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Old 11-28-2006, 03:42 PM   #1
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"Maintenance Free" Siding Materials (Vinyl, Steel, Fiber Cement)


I've seen a good deal of posts in these forums in the past about fiber cement vs. vinyl siding. Yet, steel is hardly ever mentioned. I've been looking at replacing the old masonite siding on my home and have come across seamless steel. I've had several bids for seamless steel, Hardi board, and high end foam backed vinyl.

The seamless steel seems to be priced about the same as a high end foam backed vinyl with the James Hardi fiber cement lap boards being about 15-20% more. Haven't had a bid yet with CertainTeed's weatherboards, but I assume the cost would be very similar to Hardi's lap siding.

I have several questions. Why is steel not used more often? It seems to be a good alternative for a reasonable price. Steel looks very similar to lapped vinyl once installed, but eliminates the unsightly seams. Colors are a bit limited, but the PVC coated color seems like it will not fade like vinyl. Steel seems to be a much more durable product than vinyl with better fire protection, wind resistance, hail performance, puncture resistance, color retention, less thermal expansion, etc.

Like fiber cement, steel is resistant to flame, but it doesn't have to be repainted. Fiber cement has to be repainted every 15 years or so. Steel seems to be every bit as sturdy and maintenance free as fiber cement. However, you do give up some on the aesthetics when going with steel over fiber cement.

Does anybody have any opinions on steel siding as a viable alternative to vinyl or fiber cement? Any known problems with seamless steel applications, etc?

Is fiber cement really all it is cracked up to be? Can it handle freeze/thaw cycles as well as other products.

Also, the two large steel companies seem to be ABC Seamless and United States (US) Seamless. How do these two products compare to each other? They both seem to be very similar to me.

How about CertainTeed weatherboards vs. Hardi boards? These also seem very similar. Any key differences here?

I'd like to tap into the vast product knowledge of the people that have used these products and seen their performance in the real world. Please post your opinions on siding materials here to help me evaluate the pros and cons of each alternative.

By the way, I live in Minnesota with temperature/humidity extremes in both winter and summer (YES, we do get well into the 90s with high humidity) and very harsh freeze/thaw cycles.

Thanks.

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Old 11-28-2006, 04:34 PM   #2
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"Maintenance Free" Siding Materials (Vinyl, Steel, Fiber Cement)


Plastic coated steel siding appears to be a northwestern product. I've never seen it.


Last edited by mighty anvil; 11-28-2006 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 11-28-2006, 05:12 PM   #3
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"Maintenance Free" Siding Materials (Vinyl, Steel, Fiber Cement)


No problem with freezing and thawing for cement board siding, no matter which brand.

As you know, the siding is rarely saturated when you get freezing. Freezing is also a dehydration process. It also takes many cycles of the process WHILE 100% SATURATED. I would be more concerned with any freeze/thaw concrete problem in a different climate that has more humidity and rain during a more variable winter climate. As you know, sometimes we get only one freeze/thaw cycle per year (LOL) in Minnesota.

Vinyl, foam backed or not, is just a minimal product that is sold and used because of the price - easy and flexible. It provides no insulation or thermal inertia.

If you are residing, make sure you have a good house wrap. The key is the areas around the windows, that are usually not installed correctly and flashed properly. If the windows are not right, you will end up removing the siding (and more) to repair the rot.

For new construction, many quality builders are subbing out window installation to certified installers rather than relying on the same guys that have gotten them in trouble. I kind of like it when thay do it the same old way, since it keeps me and others busy a few years later.

You seem to be doing a lot of research and getting opinions, so you don't have to rely on the advertising and peddlers. - Good luck!!
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Old 11-28-2006, 05:33 PM   #4
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"Maintenance Free" Siding Materials (Vinyl, Steel, Fiber Cement)


I am not familiar with steel siding but it seems odd that fiber cement should be more expensive. I am thinking about drawing up masonry walls with surface bonding and that's where a fibercement coat is used on both sides. The stuff costs 17 bucks per 50 lb bag and will cover 50 square feet to a thickness of 1/8 inch. That coat is so strong it becomes a structural element of the wall.
It can be mixed with color before preparation and then should not have to be repainted, merely cleaned.

Check out what you are getting with that fiber cement board. How thick is the cement coat. Exactly what sort of fibers (alkali resistent glass fiber is best).

If your steel is PVC coated it, the coat at least won't be fire resistent. The steel is a good heat conductor and will pass on the heat to whatever is below. If that is combustible it might ignite. Fiber cement is somewhat less of a heat conductor, also it does not have an inflammable coat.

I am not sure these considerations are that important. Obviously when big flames lap at your walls you have a problem regardless of siding.

The natural application of fiber cement is in masonry where you put on the coat yourself and it naturally bonds to the wall.

If the fiber cement boards are a form of ferrocement (chickenwire reinforced high cement concrete) they could be very strong and durable (has been used to build ship hulls). I find it odd though that that should be more expensive than coated steel.
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Old 11-28-2006, 05:47 PM   #5
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"Maintenance Free" Siding Materials (Vinyl, Steel, Fiber Cement)


Found this out (http://www.askthebuilder.com/327_Fib...ishing.shtml):

"Fiber cement siding is a mixture of cement, wood fibers, finely ground sand, additives, and water. Once the products hardens it turns into a building material that resists, fire, insects, water, wind, etc."

WOOD FIBERS lol

This is obscene.The stuff is probably dirt cheap to make.
I would go with steel.
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Old 11-28-2006, 08:28 PM   #6
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"Maintenance Free" Siding Materials (Vinyl, Steel, Fiber Cement)


In Oklahoma, steel siding isn't often seen, and I have never installed any, but I have seen seamless siding, both steel and vinyl making a showing in the adds and home shows. They use styrofoam backing to resist hail and impact resistance...but the same for insulated vinyl siding...they claim an R gain, but in reality, it just ain't happening.

Lots of people do not consider brick for remodels, but it often can be done in the same price range as top quality siding, and we all know how masonry weathers.
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Old 11-29-2006, 10:07 AM   #7
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"Maintenance Free" Siding Materials (Vinyl, Steel, Fiber Cement)


Quote:
Originally Posted by joasis View Post
..they claim an R gain, but in reality, it just ain't happening.
Yes, I am getting told that we will achieve an R value gain of about 4 with the 3/8" foam board that will be installed along with the Tyvek house wrap behind the new siding. Our walls are 2x4 construction from 1978 so we're looking to bump up the energy efficiency a bit, as well.

Can you elaborate on why you think you don't get the R value gain?

Thanks.
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Old 11-29-2006, 10:14 AM   #8
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"Maintenance Free" Siding Materials (Vinyl, Steel, Fiber Cement)


Quote:
Originally Posted by oar View Post
Found this out (http://www.askthebuilder.com/327_Fiber_Cement_Siding_-_Alive_Well_and_Flourishing.shtml):

"Fiber cement siding is a mixture of cement, wood fibers, finely ground sand, additives, and water. Once the products hardens it turns into a building material that resists, fire, insects, water, wind, etc."

WOOD FIBERS lol
Exactly! That is why I'm a little bit weary of the fiber cement lap boards. How is it much different from the Masonite board that I'm replacing? I know that the cement makes up the majority of the product, but I'm still a bit concerned that this product is not proven yet in the colder climates.

Hey concretemasonry, do you know how long fiber cement from Hardi or CertainTeed has been used in Minnesota? No issues thus far, huh?

Thanks all for your replies.
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Old 11-29-2006, 10:29 AM   #9
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"Maintenance Free" Siding Materials (Vinyl, Steel, Fiber Cement)


FIBER cement is more expensive because its more labor intensive to install. Concerning steel siding it is here in Illinois but i don't know anything about it.
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Old 11-29-2006, 12:01 PM   #10
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"Maintenance Free" Siding Materials (Vinyl, Steel, Fiber Cement)


I've installed Hardi-plank siding in cold climate (Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana) and never had a problem. Some applications over 20 years old.

Hardi is nearly indestructable. No rot or insect problem. House
color can be changed at will.

Vinyl- Lowest end product, Stuck with color forever (some say it
can be painted, but I've never seen good results. Makes your
house look like a mobile-home (sorry, IMHO).

Steel- Makes it look like you are living in a barn (again sorry, IMHO).
Very difficult to repair appearance if damaged ( unless you know a
good auto-body man ).
Don't know how well it primes and paints if you want to change
house colors in a few years.
Product not widespread in the marketplace, so may seriously
effect homes re-sale value (prospective buyers are skiddish
about things that are unfamiliar)
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Old 11-29-2006, 01:35 PM   #11
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"Maintenance Free" Siding Materials (Vinyl, Steel, Fiber Cement)


Quote:
Originally Posted by jbob View Post
I've installed Hardi-plank siding in cold climate (Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana) and never had a problem. Some applications over 20 years old.

Hardi is nearly indestructable. No rot or insect problem. House
color can be changed at will.
Good to hear that! That gives me some additional confidence in the product.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbob View Post
Vinyl- Lowest end product, Stuck with color forever (some say it
can be painted, but I've never seen good results. Makes your
house look like a mobile-home (sorry, IMHO).
I agree and am not really considering it, but am amazed at how much is out there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbob View Post
Steel- Makes it look like you are living in a barn (again sorry, IMHO).
Very difficult to repair appearance if damaged ( unless you know a
good auto-body man ).
Don't know how well it primes and paints if you want to change
house colors in a few years.
Thanks, you've brought up some issues I didn't think about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbob View Post
Product not widespread in the marketplace, so may seriously
effect homes re-sale value (prospective buyers are skiddish
about things that are unfamiliar)
This is one of the main reasons I'm hesitant with the steel product.

Thanks for the honest reply and for presenting some very valid points.
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Old 01-17-2009, 12:12 PM   #12
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"Maintenance Free" Siding Materials (Vinyl, Steel, Fiber Cement)


a few things to keep in mind when building or remodeling.
1 Energy cost are going to start going up, so when you do anything keep in mind how can we make it more effecient!
METAL is great for shops and barns etc. It will also cause problems with cell signals etc. retail value on house siding might be issue?

HARDI is good but weight factor is issue if you do not have a strong wall/ foundation to handle it. Can always insulate etc behind it.

Also how strong is product need to be, high wind area?

I want to use hardi on side of mobile home but weight is issue so "IF" I decide to go with it then will have to add footer etc for walls. plus it is a little exspensive too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by diggitydog View Post
Good to hear that! That gives me some additional confidence in the product.


I agree and am not really considering it, but am amazed at how much is out there.


Thanks, you've brought up some issues I didn't think about.


This is one of the main reasons I'm hesitant with the steel product.

Thanks for the honest reply and for presenting some very valid points.
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Old 01-23-2009, 04:24 PM   #13
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"Maintenance Free" Siding Materials (Vinyl, Steel, Fiber Cement)


I have personally never used seamless steel siding but back in the eighties I installed tons of the factory made twelve foot steel siding panel from USS steel on federal government projects, U.S. Park Service specifically.
It was a good product and met the needs of the Park service. They wanted a durable product with a rustic look that would blend into the surroundings. (dense forest)
That being said I agree with others on this thread who have pointed out that repairing a damaged panel is very difficult and changing the color down the road can be done but is much more involved than re-painting fiber cement...which is in my opinion a better product when properly installed.
As far as Hardi plank vs. Certainteed, I have been using both for several years and I havent been convinced that one is better than the other al though I think the certainteed weatherboard has a more natural looking woodgrain.
I have never had problems with either but have heard of some problems and warranty issues with Certainteed in other parts of the country.
Good luck with your project!

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