Cement Siding Installation: Tips from the Professionals

Cement siding installation can be a tricky process. Yet it can be done by amateur shed builders, as long as you stick to some basic guidelines and techniques. It's vital not to cut corners trying to save time or you could end up with cracks, loose boards and a less than perfect finish.

In this comprehensive guide we've put together everything you need to know about fiber cement shed siding, as well as some tips and tricks from professional builders to ease the process of installation. This is advice you can't afford to miss!

Why use cement siding?

Fiber cement siding is made from a mixture of cement, sand and cellulose fiber which is rolled into sheets. It's then pressed to create a pattern on the surface, typically to look like wood grain, and then baked at a high temperature to increase its strength. It's available in a number of formats including lap siding, panels, fascia, shingles and trim.

There are many advantages to cement siding installation:

  • Durability: many builders describe this type of siding as indestructible! It's like putting a thick cement shield around your shed and it's much more durable than timber. The leading manufacturer supplies it with a 30 year guarantee.
  • Water, fire and insect resistant: this gives you unparalleled protection for the items inside your shed.
Cement siding is extremely popular and has a finished look that's comparable to vinyl or timber.

The drawbacks of fiber cement siding are:

  • It can be quite difficult to work with
  • It creates a lot of dust when you cut it.
  • It is brittle - if it suffers impact from an errant lawnmower or baseball it cracks.
  • You may need to purchase or hire specilaist tools to get the best finish.
Also it does need painting, however not as often as timber.

Safety First

Before starting cement siding installation, it's important to buy some safety glasses to wear while cutting and nailing it in place. Also you'll need some ear protection for use while cutting with a circular saw.

Finally, make sure you're cutting outside as it creates an enormous amount of dust. A NIOSH approved dust mask is absolutely vital to protect your lungs from the potentially harmful dust.

How to cut cement siding

There are a number of methods for cutting your cement siding ready for installation. Here's a quick guide to the main techniques:

  • Circular Saw: the quickest way to cut fiber cement siding, but it produces an enormous amount of dust. However you can stack several boards at the same time, making it extremely quick.
  • Jigsaw: used to cut holes and curved edges, but you'll need a carbide coated blade.
  • Fiber cement shears: these special electric shears are ideal for cutting straight and curved pieces. Always make sure you cut with the back of the siding facing upwards.
  • Scoring: you can also score the face of the material and snap to break, but the cuts are not very smooth. Make sure the blade is carbide coated.

How to attach cement siding

Once you've cut your pieces, fiber cement siding installation is fairly simple. Use stainless steel nails that will reach at least an inch deep into the studs. You need to place your nails around an inch from the siding edge and in the top of the board to hide the nailhead under the next row of siding.

Attach each row of siding with an overlap of at least 1.25 inches. You need to paint the siding as soon as possible after installation, particularly if it has not been factory primed. It's best to use a top quality latex caulk paint. Finish by caulking any gaps between the siding and trim. For extra sealing, caulk the butt joints at the points where siding pieces meet.

Finally, before beginning any fiber cement siding installation always make sure you check the manufacturers guidelines and installation instructions. Different products have their own special instructions for correct installation.

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