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What is Masonite Siding?

Masonite is a type of hardboard invented by William H. Mason, who patented the process for making it in 1926. “Masonite” is technically just the name of this particular brand of hardboard, although it is still commonly used to refer to hardboard in general. Masonite and other hardboards are engineered woods created from highly compressed wood fibers. Masonite is commonly used in construction because it is cheap, easy to work with, and relatively strong. However, there are issues with Masonite which make it ill-suited for exterior siding, such as it being susceptible to moisture, mold and mildew.

How is it made?

Masonite-DamageMasonite is made by disintegrating wood chips in a high-pressure steam chamber, after which they are depressurized through a small opening before being pressure-molded into shape. Unlike many other types of manufactured boards, it does not use any additional formaldehyde-based resins to bond the fibers together, rather relying on the original structure of the wood’s cells to bond the material. In some cases, the sheet may be “tempered” by dipping it in linseed oil, which helps to further strengthen it. The end result is a uniform sheet of compressed wood fibers that is denser, stronger, and cheaper than normal wood.

Common Masonite problems

Although Masonite has many uses in construction, it doesn’t do well as a siding material. Exterior siding will be exposed to the outside for years on end, and as it is made from wood fibers, Masonite suffers from the same problems as other wood products when exposed to the elements.

Poorly installed Masonite can have many problems. One of the biggest problems is moisture damage. Many installers would not use the correct install procedure and nail the bottom of the siding to the board below. This caused issues with water seeping in, causing blistering around the nails and rot damage. Masonite absorbs water, which causes it to expand, resulting in swelling and blistering on the boards. Repeated wetting and drying can also cause it to warp and buckle over time. It can soften and even rot away over time in humid conditions, and dampness can lead to infestations of mildew or even toxic mold. Speaking of infestations, Masonite is susceptible to damage from termites or other insects.

Buckling is also a problem with Masonite siding. Due to the length of the boards and their weight, the constant load can cause them to buckle and warp. In many cases, nails are used to flatten the siding, further weakening the structure and causing even more issues, like further water absorption.

Masonite siding needs regular maintenance in order to protect it from water, and even then, it doesn’t last as long as other siding materials. Masonite siding needs to be painted regularly, and also to be caulked to prevent water from getting into the edges or the untreated surface. Failure to paint the exterior regularly can lead to irremovable mildew and mold stains on the siding itself.

Was there really a class-action suit against it?

In 1994, a massive class-action lawsuit was filed against the Masonite Corporation. This was because of a manufacturing defect that made Masonite siding manufactured in the 80s and 90s to be especially prone to rot and deterioration. The jury ruled against Masonite resulting in a settlement of more than $1 billion. In 2001, the Masonite Corporation stopped selling siding altogether.

What is a good replacement?

There are a good number of replacements for Masonite siding. Two of the more common in this area is Vinyl and Fiber-cement siding. Both of these sidings are waterproof, low maintenance and can come in a variety of colors and styles. Both will add value to your home and offer better energy efficiency.

Unsure if you have Masonite or if it needs to be replaced? If you would like some more information, please reach out to us on how we can help you protect and beautify your home. We can be reached at 919-916-5640 or at contactus@odysseycontracting.com. Learn more about all of our siding replacement services.