleigh?
By Kenodosa,  Sat Jan 18 2014, 08:41
I live in Nairobi Kenya can i get more information on your products

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