HardiePlank - is it worth it?
March 8, 2016 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Did you replace your old siding with HardiePlank? Is it worth it? How has it held up?

(This prior question was mine.)

The exterior of our Seattle-area house was poorly maintained by the prior owners and it's time to take care of it. The house was built in the 80s and has the original cedar siding underneath an old paint job that was poorly done. As a result there is a fair amount of water damage to many boards on all sides of the house except one. We also have a woodpecker problem. (Please see my prior question if you want to know more.) We are exploring various options for what to do, and the costliest option is to replace all of the siding with HardiePlank. We are strongly interested in doing this because a) it's our only hope of woodpeckers forgetting about our house forever, and b) we like the idea of durability and not having to worry about repairing the siding ever again.

But since it is so costly, we'd like to be absolutely sure that the expense is worth it. If you have HardiePlank, how has it held up? Did you get it painted in the factory or on-site? I am especially interested in hearing from folks who have had HardiePlank on their house for >10 years and live in moist environments. Any problems/downsides? What do you wish you had known?

Thanks Metafilter!
posted by stowaway to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Our house was built with what I assume is factory-painted (due to how evenly applied it is) HardiePlank in 2006, and about the best thing I can say for it is I have never once thought about the condition of my siding. Still looks like the day we bought it in 2009.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:29 AM on March 8, 2016

Oh, this is in central North Carolina, so not exactly a damp environment, but not the desert either.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:30 AM on March 8, 2016

I have used HardiePlank on my house. I have also used their 4 x 8 foot panels and 1 x 2 inch trim. The stuff seems completely invulnerable to moisture, as long as it is not immersed in water. Paint sticks to it very well. It looks good. No woodpeckers have ever visited it, although woodpeckers have had a go with the metal downspouts. It was painted after installation.

It is quite brittle, so it must be well supported on all of the edges. It is not appropriate in areas with traffic if it is going to get bumped with stuff (wood works better there). It will crack if the structure shifts.

Replacing siding should be a once in a generation type project. If you consider this a 20 to 30 year investment, then the cost should be spread out over many years.

Ask installers about other projects that they have done, and go look at them. Don't be shy about asking the homeowners how they like their siding.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 11:30 AM on March 8, 2016

I can't speak to woodpeckers, but I had cheap vinyl siding on my house replaced with factory colored Hardieplank three years ago and it has held up very well in a four-season environment with hot and humid summers.

Unlike the vinyl siding which would curl and flip up, come loose from the attachment, and fading color (granted it was probably a decade old by the time I inherited that problem), the Hardieplank has been zero maintenance, feels solid as a rock, and absolutely does not give you the "ewww vinyl siding" feeling when you look at it.

We're very happy with it and feel like it was well worth the expense and the value of not having to worry about it.

I don't have experience with painting the stuff, but my understanding is that the factory colored plank will also save you an additional maintenance step.
posted by Karaage at 11:33 AM on March 8, 2016

It is quite brittle, so it must be well supported on all of the edges.

Oh yeah, I have cracked off little (1/2" by 1/2" say) chunks on the bottom edge of the garage with the lawnmower, but it doesn't shatter or appear to weaken the overall panel.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:38 AM on March 8, 2016

Hardie plank has lasted 10 years and still going strong on my Seattle house. It was painted after installation and I don't anticipate needing to repaint for a while. It may not solve your woodpecker problem, though. Those birds will peck on almost any hard surface to show off for potential mates.
posted by oxisos at 11:59 AM on March 8, 2016

Our house was built with Hardie plank siding in 2008. We're in Northeast Florida, so plenty damp for several months out of the year. 8 years later it still looks brand new.
posted by saladin at 12:04 PM on March 8, 2016

When we owned a house we did our siding in HardiePlank. I'd say it was worth the money. Without question.

We too, had a woodpecker. He didn't hurt it, he liked how it sounded. Nature is weird.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:16 PM on March 8, 2016

it's our only hope of woodpeckers forgetting about our house forever

So, about that. I don't think HardiePlank is a guarantee here. My mom has a cement board siding and a woodpecker problem. My understanding is that woodpeckers are territorial and they may return to regular spots to drum for a mate. "Hey ladies....[bambambambam]...aw yeah." They may be returning to a prior nest. (Any prior nests in this wall?) Or, they may actually hear bugs in the walls/attic and be trying to get at them. (Did you spray for pests?)

If and when you replace your siding, consider having a good look for pests. Spraying for pests and replacing any external sheathing at that location where the woodpecker has been drumming. That way you can get under the sheathing, ensure that there are no buggies under there, replace insulation and put up new sheathing.

Otherwise, I think HardiPlank is a great choice. Attractive. Durable. Fairly affordable. It's not "concrete," though. You can put a screw in it so a determined woodpecker could put a beak in it. Be careful with the edges (running a lawnmower up to the siding may chip and break it). Ask their salesperson specifically about woodpeckers. Ask each person you talk to associated with this job about woodpeckers.
posted by amanda at 12:30 PM on March 8, 2016

Response by poster: Just clarifying about the woodpecker problem, we have had the house inspected quite recently inspected for pests, the woodpeckers are not after a food source. There was evidence of an old nest (years old, by the looks). The pest control guy endorsed hardie plank as a better option.
posted by stowaway at 12:52 PM on March 8, 2016

If you just want to solve your woodpecker problem, roll with it. Build them a decoy box.
posted by aniola at 1:52 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I only use Hardie. You can also work some texture in by using the flat panels and shingle panels.
posted by humboldt32 at 2:12 PM on March 8, 2016

We went with the pre-painted HardiPlank when we renovated 12 years ago and it still looks great. We live in a pretty damp area - we actually get more rainfall than Seattle! I haven't noticed any trouble other than needing to clean off the green algae/mossy discoloration that seems to accumulate in certain locations. I seem to remember there was a 15-year guarantee when we purchased (for the paint), and I don't expect to need to paint in the next few years. There was some discussion about the installers preferring the primed (not factory painted) product, as they have to be pretty careful not to nick/gouge the paint during installation. We decided the risk was worth it, but there are a few visible gouges here and there on our home. There is touch up paint to minimize, but it doesn't look quite the same, so I have decided the gouges add character. Oh, I don't know if it's important but we chose a really bland safe color, and we needed some new HardiPlank a few years ago for a minor addition, we were able to match no problem, but something to keep in mind.
posted by dawg-proud at 2:17 PM on March 8, 2016

My house was built with Hardie Plankn in 1969. As far as I can tell, it is still holding up just fine.
posted by procrastination at 3:08 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

My architecture firm designs multi-family for anything from a two unit townhome to 5-7 story highly dense complexes. We have used both fiber cement siding and fiber cement plank in both applications. The product is great in that it is cementitious and resists moisture as well as any other masonry product. If installed correctly, the product can last 15-20 years maintenance free.

There are a few cautions though:

1) Make sure the installer is Hardie certified or at least is in contact with a Hardie rep in case problems arise. We have had several projects where a non-certified contractor attempted the install, only to have the long runs of siding show "waves" or not perfectly flat areas. This was problematic for water intrusion, and looked awful.

2) Make sure they are using the correct substrate when attaching. I have typically seen OSB or plywood as the sheathing layer. Gypsum sheathing is not rigid enough for a perfectly flat installation.

3) I would recommend using the pre-primed, field painted product so that any damage during installation or shipping can be corrected while installed.

My SO and I replaced our wood siding with fiber cement 2 years ago on our home, and it has never looked better. We had some previous water intrusion issues where the wood siding rotted away, after replacing the sheathing and the weather barrier, then installing the fiber cement we have had no issues.
posted by Benway at 3:20 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Looks like Hardi Plank wins hands down, for holding paint it is bombproof, much better than wood. On the other hand.....I hate how it looks because it has such a wimpy shadow line compared to traditional clapboards, that and that it doesn't come in very long pieces, and from my point of view the wide lap woodgrain embossed version is hideous. Your siding from the 80's is probably from old growth trees with a lot of growth rings per inch so its kind of tragic to rip it off and toss it in the dumpster, you can't get it anymore and a lot of habitat died for it. I don't know if they have anything like Portland's The Rebuilding Center, but if they do you should see if they would like the stuff you don't want anymore, there is also the Habitat Restore which is a Habitat for Humanity building material recycler. If you are correct on the age than it should be lead free.
posted by Pembquist at 7:32 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seattlite here. We just replaced our horrible old siding with HardiPlank two summers ago, so I can't speak to longterm durability, although it looks great in my opinion. I can say that our regular visits from a certain woodpecker have been immensely reduced though!
posted by whodatninja at 10:08 PM on March 8, 2016

your "bad" paint job on the wood planks is possibly evidence of a bad insulation job. in a climate with high humidity winters it's easy for moisture to build up inside the walls of your house from warm air infiltration or improper insulation. badly peeling paint on wood siding would be evidence of this. it may be easier to fix deficient insulation with the siding off.
posted by ennui.bz at 3:06 AM on March 9, 2016

I live in Portland and my husband is a licensed contractor. Our house is about 110 years old. He rebuilt part of our porch 5 years ago and used HardiePlank. It was not painted for a few years. We finally had the whole house painted last year. The HardiePlank is just fine. I just asked him if we had to replace the siding, if we'd use HardiePlank. His answer: probably because it's so much more durable. He's used it on several projects, including a guest house in a friend's backyard.

The drawbacks: it's not as attractive as wood and there aren't as many trim options. Some people get wood trim, but then you have the maintenance problems.

So there's some insight from damp Portland.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:43 AM on March 9, 2016

I live in muggy New Orleans and I got my house re-sided with HardiePlank last year. It wasn't cheap, but it's been great. I got the wider size planks, and (crucially) I got the wood-grain option, which is the same price and looks more attractive, in my opinion. I wanted my house to be a bright color (the prepainted siding only comes in rather tame colors) so I got it in white and had it painted. The housepainter said it was easy to work on.
No problems with woodpeckers so far, and I think it's a bit more insulating than wood. Also, this hasn't been mentioned yet, but HardiePlank is fire-resistant, so if the house next door catches fire, you're better protected. And it's not attractive to insects (more of an issue than woodpeckers, where I live). I'm definitely happy with it so far, and I'm glad it's working long-tern for so many people in this thread :)
posted by Nibbly Fang at 8:19 AM on March 9, 2016

Response by poster: I appreciate everyone's input. We're not pursuing this merely out of dislike of woodpeckers (I am rather fond of them), but there is a significant amount of woodpecker damage that has led to water damage. What we're coming up against is that even if we keep the current siding, the cost of repairing it and painting the house is going to be something between $13 and $15k. Then we would have to pay a similar amount in 10 years to do it all over again. It would be really nice to not have to worry about the condition of the siding for the rest of my life, other than to paint every 15 years.
posted by stowaway at 4:48 PM on March 9, 2016

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