A new report indicates that international demand for fibre cement is set to surge on the back of the building material's ability to suit a broad range of applications.

The study, by market consultancy the Freedonia Group, projects that demand for the building material will rise by 4.4 per cent annually during the five year period from 2014 to 2019, reaching a total of 32.6 million metric tons.

Demand for fibre cement is set to increase despite expectations of easing growth in global building construction throughout the period. Freedonia expects the popularity of the material to receive a boost from its its toughness and versatility – particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

Fibre cement can be employed for a variety of purposes, including for roofing, siding and moulding and trim applications, as well as for ceilings, countertops, and as firestop materials.

The nature of demand for the material varies from region to region, however, depending on the most popular applications for the product within a given locality.

While fibre cement is widely employed as a roofing material in Brazil and India, this particular application only comprises a small share of market demand in the US.

One of the chief advantages of fibre cement is its ability to emulate the appearance of timber combined with its heightened resilience and durability.

The ability of the material to endure harsh weather conditions without succumbing to corrosion or rot, in tandem with its innate fire resistance, could continue to abet its market appeal in many parts of Australia – particularly sub-tropical climate zones in the far north and those many parts of the country that are highly prone to bush fires.

This enhanced resilience has already served as key factor behind the surging popularity of the material in the US, where fibre cement’s share of the siding market is expected to almost double during the two-decade period from 2004 to 2024.

The material’s growth in certain markets may still be hampered, however, by its long-standing association with asbestos usage and widespread concerns about related health impacts, despite the ready availability of non-asbestos options.