Masonite Siding

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nirvines88
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Masonite Siding

Post by nirvines88 » Wed May 21, 2014 7:03 pm

I am currently looking to buy a home. I've found one that I particularly like, but it has masonite siding. The house was built in 1986 - the masonite has been well maintained and a few parts of its exterior have been replaced with hardy plank siding. However, I've read lots of horror stories online about masonite siding, and I was curious as to what the Bogleheads think about it. Is replacing it just a major expense waiting to happen? I've heard with paint and caulking every 4-5 years you can extend its life for a long time, but that might get expensive (if hiring a contractor) or time consuming (if I do it myself, which I probably would). Eventually it will likely wear down and need to be replaced with hardy plank siding or vinyl.

Anyone have experience with masonite, good or bad? Thanks in advance!
"Beware of little expenses, a small leak will sink a great ship" - Poor Richard

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by Doom&Gloom » Wed May 21, 2014 7:30 pm

Our house (bought in 1989) has/had a pressed-wood siding. I do not think it was Masonite, but some other brand I do not recall the name of. There was a class-action settlement that I missed out on because it had been done by the previous owner a few years prior to my purchase and I could not produce a receipt for the materials. It held up ok until about 5-6 years ago. Taking it off to replace it with Hardy-board, vinyl siding, or something else was a very expensive option. A better option for us was putting vinyl siding directly over the existing pressed-wood siding. No further problems, but I suppose that is always a possibility.

There was a reason that our contractor could not, or did not want to, put the Hardy-board directly over the existing siding. I do not remember what his reasoning was, but it placed Hardy-board as a "too expensive" option for us.

In your shoes, I would avoid the house or, at the very least, insist upon a price-adjustment to reflect the very likely need for not inexpensive work looming in the future.

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linuxology
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by linuxology » Wed May 21, 2014 8:25 pm

Doom&Gloom wrote:Our house (bought in 1989) has/had a pressed-wood siding. I do not think it was Masonite, but some other brand I do not recall the name of. There was a class-action settlement that I missed out on because it had been done by the previous owner a few years prior to my purchase and I could not produce a receipt for the materials. It held up ok until about 5-6 years ago. Taking it off to replace it with Hardy-board, vinyl siding, or something else was a very expensive option. A better option for us was putting vinyl siding directly over the existing pressed-wood siding. No further problems, but I suppose that is always a possibility.

There was a reason that our contractor could not, or did not want to, put the Hardy-board directly over the existing siding. I do not remember what his reasoning was, but it placed Hardy-board as a "too expensive" option for us.

In your shoes, I would avoid the house or, at the very least, insist upon a price-adjustment to reflect the very likely need for not inexpensive work looming in the future.
The problem with vinyl siding is that it will sweat and you never know what damage is occuring underneath until it is too late. It is truly out of mind out of sight type of scenario. I would not steer away from Masonite, but ensure it stays painted.

r60rider
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by r60rider » Wed May 21, 2014 8:56 pm

We have masonite on house and on garage put on in 1980. The only place there has been a problem is on one side of the garage where a lot of rain water splashes on siding. Last summer I had to replace the bottom 4 rows of boards due to rot. We live in a very humid enviroment due to 50' high and larger white pine trees covering the entire property. They give off lots of mosture in the summer months and block most of the sunlight. I replaced the bad ones with more masonite, they lasted 34 years so I think that is not to bad given the enviroment. We usually have the house painted every 10-12 years.
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ClevrChico
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by ClevrChico » Wed May 21, 2014 9:31 pm

I would plan on spending 1 - 3% of the house value on maintenance every year. If the siding looks fine, I wouldn't worry about it for now. If you're not replacing the siding, you'll be spending the maintenance money on something else. The joys of home ownership!

We used to have a garage with masonite, which failed, and it was very obvious for years things were going bad.

aquifer
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by aquifer » Wed May 21, 2014 10:10 pm

My house has Masonite siding, built in 1970. I bought it 7 years ago and it has the original siding. A hail storm forced me to replace the west side a few years ago but insurance covered it (replaced with Masonite). I replaced the bottom 5 rows on the east side last summer with fiber cement composite siding. Looks exactly like Masonite but supposedly impervious to weather. Decades of the lawn mower and sprinklers hitting the Masonite gradually caused it to deteriorate. But we are talking 40-some years of life. A little better maintenance over the years would have probably extended the life. Once Masonite starts deteriorating it goes downhill pretty fast. Replacing as needed with fiber cement is cheap.

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yukonjack
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by yukonjack » Thu May 22, 2014 8:30 am

My house was built in 1986 (CO) and has two-thirds Masonite siding and one third brick. It is all original and has held up quite well. As far as I know most of the entire neighborhood is similar and I rarely see it being replaced. The only potential problems I can see is where moisture sits on it such as snow in a shaded spot or lots of rain.

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tadamsmar
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by tadamsmar » Thu May 22, 2014 9:39 am

I have a house built in 1990 that has Masonite-type siding from a different manufacturer. I know because I looked it up based in the info on the back of the boards. I did not qualify for the class action suit because I had not repainted often enough to qualify.

Inspect the siding closely for puffy water-damages spots. I would try to get any water damaged boards replaced at the current owner's expense after you negotiate a price but before you close, as is typical for inspection finding. Sometimes there can be damage behind the siding to the wood structure, but the siding probably look really bad if that is the case. Also, look for water damage where the nails pierce the siding if those spots are visible. Some problems were cause by damaging the surface with the nail heads due to incorrect nailing.

Also, my house did not have overhanging eaves on some sides and the deterioration was worse there. I paid for a partial replacement with hardiplank.

The partial replacement on the house you are considering may have addressed the most deterioration prone spots.

You will need to repaint more often than for other siding. I inspect the caulking at least once a year. I re-caulk any cracks, typically once a year during our dry season in August-September, when I think the inside of any cracks are as dry as they will get.

WhyNotUs
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by WhyNotUs » Thu May 22, 2014 9:57 am

nirvines88 wrote:The house was built in 1986 - the masonite has been well maintained and a few parts of its exterior have been replaced with hardy plank siding. I've heard with paint and caulking every 4-5 years you can extend its life for a long time, but that might get expensive (if hiring a contractor) or time consuming (if I do it myself, which I probably would). Eventually it will likely wear down and need to be replaced with hardy plank siding or vinyl.
My parents house in Ohio had masonite. It was installed well and maintained well and was still in decent shape when they sold it. While I would never choose it for siding, it would not be an automatic deal killer for me. My neighbors have cedar planks that are a disaster- more expensive than masonite but a bad install.

In your situation, the siding is now 24 years old and based on your description does not seem to be in too bad shape. Seems likely to make it past 30 years, which should be considered a success for that siding. The worst situations with the siding would have been apparent by now if it was going to fail. If there is an issue identified in inspection, seek a remedy or reduction in price. Caulking and painting every 5 years is wise regardless of siding.

Hardie has a long life cycle and thus creates expectations for other sidings that are not realistic for that material. It looks like your masonite to Hardie transition has already begun (probably the lower planks?). If you buy a plank style that they have made for many years and plan to paint rather than buy pre-colored, you might be able to replace a side every year or two over the next 10-12 years or as needed. I am transitioning to Hardie and have three sides of house done now. You should hire a qualified installer as getting the install correct will increase the likelihood that the siding will outlast you. Normally, I would suggest that you could offer to help but cutting Hardie products is best left to pros.
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fandango
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by fandango » Thu May 22, 2014 11:39 am

I had Masonite siding on a home in the Carolinas. It really didn't hold up that well. Several areas peeled and bubbled up and had to be replaced. I eventually sold the home to a handyman who replaced all the Masonite with Hardie plank.

Personally, I believe that masonite had its day and is now considered to be an inferior product (compared to vinyl, Hardie plank, etc.). If you are interested in the home, I would factor the replacement factor into my offer. The price is probably already discounted some due to the masonite siding.

As an aside, my current home is rock and Hardie plank, and I love it. Very low maintenance. It will probably need to be painted and caulked after 10 years. Mainly due to fading paint more than anything else.

Mrxyz
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by Mrxyz » Thu May 22, 2014 2:14 pm

Hi,
I would avoid masonite siding homes. I had a similar brand siding on my house- almost 80% damaged over 'time' as it was just pressed wood which became unpressed and split open etc etc. No money left in the class action lawsuit for us!
So had to take down what was damaged, house wrap followed by Hardy fiber cement. Quite expensive but had no choice!!!

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nirvines88
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by nirvines88 » Thu May 22, 2014 2:51 pm

Thanks for the responses so far. It seems pretty evenly split between the "avoid at all costs" and "don't worry about it but keep it well maintained/factor it into the price" categories.

I talked to my realtor and he agrees that the sellers will need to drop 10-15k off the price for us to go with the house. It's a great house and neighborhood but I'm trying to be as businesslike as possible with this transaction!

Anyone have any idea what it would cost to strip down the masonite and replace it with hardie plank? The house is 2 stories, 1600 sq. ft., and it has a garage. I've asked around but had difficulty getting even an estimate. One acquaintance said his 2k+ sq. ft. house cost $18,000 to switch from masonite to hardie plank, but that was a decade ago.
"Beware of little expenses, a small leak will sink a great ship" - Poor Richard

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tadamsmar
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by tadamsmar » Thu May 22, 2014 5:35 pm

Have you asked your realtor to get an estimate? They usually know people who fix houses, they recommend them when they are on the seller's side and the seller needs someone to do repairs.

Sam314159
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by Sam314159 » Thu May 22, 2014 8:09 pm

I worked on some of the legal issues associated with Masonite. Had a chance to talk to lots of the engineers involved in designing and making the stuff. They all agreed it works fine if maintained properly, but it's a lot of work to maintain. Keep water away at all costs. No bushes or sprinklers close to it. Keep it painted regularly. If it starts failing, replace immediately to avoid any rot spreading to building materials underneath.

WhyNotUs
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by WhyNotUs » Thu May 22, 2014 11:21 pm

Cost is location sensitive since labor for install and painting varies widely by area. Also varies by the design of house, nature of the trim, paint selected. Maybe $6-7 sf for material and install and another $4 for painting. That does not address soffits, fascia, trim. Your realtors number probably gets you in the lower end of range but from the sellers perspective they may have discounted some already and it is not a critical need- insufficiency at this time. If forced to make a guestimate with so little info my guess would be around $25k all in. That guess is worth the cost.

Lowes or Home Depot often offer siding installs and estimates. If you put it under contract during due diligence you can ask the owner to let a estimator come out to put a proposal together. They charge something like $50 for the service and apply it if you use their installer. I would make sure they include everything to meet warranty during install. If it requires chalking, have installer do it rather than painter so that no one can point their finger at the other. There are some high tech trim materials out know that can last as long as Hardie products worth considering in addition to Hardie trim.
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Mrxyz
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by Mrxyz » Thu May 22, 2014 11:24 pm

Go to the manufacturer's website and put in your zip code and a list of approved contractors will show up. Use multiple bids/ quotes. Make sure they give you details like are they going to remove all the masonite or just the damaged ones? Will they wrap the house ie. Tyvek? - you should. Are they adding more insulation to the outer walls? - its not essential but maybe worth it depending on weather etc. There are 2 types of hardie - overlapping horizontal or panels. Plenty of information if you google search and look up their website.

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FrugalInvestor
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by FrugalInvestor » Thu May 22, 2014 11:37 pm

The home you're considering has obviously already had a problem with the siding. It's only a matter of time until problems show up elsewhere. In the meantime you will pay additional maintenance costs attempting to prolong the life of a failing product.

My approach would be to use the siding issue as a bargaining chip in negotiating the price. You can bet the current owner knows what it will cost to fully resolve the problem and is just hoping that they can offload that cost to the next owner. Get what you are satisfied with in the negotiation and then replace the Masonite with James Hardi post haste and have a maintenance free exterior. The savings of not having the added maintenance to the Masonite will help cover your out-of-pocket cost for the Hardi. If you're going to do it yourself and negotiate well you may not have any out-of-pocket cost and the savings will be a bigger plus.
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tadamsmar
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by tadamsmar » Fri May 23, 2014 7:02 am

I bet if you examine the Masonite on that house closely, you will find puffy spots and warping due to moisture. It's certainly true on our house, even though we had a partial replacement. We did not replace every board with minor damage.

THY4373
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by THY4373 » Fri May 23, 2014 7:28 am

tadamsmar wrote:I bet if you examine the Masonite on that house closely, you will find puffy spots and warping due to moisture. It's certainly true on our house, even though we had a partial replacement. We did not replace every board with minor damage.
Agreed the initial stages of failure are pretty subtle until you know what to look for a recent repaint can hide a multitude of sins.

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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by THY4373 » Fri May 23, 2014 7:34 am

My house is mostly brick but I had some Masonite or a derivative not sure. Live in the Mid-Atlantic region where it is very humid and very wet. House is circa 1986 and I replaced most of the hardiplank on the house except the attached shed in 2012 (I did some smaller replacements earlier around 07 and they have held up great. I could have done it piecemeal (board here and there as they failed) but in the end I just decided to bit the bullet and do it mostly in one fell swoop. I don't have the cost handy but it was "fairly expensive" in my book. I do recall Googling and getting prices that were within the ballpark of the estimates I finally received. Personally I am very happy I did it and will address the shed in the next year or two.

COFF
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by COFF » Fri May 23, 2014 11:24 am

I would replace with fiber cement siding. Purchased a house in 2011 with traditional wood lap siding (1953 Ranch.) Replaced with Hardie lap siding 7.25 exposure. I have a ranch house about 1400 square feet. I added the Hardie shingles to the three gable ends of the house. It cost my 8.5K (This includes all the siding, fascia, soffits, soffit vents, trim and new gutters.) I am a pretty handy guy, but this is one house project to leave for the pros. When they cut the siding it releases a ton of Silica dust that is just nasty. Plus you need special Hardie blades for cutting and this can get expensive. Go to James Hardie website and have only a qualified contractor install. This is the only way to get the 30 year warranty. I saved about 5-6K by doing the tear off and house wrap. I live in CO and if you are a homeowner you are allowed to do the demo without having to go through all the lead contractor crap. Biggest waste of money out there. Just a thought. Anyone with a few friends a hammer and a pry bar can take off their siding. Best of luck. By the way remodeler magazine states that Fiber Cement Siding has the biggest ROE out of any home improvement you do!

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FrugalInvestor
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by FrugalInvestor » Fri May 23, 2014 12:17 pm

COFF wrote:When they cut the siding it releases a ton of Silica dust that is just nasty. Plus you need special Hardie blades for cutting and this can get expensive. Go to James Hardie website and have only a qualified contractor install. This is the only way to get the 30 year warranty.
The best way to cut any fiber cement product is with special shears. These can be rented for a very reasonably and practically eliminate the dust. Not only is the dust bad for you but it's very destructive to the power tools you're using.

Shears link... http://www.amazon.com/Makita-JS8000-Var ... ing+shears

I see no requirement in the warranty for professional installation....

http://www.jameshardie.com/pdf/warranty/hz5.pdf
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COFF
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by COFF » Fri May 23, 2014 3:32 pm

I would be careful in not using a James Hardie approved contractor, there is a reason they limit the amount of contractors they will allow to be on there contractor list. Fiber Cement Siding is not like any other siding material and takes special equipment and knowledge/skill to install correctly. When I had my siding installed (2011) here in Denver there was only three companies that were on James Hardie list as preferred contractors. I don't know if this number may have gone up, they are putting this siding on lots of new construction and it is the mainstay for siding in the mountains do to characteristics for fire resistance and wildfire mitigation. I know a lot of people in the industry that hate this stuff because it can be very finicky to work with. Just like anything else buyer beware, if you are going to spend the money have it done right. I wouldn't trust this job to a handyman or normal contractor. The majority of companies I know that do James Hardie siding do only that and nothing else. Just my two cents.

Thrift Shop
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by Thrift Shop » Sat May 24, 2014 12:59 pm

I purchased my home new in 1995. It also has Masonite (or some other composite board siding). Live in the southeast, and as another poster mentioned, does not hold up well in moist climates without a lot of maintenance.

A few things I learned:
1) Need to keep up with painting. The style on my house is a "beaded" type board. The face of the product has a kind of thick paper coating which holds up fairly well. The problem is with the underside where there is no coating. If it I not painted properly, it will absorb moisture and swell/rot.
2) Looked at having the entire house replaced with cement board. Very expensive, so I found painter who would replace rotted composite boards with cement board. Then repaint the entire house. He replaced approximately 30 boards, then made sure paint the bottom edges of all boards with a brush (not spray) to protect the edge as much as possible. Happened about 4 years ago and have not seen another rotted or swelled board since.

So, depending on how long you want to stay in the home would probably determine which route you should go. Replace all or just some boards.

Hope this info helps.

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tadamsmar
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by tadamsmar » Sat May 24, 2014 2:05 pm

You should regularly check your caulk regularly anyway, so that's not extra work due to Masonite. Masonite just tends to punish you more if you are not diligent with this maintenance.

tibbitts
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by tibbitts » Sat May 24, 2014 4:23 pm

A problem with many new siding products seems to be that they're only available in 12ft sizes. And the seams aren't invisible, even when new. There are some 16-25' products, but for some reason they don't seem to be that common or popular.

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FrugalInvestor
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Re: Masonite Siding

Post by FrugalInvestor » Sat May 24, 2014 11:11 pm

tibbitts wrote:A problem with many new siding products seems to be that they're only available in 12ft sizes. And the seams aren't invisible, even when new. There are some 16-25' products, but for some reason they don't seem to be that common or popular.
Most of these products are very dense, so heavy, and since they are relative thin both in thickness and width a 16'-25' length would be very clumsy to handle both by hand for installation and with forklifts for loading and unloading. In addition, the cement board products like Hardi are also fairly brittle so breakage could also become a problem with very long pieces.
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