Hardboard Siding: A Guide to Design Options, Installation, and Cost

Hardboard siding is an engineered wood product and a cheaper alternative to traditional wood siding. It comprises wood fibers, resin, and wax bound together under high pressure and heat. Hardboard siding is easy to install, durable, and has various design options.

Hardboard Siding Pros and Cons

Hardboard Siding Pros and Cons


  • Aesthetic appeal: Hardboard siding mimics the appearance of wood siding, making it suitable for various architectural styles. Its natural wood grain texture adds depth and character to your home’s exterior.
  • Cheaper than wood siding: The siding option offers similar aesthetics as traditional wood siding for a lower price.
  • Available in various textures and finishes: Hardboard siding comes in various finishes, from smooth surfaces to wood grain patterns. It’s customizable to suit different design styles and preferences.
  • Durability: With proper installation and maintenance, hardboard siding can last several decades. In contrast to natural wood siding, it’s more resistant to cracking, splitting, and warping.


  • Prone to moisture damage: Failing to seal your hardboard siding leads to water damage and issues such as mold, mildew, and rot.
  • Potential for swelling or deterioration: Due to moisture damage, hardboard siding tends to swell, warp, or deteriorate over time.

Main Types of Hardboard Siding

Standard Hardboard

Standard hardboard siding is the most basic alternative. It features a smooth surface on one side and a rough texture on the other. Standard hardboard siding can be painted or stained to suit your design preferences.

It suits residential and commercial properties that need cheaper, more durable, customizable siding. The siding option is ideal for exterior walls, garages, and sheds.

Tempered Hardboard

Tempered hardboard has extra resins and treatments to increase its hardiness, strength, and moisture resistance. Unlike standard hardboards, this type is less prone to warming and swelling.

The hardboard type has smooth sides, resulting in a more refined appearance. Tempered hardboard siding is ideal for areas with higher humidity or extreme weather.

Pre-Finished Hardboard

Pre-finished hardboard siding comes with a factory-applied finish, such as paint or stain. The siding eliminates extra costs after installation. It offers a consistent and professional-looking finish that’s often more durable than an on-site finish.

Homeowners looking for a low-maintenance, ready-to-install option should consider pre-finished hardboard siding.

How to Install Hardboard Siding

Tools and Materials Required

  • Hardboard siding panels
  • Galvanized nails or screws
  • Hammer or nail gun
  • Power drill (if using screws)
  • Circular saw or jigsaw (for cutting the siding)
  • Chalk line
  • Level
  • House wrap or building paper (moisture barrier)
  • Starter strip
  • Furring strips (optional for uneven surfaces)
  • Flashing and trim (for edges, corners, and around windows/doors)
  • Caulk
  • Paint primer
  • Paint/ stain

Hardboard Siding Installation Instructions

  1. Prepare the surface: The surface should be clean and flat. Remove any existing siding and check for any protrusions or rough spots that need to be sanded down.
  2. Install the moisture barrier: Install house wrap over the surface to prevent water damage. Use a breathable barrier to allow air circulation.
  3. Install trim: Lay the trim flat on the corners and around all windows and doors.
  4. Cut the siding panels: Measure the surface length where you will install the siding, and cut the siding panels to fit. Subtract ¼-inch from the actual length to leave a gap of ⅛-inch between the siding and each corner trim. This allows for expansion.
  5. Prime and paint the panels: Apply primer on the front and back sides of the siding panels. Leave to dry, then cover with two coats of paint on the front, back and edges.
  6. Install the first row: Allow a 6-inch space between the siding and the ground to prevent water from seeping through. Install a starter strip on the sill plate, and nail down the bottom edge of the siding through the starter strip.
  7. Install the remaining rows: Install the pieces of siding up the house. Each course of siding should have a 1-inch overlap with the previous course. Nail through both courses into the wall studs, using two or three nails every 32 inches.
  8. Inspect and finish the installation: Apply caulking to gaps between the siding, trim, and around windows and doors.

Cost of Installing Hardboard Siding

Hardboard siding material costs between $3 to $7 per square foot. Labor charges range from $3 to $14 per square foot, depending on the complexity of installation. Materials such as paint, caulk, and fasteners increase the final cost.

Factors Affecting the Overall Cost

  1. Cost of materials: Different types of siding have varying costs. While prefinished hardboard is more expensive than standard options, it eliminates extra installation costs.
  2. Installation costs: Labor charges vary due to variations in the home design, location and seasonal wage rates.
  3. Surface preparation: Removing and disposing of existing siding, trimming, and repairing damaged walls increase costs.
  4. Sealing, painting, or staining: Materials and labor costs for caulking, painting, or staining contribute to the final cost.

Hardboard Siding vs. Vinyl Siding

Hardboard siding is made from compressed wood fibers, while vinyl siding is made from PVC plastic. While hardboard has a wood-like appearance, vinyl siding is smooth and uniform. Vinyl siding is a low-maintenance option since it’s not prone to water damage like hardboard wood siding.

Hardboard Siding vs. HardiePlank

HardiePlank or fiber cement siding is a mixture of cement, sand, and cellulose fibers. While it’s more expensive than hardboard siding, HardiePlank is more durable in harsh weather conditions. Both siding types come in pre-finished options, which reduces maintenance costs.

Hardboard Siding Maintenance

  • Regular inspection: Check the siding for water streaks, black marks, bulging or flaking paint. These are signs of water seeping through seams, joints, and holes.
  • Proper sealing and painting: Repainting is necessary every 5-10 years to maintain the siding appearance. It also prevents moisture damage.
  • Repairing damaged boards: Repair any damaged sections by scrapping off loose paint and debris, repainting, and caulking. Replacing hardboard siding sections is also feasible.
  • Preventing moisture-related issues: Sealing exterior hardboard siding prevents moisture damage. If you notice any leaks around windows or doors, address the issue immediately.

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Written by murat

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