Oct. 28, 2003
Economics of Hardi Plank vs. Wood Siding
When adding siding to houses there are several options in the type of materials that could be used. When deciding which siding to use there are several factors to consider. The siding should be attractive, durable, require minimum maintenance, be reasonably priced and being environmentally friendly is a big plus too. Since money is what makes the world go round most often the price is the determining factor. We have examined the prices of two products wood siding vs. “Hardi Plank” and what affects their price.
“Hardi Plank” siding, or cement fiber siding, is a siding for houses that is sold as an “eco- friendly” product. It is composed of cement, sand, natural fibers and water. Cement fiber siding is very durable to the elements. It won’t crack, rot, or delaminate. It is also resistant to moisture and salt spray damage. Cement fiber siding also has excellent paint retention. It comes primed with a long-lasting acrylic- based primer. Since its made basically of cement, cement- fiber siding is fire- resistant and non- combustible. It has shown no flame support or loss of integrity when tested in accordance with the ASTM test method E- 136. The basic price of cement fiber siding is $5.15 for an 8 ¼” by 12’ plank. This comes out to $15.45 for a 4’ by 8’ space. Processes affecting the cost of cement fiber siding is cement costs, which are $9.50 for a 40 kg. bag. Also, the mixing of cement will cost money, i.e. - mixing machine and labor of an operator. Installing cement fiber housing costs a little more because you have to hire a reputable siding company to install it properly with the proper tools or the cement fiber will ware down or somehow fail within three years. Installed properly, cement fiber siding will last 50 years. Environmental factors that should be looked at with cement fiber siding is mining. In order to make cement, companies have to mine limestone and clay. This degrades the earth and can become costly to move the raw products.
Wood siding offers an attractive alternative to plastic or metal (alu) siding. It is produced from a natural renewable resource and is available at most local lumber and hardware stores. It has been used in construction for hundreds of years and has essentially stood the test of time. Wood siding does require tools and know-how to install. Wood siding also needs to be treated, and unless you are going for the natural look you will need to paint the siding to your desired color. Once the siding is installed and painted after a few years, anywhere from 3 -10 depending on your climate and need for an attractive exterior, it will need to be painted again. At the local ACE Hardware store a 4 ft. by 8 ft. sheet of wood siding cost $27.52 with grooves and $24.77 without the grooves. The Home Depot charged $28.92 with grooves and $22.97 without grooves. Both salespersons reported seeing very little fluctuation in the price of the siding in recent years and said it varies only by a few dollars. The price of wood siding depends on what is happening in the lumber market. The lumber market depends on how the wood is moving and what price it can fetch. The price of wood is directly affected by the demand for the wood. The demand for wood fluctuates with the demand for buildings, mainly residential. People usually build new houses when the economy is good and interest rates are low. The price of lumber is also affected by policy. Lumber companies rely heavily on the use of government lands for lumber, and if denied access to a certain key property it might cause an increase in the price of the specific type of wood that would have been harvested from that property, especially if the particular property had a desirable or rare wood. If workers decide to strike or unions demand a pay raise it could push the price of lumber up. The price of oil also affects the price of lumber. Petroleum is required to run the chainsaws that cut the trees, fuel the machinery that gets the cut logs to the trucks, tractor trailers need to move the wood to sawmills, where petroleum is used in multiple ways, and the tractor trailers need to move it again to the stores and warehouses that will eventually sell the lumber to the consumers. Forest fires, evident in the news lately, can also push the price of wood up.
Both sidings are attractive and have their benefits and downfalls. Economically The “Hardi Plank” seems to be the way to go because the resources used to make “Hardi Plank” are plentiful and cheap and is less likely to rise in price. Wood on the other hand is a renewable resource and provides thousands of Americans and Canadians with jobs and has stood the test of time. Ultimately the decision to use either will be based on personal preference.
www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/forestry/420-145/420-145.html (from Virginia Tech)
Sales representative from Lowes in Lacey, WA
Employee of ACE in Lacey, WA