Installing Cedar Siding Best Practices

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Cedar siding is a beautiful addition to any home, adding character and charm. The one aspect with cedar siding to remember is that it is wood product, and needs to be handled with some specific care.

For instance, even though cedar is naturally resistant to moisture and to the elements in general which makes it the ideal natural siding material, it is still sensitive to excessive water exposure before it is installed. This can create a swelling and warping of the material. It doesn’t take much water exposure to render the material unusable prior to installation. It is best that the siding slats be kept six to 12 inches off the ground so that the exposure to water is limited. Also, placing spacers between the slats will help to ensure a straight piece of siding.

Let Cedar Siding Flex and Breathe

Cedar is a material that needs to be allowed to flex once installed. It is highly recommended that the product be installed over furring stripes that are attached to the studs of a wall. For siding that is being installed in a horizontal pattern, the furring strips should be attached vertically. For vertical siding installation, the strips should be attached horizontally. This allows for a space between the wood and the structure.

Moisture will effectively be kept from direct contact to the wall as the siding absorbs moisture from the elements. The paper used to cover the exterior wall prior to installing cedar siding should be breathable so that moisture can escape properly. This is especially important in areas surrounding window, doors and flashing.

Nails and finishes for cedar siding

Nails should be able to penetrate at least two inches into the furring strips and studs. You should use industrial-grade galvanized nails for this process. The nails must be thin in the shaft so that the wood will not split when being installed. Unlike some types of siding, you will need to nail siding strips independent of each other. If two pieces are attached together, it can inhibit the natural flexing of the wood and create gaps or splintering.

The last aspect of cedar installation is to make sure that you use quality primer and finish products. This is something that needs to be of high quality to help ensure the cedar siding remains beautiful for many years to come. If you are unsure of what products will meet your needs, there are many available samples and suggestions.

Making cuts to cedar siding planks

For making cuts and trimming cedar siding, you can use a hand saw and a simple miter box to do the trick. Cuts need to be as flush as possible and the ends need to be treated so that they are protected from the elements. Cedar is a natural deterrent for bugs such as carpenter ants and termites, but it is not impossible for these pests to harm cedar siding. A consideration regarding finishing products is that they will provide protection for the siding from insect damage.

Building codes and cedar siding installation

Finally, check with your city, township or county for building codes. Some areas prohibit the use of highly flammable products such as wood siding on a structure that is not deemed historic. Make sure the get the proper permits and licenses prior to beginning your project.

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.