This project covers installing panel siding.
Plywood panel or sheet siding offers one of the quickest and least expensive ways to cover a wall. These products have gotten a bad reputation in recent years due to reports of panels that buckle, delaminate, or come loose from the wall. But if you choose the panels and fasteners carefully and follow correct installation procedures, plywood panels can last a long time.
Cement-fiber panels are somewhat more water-repellent than plywood but should be installed with the same care as plywood. Hardboard panels are often the least expensive option, but they are easily damaged and soak up moisture like a proverbial sponge if not kept well covered with paint at all points.
Panels are typically available in 8- and 12-foot lengths. Longer panels may enable you to minimize the number of horizontal joints between panels.
Working with a helper, about a day to install 1200 square feet
Nail gun or hammer, circular saw, jigsaw, tape measure, story pole, chalk line, drill, flat pry bar, level, caulking gun, utility knife, tin snips, staple gun
Measuring, laying out a job, driving nails, cutting with a power saw
Cover the sheathing with building wrap and install trim boards and flashings.
Siding panels, strips of felt, staples, board and flashing for the water table, stainless-steel or galvanized siding nails, primer or sealer
Nails should be driven into studs. Commonly nails are placed 6 inches apart along the perimeter and 12 inches apart in the middle. Trim overlaps the siding. Use Z-flashing at any horizontal joints. Keep the panels 6 inches above grade and at least 2 inches away from concrete or asphalt stairs or walkways. Gaps may be prescribed where panels join at a shiplap joint and where plywood meets flashings.
Installation will be easier if you have a temporary ledger to rest the panels on. The ledger should be about 1 inch below the sill plate. To stabilize it, pound 2X4 stakes into the ground a few inches away from the foundation. Fasten the ledger to the stakes with screws, leveling it as you go.
Plan the locations of the sheets to avoid narrow slivers near the sides of windows and doors. If studs are not 16 or 24 inches on center, plan the layout carefully so all edge joints will fall over a stud. You will likely need to cut the first panel lengthwise. Measure and cut the overlap side. The underlap should extend beyond the stud so that you can nail through the overlap of the next piece.
Make a cutting guide for long, straight cuts. Drive screws to fasten a straight 8-foot-long 1X4 or 1X3 against the factory edge of an 8-foot-long piece of plywood that is at least 10 inches wide. Guiding the saw base on the 1X4, cut the plywood to make the cutting guide. Use the guide as shown in Step 8.
To mark for nailing, measure from a corner or the next panel to the centers of the studs. Mark the panel in three places to show where you will drive nails. If a stud is at or near a channel on the panel, you might not need to mark more than one place. (If your panels have no channels, you might choose to snap chalk lines.)
Inside corners are rarely straight. If the corner is wavy, cut the panel 1-1/2 inches wider than it needs to be, then hold it plumb and scribe a line along a 2X2 held against the corner. You will cover the corner with trim (Step 21), but a more accurate cut will seal better than a sloppy one.
Hold a panel at the correct height and against a window or other obstruction to mark for the horizontal part(s) of a cutout. Cut 1/4 inch above the flashing or window. Measure over from the other panel to mark the top and bottom of the vertical cut and snap a line between the marks. Again, allow for a 1/4-inch gap.