Damaged fiber cement siding - Rhinebeck NY (C) Daniel FriedmanTips for Removing Fiber Cement Siding
How to remove fiber cement siding with minimum damage or hazardous silica dust


InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Fiber cement siding removal procedures to minimize dust & to permit possible salvage & re-use of the material.

This article describes why owners decided to remove fiber cement siding from their home and to replace it with James Hardie's HardiePlank fiber cement product.

The article details just how the old fiber cement siding was removed with minimum damage.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2015 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.

Fiber Cement Siding Removal Procedures

Why remove building fiber cement siding?

Gaps at butt joints of HardiePlank siding on an 8-year-old home  (C) Daniel FriedmanGenerally we do not recommend removing building siding in good condition, even if there are cosmetic issues that need to be addressed.

But if building siding is extensively damaged, or so badly installed that building wall leaks are widespread and damaging the building, one might consider removing and replacing all or more limited sections of the wall siding on the building.

and further
at SIDING, FIBER CEMENT MOISTURE LEVELS we describe a ten year old fiber cement siding installation that came to the building owners' attention because of large butt joint gaps in the lap siding installation.

When owners asked for advice from several building inspectors, industry consultants, and siding contractors, they learned that the product they thought they were buying, HardiePlank fiber cement siding, was not what their original contractor installed.

Watch out: this article describes the removal of fiber cement lap siding - horizontal "boards" such as shown in our photos. These procedures are not suitable for the removal of fiber cement shingles nor asbestos cement shingles. If you are working with those siding shingle materials and need to remove shingles for repair,

Why remove limited sections of fiber cement siding

Damaged fiber cement siding - Rhinebeck NY (C) Daniel Friedman

But even if there is no sound reason for removal of all fiber cement siding from a building, it may be necessary to remove sections of damaged FC siding such as the impact-damaged siding shown in our photograph at left.

Note that that damaged FC siding was at a different property from the "counterfeit" bad siding job installation discussed here and illustrated just above.

The siding damage you see in this photo was caused by a vehicle or by an impact.

Mechanical damage to fiber cement siding is described in more detail at SIDING, FIBER CEMENT DEFECTS.

Visible & Hidden Trouble Points in & Behind the Original FC Siding Installation

Open fiber cement siding butt joint shows no back flashing was installed (C) Daniel Friedman E Galow

Further close-up inspection by the repair contractor, Galow Homes, as well as by the author (DJF) found numerous other siding installation SNAFUS including:

  • Widespread rotted trim and window and door damage due to improper original installation
  • Omission of required window & door flashings
  • Omission of caulk where it should have been installed
  • Omission of back-flashing at siding butt joints. If the housewrap had been properly installed and if butt joints had remained tight between the ends of adjoining fiber cement siding boards we doubt that this would be much of a worry on most buildings.

    On this building where the FC butt joints were open like wide gaping howling mouths (see our photo at left), the housewrap was improperly installed, and wall leaks over the life of the structure were likely.
  • Omission of required clearance between siding ends and vertical trim, contributing to siding buckling in some locations.
  • Improper and inadequate nailing, leaving the fiber cement siding loose, buckling, and in some locations literally falling off of the building. At some locations, once the upper course of siding had been removed, we could simply pull some siding nails out of the building wall barehanded.
  • Installation of caulk where its use was not recommended (at gaps in lap siding butt jointds)

And more FC siding installation snafus were discovered as we began pulling the old material off of the building, including


It seemed likely that had the home been more than just ten years old, more extensive rot, insect damage, wall cavity mold contamination, and lost insulation values would all have accured.

Hardieplank warning about silica dust (C) James Hardie

The owners ultimately decided to remove the siding, thinking that either the material would be salvaged and re-installed correctly, or the "counterfeit" fiber cement siding woudl be replaced entirely with new product.

The contractor at the job we investigated considered the remove and salvage approach, though there would be some lost material due to damage during removal.

A second consideration during fiber cement siding material removal was the wish to avoid exposure to high levels of silica dust. Note the silica dust warning in the HardiePlank® product label shown at left.

Modern fiber cement products do not contain asbestos but silica dust from these products may be a hazard itself. Asbestos from older asbestos cement shingle siding and roofing products is a widely recognized hazards. For information about that different hazard, see ASBESTOS ROOFING / SIDING DUST.

How to Remove Fiber Cement Siding with Minimum Damage & Dust

Since the old counterfeit fiber cement siding was going to be removed anyway, the contractor chose to remove it with care, minimizing the damage, to give the owner the option of re-installing the orignial siding without gaps. (The owner later elected to toss the old siding and purchase new Hardieplank fiber cement siding - a step that was not without its own difficulties -

How to remove fiber cement siding - nail punching (C) Daniel Friedman How to remove fiber cement siding - nail punching (C) Daniel Friedman

Removing and reinstalling building siding, especially over a cosmetic issue, is a very costly approach but makes sense in some installations such as the fiasco of a fiber-cement siding installation job shown at SIDING, FIBER CEMENT GAPS.

Trying to just pull boards off of the building or pry them off will ... well basically it'll destroy the siding, breaking it at almost every attempt. In the photos above you can see how we used a nail punch to drive the siding nails through the siding to permit removal of the boards for possible re-use. After each board is punched and lifted carefully off of the wall we have to also pull all of the siding nails out of the sheathing to give a smooth surface for the next job.

Pulling siding nails out of the sheathing (C) Daniel Friedman Pulling siding nails out of the sheathing (C) Daniel Friedman

At above right you can see the material lost on the back-side of the fiber cement siding boards when nails are punched through.

Fiber cement siding stacked indoors after removal from the building (C) Daniel Friedman Eric Galow

Watch out: when carrying any long fibre cement lap siding board, be sure to keep the board in the vertical or "as it would be on the wall" position. If you carry the board on the flat and it's got any length to it you're inviting breakage.

After "punching" to set the siding nails in through the fiber cement lap siding board, for boards more than about 6 feet in length, two workers should cooperate to carefully lift the board off of the building surface and carry it or hand it down for flat stacking under cover for protection from the weather.

Storing Re-Claimed Fiber Cement Lap Siding

The contractor stored the reclaimed lap siding indoors in the client's garage, stacked flat, and placed on a tarp to avoid picking up moisture from the floor.

Any loose debris was swept or HEPA vacuumed to avoid a possible silica dust hazard indoors, and the stack was also covered.

If the siding were to be re-used the contractor would have a bit of clean-up to do as well, to remove any caulk left adhered to the siding faces or ends. (Photo below).

The contractor would probably not bother to try chipping away at caulk bonded to the siding board ends; rather when the boards are being cut to size for re-use the messy ends will simply be chopped off before the board is cut to the new required length.

Fiber cement siding - used, removed, reclaimed, ends needing caulk removal (C) Daniel Friedman, Eric galow



Continue reading at SIDING, FIBER CEMENT REPAIRS or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.

Suggested citation for this web page

SIDING, FIBER CEMENT REMOVAL at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

More Reading

Green link shows where you are in this article series.


OR use the Search Box found below at Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to Show or Hide FAQs

Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References

Support InspectApedia.com & See Fewer Advertisements

From Google's Contributor website: Contribute a few dollars each month. See fewer ads. The money you contribute helps fund the sites you visit.

Google-Contributor supports websites while reducing advertisements. You can support InspectApedia with a contribution of any amount you wish. Or you can contribute nothing and we'll still keep our website free to all readers - supported by advertising. Either approach is OK.