Last Updated Aug 7, 2012 · Written by Craig Gibson
Fibre cement is an abbreviation for Fibre Reinforced Cement (FRC), and fibre cement building materials were developed by James Hardie in the early 1980s, as a replacement for asbestos-based building products. Read on to find out more about this material or speak to builders in your local area about using it.
Fibre cement is a composite material that is made up of sand, cement and cellulose fibres. Fibre cement cladding comes in various forms but it is most commonly seen in sheet form, and in horizontal boards. Imitation shingles are another form. It can be used to cover the exterior of a house and also as a substitute for timber fascias and barge boards in areas that are subject to high fire danger. As well as cladding, fibre cement is also commonly used as a tile underlay on decks and in bathrooms and also for eave linings.
Fibre cement boards come between 2400-3000mm in length and 900-1200mm in width. The thickness of fibre cement ranges from 4.5-18mm. Lower density boards have a fibrous rough edge when cut, while the higher density boards have a cleaner, smoother edge when cut. Thermal resistance and sound transmission varies between the different types of fibre cement products but, generally speaking, they rate poorly in these two areas and separate insulation is highly recommended. However, the thicker and denser the fibre cement board, the better thermal and sound resistance it will have.
Fibre cement has advantages over other types of building materials. These include:
• lack of susceptibility to rot
• lack of susceptibility to termites
• more resistant to fire damage
• is not affected by the sun or cold weather as much as other materials are
• resistant to warping
• resistant to permanent water damage
• easy to work with
• very low maintenance
Fibre cement is one of the most energy efficient materials on the market and has one of the lowest embodied energy contents per square metre of cover of any building product. It is environmentally friendly as fibre cement requires less energy in assembly and construction than all other wall materials except timber. There is low energy consumption in transportation and installation. No pesticides are used in the manufacture or use of fibre cement. When fibre cement is manufactured, the water used in production is recycled many times, solid wastes are recycled, and sustainable raw materials are used.
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