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Cement board in Ontario-durability?

Ontario12

I am comparing exterior cladding options proposed by the architect for a residential house in Ontario- brick (as the rest in the neighborhood, but perhaps non-respect color- honey/buff or whitewashed) or cement board cladding. (Not a mansion, both building budget And long-term maintenance costs matter to me).

The architect has not had a project with a full on cement boarding - walls and roof -in Ontario so I thought I would ask here if someone had.

I see FiberC and Swisspearl on commercial projects. I am curious how these materials compare from a residential homeowner perspective. I understand a little better what brick exterior is like but I do like the look of Swisspearl wall and roof board like these

https://www.swisspearl.com/products/roof/swisspearl-the-5th-facade/

I worry, however,  that these are not practical or would be difficult to maintain or would just fail spectacularly (leaking roof after freezing rain kind of thing). 

Those who have used these materials in cold climate - what is your opinion-advice-alternative to consider?

I like the more natural materials aspect of brick  but I love thé board look to a point of bringing up stucco instead to imitate (again, because I understand stucco a little better).

I would love your input.

If this is a wrong forum- should I be asking builders instead? - please let me know.

Thank you.

 
Jan 16, 21 1:51 pm
citizen

Ontario, CA or Ontario, CA?

Jan 16, 21 1:58 pm  · 
1  · 
citizen

^ (For our friend Non Sequitur, sorry. Sometimes I can't resist. The word 'freezing' answers the question automatically.)

1  · 
Non Sequitur

going to assume Ontario, Canada. The use of a French keyboard is also a clue. 


Anyways, will also assume it’s hardy board product since it’s a very popular upgrade in developer suburban homes.   it’s a fine product and better than vinyl... and 8 thousand time better than stucco. It just needs to be installed as a rain screen with special care  to the trims. 

Jan 16, 21 2:35 pm  · 
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apscoradiales

Didn't know that James Hardie made fibre cement panels. They make siding and shit like that, but not panels.  No?

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Non Sequitur

They're considered fiber-cement siding.

 · 
b3tadine[sutures]

Planks I do believe?

 · 
apscoradiales

Yeah, siding like aluminium or vinyl. Don't think they make panels like 1000x2000 or anything like that, do they? I've lost touch...

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bowling_ball

Yes they do. We use them all the time. Their products are garbage. In fact all fibre cement is garbage in this climate. I hate the stuff.

2  · 
b3tadine[sutures]

I don't understand the hate of stucco, unless we're talking synthetic.

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apscoradiales

Got a bad reputation because idiot north american architects, and contractors put it on wood stud walls! If you put it on concrete block or poured concrete, it works like a charm.

 ·  1
b3tadine[sutures]

My house seems fine. 1927 Craftsman, stucco...

 · 
bowling_ball

aps, it has nothing to do with wood substrate. If you knew anything at all, you'd know that wood moves less than steel studs in our climate.

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Non Sequitur

FibreC and SwissP are expensive products with long lead times. Not sure on their availability here, but there are rainscreen cladding just like the cheaper cement boards. You pay for a nicer finish and better variety of colours or textures. Again, avoid stucco. Always avoid stucco. The architect likely considered other cladding options but decided on a decent solution that’s in line with current trends without blowing the budget. 

Jan 16, 21 2:40 pm  · 
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apscoradiales

"Always avoid stucco", not really if you have a solid base like masonry of poured concrete. NEVER use stucco on wood stud walls, though!!! Even bad idea to use it on steel studs. Deflection is your enemy there, and stucco can crack under those circumstances.

 ·  1
Non Sequitur

We've had this dance before Aps. My comment assumes it's typical wood-frame construction, but what really irks me it the OP's comment on imitation. That's a solid no from me on any day.

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apscoradiales

"imitation"? like Z-Brick, LOLOLOL.........!

1  · 
Non Sequitur

don't... don't get me started. I know we're both locked up in our respective provinces (thanks buck a beer ford), but I do not want to go on a tear about masonry panels for interior decorating.

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apscoradiales

You know Z brick? Maybe you're too young. it's 1/8" or 1/4" felt paper with brick and mortar joints printed on it. There are hundreds of homes in Toronto and throughout Ontario that have it on the exterior. It's usually a large sheet nailed to the wall.

It is the most disgusting thing in construction by a country mile!

1  · 
Non Sequitur

Aps, I know what it is, but always assumed it was for interior applications.

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apscoradiales

Those are nice fibre cement panels. Eternit is another that is pretty common in Europe. Nichiha is more common in North America.

They all require care in installation, and proper training - you have to deal with joints (most are open, some are closed), fasteners, pre-drilling the holes for fasteners, accurate and consistent fastener locations, thermal expansion (screws must be loose, not fully tightened), substrate to which the panels are attached (is it wood blocking or steel runners or is it metal clips - either stainless steel or galvanized steel - can also be had in glass fibre, neoprene washers are sometimes required for the fasteners, panel thickness must be sized for wind and deflection ("sagging") in mind...there are many things you have to consider when it comes to fibre cement panels. They are not like nailing plywood to studs or drywall. Entirely different ball game. You are looking at a "rain-screen, fully vented wall" here.

 I've used Nichiha panels several times in Canada, and Eternit in Europe. Nichiha also has a concealed fastening method where clips are adhered to its back then the panels are hung from steel runners which are screwed to the steel studs or masonry. Still, I prefer the Eternit - they have far more experience in the system than other manufacturers. Now, I'm thinking that maybe Eternit sold their panel system to a Swiss company - kinda lost track of them, hmmm...

You should also not install these panels on a substrate that is too flexible, such as wood studs. Steel studs are better, but you should still get a structural engineer to design steel studs for you (not the stud itself, but gauge, and installation/erection method). If the substrate flexes too much, you might get spider web-like cracking in the panels at fasteners when the fasteners are too tight.

Company rep from a fibre cement manufacturer is your best friend if you want to put them on a building or a house.

They can be worth the effort and the cost, though, as they can look gorgeous.

Jan 16, 21 3:55 pm  · 
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Ontario12

Thank you! Yes, Ontario CA (as in Canada, not California - sorry).

Very helpful replies. 

No, not Hardi and not developer. It is a custom small home in the older urban area.  Teardown infill. The architect sent Swisspearl (the roof) example And I do love thé form. Another one was a Rieder FiberC product. 

For those who worked in Canada East- did double brick structural construction here gone the way of the dodo? The architect specified that first, but the couple of builders we approached push back as in « nobody does it here » so we reluctantly are considering wood frame with brick cladding or fiber cement. Is steel frame home worth a try (in light of steel vs wood issue mentioned above?).

Some of the replies above are not reassuring, which is why I am nervous. But generally we are willing to consider other frame materials. We just cannot splurge much.(I did get one double brick quote and could may be do that budget wise but that builder had much pricier everything else - electrical etc - so I would need to find someone else who can do that.)

Jan 16, 21 4:33 pm  · 
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Non Sequitur

and who are you exactly in this situation? Client? builder? supplier? Traditional masonry (ie. load-bearing) is still used today but like everything else with construction, it's expensive so you will get push back from the trades. I'm very curious what the relationship here is because the "architect" should have made an appropriate choice based on some knowledge of the market and techniques. This is not, by some chance, a set of plans bought online which you are trying to permit/build, is it?

 · 
bowling_ball

Something isn't adding up here.

1  · 
apscoradiales

"...double brick structural construction...",

Double wythe wall? Why? Just to get brick on the exterior AND on the interior? I suppose you could do anything and everything, but brick on the inside is so 1960's. It looks ugly! Did you plan for  a cavity into which you would then put insulation?

Sounds like you are the owner or someone who wants to build their own place. That's fine, nothing wrong with that - people do it all the time.

Yes, you could build a house out of steel studs too. It is not common here due to costs involved. You couldn't get a normal wood framer to do it; they wouldn't know how. You'd have to use a non-residential contractor to do that.

If you don't like wood studs or steel studs, you could always go for brick veneer and block back-up with a max. 6" cavity (into which you can put as much as 5" of rigid insulation - need to have at least 1" of airspace for ventilation). If the cavity is wider than 6", you will have to hire a structural engineer to design masonry ties. Non Sequitur can confirm that by looking it up in the office literature (m84 something-or-rather). Two ways to deal with the block on the inside then; one to paint it, the other is to fur it out, then put drywall over either wood or steel furring. Still expensive wall, but hey...

Your least expensive solution is to go with wood framing, and vinyl or aluminium siding. James Hardie siding is alright too. Lots of houses built with that in Canada, and even more in USA. You can have Hardie siding pre-painted or you have can have someone paint it for you every 10-12 years.

Don't get discouraged. Be patient, and ask. Word about residential contractors - most are shysters and will screw you at every opportunity. Most  are not even qualified at what they're doing. Go through your architect to find a good one, have him write-up the contract (you can even have it reviewed by a lawyer if you want), and have him do the construction inspections. Don't go into this by yourself. Keep in mind most residential contractors are scum, and they will have you for thousands of dollars even before you blink an eye.


Jan 16, 21 8:21 pm  · 
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apscoradiales

"...bowling_ball

...all fibre cement is garbage in this climate..."

Why? Moisture absorption? We did Nichiha on an airport as well as correctional facilities, and they haven't turned to mush - not that i know of.

Jan 16, 21 8:24 pm  · 
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bowling_ball

Listen, I use it too. It doesn't mean it's great. Typically have to paint/ seal the cut edges, for example, which complicates things. It swells when wet. It needs to be back vented. It has its place but I'm just not a fan.

 · 
natematt

Bowling_ball

What would be your material of choice for cladding in that climate? 

 · 
Ontario12

i am the owner. 

My architect is not from Canada but we have a long term relationship and a previous house not in Ontario. The architect got Ontario reciprocal license and we have a local architectural firm we hired to get the plans to Ontario code. So the architect knows materials and all but not the local market and as you said - installation matters a lot. I care about design and am trying to build a nice home on a budget. 

Thé key was to work out the design to fit the unusually shaped urban lot. The architect suggested double brick to be structural -  and the exterior will respect the neighborhood materials. Interior is just plain drywall. 

Local architect has trades and contacts and will do supervision but we are still talking to contractors to figure out the structural components that do not break the bank but are good quality.

I like researching and understanding so things like double brick appealed because they are greener, non toxic and quiet (current older home is double brick but previous one was not). I briefly toyed with the idea of passive house but that limits design (glazing, etc). and I did not want those limits 

So I am worried that let say local freeze thaw cycle makes fiber cement especially finicky or a bad idea or local installers work with it so rarely that I am just begging for trouble.

I appreciate your input and if anyone has more thoughts I would like to hear them too. 

Thank you. 

Jan 16, 21 8:50 pm  · 
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bowling_ball

I'm from Ontario. Maybe NS can correct me, but I've never seen a new build with double wythe/ structural brick. The most recent houses using that technique in that area must be well over a century old. Not sure what your architect is trying to sell you, but it's not local knowledge.

 · 
Non Sequitur

Double brick walls, as you put them, would not pass energy codes in Ontario. At least not easily. Sounds like a mess with too many people getting involved in subjects they know little about. Perhaps you should have hired a local office from the start instead of cheating out. It’s not difficult.

 ·  1
Ontario12

Wow, this is not about cheating out. The architects work as the team, they found the local team, everyone is paid hourly for their time. I just like my architect.

 · 
Non Sequitur

Asking for free advice from professionals online is cheating out.

 ·  1
Ontario12

Only if they do not know it is free. Otherwise they can choose to share their opinions- or not.

1  · 
Rusty!

I've specified Fibre C and Swisspearl a whole bunch of times on big ass projects with real budgets and 95% of the time it was value engineered out. It's shockingly expensive once you consider you are importing from Europe. 

I do love them rainscreen systems and think they are awesome both in durability and performance. Literally 100% of them are made in Europe though.

There are other sexy options in this sector. Look up Corian cladding if you want your house look like a giant condo countertop, look up Neolith if you want your house to look like a super fancy shower room, and look up Trespa cladding if you want your house to look like high end toilet partition. haha

Jan 17, 21 1:41 am  · 
4  · 
Non Sequitur

Ceramic rainscreen cladding is growing here too. A few big projects have them, looks fine, but it’s complicated. The rep is pretty agressif too.

1  · 
Ontario12

Thank you. I do have pricing fire FiberC from their representative, i have gone down this path far enough before asking. 

Thank you everyone.

Jan 17, 21 2:53 pm  · 
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Ontario12

I must say I fund it ironic that of all places - the place supposedly for architects - people here would find it baffling that someone can love the work by their architect enough to undertake additional expense just to have their design. I am not cheating/cutting corners/ or whatever else people here suggested.


How do I ask to have this thread deleted? I clearly came to the wrong place. 



Jan 17, 21 2:59 pm  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

No, you have this backwards. You’ve allegedly hired an architect who is not local to design something, but then have a separate local arch do the real work but you’re second guessing their decisions. It gets worse that you’re attempting more research by sourcing opinions, for free, by other professionals in an online forum... and now complain about the advice? Thanks for reminding me why I don’t work in residential.

1  · 
Ontario12

That is not correct.

 · 
Non Sequitur

We must be reading different discussions then.

 · 

nothing wrong with a client learning about what they are paying for. Damn, North American architects can be paranoid. You guys must be burned too often. I thought we had it bad in Tokyo ;-) I am of course saying this as one of those architects who works with architects in other countries and enjoys the process and doesn't see it as cheating if we cultivate a relationship in one country and it moves to another. Life of a (very) long time expat. Yeah, I admit to my bullshit bias. Also, I am not afraid of clients who are curious. As long as they are open-minded it's all good.

1  · 
Non Sequitur

Will, while your response is admirable, we did give the OP plenty of info. This client should ask the architect he's paying for this advice. That's part of the job. If the hired architect can't answer, then the client made a poor choice with the design staff.

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apscoradiales

"...Non Sequitur

...Thanks for reminding me why I don’t work in residential..."

LOL! Been-there-done-that. Actually, you haven't done shit 'til you design a house for an architect! Done it once, never again.

Jan 17, 21 4:03 pm  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

Architects are the worst.

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