Fiber cement has undergone an evolution, and it’s been trending in exterior design for the last several years. It’s a popular exterior material on homes today because it delivers versatile design options and can be easy to install. But the fiber cement siding installation process determines the success of a home’s overall design.
Primed fiber cement siding gives homeowners and builders solutions for successful exterior design, but there are a few tips we wanted to offer that you can share with your builder clients to help perfect their next siding installation.
Tip #1: Fiber Cement Siding Installation Tools
When anyone installs fiber cement cladding, working with the right tools and equipment is key. There are a few recommendations that the installation experts at Allura have made when it comes to the tools builders use.
- A circular saw with a polycrystalline diamond-tipped blade works best and will create less dust than miter saws or carbide-tipped blades.
- A pneumatic nailer will be much faster than hand nailing, although the siding can be nailed in by hand.
- When using a pneumatic nailer for installing Allura’s fiber cement siding, adjust the air pressure to around 80–85 psi.
- Don’t use framing nail guns, finishing nail guns, or staplers to apply fiber cement.
PRO-TIP: Always keep safety in mind. All builders should follow OSHA requirements for safety and equipment on the job, and wear cut-resistant gloves, eye protection or face shields. Tools and equipment should be checked regularly for damage and performance.
Tip #2: Delivery and Handling
Before the installation any exterior material, builders should inspect the delivered materials carefully. The building team should look for any breakage and defects, and ensure that the right product was delivered.
“And when you have it delivered, be sure it's on flat ground, out of the mud and out of standing water,” recommends Tim Larson, one of Allura’s Product Application Specialists.
It’s important to keep the team from bending the panels, so they should carry fiber cement on its edge. Allura specialists also recommend a Moffett forklift or boom truck for placement during the delivery process.
“That allows you to put a unit on each side of the house and reduces some of the back and forth that causes extra time and labor,” explains Tim.
Tip #3: Cutting Fiber Cement Siding
When cutting fiber cement panels, using the right protective equipment and tools is crucial. If builders don’t use shears for cutting the panels, they should use a circular saw with a fiber cement blade.
“When you cut fiber cement, it's important you cut it on the back side,” explains Tim Larson with Allura. “The way the circular saws rotate through it, the way the shears work through it, you get a cleaner cut on the back side of it.”
That way the dust will rain down from where the panels are being cut. Tim also explains that this method allows him to criss-cross the cuts when he notches, “and keeps me from having to whittle it out with a knife.”
Tip #4: Nailing Recommendations for Fiber Cement
Nail placement is key for a long-lasting fiber cement siding project.
Allura installation guidelines recommend blind nailing the panels, where the nail is driven into the board at a 45-degree angle, then the next panel is slid over that spot to obscure the nail. (Note: If builders are using 12-inch lap siding, this requires them to face nail the panels.)
Allura experts also provide a few other tips for nailing fiber cement panels:
- It’s important that the nails are never closer than 3/8 inches to the end of the board. They should be one inch down, 3/8 inches at the minimum.
- Be sure that builders don’t penetrate the nail into the board. “Set your guns light, finish it off with a hammer and you'll get a job that'll last 50 years,” recommends Tim Larsen with Allura.
- When builders are cutting around window heads, doors, light blocks or other similar areas, they should leave 1/8 inches on each side. “Windows expand and contract an 1/8 of an inch morning, noon, and night,” says Tim. “When you're fitting in between windows, doors, I measure it tight and I take a 1/4 inch off.”
Remember that all materials wear down, and the structure of the home also settles over time. “So you need to make sure that, after time and multiple seasons, that you maintain the product by adding additional fasteners and additional caulking as needed,” says Tim with Allura.
Tip #5: Keep Up With Building Code on Fiber Cement
Before starting any siding project, builders should be aware of building code requirements where they’re working. Keeping up with specific local code around exterior materials might be a headache, but there are a few key things to remember about working with fiber cement panels.
Field Joining: It’s likely that builders will need to put two panels together and will need to field join the products. Building code allows for three methods: caulking (which Allura doesn’t recommend), an H Joint or a strip of flashing.
Flashing: Allura recommends using flashing for field joining (and around windows and openings). “We recommend metal flashing, but we would accept 15 pound felt, or any code approved flash and material behind those joints,” says Tim Larsen for Allura.
Trim: “Above trims, we require flashing because building code requires flashing,” explains Tim with Allura. “And then 1/4 inch gap so water doesn't get trapped in the wall assembly.”
Clearances: Building code requires a clearance of 6 inches from the finish grade to any exterior siding.
Tip #6: Paints and Finishes for Fiber Cement
When it comes to painting or finishing a fiber cement design, always use a 100% acrylic latex paint to ensure a long-lasting style.
Allura fiber cement panels come primed to make installation even easier on the builder. And because the panels are finished with high-performing ColorMax® from PPG Paints, the color is backed by a 15-year warranty.
The durable, weather-resistant fiber cement panels are trusted by builders across the world, and Allura’s fiber cement panels are backed by an industry-leading 50-year transferrable warranty.