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James Hardie Installation: To DIY or Not to DIY?

Posted on by PortlandSEOGrowth
james hardie DIY

It’s time to give your home a facelift. 

You’re considering Hardie Board siding — and are thinking of installing it yourself.

True, you’ve never installed siding before, but how hard can it be?

Is it a good idea or a bad idea to DIY Hardie Board? 

Read on as we look at common mistakes people make on DIY Hardie Board siding jobs and why this might be one job that’s best left to the professionals.

EHE-Elite-Preferred

Table of Contents

James Hardie DIY

Can You Install Hardie Board Siding By Yourself?

You can. The question is, can you do it well? 

Without expertise and experience, the answer is likely no. 

To get the job done right — and preserve your warranty — consider hiring a certified Elite Preferred James Hardie Siding Contractor.

Here Are 2 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t DIY Your Hardie Board Installation

#1: You Can Lose Your Warranty

Hardie Board is protected under warrantyif it is installed correctly. 

That’s why it’s best to stick with a certified Elite Preferred James Hardie Siding Contractor, like the pros at Elite Home Exteriors. We comply with James Hardie installation best practices, so you can be confident all products will be installed properly for ultimate performance. 

And we even offer our Lifetime Workmanship Warranty for added protection.

#2: You May Not Be Happy With the Results

Hardie Board can be pricey. 

Without professional expertise, there are many installation mistakes you can make that will leave your home looking like anything but the envy of the neighborhood. 

For the price, why not ensure you’re getting results you’ll be proud of?

We’ll talk more about some potential installation mistakes in the next section.

DIY hardie board

7 Mistakes That Commonly Happen With DIY Hardie Board Siding Installation

#1: Improper Joint Placement

Each piece of Hardie Board siding is 12 feet long. That means boards frequently have to be joined together. There are several ways to get this critical step wrong, such as: 

  • Gaps: Sometimes people will leave a gap for expansion when they’re installing their siding, but that’s not how it’s supposed to be done. Hardie boards need to be joined in “moderate contact.” They should be touching each other when they are installed. 
  • Joint flashing: Joint flashing is a 6” wide piece of weather-resistant material that prevents water from getting through to the underlying surface. 

James Hardie recommends installing joint flashing behind each butt joint. Sometimes, installers will try to save a buck by using squares of building paper instead. This is allowed under the Hardie warranty, but since most building paper is white, it clearly shows through the joints. Joint flashing, on the other hand, can be color-matched and is a much more durable and visually-appealing option.

  • Joint placement: James Hardie requires that all joints land on a stud unless there’s a minimum 7/16” wood structural paneling as sheathing. If an installer isn’t paying close attention during the installation process, the butt joints may develop an obvious pattern, such as …
    • Clusters
    • Steps; or
    • Zippers 

… that can ruin the look of larger walls.

james hardie DIY

#2: Not Using Enough Fasteners

Some installers don’t realize that Hardie Board must be fastened to the exterior studs with full-headed screws or nails using a consistent pattern.

Hardie Board panels are light and flexible for their weight (2.3 pounds per square foot and 5/16” thick). So on a windy day, they can easily flex a bit if they aren’t installed securely. 

If you decide to install Hardie Board siding yourself, make sure you’re aware of James Hardie’s approved nail and screw patterns for their panels

#3: High Nailing

Hardie Board siding is generally installed with a pneumatic air nailer. The only problem is sometimes the installer will move a little too quickly, losing track of where the nails are going.

Each piece of siding has a nail line across the top of the board that shows where the nails should fall to give the best hold. If nailed higher, the siding will likely be installed too loosely and may rattle in the wind. Any lower, and you may see nail heads poking through the bottom of the board above.

#4: Improper Clearances

James Hardie siding is made of cement, meaning it absorbs moisture. 

For installation, Hardie Board siding requires a minimum 2” gap from any hard surface such as deck or roofline, and at least an 8” clearance from soft surfaces like grass, gravel, or dirt.

If DIY Hardie Board siding is installed and is touching your driveway or the dirt of your flower beds, there’s a huge risk of it absorbing ground moisture, which may lead to bubbling and peeling paint.

#5: Ugly Caulking

Caulking is a critical part of Hardie Board installation. 

Everywhere the siding meets a trim board, James Hardie recommends leaving a 1/8” gap between siding and trim. In that gap, you’ll need to apply a 3/8” bead of approved caulking to seal and protect the edge of the siding. 

James Hardie offers caulking in each of their siding colors, so you can easily get a perfect match. Just remember to always match the caulking to the color of the siding, not the trim.

You may also want to practice your caulking skills ahead of time so you don’t wind up with an amateur-looking job.

james hardie DIY

#6: Settled Cut Dust

Hardie Board is made of fiber cement — small sand (silica) particles. 

If you’re installing DIY Hardie Board siding, you’ll want to be extra careful when cutting the boards to make sure that you don’t inhale the dust. Continued exposure may lead to severe long-term health issues.

Once the Hardie siding is installed, however, there is no health risk for the homeowners.

#7: Not Using Corrosion Resistant Fasteners

These days, most screws and nails have a rust-resistant coating. But that doesn’t mean they’re all created equal.

Since Hardie Board boasts a 30-year manufacturer’s warranty, you’ll need nails that will pass the test of time. 

As a best practice, James Hardie recommends stainless steel, with hot-dip galvanized as a second, lesser option. Any nails of lower quality may start to rust, either causing stains on your beautiful siding or allowing your siding to fall completely.

Hire Elite Home Exteriors for Your James Hardie Siding Installation

Sure, you may save a few, but why risk a failed attempt at DIY Hardie Board? 

Call in the professionals at Elite Home Exteriors and get the job done right — the first time around

As part of the James Hardie Elite Preferred Contractor Alliance, we have many years of experience installing concrete fiber siding and know all the tips and tricks.

Contact us today for a free estimate.

DIY hardie board

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