Fiber cement siding is becoming more popular and if you’re installing your own, here are some installation tips to help you out.
The first strip that should be attached is the starter strip.
Look for the beat up pieces and rip them into 1 1/4” starter strips that get attached to the wall 1” above the ground using a 15 gauge trim gun. The easiest way to place the starter strip in the right place is to snap a line 1” above the bottom of the wall.
After the starter strips are attached, snap another line 1/4” below the starter strip and position the bottom row so that it hangs 1/4” below the starter strips.
When it comes to assembling the corners, it’s always easier to do this first on a flat surface before trying to put them up. For simplicity, use the same size nails to attach the corners together as you use to attach the corners to the wall. Preferably, 2 1/4” galvanized nails, nailed with a 15 gauge trim gun. Do not use a framing gun and do not try to nail them together by hand. That is the easiest way to break the boards. Besides, trim nails will look much better because the prefinished corners will expose them.
Prefinished fiber cement siding comes with a plastic coating to keep the boards protected. You should leave the plastic coating on while you install the siding so that you don’t scratch the paint when you’re installing them. After you’re done with the installation, the plastic can be easily removed by peeling it away. It doesn’t need to be removed to make your cuts or when nailing. Just cut or nail directly through it.
All joints should be flashed. Do not caulk them. Caulking is not necessary, but flashing should be put up behind joints. Metals, house wrap, or any other weather resistant barrier, such as felt paper will do the job.
It doesn’t matter if you are or aren’t installing fiber cement siding around your windows, either way you need to install a drip cap above your windows. Along with the drip cap installation, there also need to be a 1/4” gap left between the top part of the window and the trim directly above the window. This gap and drip cap allows any water that could end up behind the siding to leak out. Drip caps will also need to be placed above doors.
Fiber cement siding is heavy and can easily break if you bend it too much. Installing it is a two man job, unless you get some good siding gauges. Siding gauges do more than create the proper reveal for the individual planks, they also hold the siding in place while you nail it. Most siding gauges are adjustable and the amount of reveal they provide is also usually adjustable.
Fiber cement siding can be cut with a circular saw with a fiber cement blade that can be bought at prices starting at $20 and up. If you plan on cutting fiber cement siding often, you should invest in a chop saw with a fiber cement blade that will make it possible for you to cut multiple pieces at the same time. When cutting fiber cement, make sure to wear a dust mask and eye protection. Especially be sure to wear a dust mask because the silica dust from the cutting of fiber cement can cause serious health problems.
Every cut edge should be painted, primed, or caulked to protect the exposed surface from the elements. If the cut edge is going to end up butting against trim board or corner post, it will need to be caulked. If the cut edge is going to be butting against another joint in the center of the wall, it will need to be painted. Any cut edge needs to be either caulked or painted.
Don’t forget the kick-out flashing. It keeps water from flowing down the roof and then into an adjacent wall. If you don’t have kick-out flashing, you will fail inspection. To make it easier to work with, don’t nail it tight until you’re done installing the siding.
When it comes to nailing fiber cement siding, you need to remember that it’s harder and much more brittle than wood. If you do decide to hand-nail fiber cement, make sure to pre-drill holes where anything needs to be nailed near an edge. The best way to nail fiber cement siding is with a 15 gauge trim gun. These trim guns are pricey, but can be rented. Here are some more basics involved in nailing fiber cement siding.
- Nails always use 6d galvanized or stainless siding nails, and they should be spaced no more than 16” apart.
- Nail Lengths the length of the nail should be determined by ensuring that the nail will go into the wood behind the siding by at least 1 1/4”.
- Nails should never be driven in at an angle and the head of the nail should be flush with the surface. All butt joints should be nailed last.
Clearances are important when it comes to fiber cement. Fiber cement siding can easily deteriorate if it’s exposed to water for an extended period of time. Manufacturers have proper spacing clearances that can be checked, but here are some basic clearances you should try to follow.
- You should leave 1/8” to 1/4” between siding and trim.
- You should leave 1/4” between horizontal flashing and siding.
- 1” clearance should be left between a gutter and any adjacent wall.
- 2” of clearance should be left between siding and decks, walkways, roofing, etc.
- 6” should be left between ay siding and the ground.
My name is Stephen, and I pass the time by writing about do it yourself project ideas for around the house, as well as general advice on other contruction projects.