Siding Decision

In order to install the doors, some of the cedar siding was removed. Then to completely seal the wall where the doors were installed, we had to remove the rest of the siding and replace the damaged 1″ foil backed polyiso and seal it with house wrap and tape. Because we are using the polyiso, the doors were installed right up against that layer, so the brickmold will be inside the siding.

Probably the most ecological siding would be to replace the cedar with Forest Certified Wood. We have shiplap cedar siding but it is being attacked by woodpeckers who do quite a bit of damage to the siding and to the insulation in the walls. Pest infestation is one of the sustainability factors in our LEED project, so changing the siding to something less pest friendly helps us comply with LEED for our home.

My first choice would have been to side the front with stone facing. However, some stone would need a backer board and would be quite thick and we need to think about the depth of the brick molds. It appears that some thin stone products can be applied over foam sheathing covered with chicken wire and a scratch coat of mortar, but that work is more exacting and time consuming that we are capable of at this point.

I got a bid to replace the cedar with stucco. They would redo the whole house including the existing stucco. They actually they wanted to go right over the existing siding with styrofoam and a two layer stucco, for $18,000. That bid was just more than we have in the budget.

I looked at many types of fiber cement board siding: lap, vertical panels, shingle, etc. and opinions as to its “Greenness”. Generally it is a recommended choice especially when compared with vinyl siding which has a far more energy intensive manufacturing process. Fiber cement board is considered “inert” so that it does not leach chemicals into the air or soil, and its longevity is considered more sustainable too.

I have seen Certainteed fiber cement siding being sold on craigslist occasionally. But when I looked it up, I found that Certainteed “Weatherboard” has been sold to another company in Mexico because the siding did not hold up well. In 2014 they settled a class action suit to repay owners for damaged siding. “caused by a defect in the Siding that is manifested as shrinkage between the ends of Siding in excess of 3/16” except that for Siding installed abutting windows, doors or trim, shrinkage must exceed 5/16”. In addition, Siding with warping or bowing in excess of 1/2″, field and edge cracking through the board”.

James Hardie is the major manufacturer of cement board siding. Their products have been featured on “This Old House” and other home building shows and magazines. Apparently it is holding up just fine. Lowes carries this brand and has the stucco finish that I would like to use. It costs a little over $50 per 4 x 8 sheet.

Cement Board Siding Stucco Finish

HardiePanel Cement Board Siding Stucco Finish

The James Hardie website offers to send sustainability information by email. So I wrote and asked for information and their sustainability engineer wrote me back promptly asking for a few facts about the building project. They send an individual letter for each project based on location. Since LEED gives credit for locally manufactured goods sourced and made within 500 miles of the building site, they have the exact figures for the location of their components and manufacturing sites. I had the letter by email the same day I sent the information! Unfortunately there are no sites near enough to Colorado to qualify for the credit. I was also disappointed to see that only 2% pre consumer recycled content and 0% post consumer is used in the product so maybe they do use fly ash which is considered industrial waste. Apparently they do not use cellulose. Of course vendors believe that makes this product superior to others too.

Letter - James Hardie Siding - Recycled and Regional Content - Arvada, CO - 2015-08-21

Letter – James Hardie Siding – Recycled and Regional Content – Arvada, CO – 2015-08-21

There is also a brand of fiber cement products by Nichiha, a Japanese company that manufactures in Tennessee. The panels have been recommended on building forums, but I could not find it carried locally. Apparently the sheet siding is only available in the Southeastern states.

Menards does carry their fiber cement molded stone facing product. Nichiha uses fly ash and recycled cellulose although they don’t have LEED information on the website. I like the way the product looks online but it is very expensive. Each package is 5.35 square ft of product, 7 varied sizes of panels, for $50. Then each panel must be held on with at least 2 clips that are $1 each. A strandboard or plywood backing is required and the product is 1 3/8″ thick. Ten packages plus clips and starter strip for 80″ would cost over $1100 with shipping. There is free shipping to a store, which would save $300 but we don’t have Menards stores in Colorado.

Many installers say stick to what you know, stick to the best, James Hardie siding is considered the best. It is the best solution for our LEED Project. And the pre-colored boards mean that they will not have to be painted or stained, saving that expense for now too.

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