Replacement siding is a big job, and if done right, it can significantly add to the value of your home (not to mention its comfort and aesthetic appeal). One of your best options is James Hardie siding, which is a brand of fiber cement siding; it’s far more durable and resilient than its vinyl counterpart, but it’s also more expensive. While this scares away some frugal homeowners, you should know that the extra costs associated with James Hardie siding are what make it such a good option in the first place.
For starters, James Hardie siding is made of a complex, compound material comprising sand, cellulose fibers, and cement. But it also comes with a unique set of installation demands that drive installation costs up. So how exactly is James Hardie siding installed?
Choosing, Inspecting, and Preparing the Siding
First up, you’ll need to choose, inspect, and prepare the siding. Choosing your siding is a simple step—you’ll need to figure out what options you prefer, including your style and color choices. Then, when you receive your siding, you’ll need to inspect it for any damage it may have sustained during shipping and handling. If there are any cracks or other signs of damage, get it replaced before you start working with it. Once you’re sure the siding’s in good condition, prepare it by keeping it flat and above ground. You’ll also want to carry all the pieces by the edges to prevent breaking and store them in a cool, dry place.
Removing the Old Siding
Once you’re confident in your new siding, you can start removing the old siding from your house. The complexity of this task depends on the type of siding you currently have installed. If you’re working with wood siding, you’ll need to pry off the planks, one by one. If you’re working with vinyl siding, you can use a siding removal tool to assist with your removal, but you’ll need a one-by-one pry method here too. Consider working with one section of the house at a time, rather than removing all the siding at once, especially if you plan to take multiple days for the job.
Sheathing and Covering the Walls
You can’t leave your walls too exposed to the elements for long. Your next job will be sheathing and covering the exposed walls. For this, you can use plywood, OSB, or foam. Around that sheathing, you can use house wrap or something similar as an added layer of protection. You may also consider adding new insulation if your house is poorly insulated, or if you want to update it with standard practices.
Once your sheathing is in place, you’ll need to know where the studs are—or else you won’t be able to nail your James Hardie siding in properly. The easiest way to do this is to take a line of chalk from top to bottom and snap it against wherever the studs exist. Then, you should have a clear line for every stud in your house.
Cutting the Siding
One of the most difficult parts of the job is cutting the siding itself; James Hardie siding is hard and durable, so it’s difficult to cut with a standard circular saw. You’ll also need to make sure all your measurements are precise, or you could jeopardize the quality of your finished work. Cutting siding this way also produces a lot of dust, so make sure you’re wearing protective eyewear and a mask to avoid breathing in silica particles.
Fastening the Siding and Installing the Trim
Once all your pieces are cut, you can start installing them where your previous siding existed. Start by installing the trim, which will go along the sides and corners of your house. Then, work on filling in the interior portions of your walls. You can nail this type of siding to your wall manually, so long as the nails are made of galvanized steel and penetrate at least an inch into your studs. Nails should also be at least an inch away from the ends of the siding.
Finishing the Job
Once your siding is installed, you can begin the finishing work. Start by caulking the joints and ends of your siding, and then ensure your siding is clean and dry. Apply a primer, and then paint the rest of your siding, however, you see fit (if your siding requires painting). This should be done as soon as possible after installation for best results, but most types of siding can last up to six months without initially being painted.
Can You Do the Job Yourself?
You might be reading this article with the intention of learning enough about fiber cement siding installation to tackle the job yourself. After seeing the steps involved, you’ll likely be able to make that determination on your own. If you have previous experience removing and installing siding, or if you’re exceptionally handy, it may be within your capabilities to install James Hardie siding yourself.
However, if you’re new to the game or think you can get by with “winging it,” we suggest you reconsider. James Hardie siding is one of the more difficult siding varieties to install, and precision is of the utmost importance. Even small gaps and oversights can compromise the functionality of your entire installation, so at least consider going with a contractor. It might cost you a little bit extra, but you’ll rest assured knowing your installation was done correctly, and you’ll be backed by a contractor’s warranty as well—plus you’ll save yourself all that hard work!
If you’re curious to learn more about the installation process or if you’re ready to start the process of replacing your home’s siding with James Hardie siding, contact us at Siding Pro. We’re here to help walk you through your decision and provide you with the best possible pricing for a high-quality installation.