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Buyer's Guide for Exterior Siding (page 3 of 6)

Getting ready to re-side your house? Compare costs, weigh pros and cons, and learn how each of today's most popular siding materials rank when it comes to being earth-friendly.

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Image courtesy of James Hardie

Fiber Cement

The current darling of the siding industry, fiber cement has earned a reputation for stability and low maintenance. It's made from a mix of wood pulp, cement, clay and sand, and it can be molded to mimic wood clapboard, shingles, stucco and masonry. It readily accepts paint, and most manufacturers offer an array of factory-applied finishes.

Upside: Fiber-cement siding resists expanding and contracting with changes in humidity and temperature, so caulk and paint really hold up. It's fire-resistant, termite-proof and it won't rot. A 30-year warranty is the norm.

Downside: Fiber-cement siding is flat-out heavy, and installation requires special techniques and tools that add to the cost. Finding a remodeling contractor with experience installing fiber cement can be a challenge. Retrofits mean completely removing the old siding, adding about 5 percent to the overall cost.

Green meter: It's extremely durable and has a long replacement cycle, which scores points for sustainability. However, fiber cement is relatively new and that longevity has yet to bear out.

Cost: Horizontal board siding: $5 to $9 per square foot, installed. Expect to pay $13,000 to $22,000 for an average two-story house.

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