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How To Choose The Best Fiber Cement Exterior

Beauty is in the hands of the builder.


When it comes down to designing authentic, beautiful exteriors, a builder must have the best exterior products for the job. Builders know that fiber cement siding offers long-term value and guaranteed return on investment compared to vinyl and wood. Comparatively, fiber cement siding costs are neck and neck, so what differentiates one fiber cement brand from another?


Curb Appeal Sells

Aesthetically, side-by-side fiber cement planks seem similar, but in actuality the woodgrain patterns and factory applied color technology is very different. Some composite brands opt for little to no pattern changes on a single board, as compared to Allura Fiber Cement, which will repeat the wood pattern, every 48 planks. Leading fiber cement companies, like Allura and Hardie offer the choice of buying pre-primed and sealed planks for painting later or choosing factory-applied color, which offers more-streamlined installation – a big advantage in finishing. Hardie sells ColorPlus® fade-resistant solid colors and Allura touts ColorMax® 28 solid and stain colors feature PPG Paint technology for optimum protection.  (visit: http://allurausa.com/)

The Devil is in the Details

Allura offers stains and solid colors, whereas other brands do not offer semi-transparent wood stains and PPG is widely known for their color-innovation serving clients like NASA, Goodyear and the Oval Office. These details are standout features that are convincing builders like Stephen B. Quick, owner of Stephen Alexander Homes, who choose Allura Fiber Cement Siding for better curb appeal and greater value.

Stephen Alexander Homes has featured Allura on over 200 houses and boasts that it makes people slow down, stop and take notice. More builders opt for realistic-looking features on an exterior because woodgrain designs are more traditional.

“Allura is flexible, the customer service is excellent and their advanced formula holds the finish better,” said Stephen B. Quick, award-winning builder. “We field apply our finish and it simply holds color better than the competition.”

In a 2011 comparison between Hardie vs. Nichiha, architectural firm DBMC from Washington DC stated that even though it was more expensive, the architects preferred Nichiha’s large panel system over Hardie because it utilized an ultimate clip to improve upon the standard fiber cement panel system. Standard panels offered by Hardie and others are about 5/16” thick and require nailing directly through the wall sheathing into studs. Specs demonstrate that each horizontal board is nailed along the top edge and then covered by the board above it. The overlap hides fasteners and helps cast off water, but in a larger panelized system, a reveal without overlap between the siding will ultimately, reveal all fasteners and expose them to water. Allura Architectural Panels feature EasyTrim Reveals with ez.lock™ system, which allows the primary verticals to be installed quickly and without visible fasteners. The interlocking system features ez.bump™ that acts as a drainage gutter to move water out and away from the building. In addition, the system raises Allura panels up and away from water channels to avoid any risk of water damage.


Advanced engineering and manufacturing will separate the men from the boys, for example, Plycem known mostly for trim, purchased the fiber cement division from CertainTeed in 2013 and before launching Allura, the company invested heavily in R&D and technology to improve the formula. The playing field in fiber cement may be small, but builders know what kind of flexibility they need on a job. Choosing a fiber cement brand based on price and quality is the norm but these days, customer service and aesthetics have become very important in the final decision.

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