by Josh Morgerman
I hunt hurricanes—all around the world, in every hemisphere. When I get inside these violent storms, I shoot video and collect valuable scientific data.
It’s dangerous work. Maybe that’s why I’m so into it. I’ll admit I’m full-on crazy to do it.
But when it comes to my home, I can’t be crazy. I’ve got to suit up and be respectable.
That’s because I live in Old Town Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi. It’s an Historical District. We celebrate tradition here—and we’ve got strict design guidelines. That means you can’t just put anything in this neighborhood. Before you build a house, the Historical Commission wants to know everything—how it’s going to look and what materials you’re going to use.
I remember being a little nervous when I went in to present my plans to the Commission. But I started feeling more confident when they praised my ultra-traditional design—modeled after an old-school New Orleans “shotgun” house.
Then they asked me what I’d be using for the exterior. “Hardie® fiber cement siding,” I said. The folks on the Commission nodded appreciatively. They heartily approved.
That’s when I knew my house plans were good to go.
Since my design is so traditional, I was originally planning to have wood siding. But my builder, Beau Ladner of Paramount Contracting, persuaded me to go with Hardie® siding instead.
Why? Because Coastal Mississippi is an absolutely brutal scene for wood. The swampy moisture and extreme heat here create a fast track for mold and rot. The termites are relentless. And then there are the hurricanes that come roaring in off the Gulf of Mexico with torrential rain and destructive winds.
Wood just isn’t going to cut it here. Hardie® siding will.
That’s because it’s made of fiber cement—a special combination of Portland cement, sand, water, and cellulose fibers that’s highly resistant to the heat, moisture, mold, rot, pests, and violent winds that all come with life on the Gulf Coast.
But what really sold me on Hardie® was how it looks: like traditional wood siding. You cannot tell the difference. That’s why our Historical Commission praises it.
James Hardie offers a wide range of siding styles that allowed me to get the exact historical look I wanted.
I used Hardie® Plank Lap Siding for the walls. It comes in several widths. I chose 6-inch because they best fit my design. (There’s a choice of textures, too—I’ll get to that in a sec.)
To make things nice and tidy, I used Hardie® Trim Boards for the trim. That gives the house a neat, finished, buttoned-up look.
But to spice things up and add a little variety, I decided to do the gables with Hardie® Staggered-Edge Shingles. I’m excited about this, as it captures some of the ornateness of the architectural tradition down here.
Let me just say, the front porch is a very important space in any Mississippi home—very important! I spend a lot of time on mine—it’s where I do all my thinking. And that means every detail matters. So, I did the porch ceiling with Hardie® Soffit Panels to continue my home’s warm, traditional theme. And I even used Hardie® Trim Boards for the stately porch columns.
Bottom line: James Hardie had everything I needed to build a traditional Southern home that I’m proud to show off—and that satisfies the folks on the Historical Commission.
But, hey—what if you’re not into traditional? What if you want something sleek and contemporary?
For example, say you’re building in the hills of Southern California, and you want to make a bold, modernist statement. Or maybe you want to give your existing home the very best Beverly Hills facelift.
James Hardie has you covered. I’m kind of blown away by the variety and selection. Basically: if you can imagine it, James Hardie has it.
Start with the Hardie™ Architectural Collection. These panels come in a wide range of textures and dimensions. I especially dig the large panels which come in a wide range of sizes that can be vertically or horizontally installed—it’s up to you. They give your home a clean, elegant feel—fresh and modern.
Also check out the Hardie® Artisan profiles in the Architectural Collection. These extra-thick planks and boards create dramatic shadow lines, and they’re great for creating a sophisticated, contemporary feel. This marriage of ultramodern and traditional lets you create some imaginative combo looks.
But what’s most surprised me about James Hardie is the variety. I had no idea there could be so many choices when it comes to siding.
In addition to all the styles, there are the textures.
For example, you can get the lap siding Smooth, or if you want more of a wood look you can get it in Select Cedarmill®. Me, I chose the Cedarmill texture because I wanted that traditional feel—but I complemented it with Smooth trim, for a tidy finish.
The Hardie® Architectural Panel products give you even more options. Fine Sand is a subtle, uniform texture—the right choice if you want a smooth, sleek look. Mounded Sand is a stronger texture—reminds me of stucco. But my favorite is Seagrass. The flowing lines give off a natural vibe that softens the clean geometry of the panels.
And don’t get me started on the color selection. Are you sitting down?
Hardie siding comes in over 700 colors. The ColorPlus® Technology finishes are baked on with superior UV resistance. That means a consistent finish that’ll resist fading, chipping, and cracking—and colors that stay bold and vibrant for years.
They offer a range of curated color collections, like their Statement Collection® featuring regional top sellers, or my favorite, the Magnolia Home | James Hardie Collection. For that one, designer Joanna Gaines hand-selected a palette of Hardie® siding colors, styles, and textures for their uniqueness and curb appeal. And their ethereal Dream Collection® offers hundreds more colors in any product style.
But what if you want a color that’s not in the Hardie® collections? No problem.
You can get Hardie® siding factory-primed and ready for painting. That's what I did, because—given my super-traditional design—I wanted a very specific shade of white that’s popular down here in this part of Mississippi. (I can get a little fussy about certain things. No apologies!)
Now, designing a new house—or giving your existing one a big makeover—can be overwhelming. I know from experience. It’s almost like James Hardie gives you too many choices! And even if you’ve done this before, it can be hard to imagine how it’s all going to look.
Don’t worry—there’s help: James Hardie’s Personalized Home Design tool. It features an app called HOVER®.
Load it onto your mobile device; then plug in your house plan—for example, a PDF or images of your home. The app generates a 3D model of your home; then you dive in and start experimenting.
Try out different materials, siding, textures, and colors for each element of your home’s exterior—walls, windows, doors, trim, and so on—and compare your favorite combinations before committing to a look.
I should warn you: the HOVER app is highly addictive. I couldn’t put it down—felty strangely compelled to try out every conceivable color combination for my home and blew a whole weekend fiddling with it. Handle with care—or suffer my fate.
Your house is a reflection of you.
And James Hardie lets you design a home that shows the world who you are. (Or, in my case, Hardie® lets me mask my stormchaser crazy with a façade of tradition and respectability!)
Whether you want historical, modern, understated, or bold—it’s your call. James Hardie has what you need to bring that vision to life. You can have literally any style of house you can imagine.
James Hardie lets you be you.