Masonite®, also known as cardboard, hardboard or clapboard, is the primary siding used in tract homes throughout the United States. Masonite® siding is made of wood chips held together with glue, resin and wax. When the siding is manufactured, a combination of heat and pressure is used to consolidate the wood fibers with the other products, resulting in a dense board with a smooth finish.
The biggest benefit to Masonite® siding is its price. It is less expensive than vinyl, solid wood and fiber cement siding. This type of siding must be installed properly, however, or it will be subject to rot and other problems; if not installed according to the manufacturer's exact specifications, any warranty on the product may be invalid. Although the siding may be less expensive initially, it will cost more in the long run if it has to be replaced in just a few years.
Many people prefer Masonite® siding because it resembles real wood, without all the problems. The fact that Masonite® is partially synthetic makes it less prone to insect infestations, such as termites and fire ants. It is also a green building material since it uses fewer trees during the manufacturing process.
There are a lot of options available with masonite siding. Masonite® can be purchased pre-stained, pre-primed and pre-painted. Many people prefer to avoid the whole painting process and buy the siding painted and ready to hang. For homeowners who prefer the look of a specific wood, you can buy the hardboard siding in a variety of shades and textures.
Not everyone is a fan of Masonite® siding though. During the 1980s and 90s, there were some problems with the siding, which included rot, discoloration, blistering and deterioration. The Masonite Corporation was taken to court in a class action lawsuit that resulted in a massive recall. It was determined that the Masonite Corporation was creating boards that weren't properly compressed or installed.
The use of Masonite® has bounced back since the recall and the siding is holding up according to what is expected. It has now been approved for use in the building of tract homes and other new developments. It is more commonly referred to as hardboard siding so that it is not associated with the Masonite Corporation, since that company has since ceased the production of this type of siding.
In comparison to other siding materials, Masonite® has a short life span of eight to ten years. If properly maintained with paint and caulking, it can last a lot longer. Improper installation can shorten this time frame significantly, resulting in buckling, rotting, softening, blistering and swelling. If left to deteriorate, it can result in damage to the structure of the home, including permanent mildew, indoor leaks and buildup of toxic molds. If you are hiring a licensed contractor to install your siding, verify that he is knowledgeable in the proper installation procedures for this type of material.