- What is Hardie Board Made of?
- Average Hardiplank Installation Cost and Price Per Sq. Ft.
- Factors that Affect the Cost
- Is it Worth the High Cost?
The first version of fiber cement siding was patented in 1901, but contained asbestos fibers. In the 1980s, James Hardie Industries produced a re-engineered version of cement boards that used wood pulp rather than asbestos.
The combination of sand, wood pulp, cellulose fibers and cement created a material that is fire-resistant and virtually immune to rot or insect pests such as termites. But, is Hardie board all that it is reputed to be?
As the inventor and largest manufacturer of modern cement board siding, James Hardie’s Hardie Board product has become synonymous with fiber cement siding and is well known to siding contractors. For many people, Hardie Board is to fiber cement siding as Kleenex is to facial tissues.
Let’s look at the installation cost, pros and cons:
What is Hardie Board Made of?
Hardie board is made by mixing a slurry of wood pulp with cement. Then sand is added and the concoction is pressed into the form of individual planks. Then, it is dried under extreme pressure to compact the materials, creating a durable board. If you break a piece of Hardy board, you can see the wood fibers inside.
While the most common shape is that of planks, you can also find Hardie board in shingle form. The slurry is colored at the factory, but you can also paint them once they are installed.
Average Hardiplank Installation Cost and Price Per Sq. Ft.
It will cost you between $5 and $10 per square foot to have Hardiplank (or Hardie board) installed. A typical house will cost between $8,000 and $13,800 for installation of Hardie board by a licensed contractor. This does not include the cost of removal of the old siding or the addition of insulation.
|1500 Sq Ft.||Low||High|
|Total Cost Per Sq. Ft.||$5.37||$9.72|
Add the Cost of Removing Old Siding – $1000 to $3000
You will pay between $0.50 to $1 per square foot to have your old siding removed. Complex architecture and multi-story homes are more expensive to strip and to re-side.
How Many Sq. Ft. is a Typical Home?
The United States Census records that in the U.S., the average house is two-story, 25’ by 45’ and has 2,250 sq. ft. of floor area inside. Using our siding sq. ft. estimating method, it has approximately 1500 square feet of exterior cladding. This can be calculated by measuring the length and width of the house, using 9’ per story, and calculating the area of each rectangle and triangle of siding space.
Example Cost Breakdown – Professionally Installed
Using the average sized house as described above, with 1500 sq. feet on the exterior, we can work out a general list of costs. This is not an estimate, but a breakdown of what it will cost to have certified, bonded siding contractors install Hardie board siding on your house.
|Siding Price Per Sq. Ft.||$3||$4.50|
|Supplies & Accessories Per Sq Ft.||$0.30||$0.50|
|Total Materials Cost for 1580 Sq Ft.||$4950||$7,500|
|Hours of Labour||75||90|
|Installer Hourly Rate||40||75|
|Total Labor Cost||$3000||$6,750|
|Labor Cost Per Sq. Ft||$1.90||$4.27|
|Total Cost Per Sq. Ft.||$6.03||$11.72|
A waste factor of around 7% is to be expected on any job. Most contractors do not subtract the number of square feet for windows, but if your house has an exceptional number of large windows, this of course will be factored in.
Factors that Affect the Cost
The benefits and expenses of this siding will be affected by your climate, contractor and how far has to be shipped to reach your contractor’s supplier. Other factors include:
Needless to say, larger homes cost more to side, since the jobs are quoted according to the number of square feet to be covered. However, if your home is bigger, you may pay a little less per square foot than you would for a smaller home.
When it comes to siding contractors, the old saying is true – you get what you pay for. This often means that more expensive contractors will do a more professional, quality job. That being said, different contractors will have different markups on the siding materials and charge different hourly rates for the labor to install the siding.
You have two options when ordering Hardie board for your home:
With pre-primed siding, you can paint it your choice of colors once it has been installed.
At the outset, pre-painted Hardie Plank Lap Siding is more expensive. It is available in 24 different colors, and you can order whichever color you want from those 24. We’ll talk about the pros and cons of pre-primed and pre-painted Hardie board later.
HardiePlank: Is it Worth the High Cost?
Generic cement/fiber siding is almost always more expensive than vinyl. And the most popular brand – HardiePlank is even more costly.
Here are the factors that drive up the cost:
Wood and vinyl siding are easy to produce, and made from readily available materials. However, fiber cement siding is a specially made composite of several blended materials. Some of the ingredients include cellulose fibers, cement, and sand. Hardie board uses a secret blend of these and much time and research has gone into developing it.
Fiber-cement siding is much less flexible and weighs more than other materials, especially vinyl. This does make it very durable, but it requires larger crews to successfully install it. Extra care must also be taken to secure the heavy planks into place, and shipping for these heavy siding materials is more expensive.
It comes with a 50-year warranty and will last through just about any environmental attack, whether hail, snow, blizzard or hurricane.
Recoup an Average of 78% of the Cost When You Sell
In reality, there are few types of siding that can compete with HardiePlank on the resale market. Remodeling Magazine categorizes it as “upscale” and estimates that you will get back an average of 78% of your original investment if you sell your house. This is very high, considering that most projects have, at most, about a 20% return. Kitchens come in at 98%, and bathroom remodels at 75%.
Pros of Hardie Board Siding
The popularity and use of Hardie board siding rises and falls. During the Financial Crisis following 2008, few people were purchasing fiber cement siding, fearing that they would never get their investment back.
It is once again rising in popularity. This extremely durable product is available in an array of colors, and can be ordered with wood texture on the planks. It provides the look of real wood siding without the weaknesses that accompany wood, such as water damage and insects.
All siding comes with a warranty, but most HardiePlank siding comes with a 50-year warranty. The warranty can even be transferred to new owners in some situations. It is completely rot-resistant, is immune to insect damage and can withstand ocean spray.
Many Style & Color Options
HardiePlank siding is manufactured in a variety of styles that can mimic wood lap boards, cedar shakes, and wood shingles. The textures in the planks are a result of embossing, which is done during the pressurized drying time. The color choices are usually plentiful, and the color itself has a 15-year warranty, if you select pre-painted planks. In addition, you can easily paint it once it is installed.
90% of the content of Hardie board is sand and cement, which are both very fire-resistant. While not fireproof, it is considered to be a neutral material, meaning that it will not feed flames. There are actually stories about fires that have set fire trucks 60 feet away aflame, but dealt no damage to the neighboring house 50 feet away that made with fiber cement planks.
Many people in the U.S. live in some type of severe weather area. Along the east and Gulf coasts, there are hurricanes. In the Midwest are tornadoes and hail, and further west you have dry, desert conditions.
Hardie board can withstand all of these conditions thanks to its concrete fibers. High wind, hail, torrential rain, and blistering sun have no effect on fiber cement planks. Since it is impervious to water, it will not swell, bow, or cup, and will not rot.
As we’ve mentioned, Hardie Board, vinyl, and metal siding are impervious to pests. Termites and carpenter ants eat wood, but the wood pulp used in Hardie board is infused with cement, so the pests have no interest or access to it. This makes it an invaluable siding in the south, where humidity makes pests an issue year-round.
Cons of Hardie Board Siding
With the durability of the product and the variety of styles available, what is to keep you from installing it on your house? The two main reasons are weight, which makes it expensive to ship and install, and the fact that it needs to be cleaned and painted periodically.
High Installation and Labor Costs
This type of siding requires more detailed planning and a larger work crew for installation. Installation also usually takes longer, since the Hardie board is heavier and harder to work with. While 100 sq. ft. of vinyl siding will weigh about 70 pounds, the same square footage of Hardie board will weigh 300 pounds. It will also require more specialized tools.
Hardie board offers a ColorPlus™ warranty that guarantees the finish for 15 years. If you have to have it scraped, primed, and painted before that 15 years are up, the labor and paint are covered by the warranty. After that, you have to pay for the upkeep.
Installing HardiePlank Siding
HardiePlank siding is much harder to install than wood, vinyl, or aluminum siding. The end effect may look similar, but the finished look is where the similarities end.
One person cannot install HardiePlank siding because it is too heavy, at about 2.5 pounds per sq.ft.
It will crack is not carried and installed properly.
Installers require special tools for cutting and fastening to keep from breaking the planks.
Eye protection and a respirator mask are necessary when cutting, because of the silica dust.
An experienced and specialized installer is a must. This material requires special kinds of nails, and cuts must be primed and sealed in a specific manner. Also, the siding must be installed up to a certain height to eliminate potential water absorption.
Newly constructed houses settle and may crack Hardy board planks. This should be covered under the warranty and can be repaired with fiber cement patch.
Cement-fiber siding made prior to the 80s had asbestos in it. If your house is older, it may require abatement.
About Hardie Board Siding
When James Hardie immigrated to Australia from Ireland in the late 1800s, he began a tanning business. He imported oil and hide-tanning chemicals for his business and formed a partnership with Andrew Reid. Hardie retired in 1911 and sold his share of Hardie Industries to his partner. In the 1950s, James Hardie Industries went public with stock offerings.
For the next 30 to 40 years, Hardie Industries produced the fiber-cement boards that would make the company famous. Unfortunately, during that time, the fiber being used was asbestos. After massive re-design, the use of wood pulp instead of asbestos turned the now famous Hardie board into a household name.
The company was relocated to the Netherlands in 2001 and once again, back to its home port of Ireland in 2010. In James Hardie’s era, the saying of the day was, “Do one thing. Do it well.” James Hardie took this saying to heart, and the company he founded continues to strive for excellence to this day.
One of the newer innovations for Hardie Industries’ has been the “Hardie Zone” system. The R&D department has classified each climate to which Hardie materials will be shipped, and the siding is manufactured specifically for that climate.
Another step forward for the company was in its development of colored Hardie board. The boards can be ordered in the color you want, and at the time of manufacture, the colors are primed and painted then baked on in multiple layers. This makes the paint durable for up to 15 years, during which it is warrantied against chipping, cracking, or peeling.
Hardie Industries offers their famous cement-fiber planking in a number of styles, including clapboard, shingles, and panels.
Each part of the Hardie board installment is warrantied. Here are the various warranties they offer:
- Color – 15 years
- Cement board for exterior use – 10 years
- Cement board – lifetime
- Lap siding, shingles, panels, soffits – 30 years
- Trim – 15 years
- Weather barrier, flashing, seam tape – 10 years
As with a warranty on any other product, these warranties are only good if the product has been professionally installed. This is not a do-it-yourself project, as the planks are very heavy are require special care for installation. They also require special tools and training.
Is it environmentally friendly?
Cement and sand are abundant materials, and the wood in the wood pulp is from sustainable species. Endangered species of wood are not used. There are no toxic materials used (unlike in vinyl).
Here are some other green siding materials.
Due to the extra weight, does the structure need to be reinforced?
This is a common question. However, most structures sturdy enough for people to live in them are sturdy enough for Hardie board.
Can Hardie board stand up to woodpeckers?
Yes. This is a cement board, so woodpeckers have no interest in it. Neither do insects.
Do the cracks between the Hardie board need re-caulking if the original caulking has flaked out?
The ONLY place to check the caulk is along the trim. The butt joints should not be caulked. Check the Best Installation Practices available on the James Hardie website.
What are other brands of fiber cement siding?
Other brands are GAF WeatherSide, Allura Plycem (once known as CertainTeed), MaxiTile, and Nichiha USA.
How can I save on installation costs?
Get Several Estimates
Get an estimate from three or four professionals. The estimates are usually free, unless the professional is there to make a repair elsewhere. Some homeowners and contractors can negotiate up to 20% savings on Hardie board siding.
You want an installer certified in installing Hardie board so that the warranties will be unquestioned. You also want the installation to be correct so that you don’t have to call in constantly for repairs.
Allow for an additional 7% to 15% more on your budget estimate. This will account for surprises in configuration and complexities in your home, which will run the costs up.
Buy the Materials Separately
You can buy the Hardie board yourself and hire a crew to install it. However, if the crew is not trained to install this product, the planks can be damaged and the installation can have gaps, which will allow moisture into your home. This can be expensive to repair and dangerous for your health.
Get Quotes During Down Season
Fall and winter are contractors’ downtime. This is a good time to get an estimate, because they will be looking for work.
Are Hardie board alternatives reliable?
LP SmartSiding is significantly more affordable than Hardie board – as much as 35% cheaper. Some of these other brands are excellent materials, they just have not been around for as long as James Hardie Industries, so they don’t have the brand name to carry them.
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Over to You
What do you think about Hardie board? Would it be worth the cost for your house? Let us know what you think.