What are HardiePlank, HardiePanel, and Fiber Cement Siding?

James Hardie, a 19th Century Scot Who Found Success in Australia

Contractor working on home
Contractor working on home. Photo by lynn lynum/E+ Collection/Getty Images

HardiePlank® (Lap Siding) and HardiePanel® (Vertical Siding) are brand names for fiber cement siding manufactured by James Hardie Building Products, one of the first successful manufacturer of this product. The fiber cement siding is made from Portland cement mixed with ground sand, cellulose fiber, and other additives.

Fiber cement siding can resemble stucco, wood clapboards, or cedar shingles (HardieShingle®), depending on how the panels are textured.

The material is more durable than most woods and stucco. It is also fire resistant, which explains its early popularity in Australia, an arid land plagued with fires throughout the bush.

Although more expensive than vinyl, fiber cement siding is considerably less expensive than wood. Fiber cement siding has become popular, because it requires little maintenance, will not melt, is non-combustible, and can have a natural, wood-like appearance. Many people say it is much more difficult for a nonprofessional to install than other siding.

About James Hardie:

James Hardie Building Products has long been associated with Australia, ever since the Scottish-born Hardie emigrated there in the 19th century. The construction product became so popular so quickly that the misspelled name Hardi Board etc. became somewhat generic—like "Kleenex" means facial tissues and "Bilco" means any steel cellar doorway.

"HardiBoard" has come to mean any fiber cement siding.

James Hardie is now headquartered in Ireland.

Like other large companies, James Hardie Building Products sponsors and supports experimental use of its products. in 2015, Hardie supported New York City College of Technology’s Team Dura in the Solar Decathlon Competition.

Also Known As:

  • cement fiber siding
  • concrete siding

Common Misspellings:

hardiboard, hardyboard, hardyplank, hardypanel, HardiPlank, HardiPanel

Hardie Fibrolite:

Asbestos cement sheets became popular in the 1950s as an alternative building material to wood and brick. Hardie manufactured a cement / asbestos product in Australia since the early 20th century. The James Hardie company is in the ongoing process of settling with employees' and customers' claims of asbestos-related cancers. See Asbestos Compensation on their website. Since 1987, Hardie products have not contained asbestos. James Hardie building products installed before 1985 may contain asbestos.

Products Distributed by James Hardie Building Products:

  • HardiePlank and Cemplank®
  • HardieShingle® Siding
  • HardiePanel (Cempanel®) vertical siding
  • HardieTrim® Boards
  • HardieSoffit® Pre-Cut Panels (CemSoffit®)
  • Artisan®
  • HardieWrap® Weather Barrier
  • HardieBacker® Cement Board

How Expensive are Hardie Products?

On its own website, James Hardie makes these claims:

  • It's more expensive than vinyl but less expensive than brick
  • It's equal or less expensive than hardboard (e.g., fiberboard or composite siding)
  • It's less expensive than synthetic stucco

Comparisons with wood siding and natural stucco are not provided.

Fiber cement siding:

Many other companies carry similar products. For example, CertainTeed Corporation is a competitor and has comparable products to accompany their asphalt roofing shingles. Wonderboard® by Custom Building Products is a product similar to HardieBacker. James Hardie Building Products is a company that specializes in fiber cement building materials and have come to dominate the market, yet other providers exist.

Sources: Recent Updates at linkedin.com/company/james-hardie-building-products, LinkedIn; Frequently Asked Questions, James Hardie Building Products Inc.; Case study: James Hardie and asbestos, lawgovpol.com [accessed June 8, 2015]