HardiPlank and historic districts
following is from Christopher C. Skelly, Director of Local Government Programs, Massachusetts Historical Commission:
Many local historic district commissions are receiving
applications that include fiber cement siding. Fiber cement siding is a
substitute siding that attempts to replicate the texture and profile of wood
clapboards or wood shingles. Sold under trade names such as HardiPlank,
it is a paintable product and the manufacturer claims rot resistance and high
durability. In many installations, fiber cement board siding can be
considered a closer match than other products such as vinyl or aluminum.
Concerns about fiber cement siding on historic properties and in
historic areas or districts include the out of scale wood texturing on the
surface, profiles and shadow lines that do not match traditional wood
clapboards and a slight wave to the siding in some installations.
According to the Secretary of the Interior Standards for
Rehabilitation, fiber cement board siding should not be used as the texture is
not the same as wood and the material is, quite simply, not wood.
Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation
6. Deteriorated historic features will be repaired rather than
replaced. Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a
distinctive feature, the new feature will match the old in design, color,
texture, and, where possible, materials. Replacement of missing features will
be substantiated by documentary and physical evidence.
All of the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Preserving,
Rehabilitating, Restoring and Reconstructing can be found at
Do you have design guidelines for your local historic
district? Many Historic District Commissions will consider fiber cement
products in the local historic district in limited circumstances. On new
construction, this product may be an appropriate option.
However, on historically significant properties, where wood
clapboards or shingles are proposed for replacement with fiber cement board
siding, local historic district commissions should exercise caution.
Here, it is best to replace unrepairable, deteriorated historic features with
the same material.
It is also best for a historic district commission to take a
step back and determine whether the existing wood clapboards must be replaced.
Peeling paint, visible bare wood and limited cracks or rot are not
necessarily a reason to remove all the clapboards and start over.
Replacing or repairing broken clapboards, addressing failing paint adhesion and
properly preparing and painting a building can have excellent, long lasting
results with only some minor paint maintenance needed here and there.
While wood clapboards are not maintenance free, historic district
commissions, homeowners and applicants should not consider fiber cement board
siding maintenance free either.
It is essential that estimates, advice and technical assistance
regarding historically significant buildings come from qualified individuals,
well experienced with historic buildings.
Christopher C. Skelly
Director of Local Government Programs
Massachusetts Historical Commission
220 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA