Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Green Siding Options

Lately, we’ve found ourselves scouring the web for eco-friendly siding options for our home. Our original plans call for eastern white cedar siding with a clear protective finish. We’ve come to learn that solid wood siding requires frequent maintenance…and it’s not exactly green. Well, it can be if it’s FSC-certified or made from recycled wood.

Unfortunately, this gets expensive. And we are limited by our budget. Yet again. We can’t have our pretty wood siding and certify it too. And call it a hunch, but I don’t think we can meet the expense of a whole house swathed in repurposed wood siding.

During our research, we stumbled across fiber-cement siding. It’s a material that looks just like wood, but is composed of cement and wood fibers. The leading supplier of this type of siding is James Hardie. It’s durable—the site notes its ability to resist “impact damage from wind and hail…and cold windy climates…” It’s relatively inexpensive. And many siding options come with notable warranties. Though the wood fibers are obtained overseas, many green builders are using James Hardie fiber-cement because of its reasonable price and expected lifespan.

I think this option makes the most sense for us, given our expected harsh climate and our budget. The vertical siding—which we love—is protected by James Hardie's "strongest warranty ever"—a 30-year nonprorated, transferable, limited warranty.

I think we're sold on the HardiePanel Cedarmill® Siding in “Heathered Moss.” A color that, unfortunately, looked more gray than green when posted here. This photo (below) shows the design. Not the color of choice.

We’re hoping to achieve a traditional board-and-batten look like this when it’s all said and done.

Imagine that—our “green” home will likely end up being green in color too!


  1. I'm loving reading about your house and your choices. Even more excited to see that you liked the fiber-cement board as well. We've been thinking of residing our (not so green) house with it next year.

    It's a process, right?!?!

  2. Hi Angie! I'm so glad you like reading about our homebuilding experience. It sure is a process...and, at times, an overwhelming one! BUT, I have high hopes we'll feel differently once we're actually living in the house!

  3. We haven't decided on the siding for our home yet. We've considered the fiber cement siding. However, I have an issue with the wood fiber coming from overseas. I've heard New Zealand. Any idea why they aren't using local wood fiber? Seems like a big waste to me. Do you know if the siding is made overseas as well? That'd be a lot more CO2 if they have to ship all the heavy cement too!!

    I've been leaning towards finding a local mill with locally grown trees. Even if it's not FSC, the mill owner may know something about how it's harvested. You can specify that sustainable methods have to have been used.

  4. Hey Dan. Thanks for asking. We mainly chose the Hardieplank siding for the durability factor. The Hardieplank is waranteed 30+ years and typically lasts well beyond that, this will eliminate a lot of re-staining and maintenance compared to using eastern pine siding like we originally planned.

    I can only assume the wood fiber is imported to keep costs down, but I believe it is all manufactured domestically as they have 10 production plants located throughout the US. The siding can also help to earn LEED certification points due to its regional material availability, durability, and recycled content. The NAHB also recognizes it as a green option since it does not require an additional finish, termite resistance, and uses fewer resources than traditional siding products. A good place to read more from Hardie is