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LP SmartSide vs. James Hardie

22 January 2015

When a homeowner is contemplating composite siding, one of the most frequently asked questions we are presented with is the difference between LP SmartSide and James Hardie. Below, we’ve compiled a history on each product and the advantages and disadvantages of each.  We hope this helps make your next siding product decision a little easier.

James Hardie

Pre -1990 maintenance-free siding products, such as aluminum, steel and vinyl dominated the home improvement marketplace. Starting around 2000, more homeowners were looking into paintable-engineered siding to differentiate their home from the traditional options. James Hardie dominated the marketplace during this time and composite siding boards became the product of choice for millions of homeowners. One of the most appealing features of this product was its ability to stand up to adverse weather, such as hail unlike its vinyl counterparts, and the ability to apply a fresh coat of paint to change the whole look of the exterior of your home making it look brand new again.

James Hardie came on the scene in the 90’s with their “fiber cement” product. They dominated the marketplace in neighborhoods because of their proprietary rights of a Hardie covenant in areas across the US. It seemed to have everything, allowing homeowners to have it installed pre-primed to paint in whatever color they preferred, or pre-finished in one of the traditional Hardie colors. James Hardie dominated market share because their name was now being used as the universal term for any fiber cement product during this era with little competition and consumers were raving about their product.

James Hardie did have a hard go for a while with certain warranty issues pertaining to delamination in high moisture areas resulting from inaccurate installation of their product. To combat this issue, they re-formulated their product, specifically for northern climates like us, which has seemed to improve the overall performance of this product. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of James Hardie:

  • Non-combustible, ASTM-rated for fire protection
  • Large brand recognition in the marketplace
  • If installed properly, it is insect proof
  • Offers a variety of pre-painted colors
  • Much heavier product requiring two or more workers to install which can increase labor costs
  • Can be difficult to work with due to silica dust plumes caused by cutting the product

LP SmartSide

LP (Louisiana Pacific) SmartSide arrived in the marketplace in the late 90’s. Just like their competitor James Hardie, they had a hard go right out of the gates with an issue with their OSB (Orientated Strand Board) product that was plagued with rot and swelling issues, but they totally redeemed themselves! After applying a process of coating their wood flakes in zinc borate, before pressing the product into boards, resulting in more than 7 billion, yes I just said 7 billion square feet of siding being sold over the last 17 years. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of LP SmartSide:

  • Can be installed 1” from where the roof line meets a wall (Hardie requires a 2” gap to maintain proper warranty specifications)
  • It will bead up with water, instead of absorb it like Hardie
  • Unbeatable superior moisture protection and strength
  • Longer lengths of 16’ vs. Hardie’s 12’
  • 39% lighter
  • More impact resistant
  • Does not break when being carried or moved on a jobsite
  • Hammer marks don’t show up as easily and no special blades or equipment are required
  • Less dust than fiber cement
  • Is comprised of a wood base leaving it more vulnerable to fire