Maintenance free siding

Well, I thought I had found my dream material in Hardie board but I guess not. Their web page says it must be painted. I thought since it was a concrete based product that you could put it up and forget it.
I sheathed my house in clear heart redwood and am pretty happy with that but it does have some drawbacks and has turned out not to be maintenance free either. Close, but not close enough.
I could do my (detached) garage in redwood. I like working with it whereas I don't think I would like working with the Hardie board what with the dust problem. I could go with metal, already have a metal building/barn, but would rather not.
So the question is what is the thinking on leaving hardie board unpainted? What would happen? And more importantly, since I am not in the profession I could use some input on material options I might not be aware of.
Finally, when I built my deck (Ipe, or Brazillian Walnut) I considered using the new (to me) composite decking made out of cedar/plastic composite material. I picked up a piece of this stuff and left it on the ground for six years or so and it is still intact. A little weathered, but not cracked. A piece of pine would be gone in a year from termites, sun damage, etc. Anybody ever try to adapt this stuff to siding? As far as I know it only comes in 1 1/2 inch thicknesses.
Cosmetics is not really a concern, by the way. My place is VERY isolated, a mile from the county road. I just want to put it up and forget it.
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It is available prepainted. Not sure what finishing would be require if it were installed blind-nailed.
Cheers, Wayne
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Hardie siding must be caulked and painted. See the warranty writeup at their website. Its a Portland cement and glue product, susceptible to water intrusion.
The only relative maintenance free exterior that I know of is cut limestone. See Egyptian pyramids. Many homes around here have exterior rock walls from native stone in the area. One has a factory made log cabin. I'm using the Hardie siding applied and painted per Hardie's specs. All out in rural central TX.
The common tree out here is the juniper ash, misnomered "cedar" by locals. It has similar resistance to weathering, but burns extremely well. Probably why its never considered as potential building material. And similarly, why I would never use wood/plastic composites for building a house.
--
Jonny



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Maybe I should just go with metal then. Thanks for the responses.
John
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Except for the ubiquitous stucco, basically no such thing as a maintenance free siding in the sense you are referring, at least at a price you are probably willing to pay. I've got both redwood and hardibacker siding on my house. The hardibacker is certainly more durable in terms of the UV rays that our home gets during the summer, and with simply a coat of Kiltz premium exterior primer, I've satisfied the Hardibacker requirement that it be painted. Hardibacker accepts paint very well, and the Kiltz primer has lasted for three years now, as I try to decide what color coat to paint over it. A good paint job should last for at least 10 years, it seems to me. Hardibacker is really very close to stucco in terms of durability, but the company wants to protect itself, I guess. I used redwood on the corners and underneath the eaves, but that was before the Hardibacker corner material was available at Home Depot. I had used tung and groove redwood salvaged from purlins used on roofing, if you can believe it, and then filled nail holes and other imperfections with an epoxy based filler. So, I would be inclined to stay with the redwood for areas not directly exposed to the sun, but it had to be painted too. Unpainted redwood is fine for fencing, and will last many years in the rain and sun relative to any other softwood, but because the UV rays and rain do eventually cause some cracking and deterioration of the surface, I no longer feel it's appropriate for a sun exposed deck. So redwood siding must be coated with a penetrating sealer, paint or something, and in the case of decks, I've seen the natural beauty and appearance of redwood destroyed by stains and sealers on some decks. For greater permanency, I installed hardibacker with deck screws, not nails, and caulked between the lapped Hardibacker siding when installed, and occasionally, I look around and recaulk any cracks between boards that I find. Expansion and contraction over a period of years tends to expose these. Also, under and around the redwood corners, and along tung and groove joints, I caulked to keep out insects and weather before painting with Kiltz. Kiltz stainblocking ability is very good, but with redwood, even the manufacturer recognizes that the tanins tend to leach through, so two or three coats are required before putting on a finish color.
Nunya wrote:

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Alan, My house is sheathed in red wood, horizontal tounge in groove. I did this in 1986 and sprayed it with creosote which you could easily obtain back then. Since then I haven't touched it and except for a small porch, which was done in 2x6, and a south facing dormer wall where I didn't use "clear heart" it is in my opinion in great shape.
I do. not. paint. Never have, never will. So, I am still tossing around for a siding option for the garage and tending at this point to corrugated tin placed horizontally I think. It is 576 S.F. of wall area not counting the two 9x7 garage doors.
A neighbor has vinyl on a double wide that is full of holes from a hail storm. I don't know whether there is vinyl that will stand up to large hail but I might ask at Lowe's when I go in. Maybe someone here knows the answer. Though I am almost as averse to plastic as paint ....well, it is just a thought. With vinyl it would be a little easier sealing the corners, etc.
I also am toying with the idea of using some composite decking material for the eaves/facia/wall corners/trim. Any thoughts on that?
John
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"Corrugated tin", normally used on a roof, can be used for cladding. It will eventually rust. Half life is around 12 years. Might try same in aluminum. Pay attention to use the right fasteners that won't cause problems with it. "Corrugated tin" is normally applied vertically on walls as per examples in my area of the woods.
--
Jonny



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Jonny, You're right. I put it on my barn back in, say, 1975 and placed it verically on the sides. The roof has rusted, but that's all, and keep in mind this is really cheap material from a local chain called McCoys. As a matter of fact replacing that roof is next on my major project list after finishing this garage.
My thinking in placing it horizontally is that the corners might be easier to make as well as easier to seal at the tops and bottoms of walls, you know, to keep the "critters" out. I'm looking into it.
So, anyhow, this coming Thursday when the trusses are being delivered the highs here in central Texas are supposed to be in the 70s with a low that night in the high 40s. Great weather for roofing. I am really looking forward to that. This two week hiatus waiting for the trusses has been hell. And by the way, those cost $1082.09. Two gable end trusses and eleven standard. The span is 22 feet with two foot overhang. Could have stick built it for that which is what I did the last time I built a roof. Most likely I would have been done by now. But it has been in the mid 90s these last several days so that would definitely not have been that much fun.
For those interested a further breakdown of the cost is $4700 for the slab (25x22 with a small apron). The walls cost no more than $700 for a total so far of about $6500. Pretty expensive, huh? I have brought power into the building and cut in a load center. I can't believe how much wire costs now. I had to buy a box (100 feet), but I only needed 60', of 10-2 UFB (for underground). It cost $95 plus tax. That shed a little light on a news item I ran across the other day that the number of people being electrocuted trying to steal copper has gone way up.
Thanks,
John
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John, Well, creosote is a type of "paint". The clear Jascoe wood preservative also works well, but the point is that redwood, as great as it is relative to any other wood, still dries out and cracks over time. I salvage old boards, typically 3/4" redwood tung and groove siding others toss into the garbage, and then use the planer, table saw, and router to make the finish boards I want. All my baseboards are redwood, and I have made wainscoting in some rooms, besides the exterior trim that I mentioned. Since there are holes where old ungalvanized nails ate away at the wood, I have to fill in and paint. A clear sealer won't look good. There is some waste though since boards do crack.
Alan
Nunya wrote:

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Alan,
Yeah, but clear heart use defeats some of this bad aspect. As above with the composite material I left a scrap piece of redwood clear heart out on the ground. Been there since 1985 or so and it is still intact. Pretty amazing, huh? It is softer than original, and, of course redwood is soft anyhow, which in my opinion is a mark against it for decking.
What made me decide to clad my house in it was a lady friend had a house that I helped do some work on. It was about thirty years old and the clear heart redwood siding, placed vertically, in a couple of places at ground level was actually underground. My task involved excavating around these ageas. I was amazed to find this buried wood still virtually intact.
So, I resolved to use it on my place and found it a pleasure to work with and though I made a few mistakes I have been, like you, very happy with the material. I too used it indoors as window trim.
Finally, one has to admire your frugality with this natural resourse. And, I never thought of creosote as paint. Rather a preservative. Can't believe I got tricked into painting a surface. Ugh!
John
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James Hardie regards it as an interior-only product: http://www.jameshardie.com/backerboard/homeowner/faq.php#18 (last question).
Hardibacker is intended as a substrate for tile. Did you really use it on the exterior of your house?
--
Harry

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