Protect Your Largest Investment – Your Home – From Costly Water Damage
Masonite is man-made home siding composed entirely of wood chips, which are pressed together to form boards. It is one of many kinds of similar man-made products that are called “fiber board” or “hardboard,” as a group.
Problems occurred with Masonite for several reasons. Improper manufacturing of the product actually generated a class action lawsuit. To be fair, hardboard manufacturers have complained that home builders have not always followed their instructions on usage and have not installed the product properly when constructing homes.
Although its popularity has faded, Masonite or fiber board siding in general has been very widely used throughout the United States for many purposes like home siding, roofing underlayment, sub floors, and wall sheathing. Invented by William Mason in 1924, it was first manufactured in 1929. Although the original Masonite is no longer made, similar hardboard siding is still being put onto homes in many places today.
Today’s manufacturing methods differ from Mason’s, and materials like resin and wax have been added to the product mixture. However, all fiber board sidings have several things in common. Wood chips are the basic material of composition, and the resulting board has one smooth, paintable side, and one unfinished interior side. These products are similar to what you see at home improvement stores under names like press board or chip board. Other names include composite siding or man-made siding or manufactured siding.
Why Are Masonite and Hardboard So Vulnerable?
If hardboard is not kept seamlessly caulked and well painted at all times, it will absorb rainwater and deteriorate, even if it has been properly manufactured and properly installed, and this is what is affecting most of us in Wake County and the Triangle.
Simply put, “hardboard” is not very hard; it is softer than plywood or solid wood. In addition, hardboard is not very water resistant either. Masonite and all hardboards for exterior use have one smooth, paintable side, but this thin surface is only about as deep as a sheet of paper. Therefore, it does not take much to scratch or to puncture or to otherwise compromise the integrity of this very thin surface. Once breached, the surface provides a pathway for rain water to enter the unprotected interior of the product. As it absorbs water (or just accumulates high levels of moisture in the presence of dampness), Masonite swells up and distorts.
Rot due to water damage is always suspected when the factory-smooth surface looks buckled, wavy, corrugated, puffy, or bumpy. To confirm suspected rot, you need only press your finger against the damaged area. If damaged, that area will be soft to the touch. How soft is “soft?” Moderate finger pressure will bend or dimple the surface inward. In bad cases, you can simply poke your finger right through the board.
Because the smooth exterior surface is all that keeps rain water out and because that surface is as thin as a sheet of paper, it is absolutely crucial to keep the product well painted at all times and to keep the seams at the end of each board filled completely with quality caulking. Thin or worn paint and gaps in the caulking lead to the product just falling apart over time, in which case it will have to be pulled off of the home and replaced.