In the past few weeks, I have been hired a few times by sellers to inspect only the siding on their home. This might sound odd, unless you are familiar with the fiberboard siding that was used commonly in the 90’ (aka harboard/Louisiana Pacific, etc.) The buyer, in each case, had requested the seller replace all of the siding on the home – which is a great expense. The product is no longer used because it doesn’t perform well in moisture, which means in the Seattle area it is particularly problematic. As you are out looking at houses and you see fiberboard board siding on a potential home, take a close look these 3 issues that may indicate the condition of the siding is deteriorated:
- Swelling. If you see that the nails look like they have been driven into the siding beyond the surface, it may have absorbed water and may be damaged by rot.
- Splitting bottom edge. You would see long dark splits along the length of the board. This is the most vulnerable point. If too much water gets in there, it will swell and grow fungus.
- Separated caulk joints. With the rise and fall of temperatures, nearly all building materials expand and contract at least a little. On this particular product, caulk is required at every joint between boards. If the caulk is split or falling apart, water can penetrate into the board from the end and cause damage or worse, get behind the board and cause structural damage to the framing.
There are differing opinions on fiberboard siding and how to deal with it. Some inspectors recommend replacing fiberboard siding in its entirety, no matter what. I tend to take a more conservative approach. If the siding is generally in good condition, it still has serviceable life remaining. It will require a bit more maintenance than the newer siding materials, but may still have years of serviceable life remaining. This can be great news for a buyer (or seller) who would like to invest in something a little more glamorous, like landscaping or nicer countertops.