7 Common Installation Errors with James Hardie Siding

Replacing the siding on your home is a huge project, one that’s a considerable investment. If you choose a premium product that performs well for decades, siding replacement delivers one of the highest ROI of any home renovation project. If you choose the right kind of siding, like fiber cement, it will likely be the last time you’ll need to replace it.

James Hardie is the leader in fiber cement siding. James Hardie brand products can be found on the exteriors of more than 8 million homes across North America. 

The company has been in business for over 130 years, with the current company’s predecessors starting in 1888. The company is in it for the long haul. They are number one and want to stay that way. They know you can’t stay on top by being complacent.  They invest millions of dollars every year in research and development to ensure their products continue to outperform any competitor’s. 

DIY or Contractor?

By choosing James Hardie fiber cement siding for your home, you’ve proven to be selective and particular in getting the best quality and value for your home. Choosing the right installer is just as critical to its performance as the product itself. 

You might think that you can save some money by installing the siding yourself. Anything is possible, but keep in mind that fiber cement is different than other types of siding. It’s much heavier and more difficult to handle. 

James Hardie actually provides an installation manual for those DIY-ers to use. It’s a detailed manual with over 130 pages, proving it’s not a quick and easy project even for professionals. In fact, you might want to read through it first before deciding on doing the job yourself.

Avoid these Siding Installation Mistakes

Whether you DIY or hire the wrong contractor to install your James Hardie siding products, it’s more for them to make mistakes than when you hire a Hardie-certifedf professional contractor. Some common mistakes are listed below.

1. Insufficient Preparation

Failure to prepare for any large project is usually a huge mistake. Before installing James Hardie siding, you’ll need to perform 3 preliminary steps:

  • Sheath the walls with foam, plywood, or oriented strand board (OSB)

  • Cover the sheathing with felt paper or house wrap

  • Mark the location of the studs with chalk

2. Improper Storage

If you don’t follow the instructions for storing James Harding products, they could get damaged from moisture and rain. They must be stored indoors or under a waterproof cover on a pallet placed above level ground. 

Hardie siding is not affected by moisture when it is installed on the wall and is okay to install in light rain. But when the siding is uncovered and flat on the ground it will absorb water. It cannot be installed if saturated or it can eventually shrink or stain. If a board hasn’t been in water for an extended period, it can still be installed after drying out completely. 

3. Using the Wrong Tools

A circular saw is the cutting tool most commonly used for Hardie siding. It’s very efficient and cuts cleanly; however, it also produces a lot of dust. Some other cutting tools that also work without all the mess include fiber cement shears, jigsaw, and scoring.

You can fasten it with a pneumatic nailer or nailing by hand. You can use corrosion-resistant screws, or you can use stainless steel or hot-dipped galvanized nails. You can nail the siding by either blind nailing it at the top or face nailing it at the bottom. It’s best to use siding nails for face nailing or roofing nails for blind nailing.

4. Skimping on Fasteners

Hardie siding panels must be fastened to the studs in a consistent pattern, so it’s important to use plenty. Again, the pattern recommendations from James Hardie are included in the instructions, so following them is key to proper installation. 

5. Leaving Gaps

Joint placement must be precise and leave no gaps between the boards. Otherwise, you could develop a pattern of butt joints. There is no need to allow for expansion after installation, so the boards should should be touching each other when they are installed. 

6. Improper Nailing

Nail guns or air nailers are great for installing siding. They speed up the work but installers may lose track of where they put the nails, resulting in ineffective installation. 

Inexperienced installers may not realize that it matters where the nails are placed. But Hardie siding actually has a nail line across the top of the board where nails are supposed to be placed. If nails are placed too high, the siding can come loose or rattle in the wind. If they are too low, nail heads might be visible through the bottom of the next board.

7. Bad Touch-ups

The nails used to install the siding and trim should be touched up to match the siding. If too much paint is applied or it is applied incorrectly, it will result in a spotted or splotchy look. That’s because the touch-up paint will fade more quickly than the siding itself. Color-matched caulking should never be used for touch-ups on James Hardie siding. 

James Hardie provides a touch-up kit that includes an edge coater and a nail head concealer to minimize this splotchy look. If you use these tools as instructed, the touch-ups should be fine.

Installing Hardie Siding the Right Way

By avoiding the common mistakes listed above, you will have better results. Here are some additional tips to a successful installation.

1. Inspect and Protect

Before you even start the process of installing the siding, you should inspect everything carefully to ensure there is no damage. 

Keep the siding dry until it’s installed to prevent warping or other effects of moisture. When carrying the boards, hold them by their edges. When cutting the product, support it along its length.

2. Safety

Fiber cement siding is heavy and bulky. Cutting the boards generates a lot of dust. You’ll be using tools that can be dangerous if you’re not skilled in their operation. Make sure you take precautions to reduce your risk of injury or damage. Some advice:

  • Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from dust and debris when cutting and nailing.

  • Wear an N-95 dust mask to avoid breathing in the dust from cutting.

  • Use industrial earplugs to lessen the effects of the tools you’re using.

  • Circular saws generate a lot of dust, so cut the boards outside with a dust-collecting saw to avoid inhaling dust and causing breathing problems.

3. Follow Instructions

Don’t skip any steps in the installation instructions for James Hardie siding products. If you do so, you may void the excellent warranty that comes with them. 

4. Hire a Contractor

You may actually come out ahead of the game by leaving the installation to a licensed and experienced contractor. They will be liable for any damages, injuries, or mistakes in the installation. After all, with a product like James Hardie fiber cement siding that can last a lifetime, why take the chance of having it installed incorrectly and the warranty voided as a result?

Hire a James Hardie Elite Preferred Contractor

As you may have already concluded, installing James Hardie fiber cement siding can  be quite an undertaking, one that requires a lot of time and effort. To make sure it’s installed properly and that your warranty isn’t voided as a result, hire a contractor who is a member of the James Hardie Contractor Alliance program to install your siding.

Banner Construction has been recognized as an Elite Preferred James Hardie contractor. As such, we have continued to meet rigorous standards for:

  • Compliance with Installation Best Practices

  • Professional Sales Approach

  • Satisfactory credit report

  • State Licensed

  • Liability insurance $1,000,000 per occurrence

  • Workman’s compensation Insurance*

  • Satisfactory background check with at least 6 past clients

Banner Construction is proud of our outstanding reputation for excellence in customer service and performance. We have received the Guildaster Award for Excellence several years in a row. This award is for reliable and dependable service, and on-time and on-budget performance. 94% of our clients say they are likely to recommend us.

When you’re ready to invest in the best siding for your home, don’t make the mistake of bad installation. Hire the pros at Banner Construction. We’ll make sure everything is completed as expected. Contact us today for a free estimate.