How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes
Is Hardie fiber-cement siding waterproof?
Sunday, January 2, 2022
The answer to this question depends on whether you want to know if the fiber-cement siding material itself is waterproof, or if the wall is waterproof after installation of the siding.
MATERIAL - Hardie and other brands of fiber-cement siding receive a factory coat of primer, or primer and paint, that waterproofs the surface. But some water can be absorbed into the cut ends over time if they are not sealed with paint before installation or caulked. Because fiber-cement is inorganic, it will not rot. But dust accumulation on the satura areas may allow minor mold growth or staining. This is most likely to happen when an unsealed cut end is at the intersection of the side wall of a roof dormer and the roof slope, and too close to the roof surface.
WALL - No horizontal lapped siding wall is waterproof, whether it is wood, engineered wood, vinyl, or fiber-cement. Lapped siding is very water resistant, but it depends on gravity to create a downward flow of water over the unsealed lap joints after it hits the wall. The driving rain and wind in a severe thunderstorm or hurricane will push some water up into the laps between boards. Because a waterproof housewrap is normally installed under the siding, the water will run down the house wrap and exit harmlessly at the bottom of the wall without damaging the structure.
Also, see our articles What causes vertical cracks in fiber cement siding planks? and What are the vertical butt joint requirements for fiber-cement (Hardiplank) lap siding? and What is the average life expectancy of fiber-cement siding?
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Field Guide for Home Inspectors, a quick reference for finding the age of 154 brands of HVAC systems, water heaters, and electrical panels, plus 210 code standards for site-built and manufactured homes, and the life expectancy rating of 195 home components. Available at amazon.com for $19.95.
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Here’s links to some of our other articles about EXTERIOR WALLS AND SIDING:
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