Fibre Cement Siding: Architects

Architects may choose any color they wish from any manufacturers color palette wheel.

Unicrete Products Ltd. is a supplier of non combustible Fibre Cement siding. For over 30 years Unicrete Products Ltd., based in Calgary, has been transforming buildings throughout Western Canada into objects of class and elegance with various building products.

Unicrete supplies and pre-coats non-combustible, CertainTeed and James Hardie, Fibre Cement siding, which is available in a variety of finishes. Any colour is possible, and the siding carries a 50 year warranty, with a 15 year warranty on paint (optional 25 years with 2 coats).

Show your clients that you care about their projects in the long term. Great looks, affordability, unsurpassed life cycle and resale value, fire protection, energy savings and rich, beautiful colour and texture, all combine to make Unicrete Products Ltd. the natural choice.

If you are interested in learning more about our products, please contact us directly for samples, further marketing information or to schedule a Lunch & Learn.

Growth & Design Potential of Fibre Cement Siding Products

Today, vinyl is generally acknowledged to be the most widely used siding material.

HOWEVER-fibre cement siding occupies an important - and growing - niche.


A Short History of Fibre Cement Siding


The Early Days of Fibre Cement Building Materials

  • First developed in Europe in the early 1900s
  • Fibre cement siding first appeared on U.S. homes in the 1940s and '50s
  • Reintroduced by in the late '80s; fibre cement is also used as roofing shingles, decorative facades, fire walls, backerboard and tile underlayment

Composition of Fibre Cement Siding

  • Cement (most often portland), pulp fibre, sand, water and special additives

Growth & Design Potential of Fibre Cement Siding Products

A Natural-looking Alternative That Performs Well

  • The best fibre cement siding matches the unique texture and look of wood
  • Maintenance requirements are substantially lower
  • Cost to install fibre cement siding is comparable to wood

Advantages of Fibre Cement Siding Compared to Wood

  • Class A fire rating - it's non-combustible
  • Impervious to woodpeckers and wood-boring insects
  • Will not rot
  • Resistant to harmful UV rays and salt spray
  • Resists damage from hail and high winds when installed properly
  • Dimensionally stable, so swelling and warping are eliminated


The Fibre Cement Siding Design System

Common Lap Siding

  • Cedar Mill comes in widths of 6 1/4", 7 1/4", 8 1/4", 9 1/4"
  • Available in a variety of board widths and textures

Industry standards

  • 12-foot length, 1/4- to 5/16-inch thickness

Specialty Products

  • Decorative panels are available in various architecturally interesting designs
  • Particularly effective for end walls and gables; can also be used in full wall applications
  • Styles include Random Square Straight Edge, Random Square Staggered Edge, Octagons, Half-Rounds, and other geometric shapes


  • Traditional in appearance, but versatile enough to work with many architectural styles
  • Fibre cement siding is very similar to real wood clapboard in terms of dimensions and installation techniques
  • Wide clapboard - styled after 19th century Midwestern farmhouses
  • Narrow clapboard - conveys a Colonial look


  • Also known as shiplap
  • A beveled-edge clapboard that offers crisp, deep shadow lines
  • See illustration at right

Perfection Shingle

  • Reminiscent of the rustic look of rough cedar shingles


  • Trimmed with a narrow half-molding known as beading
  • The deep V-groove between the face and the beading creates dramatic shadow lines

Vertical Siding

  • Unlike horizontal styles, vertical fibre cement siding comes in rectangular panels
  • Most manufacturers offer them in 4' x 8', 4' x 9' and 4' x 10' sizes
  • Available textures include smooth and stucco; some feature grooves, which evoke the look of wood clapboards, are installed vertically


  • Used to cover eaves and overhangs
  • Can also be used in porch ceiling applications
  • Manufacturers produce soffit with the same textures as their siding to facilitate coordinated designs
  • Venting accessories can be added to solid fibre cement soffit to meet code requirements regarding attic ventilation

Designing with Fibre Cement Siding

The many available styles of fibre cement siding give architects and building designers an extensive array of options. A number of variables must be taken into account:

  • Color
  • Texture
  • Style
  • Historical considerations


  • Fibre cement siding offers a unique design advantage because it must be painted or stained - many more color choices than with other siding materials
  • Much easier to match client requests and design requirements with paint colors, compared to "off the shelf" siding
  • Option exists to change colors when it's time to repaint or re-stain


  • Fibre cement siding is available by custom order in a variety of natural surface textures
  • Smooth sanded and rough textured wood, cedar shingle and shake styles, even stucco can be custom ordered
  • Textures are embossed into the siding panels during the manufacturing process

Historical Considerations

  • Siding should match or approximate the building's original exterior cladding material in size, shape, color and linear direction
  • Siding must closely match the original exteriors on other historic homes in the area

Raw Materials, Manufacturing & Quality Control

"Green" Benefits of Raw Materials (cement, sand, pulp fibre, water and special additives)

Cement (typically portland) - principal ingredient limestone is abundantly available

  • Sand and pulp fibre - readily available, and recycling of pulp fibre means less to dispose of
  • Fibre cement siding can also be recycled when it is removed from a building

Manufacturing Process

  • Dry elements (Portland cement, sand, etc.) mixed with water to form a cementitious slurry from which raw sheets of fibre cement are created
  • Individual layers of slurry build up on a receiving roller
  • Multiple layers form a "green sheet," which is cut from accumulator roll
  • Alternating stacks of fibre cement sheets and molds are placed in a press, where high pressure is applied for an extended period
  • Once texture has been imparted to the fibre cement panels, they spend several hours in the pre-cure chamber
  • They then receive the final cure from steam saturation in the autoclave
  • Siding is then cut to size; better manufacturers use diamond tooth blades for a precision edge

Quality Control and Industry Test Methods

  • Ensuring quality begins with careful examination and testing of raw materials
  • Once the siding has been produced, most manufacturers subject their products to a variety of tests, designed to ensure that they meet various ASTM standards
  • Unicrete Fibre Cement Siding materials have met the most stringent criteria to obtain the required CCMC Classification.
  • When these standards are met, approvals from building code organizations (ICBO, NES) are forthcoming Raw Materials, Manufacturing & Quality Control

Typical Tests

  • Modulus of Rupture - A measurement (in pounds/square inch) of inherent flexural strength; the maximum load a piece of fibre cement siding will take before breaking
  • Interlaminar Bond (ILB) Strength - A measure of tensile strength; the force required to pull the material apart divided by the area of the panel being tested
  • Density - Generally measured in two ways: volume density (the weight of a panel divided by its volume) and area density (weight per square foot)
  • Moisture Absorption - A measurement of the maximum amount of moisture absorbed by an unprimed, unpainted fibre cement panel
  • Moisture Movement - A measurement of hygroscopic expansion, the change in dimensions of a fibre cement panel as it absorbs moisture
  • Thermal Movement - A measurement of thermal expansion, the change in dimensions of a fibre cement panel as the temperature changes
  • Water Tightness - The ability of the fibre cement panel to hold water over a period of time
  • Cobb Test - A water weight gain test


Installation Considerations


  • Fibre cement products should be cut in open, well-ventilated areas
  • Dust masks and safety glasses must be worn when working with fibre cement siding

Storage and handling

  • Keep fibre cement siding clean and sheltered from direct exposure to weather; it must not be installed if it becomes saturated
  • Store on a smooth, flat surface - but not directly on the ground
  • Fibre cement siding should be carried carefully, on edge rather than flat, and supported in the middle when large pieces are being cut Cutting
  • Panels should be cut face down using a circular power saw with a diamond blade
  • A standard hole saw can be used to make penetrations


  • Staples MUST NOT be used to install fibre cement siding
  • Non-corrosive nails, screws or pneumatic pins are recommended

Wall Preparation

  • Fibre cement siding can be installed over existing hardboard or wood siding, depending on its condition
  • Installation of house wrap is generally recommended before applying fibre cement siding directly to studs or over wood sheathing
  • Proper sheathing should be applied before fibre cement siding is installed; plywood, oriented strand board, builder board and foam-type sheathings are all acceptable

Painting and Priming

  • Only 100% acrylic latex paint should be used to paint fibre cement siding
  • NEVER use oil-based paints; the pH of fibre cement siding will affect their performance
  • Solid or semi-transparent stains should be used only on unprimed siding unless otherwise specified by the stain manufacturer
  • Paint life on fibre cement siding is significantly longer than paint life on hardwood and wood sidings

For further information please contact us or give us a call at 1-800-570-4733.