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Siding and Exteriors Charleston, South Carolina

November 29, 2011

The most common types of siding that is found in the Charleston SC tri-county areas like Mount Pleasant, Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s, West Ashley and surrounding areas are vinyl, and cement plank. Most people refer to cement plank as Hardie plank but that is like calling tissue, Kleenex. The reason it is called Hardie plank is because the inventor was a man by the name James Hardie.

The reason people in Charleston and coastal areas use “fiber cement siding” is because of its durability, likeness to wood, and resistance to bugs, water, and fire. It is a very strong and reliable material made from a blend of cement,  and silica sand. Some common problems that occur with wood siding and cement plank is leaking water behind the siding if installed incorrectly. It can absorb water, especially through edges that have been cut during installation. This water can then cause the product to crack or split, especially in colder climates. Moisture infiltration can also cause mold or mildew growth in the framing members or sheathing. Life in the low-country requires a good tough exterior because of the constant changing weather conditions.

Fiber cement siding is a very heavy product and requires two people to carry the uncut sheets that is much more labor intensive to install as compared to vinyl. Thin fiber cement plank is fragile before installation and must be handled carefully; it is prone to chipping and breakage if improperly handled. Once the product is cut it may again require two people to install – one to hold the sheet flush against stud-work and the other to nail the product in place. Cutting fiber cement siding usually requires a mechanised saw or metal hand shears and sheets can be cut to size in three ways:

  • Thinner sheets can be scored with a heavy duty cutting blade and snapped. We do not recommend thinner/cheaper products as will create problems in long run.
  • Purpose made “fiber cement cutter”
  • Thicker and more dense sheets require cutting by a mechanical saw

Some caution must be exercised to properly ventilate areas where cement siding (Hardie Plank) (FCS) is being cut; long-term exposure to the silica dust generated during the cutting so it is recommended to wear a mask.

Fiber cement siding can be painted before or after installation. (For areas of exposure, weatherproof paint must be used.) Once the product is fixed the joints are usually covered with timber battens and the entire wall surface is painted.

Vinyl siding is usually reserved for lesser expensive projects where cost is a variable. Vinyl siding can be a little more maintenance free due to the fact that it does not have to be painted like wood or fiber cement plank siding and is easier and less labor intense to install.  The product is manufactured primarily with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a material that gives it impact resistance, rigidity and strength.

Some of the less desirable qualities of vinyl siding is it’s tendency to dry rot- crack with age, fade, and it is less insulating than other materials like brick, wood and stucco. Many Charleston, South Carolina contractors prefer this siding material in order to keep the cost to a minimum since the cost of living for land ownership in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties is on average more expensive then most of South Carolina.  Some communities in and around Charleston will not allow vinyl siding to be used as part of the covenants and restrictions to build and live in the neighborhood. To learn more about vinyl siding visit

Precision Construction is Charleston’s best General Contractor


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