Hardie® Siding: durability and beauty together

American businessman, storm chaser, and TV personality Josh Morgerman shares his experience working with James Hardie products on his own home in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi.

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Josh Morgerman

Ever get frustrated having to choose between style and substance? I do. My coolest jacket—the one I wear when I want to look extra-sharp—doesn’t keep me warm. The car with the most gorgeous design isn’t the safest. Those chic, fashion-forward running shoes aren’t actually the best for improving my marathon times—or avoiding injury. Wherever I turn, I’m having to choose between beauty and performance—like the universe is saying, “Sorry—can’t have both!”

Hardie® siding smashes this rule.

As I built my home, I discovered James Hardie has the best-looking siding and also the toughest. It’s the perfect solution—the best of both worlds. And that’s great news for me, because I’m just as obsessed with the look of my house as I am with its durability. I can’t prioritize one over the other—they both matter. With James Hardie, I get both. Let me show you.


I live in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi. This is an old town with a long history—and that’s especially the case in the Historical District where I built my house. Charming old cottages—timepieces from a bygone era—poke out from amidst ancient live oaks.

One thing I notice about these old homes is the craftsmanship—the fine attention to detail, the obvious care they took to make each house unique. And so I designed my house accordingly—in a regional style, with a fair helping of ornamentation (what they call “gingerbread” around here).

During the design stage, I was resolute about using wood siding. I wanted to be traditional in every sense—wanted a handcrafted, artisanal feel. I can spot vinyl siding a mile away and I knew it wasn’t for me. And I assumed all non-wood products had that fake look.


My builder, Beau Ladner of Paramount Contracting, was the first one to turn me on to Hardie® siding. He showed me how a lot of old houses in town—ones I’d always admired—had actually been re-sided with James Hardie. I hadn’t realized because I couldn’t tell the difference between Hardie® siding and wood!

The clincher for me was when I presented my house plans to the Historical Commission. (They have to be cool with your plans before you can build in the Historical District here.) They were visibly pleased that I was using Hardie® siding—and in fact they seemed to prefer it.

But it’s when we got to building that I experienced the full creative potential of James Hardie. There are so many products and styles, I was able to get the exact look I wanted.

I started with a traditional Hardie® Plank Lap Siding. It comes in different widths and textures. I went with the narrower 6-inch variety to match the older houses, and I got it with the Select Cedarmill® texture that emulates wood. But for the trim I went with smooth Hardie® Trim Boards—to button it up with a tidy finish.

For variety, I did the gables in Hardie® Staggered-Edge Shingles. My house is very symmetrical, very classical, and I like the touch of visual complexity that the staggered-edge style adds.

And check out my warm and inviting front porch—a staple of Southern homes. Except for the handrailing, it’s done entirely with products from James Hardie—with Hardie® Soffit Panels for the ceiling and Hardie® Trim Boards for the columns.

James Hardie enabled me to create a beautiful, stylish home—a welcome addition to the neighborhood that I’m proud to show off.


But just as exciting as how Hardie® siding looks is how it performs. And this is important, because Coastal Mississippi is a brutal scene for houses. It’s nonstop abuse from a slew of biblical plagues—moisture, mold, heat, pests, you name it.

I think now’s a good time to take a step back and explain what Hardie® siding is, exactly. It’s fiber cement—a special, proprietary formulation of Portland cement, sand, water, and cellulose fibers. The result is something spectacular. The stuff is highly moisture resistant—it doesn’t rot. It doesn’t burn. Termites absolutely hate it.

And, most important to me: it’s solid—like cladding my house in the toughest armor.

That matters because Coastal Mississippi is Hurricane Country—and my town has been ground zero for some of the very worst hurricanes in American history. Absolutely crazy winds can happen here. In 1969, the center of Category-5 Hurricane CAMILLE passed directly over Bay Saint Louis with estimated winds at a whopping 175 mph.

Ever been in winds like that? The air is filled with flying wreckage—debris that can blast right through the walls of your house with terrifying force. Hardie® siding helps create a tough outer shield that protects the inside of my house and gives me peace of mind in the nastiest hurricanes.

But it wasn’t until a few days ago that I fully appreciated how heavy-duty Hardie® siding is. The workmen had left extra pieces on the back porch, and as I moved them into the attic, I could just feel how tough and durable the stuff is. It definitely ain’t the flimsy vinyl stuff!

We so often have to choose between how something looks and how it performs. But that’s not the case with the siding on your house. There’s one solution that’s not only the most beautiful, but the strongest and most durable as well.

James Hardie gives you the best of both worlds. Choosing it for my forever home was a no-brainer.

Josh Morgerman