Fiber cement siding is a popular siding option thanks to its durability. It is less likely to warp, crack or degrade. However, just because fiber cement siding is durable does not mean that it doesn’t require periodic maintenance.
Fiber cement siding has to be washed every 6 to 12 months in order to remove dirt and debris from its surface. Occasionally you will need to spray it with a bleach water mix or mold-killing sprays in order to keep it mold-free. This, in addition to repainting and fixing caulk cracks as need.
Here is what you need to know about maintaining fiber cement siding.
Fiber cement siding is a siding material that is made up of a combination of cellulose fibers and cement. It is fireproof, rot-resistant, and is incredibly durable.
And while it is heavier, and thus more expensive to install than other siding materials, it is still among the most popular building materials thanks to its long lifespan and the fact that it is relatively easier to maintain.
Is it low maintenance material?
Yes, fiber cement siding is a low-maintenance material. All that you have to do in order to keep it in great shape is to clean it every 6 months to a year. As for repainting, it will be required after a long period of about 15 years to 25 years. You may also occasionally have to recaulk the sidings.
General fiber cement siding maintenance
Although fiber cement siding is a tough and durable siding material, carrying out a few maintenance routines is critical to keep it in good shape. The following are general maintenance tasks that you need to do in order to maintain your siding’s aesthetic appeal, moisture resistance, and ability to protect your home.
Washing with a garden hose
You should make an effort to wash your sidings at least once or twice a year. Washing the sidings down with plain water and scrubbing the surface with a cloth or soft brush is enough to get rid of debris and dirt.
Washing with a pressure washer
A pressure washer makes cleaning fiber cement siding easier. However, when you use it, you run the risk of damaging the sidings.
Therefore, if you want to use a pressure washer, you need to ensure that you use low pressure. This means keeping the pressure level of the washer under 1500 psi.
You should also maintain a healthy distance between the pressure washer and the sidings.Generally, a distance of more than 6 feet is recommended in order to minimize the force with which the jet of water hits the sidings.
Installing and cleaning gutters and downspouts
If you don’t have gutters and downspouts on your roof, you should install them immediately. They are important in keeping your sidings in good shape simply because they redirect rainwater away from the sidings.
But installing them is not enough. You need to make sure that they are functioning effectively. This means unblocking them. Re-adjusting their pitch whenever necessary. Plugging any holes that they develop.
Vegetation like shrubs and trees attract pests. They also hold moisture and can thus expose your sidings to moisture for longer periods. And they can also scratch the surface of the sidings.
Therefore, if you need your sidings to be in great shape, you need to make sure that you trim any bushes, shrubs and trees so that they don’t touch your sidings.
Maintaining the recommended ground clearance
At all times, you should ensure that your sidings do not touch the ground. Therefore, even when landscaping, you should always ensure that there is about 6 inches of clearance between your sidings and the ground.
Protecting the sidings from the damaging effects of deicing salts
Instead of using deicing salts on ice that is near your sidings, you should use either gravel or sand. This will limit the risks of the salts getting in contact with the siding surfaces, and it will thus prevent its degradation.
How to clean your siding?
To keep your sidings looking good, you need to clean them regularly. Cleaning is also necessary in order to avoid dust and dirt accumulation, two things that tend to encourage mold growth. And in case mold has already attacked the sidings, cleaning will kill the mold and keep it from spreading into your home.
Cleaning dirt, dust, chalk
Washing down the sidings with a hose is usually enough to clean fiber cement sidings. And if there are any stubborn stains, dirt, and chalk residue on its surface, scrubbing with a gentle brush will be enough to remove it. Doing so after every 6 months to a year is always recommended.
You can also make your work easier by using a pressure washer. However, when doing so, you should make sure that you use low pressure. You should also position the hose a few feet away from the sidings so as to minimize the risks of unintentional damage.
Cleaning oil and grease
To get rid of traces of oil and grease residue off your sidings, you will still use a hose or a pressure washer as above. The only difference is that you will need to add a mild detergent to the water before spraying it on the sidings.
You will also have to scrub the sidings with a soft brush or wipe them with a piece of clothing. And after you are done, don’t forget to rinse off the detergent.
Cleaning mold and mildew
To remove mold and mildew from the sidings, start by spraying the moldy surface with a mold-killing solution. This may be diluted bleach, undiluted vinegar, or antifungal sprays that are specifically designed to kill mold. After spraying the surface, give the solution enough time to kill the mold. A period lasting between 30 minutes to an hour is usually enough.
After the time has elapsed, you can then rinse off the surface. You can thereafter scrub off any stubborn stains with a soft brush, and then rinse off the surface.
How to keep a high level of moisture protection?
As far as moisture resistance is concerned, fiber cement siding fares better than other siding materials like wood. However, it can still be vulnerable to moisture infiltration if it isn’t maintained properly.
To keep a high level of moisture protection, you need to recaulk the sidings. You also have to repaint the sidings once the paint wears out.
Does fiber cement siding need to be repainted?
Yes, fiber cement siding needs to be repainted. And while this has to be done after every 15 years to 25 years, it is something that is necessary.
This is because it helps to maintain the aesthetic appeal of the sidings. Repainting also arms the fiber cement siding with a new protective film that will reduce its susceptibility to absorb moisture.
Maintain gutters and downspouts
Maintaining gutters and downspouts critical to your siding’s wellbeing. This is because constant exposure to rainwater usually accelerates the rate at which the sidings degrade.
Maintaining gutters and downspouts direct rainwater away from the sidings. This helps to protect the sidings from excess moisture exposure. And for the gutters and downspouts to do their job effectively, they need to be properly maintained.
This means removing debris and leaves from the gutters and downspouts. Doing so ensures that water can flow smoothly, hence reducing the chances of overflows and splatters that may end up on the sidings.
It also means fixing any small holes, patching tears and leaks, replacing worn-out gutter sections. And also adjusting the pitch of your gutters.
Investing in gutter guards and screens is also something that will ensure that gutters help to protect your sidings.
Fiber cement siding - repair or patching
In most cases, the main type of repair that a homeowner has to do is to re-apply caulking. This is because with time, the caulking tends to wear out and crack or simply get loose before the siding’s lifespan runs out. As a result, re-applying caulking on trim connections, flashings, penetrations and other joints is something that a homeowner has to do periodically.
In cases where it is the fiber cement siding showing the signs of wear and tear, then using a patching product is recommended. This is an ideal solution in cases where the siding cracks, chips, or develops dents.
To patch the worn-out area, start by mixing the putty according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once it is ready for application, spread it over the cracks or dents until it fully masks them. Give it time to dry, and after it does, use sandpaper to even it out with the siding’s surface.
Using a power washer for cleaning
You can use a power washer to clean fiber cement siding if:
- You use it on a low-pressure setting
- You use it a safe distance away from the siding
This is because directly blasting water at high pressure onto the siding’s surface will accelerate the rate at which its surface degrades.
Is recaulking necessary?
Recaulking fiber cement siding is necessary in order to maintain the siding’s resistance to water. This is because caulk wears off. It cracks. And the gaps and cracks that develop with time create openings and pathways for water.
Therefore, a homeowner needs to recaulk their siding in order to make aging siding less susceptible to moisture infiltration.
Yes, you need to prime fiber cement siding if you want to end up with lasting and high-quality paintwork. However, this is not necessary if you are using paint that has a primer already mixed in, or in cases where you are using pre-primed fiber cement siding.
Fiber cement siding can easily last up to more than 50 years when it has been properly cared for. Therefore, it is not surprising that it is typically accompanied by long warranties of 30 years or more.
Yes, fiber cement siding is expensive mainly because it usually costs more to install. However, when simply considering the price of purchasing the sidings, its price is comparable to that of popular siding options. This is because the average price usually ranges between 70 cents and $5.25 per square foot of fiber cement siding.
While fiber cement siding has a lot of advantages, it has a few shortcomings that every homeowner should be aware of. Here are the ones that stand out.
High installation costs
Fiber cement siding is relatively heavier than most of the other siding materials in the market. As a result, the labor costs of installing it are usually higher. This usually increases the initial costs of wrapping a home with these sidings, something that is usually enough to dissuade most homeowners from installing them.
Lower insulation benefit
One of the main benefits of installing sidings is the improved insulation that the sidings provide.
Unfortunately, fiber cement siding has little to no insulation effect. This is thanks to its low R-value. Installing it will thus have an insignificant effect on your home’s energy efficiency.
Needs to be repainted
Sidings like vinyl don’t require repainting. However, for fiber cement siding, this is a maintenance routine that is necessary. And even though its paint will likely last for up to 15 years, you still have to do it.
Fiber cement siding is better than vinyl siding because it has a longer lifespan.
It is also fire-resistant, less likely to warp, and affords a home way better protection against harsh weather elements.
And it also offers a more luxurious and realistic look to those who are interested in creating a wood-like aesthetic.
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