Nichiha Sierra Shake provides fire resistant protection according to ASTM E-119, which requires that the wall assembly successfully endure 60-minute fire exposure without developing excessive unexposed surface temperature and without allowing flaming on the unexposed side of the assembly.

The company’s fiber cement siding carries a Class 1(A) fire/flame spread rating, which is the highest level of fire protection. While no one can completely prevent a wildfire, the owners can rest assured that they’ve done all they can do to protect their home.

Creating the Perfect Home

The family’s dream house rests along the shores of Lake Chelan, a glittering 55-mile-long glacier-fed lake in eastern Washington surrounded by apple orchards, vineyards, pine forests and stunning homes. Beautiful surroundings call for beautiful protection which is exactly why this house features Nichiha Sierra Premium Shake exterior siding.

Contractor John Berry, president of Berry Construction, built the vacation home for a local family that owns a number of nearby orchards. The recommendation to fully wrap the home in Nichiha’s Sierra Premium Shake came directly from Berry.

“We were somewhat familiar with the product, having seen it displayed at a local building materials dealer,” he says. “We knew we wanted to build a shingle-style home; we also knew we wanted a cementitious product to provide fire resistance, durability and ease of maintenance. Sierra Premium Shake gave us all that.”

Berry Construction is a commercial and residential builder known for its high-end residential projects, so this 4,500-square-foot home fell right in his wheelhouse. “We tore down an old cabin on the site and built this home from the ground up,” Berry says. “We presented the product as an option to the homeowner partly because we like to build nice things.”

But there was much more behind Berry’s recommendation. Since the area is subject to wildfires, fire resistance was extremely important. “Wildfires are prevalent in this area; we are seeing them more and more often,” Berry says. “We had fires not far up the lake from this property last year, where houses and cabins burned all the way down to the water, so we are seeing more new home construction use cementitious siding products for fire protection. Between the landscaping and the building products, we’re making more design decisions based on fire resistance; it’s just another step to protect the home.”

A Real Wood Look Without the Wood

Having a real wood look and feel in this beautiful area was also important to the homeowner. Berry says he presented Sierra Shake as a siding option because it is a true 1/2-inch thick product which provides better definition in terms of shadow lines. “We compared it to two other commonly-used cementitious siding products which are just 1/4-inch thick. We liked the product’s thickness because it provides more shadowing, making it a closer replica of cedar shingles, and the homeowner agreed.”

Ease of maintenance was another selling feature. “The prefinished product provides a more durable, long-lasting finish with a warranty—something you just can’t get with regular wood,” Berry says. “Lake Chelan gets very hot and sunny in the summer, so siding finishes are subject to fading. The homeowners didn’t want to have to re-stain or repaint every three to seven years like they would have with cedar. The Sierra Premium product finish has a 15-year warranty and the product itself is guaranteed for a lifetime.”

Product stability was another benefit. In eastern Washington, a day can start off below freezing but by afternoon, the hot sun can raise temperatures to the 80s. These temperature extremes can cause other siding products to shrink or swell, creating gaps at the joints, whereas the shakes remain dimensionally stable in all types of weather. The resistance to warping and shrinkage was a product feature that Berry says will prove to be important over time. “We did the installation according to the company’s recommendations,” he says. “In turn, we know that we can expect a quality product like this to offer high levels of performance.”

A First for Everything

This was Berry’s first Nichiha installation, and he says things went well, “once we got the hang of it. We had to take extra time to plan the reveal, so we laid the product out first to establish our lines, and then installed it. Nichiha is heavier than cedar, so we learned to deal with that. All in all, though, it was a similar installation process to other pre-finished siding products.”

Durability, finish coverage and fire protection were all important features to the homeowner, as well as the aesthetic look. “We did show the homeowner other siding options but they chose Nichiha because of all these factors,” says Berry. “I’m sure we will be using it again.”