Common Problems with Hardie Siding

By Amanda Lutz Updated March 13, 2024

James Hardie siding is one of the most popular siding options for homes in the U.S. thanks to its durability, versatility, and potential to last for 50 years. Hardie siding is not without drawbacks, though, and homeowners who invest in it could encounter installation issues and longevity concerns. Read more in our guide below, which also compares Hardie siding to alternatives.


What Is Hardie Siding?

The James Hardie Company first introduced its brand of fiber cement siding in the mid-1980s. Hardie siding is made of a composite of cement, sand, and cellulose fibers and can resist fire, pests, and rot. It’s also suitable for most climates and weather conditions.

Fiber cement siding is now available from other manufacturers, but Hardie remains the most popular brand. Below are some reasons why:


Common Problems with Hardie Siding

While Hardie siding is durable and cost-effective, it can become a headache for homeowners. Read more about potential problems and how to handle them below.

Cracking and Chipping

Hardie boards are resistant to most types of damage, but some homeowners find that their siding cracks, warps, or chips due to improper installation. Using the wrong nails or faulty flashing could damage the siding, and a foundation that settles a lot could crack Hardie board.

Get ahead of these issues by hiring a professional to install Hardie siding and survey your house’s foundation. If you spot cracks in your siding, ask a professional to fix them immediately. Regularly inspecting siding can prevent damages to your home.

Cost

Hardie siding is more expensive to install than vinyl because of the materials and labor required. Over the course of a lifetime, though, the cost of Hardie siding is usually much less since it requires infrequent maintenance and lasts longer.

Fading and Discoloration

Homeowners don’t have to repaint Hardie siding regularly, but fiber cement can fade in the sun. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays could bleach the appearance of Hardie board, making your home’s exterior look uneven. Fading may also occur if you use low-quality paint or primer.

Prevent these issues by choosing fade-resistant paints in dark colors. Keep your siding clean to stop fading and repaint whenever necessary.

Moisture Absorption

Siding is meant to protect your home against water damage, but Hardie siding can absorb moisture if installed incorrectly or if it stays wet for long. Prevent moisture damage by ensuring that the roof’s flashing, drainage, and fascia are all in good shape.


Installation Issues with Hardie Siding

Hardie siding is ultimately only as good as its installation. Putting up Hardie siding is complex, even for seasoned pros, because of its weight and complicated installation steps.

Below are some common mistakes that may occur during the installation of Hardie siding:

The potential consequences of improper installation likely outweigh any savings you might get from installing Hardie siding yourself. Trusting a professional to install Hardie board will most likely help you find the best return on investment.


Longevity Concerns with Hardie Siding

Hardie siding is one of the most cost-effective lap siding materials and can last up to 50 years. However, you’ll need to prepare for a few variables to get the most out of your investment.

The life span of Hardie siding is typically up to 50 years. Here’s how that compares to other siding materials:


Comparisons with Other Types of Siding

Below, you’ll see how the pros and cons of Hardie siding match up to those associated with other popular siding types.

Vinyl Siding

Pros

  • Comes in a wide array of colors
  • Doesn’t require much maintenance
  • Easy to install
  • Has a low initial cost

Cons

  • Can become brittle over time, especially in extreme weather conditions
  • Lower curb appeal
  • More prone to damage than other materials

If you opt for vinyl siding, choose a high-quality and UV-resistant material. This will increase the vinyl’s longevity and make it more durable and weather-resistant.

Wood Siding

Pros

  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Offers good insulation and can lower energy costs

Cons

  • Deteriorates quickly if not maintained well
  • Prone to damage from fire and pests
  • Requires routine maintenance, painting, and sealing

If you choose wood siding, make sure you have the time and budget to maintain it.

Aluminum Siding

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight material that’s easy to install
  • Requires periodic cleaning and little maintenance

Cons

  • Doesn’t provide much sound insulation
  • Not as visually appealing as other materials
  • Susceptible to damage from hail or other impacts

Aluminum can be a good option if you have a strict budget or if you want to take a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to installation. It’s easier to install than steel siding but is far less durable.


Our Recommendation

Hardie siding is a popular choice for exterior siding thanks to its durability, minimal maintenance requirements, longevity, and pleasant appearance. It can last 50 years or more with proper care. It may not be the right choice for every homeowner, though, as it’s pricey to install and can crack, warp, or encounter water damage. Talk to a siding contractor for advice on which new siding type is best for your home based on your budget, the area’s climate, and your style.


Hardie Siding Problems FAQ

Does Hardie siding require frequent painting?

James Hardie fiber cement siding doesn’t require frequent painting. However, homeowners should repaint it every 10 years and may want to consider touch-ups between paint jobs.

How long does Hardie siding last compared to other sidings?

Hardie siding can last up to 50 years if homeowners correctly install and properly maintain it. Vinyl siding can remain for 20 to 40 years, while wood siding may last up to 30 years.

Can Hardie siding withstand extreme weather conditions?

Hardie siding can withstand most extreme weather conditions. It may fade after prolonged exposure to UV rays or warp if it encounters excess moisture, though.

Can you install Hardie siding over existing siding?

You can install Hardie siding over existing siding if the current siding is in good condition, but this might void the warranty. Removing existing siding before installing new Hardie siding is in any homeowner’s best interest.

What are the problems with improper installation of Hardie siding?

Improper Hardie siding installation can result in problems such as water damage, cracking or warping boards, and safety risks associated with silica dust. Poor installation can significantly impact the longevity of Hardie siding and its ability to protect your home, too.