5 Things You Need to Know When Installing Fiber Cement Siding

When trying to decide on a new look for your home, the options for new siding materials, processes for installing, and pricing differences can get very overwhelming. It is easy to get lost in the details and wondering what is needed, or not needed. To help save the average homeowner the added cost of stress and indecision, this article is meant to help steer the decision-making process with several different types of fiber cement materials.

Average Cost to Install Fiber Cement Siding

The benefits of fiber cement siding add great value to the overall cost. Fiber cement materials are fire, rot, mold, mildew, water, and bug resistant. They typically come with a 25 yr to 30 yr warranty when installed per manufacturer specifications. And fiber cement requires nearly zero maintenance after installed and finished with paint.

What lies beneath the siding material is extremely important as well. Using the proper weather-resistive barrier (WRB) is vital for both protecting the structure from water damage and estimating the cost of your project. Installing the wrong WRB, or poor installation could mean re-working the job far before the warranty period is expired. This could mean double to triple the original cost. Improper installation or non-compatible materials will also void the manufacturer’s’ warranty. Usually for both the siding & WRB materials.

As with siding materials, the choices for WRB Systems can appear to be endless. We only need to focus on two things for this option. We need materials approved for residential use, and we need to consider the local climate or environmental factors. Homes directly on the water, or within a mile or two of the water, should use a WRB system that incorporates a rainscreen system as well. While homes in rural or suburban areas could use a WRB system with or without a rainscreen system to accomplish the same task. Rainscreen is a system that can be installed virtually anywhere. The typical thickness would be 1/4” – 1”. Rainscreen is typically wood furring strips, secured to the framing of the structure, installed over the WRB. These furring strips provide an air barrier between siding & structure, that provides drainage for water, as well as air movement to dry out the cavity. Another option to wood furring, in specific applications only, would be a drainage mat. This is a woven fabric material, with a matrix of plastic loops adhered to it. This matrix pulls water away from the structure and drains it to the bottom.

The purpose is to select something that is practical for the application. There are far too many choices to discuss all at once. So, let’s take this project on from the viewpoints of practical and appropriate.


How to Know You Have an Appropriate Weather Resistive Barrier (WRB) System

When choosing the proper WRB system for your project, stick to materials approved for residential use or residential building code. Materials and processes for commercial or industrial applications can get very complex and extremely expensive. WRB materials come in a variety of different types.

Systems approved for residential use are rolled sheet materials. FortiFiber JumboTex 60 minute building paper is a standard building wrap, installed shingle fashion with a ½ sheet overlap. Building paper is a mechanically fastened product. VaproShield products are a woven fabric that breathes one way, allowing water vapor to escape and allows for no water intrusion. VaproShield is installed shingle fashion w/ a 4”-6” overlap, lines are marked for ease of install with integrated tape. Material is mechanically fastened or available in a self-adhered option w/an adhesive backing. Another WRB option, similar to VaproShield, is HydroGap. HydroGap is a woven fabric material with rubberized bumps or ridges along its surface. These provide a minimal drainage gap between siding.

For WRB you should figure $0.15 to $1.70 per square foot. The average home is roughly 1,600 to 2,800 SqFt. HydroGap WRB is approximately $0.30 per square foot. Labor for install ranges from $0.60 to $2.00 per square foot.

If wood furring is used as rainscreen, a pressure treated, or borate treated furring is required. The typical cost for materials is $0.40 to $1.50 per square foot. Drainage mat ranges from $0.60 to $1.70 per square foot. Labor rates for rainscreen installation range from $0.60 to $1.75 per square foot.


Choosing the Right Exterior Siding Material

When calculating the rough cost to reside your home, there are two basic prices to keep in mind. Material cost, and labor cost. Both of these prices depend on materials used, size of structure or area to be worked on (in square feet), details, and finish work. All things considered, we are not going to estimate the cost based on the lowest budget and lack of concern for a finished appearance. We are going to estimate the cost based on modern materials, a modest look & realistic budget options that won’t break the bank. 

  • Fiber cement lap siding is going to cost $1.30 – $5.50 per square foot, for material only. Labor for install would cost approximately $4-$8 per square foot. 
  • Fiber cement shingle siding ranges from $5 to $10 per square foot, for material only. Labor for install is approximately $5-$10 per square foot.
  • Fiber cement panel, including Board & Batten siding, is approximately $1.30 – $3.00 per square foot, with install rates varying on panel layout and trim details. Install rates range from $3.50 to $10 per square foot.

Always factor paint and trim, materials and details, as additional to siding materials.

Details and Associated Costs with Your Exterior Home Project

When deciding on your trim details, keep in mind the goal is practical and appropriate. Trim details can get wildly expensive and ornate. To keep it simple, we are working with a modest and modern design. Window and door trims can match and be either thin line or bold in appearance. Materials chosen should complement the siding texture or finish, as well as require the same or less amount of maintenance. Basic trim details vary in price and change based on each project and design. Typical prices to expect for Cedar primed, finger joined (PFJ) & Fiber Cement trim would be $1.00 to $12.00 per linear foot depending on size.

Construction Permits and Design

Residential remodel projects can sometimes require permitting from the city. Permitting all depends on the job, the scope of work, and can sometimes be limited to only one phase of the project. In the event of a remodel that requires permitting, Synapse will handle the process. We will create the construction documents required by the city planner, update you on the process and notify you when we receive the permit. Typical permits for field inspection cost between $250 & $500.

For design contracts with Synapse Construction, we handle the entire process from start to finish. We will schedule a meeting at your home or a virtual meeting to discuss your project and what you want to change. We will produce a 3D as-built model of the home, and included in the contract, produce 3 different versions of the new design. The first meeting will be a starting point for what materials you are interested in and the desired look when finished. The second meeting will be a review of the adjusted as-built model and materials chosen. Details and finishing options will be discussed as well.

In the third and final meeting, we aim to have a completed 3D model of exactly what you are looking for, a budget proposal ready for review, and an outline of the work schedule. Design contracts vary from job to job. Typical cost is $2,000 – $3,500.

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