Fiber Cement HardiePlank or LP SmartSide Siding?
I get asked this question often working Texas Home Exteriors, “Greg, which is better, Fiber Cement/HardiePlank Siding or LP SmartSide Siding for my Houston TX home?” I have had many homeowners and builders alike asking me this question. I respond with information based on my research and opinion having much experience in installing the two building products, as well as discussion with other home exterior professionals. Both fiber cement (HardiePlank) and LP SmartSide siding are outstanding siding products, however there are some differences you should be aware of.
The information in this article is based on many years of my experience in the Houston Texas metro area, and as the owner of Texas Home Exteriors. In this post I will cite information from some of the most credible resources I know of on the internet presenting their accumulative input including Google Books (James Hardie), Wikipedia (James Hardie) and Wikipedia LP (Louisiana Pacific SmartSide). These are sites and resources that you can and SHOULD check as well to learn more and research what people just like you and me are saying around the country and the world.
Below I present for you the good, the bad and the ugly so as a Houston Southeast Texas homeowner, you can make an informed and intelligent decision. I encourage you to click on the links as well and doing some of your own research. After reading this Hardie vs. SmartSide Siding article, please take a moment to voice your opinion or share additional information below the estimate form.
Here are our findings
Both Fiber Cement (Hardie) and LP SmartSide Siding are outstanding and high quality building products. They both exhibit excellent qualities in their performance and longevity as excellent siding product choices for your home’s exterior. Keep in mind that each has great qualities as well as some not-so-great qualities. I will point this out based on my many years of experience in home exteriors here in the Houston southeast Texas area in using both products, (fiber cement – LP SmartSide Siding) as well as research I have done on the products and their overall performance.
Supporting evidence GOOGLE search
When being asked about one siding product vs another, one might share their opinion from their experience, of course this is OK. However, I will also provide examples of what other home exterior professionals are saying from around the country.
Fiber Cement/HardiePlank- 15 Trim 30 Yr Siding Warranty
As you can see from exploring the links above, there have been some issues reported from around the country. Fiber cement has become more and more popular since the late 1990s in re-siding as well as in new construction throughout North America.
The reported issues range from cracking and flaking paint to installation problems as well as other issues with the fiber cement siding product. The siding most often used siding product in America is fiber cement. Many of the problems with this product have stemmed from the improper installation of the fiber cement product. However, there are also some issues to be aware of that actually stem from fiber cement product failure itself.
LP SmartSide Siding – 50 Year Trim 50 Year Siding Warranty
LP SmartSide has also been around since 1997, I have done extensive research via the internet and have not found nearly as many, or for that matter, any issues reported with this product at all, no reported problems, even LP SmartSide reports there have been no claims on product failure of the the LP SmartSide Engineered Wood Siding Products in the past 14 years it has been being installed on homes.
In all fairness, I will share that there was an issue I came across regarding Louisiana Pacific (LP) and their OLD Product, called “LP Inner Seal“ which has since been discontinued. This was a pre-1997 SmartSide product that failed, recalled and any claims paid responsively and quickly- very impressive on the part of Louisiana Pacific. In my opinion, this product should not have been used on homes in areas of the country that receive a lot of precipitation, thus the failures. (Note, that the “Inner-Seal” siding did very well in other areas of the country that are more arid and the product continues to stand up well in those climates to this day).
Louisiana Pacific SmartSide Wikipedia info
LP SmartSide: (LP) “Two years after the first suit, LP had settled all related disputes. LP re-engineered the product, now marketed as LP®SmartSide® and since 1997 has sold approximately 3 billion square feet of SmartSide siding with no warranty claims for fungal decay.” This was reported on Wikipedia in 2014 of this product that has been around since 1997.
Fiber Cement (Hardie) Wikipedia info
Fiber Cement: per Wikipedia, “Fiber cement siding (or “fibre cement cladding” in the UK and Australasia) is a building material used to cover the exterior of a building in both commercial and domestic applications. Fiber cement is a composite material Fiber cement is a composite made of sand, cement and cellulose fibers. Read more about Fiber Cement by clicking on the link at the top of this article which will take you to Wiki and Build Direct FAQs.
The Silica Dust Issue – New York Times
Both the Fiber Cement (hardie plank) and LP SmartSide siding products will produce dust plumes when cutting the product. LP SmartSide siding is wood based and makes less dust as opposed to the Fiber Cement that contains Silica. Having said that, the Silica is a much finer dust and gets airborne and tends to make billowing clouds of fine dust that can be dangerous for workers to install if respirators are not used. Here is a recent article from the New York Times about silica dust exposure that you should be aware of on this issue.
Crumble a Plank Anyone?
You have to see this to believe what is happening. After Hardie Siding (fiber cement) has been up for a while, homeowners have been reporting on how that their lawnmowers wheels had bumped the lower run of the siding and broken off edges with some mild unintended impacts.
If you click on that (broken off edges) link above, you will clearly see photos of what homeowners across the country are reporting as well as the phone calls that we are receiving on the issue here at our Texas Home Exteriors office.
You will also see how SmartSide Siding is much more resistant to the same impact of objects such as lawnmowers, baseballs and the everyday accidental impacts that most homeowners experience.
Benefits Fiber Cement/HardiePlank Siding Products
Fiber Cement has the upper hand by far in the category of Fire Resistance so if you are looking for a siding product that specifically is more Resistant to fires, Fiber Cement is the better choice. Fiber cement is one of the most resistant materials there is for your exterior. If installed properly, it is also insect-proof, because it offers no food source to insects. It is fire-resistant, moisture-resistant, and is not prone to warping or cracking, thanks to the cellulose fibers which boost its dimensional stability. And, manufacturers offer a variety of pre-painted colors to choose from.
Disadvantages of Fiber Cement Siding Products
Fiber Cement is much heavier than other siding types and requires two or more workers to install a single plank increasing labor costs. Fiber cement siding can also be difficult to work with, as workers cut the material it creates silica dust plumes that can be harmful if breathed in.
Benefits of LP SmartSide Siding – What the crews are saying about installation
- Length – With Longer planks” 16’ foot vs 12’ allowing workers to cover more with one plank and less joints to finish.
- Lighter – The product is 39% lighter on average, the material does not break when being carried or moved.
- Damage – Hammer marks do not show up as easily due to its increased impact resistance.
- Cutting – No special saw blades or equipment is needed (no need for $100 special blades, regular carbide wood saw blades work just fine).
- Nailing – No nail gun pressure issues or need to lower presser due to overdriven nails.
- Dust- Much less dust than the fiber cement product, silica plume issues gone.
- Strength – Installation of this product increases wall strength and structure so walls remain straight for the lifetime of the product.
- Installers prefer working with the product due to the reasons listed above. As a matter of fact, once an installer uses this product they do not want to go back to using the fiber cement.
Disadvantages of LP SmartSide Siding
SmartSide siding is constructed of wood base fibers, leaving it vulnerable to fire from combustion and or through the melting of the resin add-ons when exposed to high heat. If fire resistance is a concern I would consider the James Hardie (hardiplank) siding over the LP SmartSide siding. You should take a moment to read this article about James Hardie Siding and it’s superior resistance to fire.
Louisiana Pacific and NASDAQ Stock Jump
Just as resent as May 18th of 2015 the stock for Louisiana Pacific (LP) LPX has seen an 52 week all time high is stock increase due to consumer interest and sales increase in the LP SmartSide Siding Product. This has been exciting news for some time as contractors are liking having a choice to present to homeowners besides fiber cement.
Well there you have it, the good, the bad and the ugly. Both the Hardiplank and LP SmartSide Siding products will serve your home will and keep your love ones protected from the weather for many years to come.
While there are differences and benefits to both siding products, we have noticed a shift in homeowners moving towards the LP Smart Siding due to the many benefits over Fiber Cement (Hardie).
What you have read above is from an article I wrote. You can find more information on our website Texas Home Exteriors – Houston TX about home siding options and you can also learn more about silica dust and it’s affects.
I hope that you have found this informative article most helpful in making a siding choice for your home exterior. Should you have any questions my email address is, [email protected] or if you would like a Free Estimate from Texas Home Exteriors call, 281.919.6999 anytime.
Greg Kapitan (the siding man)
PS – I look forward to hearing from you in the comments section below.