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How To Install Hardie Board: A Step-by- Step Guide

Are you building your dream house and want to choose the perfect siding for your home? Your current siding may have started to wear down, or has been damaged, and you want to install new sidings to give your home an impeccable overall exterior.

Many people focus most of their attention and money on the interior of the house, whereas the exterior of your house requires the same attention and maintenance, especially the sidings. Siding plays an important role in protecting your home from rotting, molds, mildew, and water damage. Sidings also add life to your house by protecting the foundation and defending against harsh weather.

Old siding risk your home to possible moisture damage, make your home look drab, and create the hassle of home repair. Hardie board sidings offer your home protection and an attractive outlook for decades. A perfectly installed Hardie board can give your home a fresh and modern style.

What Is Hardie Board Siding?

Hardie board is a beautiful and durable exterior product that can last for decades if properly installed. Hardie boards are made up of cement fibers, in which cement is combined with sand, water, and cellulose wood fiber to create a long-lasting material to  protect and beautify homes. However, to ensure that the product lasts as long as it should and looks great throughout its lifespan, it’s important that your Hardie board siding is installed in the right way.

Why Choose Hardie Board over Other Types of Sidings

installing Hardie board

One of the most important home improvements you need to make every 20 or 30 years is changing or updating your sidings to add value to your home. Installing sidings can be expensive, so you want to ensure that your sidings are installed properly. Various sidings are available in the market; however, it’s best to choose the Hardie board as an exterior product for your house as it’s proven to be more durable than other siding materials.

Hardie Board Siding Vs. Vinyl Siding

There are many reasons you should opt for Hardie boards over vinyl. The first of which is appearance. Hardie boards are five times thicker than vinyl and look more elegant, particularly on historic homes. In terms of its function, vinyl can easily catch fire even from the sun’s reflection. Hardie boards are fireproof, and so they prevent warping, sagging, and melting of your house.

Hardie Board Siding Vs. Wood Siding

Hardie boards resist the effects of moisture and damage from molds; also, if there is a fire, Hardie boards are much better at protecting your home from melting compared to wood sidings. Wood sidings can also crack, split, and deteriorate over time, while Hardie boards can last for years thanks to their durability.

Hardie Board Siding Vs. Engineered Wood Siding

Engineered woods can’t withstand the extreme weather, and long-term exposure to moisture can cause them to expand, creating unsightly gaps. On the other hand, Hardie boards are designed to protect your house from harsh weather, moisture, fire, and pesticides.

How to Know Your Home Needs New Siding?

Damaged Boards

If your sidings have been installed for many years, and now their boards or panels are coming off, repairing them would probably not be the right solution. So, to prevent further damage to the house, it would be better to install new Hardie board sidings that add durability to your house’s foundation.

Evidence of Rotting

Molds, rotting, fungus, and water damage are sure signs that your house needs new siding. Rotting and molding can damage the foundation of your house, so to prevent your house from getting any further moisture damages, you should install Hardie boards to the exterior of your house.

Cracking and Peeling from Weather

Cracks and peeling are signs of your house aging. It often occurs after your house has been enduring harsh sunlight for years. Only painting these sidings would not do the job for you, and you should replace the old sidings with Hardie boards.

Inside Wall Damaging

The inside walls of your house start getting damaged when the exterior of your house has been completely damaged. You must replace your sidings on the first sign of internal damage to prevent damage to your house.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Hardie Board Siding?

Hardie boards are a popular choice for homeowners due its easy maintenance and protection. However, every product comes with its pros and cons.

Pros of Hardie Board Siding

The advantages of choosing Hardie boards for your house include:

1. Eye-catching curb appeal

Hardie boards come in a variety of styles and colors. It gives your home a pleasing aesthetic outlook. It looks like wood sidings and often bears an uncanny resemblance to genuine cedar sidings, which adds to the house’s overall look. Also, since it’s not actual wood, you don’t have to be burdened with the high maintenance that wood requires.

2. Superior  Durability

Hardie boards can withstand all kinds of extremities, protecting your home round the clock. It can withstand rain, storms, ice, extreme humidity, moisture, and drastic temperature changes. It also resists moisture penetration and protects your home from rotting, sagging, and warping. It is durable and gives an amazing look to your house.

3. Minimal Upkeep

While Hardie boards have the similar aesthetic appeal of genuine wood siding, it doesn’t require the same kind of maintenance. After every few years, wood sidings require sanding and repainting to retain their beauty and protective capabilities. Hardie boards that are designed to withstand harsh weather can look beautiful without repainting for years, and thus, less money is spent on its maintenance and repairing.  

4. Resists Pests

Pests can greatly endanger the quality of your house. Hardie board siding provides resistance against pesticides including ants and termites, and so you don’t have to worry about repairing your house after every few years.

5. Highly customizable

Hardie boards come in multiple styles and give you plenty of options to choose from to suit your personal preference. In addition, Hardie boards can also be painted in numerous ways. No matter what type or size of house you live on, Hardie boards are available in all customizable options.

6. Fire resistant

Hardie boards are not easily flammable because sand and cement are the basis of these boards. Other siding products like vinyl or wood can easily catch fire and put your family in danger. This fire-resistance quality of Hardie boards gives an added benefit to your house and family.  

7. Environmentally friendly

Hardie boards are made up of sand, cellulose, and cement, and all these products make them very environmentally friendly. Unlike vinyl or engineered wood, Hardie boards protect not only your homes but also the environment. 

Cons of Hardie Board siding

1. Initial investment

Due to their durability and attractiveness, Hardie boards are a bit on the pricier side. But they also last longer and is worth an investment if you don’t want to repair your house after every few years.

2. High Labor Cost

Installing Hardie board can be a tricky thing. It requires a large labor force, more planning and effort is needed to install due to its composition, increasing the overall cost of installing these boards properly.

3. Longer installation process

The heavy weight of Hardie boards often makes them challenging to handle and difficult to install than other lightweight siding materials. Also, if Hardie boards are not installed properly, they lose their purpose of protecting your home from the extremities of weather and harsh conditions. So, to prevent damage to the boards, you must follow the installation instructions properly.

Things to Consider Before Installing Hardie Board

A man installing Hardie board

Safety

Hardie boards are heavy and difficult to install. Before you begin installing Hardie board, you must take the following safety precautions:

  • Always wear safety glasses when cutting and nailing the Hardie boards.
  • Wear a mask to avoid breathing silica dust.
  • Use ear protection if using a circular saw to cut the siding.
  • When cutting the boards, make sure to cut outdoors and use a dust collecting saw.

Storage and handling of Hardie Board:

  • Inspect the boards carefully to ensure there’s no damage.
  • Make sure to store the boards flat and keep them dry
  • Handle carefully to prevent breaking the edges
  • When cutting the product, support it along its length.

INSTALLATION OF HARDIE BOARD SIDING: A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE

A man installing Hardie board

For Hardie boards to last long and look beautiful, these boards must be installed correctly. If not installed properly, they can look uneven on the walls and are more susceptible to damage. Here is a step-to-step guide to ensure a smooth installation process:

1. Framing Requirement

Hardie boards can be installed over braced wood or steel studs, 20 gauge minimum to 16 gauge maximum, spaced a maximum of 24 inches or placed directly to a minimum 7/16 in thick OSB sheathing.

2. Remove the Old Siding

If you had sidings previously installed, it is best to scrape them off before installing the new board. However, you can also use the existing siding as the base, but only if they are in good condition. Installing new Hardie boards on old, rusted, and damaged sidings could cause several structural problems in the board.

2. Sheath the Wall 

To install your sidings properly, the first step requires you to  sheath the walls with foam or plywood and then cover them with house wrap. Doing so makes marking the locations of studs easier.

3. Use Circular Saw 

Cutting saw is often a popular choice to evenly trim the sidings. The other cutting tools you can use include jigsaw, pneumatic shear, carbide score, and snap knife. The cutting saw produces a lot of dust, and so it’s always better to use a cutting saw with a dust collector, and make sure to wear a mask to avoid inhaling silica dust.

4. Fasten the Siding 

Using the right nail is important to fasten your Hardie boards. There are many nails available, including corrosion-resistant screws, stainless steel, and hot-dipped galvanized nails. To hold your boards securely, you can either nail them by hand or use a pneumatic nail for more efficiency.

5. Install the Trim 

To begin installing the Hardie boards, place the trim in the corners of the wall. The corners should be at least ¼” thicker than two stacked pieces of siding. The trim can be made from vinyl, wood, or fiber cement products.

6. Install the Siding 

Hardie boards should be at least 6″ above the grade level of the house. There should also be a 1″ -2″ gap between horizontal surfaces like steps, decks, or adjacent roofs. Use an overlap gauge for support if you are working alone. Install the siding boards and butt the courses tightly together. Make sure you stagger the butt joints so they don’t lay on top of each other. Then, leave about a ⅛” gap between the corner trim and siding.

7. Finishing

After the installation, Hardie boards should be painted as soon as possible. Keeping the boards clean and dry before painting them is important to avoid paint ripping later.

Common Mistakes with Hardie Board Installation

installing Hardie board properly

Hardie board installation is a difficult task, and the job becomes more difficult if you are not aware of the installation protocols. To ensure that these mistakes don’t happen, avoid the following mistakes before and after installing the Hardie board.

1. Storage errors

The storage instructions for Hardie boards are simple. Make sure to keep them indoors or under a cover to avoid getting them wet, and secondly, place them flat on level ground to keep them away from the ground moisture. Wrongly storing the Hardie boards can damage their quality and overall efficiency after being installed.  

 2. Wrong Touch-Ups

For Hardie boards to look beautiful, painting them in the right color and good quality paint is important. Due to its curves and wavy pattern, Hardie boards can be difficult to paint. To avoid them from looking ugly and uneven, using the right amount of paint is also crucial. Using too much paint will end up giving the boards a splotchy look. Unfortunately, the only way to fix the boards would be to take off the paint and repaint the entire exterior

3. Mistakes With Joint Placement

Hardie board sidings are 12 feet long and must be joined with the wall. Wrongly placing the joints can pose a threat to the overall structure of the sidings. Joining the Hardie boards is quite easy, but there are a  number of ways you can go wrong with the joint placement:

Leaving Gaps

No gap should be left between the boards when being installed. Leaving space for expansion can create an unnecessary gap between the boards which can cause squeaky noises or cause the boards to break.

Joint Flashing

It is recommended that a 6″ wide piece of weather-resistive is placed between the joints of the sidings. It helps prevent water from getting through the board and damaging the internal walls. Failing to secure the joints can decrease the durability of the Hardie board. Color-matched, silver sheets are the best option to prevent the boards from looking ugly.

Joint Placement

All joints must be placed on a stud unless a minimum of 7/16″ wood structural paneling is available for sheathing. If joints are not properly placed, it can cause clusters, steps, and zipper patterns to appear on the surface of the wall. .

4. Not Enough Fasteners

For boards to stay in place for years, they need to be fastened to the studs with nails and screws in a familiar fashion. If not properly secured, the Hardie board can flex slightly by the pressure of the wind, damaging the overall structure of the exterior.

5. Nailing High

Using a pneumatic nailer makes the job fast, but the only downside is that if going too fast with this tool, they can lose the nails track and pin the nails diagonally. All the nails must be placed in a line. Bolting the nails at a height runs the risk of the board becoming loose as it pushes against the harsh wind. However, if you placed them lower, you could see their head poking through the board, ruining the look of the wall.  

6. Spacing Issues

Hardie boards require a minimum 2″ gap from all hard surfaces and at least 8″ from any soft surfaces. If these boards are installed too close to the wall, there is a chance the paint may come in contact with the water in the wall and so will start to peel and bubble.

7. Not Removing the Cut Dust

Hardie boards are made of fabric cement. Cutting and installing these boards creates a lot of silica dust, which is toxic if inhaled. It is always advised to use a mask, and a dust collector saw to avoid spreading the dust. It is also essential to wipe off the silica dust from the boards before painting them. If not cleaned properly, the dust can settle and stick to the paint, and the longer it sits on the paint, the tougher it’s going to be to remove it.

8. Not Using the Right Corrosives Resistant

Hardie board can withstand the harsh weather, but even the stainless steel nails and screws are bound to rust after a few years. Not many people take this into account when installing the Hardie board. Not using good corrosive resistance can damage the nails and, ultimately, your board sidings.

How to Maintain the Quality of Hardie Board

Men installing Hardie board

The extent and nature of maintenance will depend on the geographical location and exposure of the building. It is recommended that basic normal maintenance tasks shall include but not be limited to:

  • Washing down exterior surfaces every 6-12 months
  • Periodic inspections should be made to ensure fasteners adequately secure the panels to the framing.
  • Re-applying of exterior protective finishes.
  • Maintaining the exterior envelope and connections, including joints, penetrations, flashings, and sealants that may provide a means of moisture entry beyond the exterior cladding.
  • Cleaning out gutters, blocked pipes, and overflows as required.
  • Pruning back vegetation that is close to or touching the building.

Commonly Asked Questions When Installing Hardie Board

A man installing Hardie board

1. Which Nails are Best to Use?

Joining Hardie boards effectively is crucial; using stainless steel or hot-dipped galvanized nails is recommended. It is also important to use right corrosive resistant on the  nails to prevent them from rusting.  

2. How Often Does Hardie Board Need To Be Painted?

Hardie board stays durable for a longer period of time and doesn’t require repainting after every few years. Ideally, Hardie boards should be painted every 20 years. Painting it would restore its previous shine and bring life back to your house’s exterior.

3. Should We Caulk Hardie Board Siding?

Caulking is a process of sealing the gaps between different materials. It is always best to caulk the joints when installing a Hardie board to prevent moisture from getting in the joints and wall cavity. Caulking also prevents when placed around the doors, windows, and eaves.

4. Do Termites Eat Hardie Board?

Hardie boards are resistant to all kinds of pests. Termites are a common problem for houses as it grows in moisture. However, Hardie wood is made up of cement and sand, so pests can’t access it.  Installing Hardie boards are ideal for homeowners living in warmer areas, as termites survive longer in warmer climates.

5. Does Hardie Board Crack?

Hardie boards are made of fiber cement, one of the most durable siding options. However, if installed poorly, the Hardie boards can crack or snap. So, to avoid damaging your sidings, it is best to keep your board dry and store them on flat ground. Also, following the proper instruction manual when installing the Hardie boards can prevent damages to the board.

Last Thoughts

The strong exterior of your house is important to keep your house protected from inside and outside for a long time. Using the right siding material is essential to ensure your home’s long-term sustainability. Hardie boards look beautiful and are also strong enough to withstand extreme weather, storm, and harsh sunlight. However, installing Hardie board properly is crucial for staying durable and attractive.