Tips for installing cement fiber board

Tips for installing cement fiber board

Are you planning on doing sidings for your house and have picked fiber cement board siding for the job? Or maybe you’re looking for something else than the traditional wood board to work with, but don’t know what kind of differences there are?

Don’t look any further, but read from here. I’ve put some general knowledge together so that anyone considering cement fiber board sidings has a better chance of succeeding.

That being said, this is a general direction guide. Attaching different materials might need different means and you usually get manufacturer instructions about how you should do it.

Now, to read these instructions you don’t need to buy anything. You’ll get some idea on how to use cement boards to make sidings and maybe for other projects too.

Cementitious board siding

Cementitious board siding is otherwise known by its most prevalent manufacturer, James Hardie. Hardie plank or Hardie board, whatever you choose to call it, is a cementitious fiber board made from pressed cellulose wood fibers and Portland mix. It’s been around for a hundred years so that might be a good measure for its qualities.

A high-pressure injection system provides cementitious fiber board with its durability and strength. Because of its cementitious nature, it is fireproof, water-resistant, insect resistant, and able to accept paints and caulks with ease. Its durability is a good quality in today’s world as recycling concrete provides already enough challenges.

Previously mentioned qualities make it a good building material for all kinds of conditions. It also lets us enjoy another kind of working with cement as we usually get to handle it in its soft form. It also has competitive pricing going for it so it’s good to consider it as an option.

Installing fiber cement siding panels can be done with simple tools

How to install Hardie board siding by yourself

This guide is meant to give general directions. You might have other things that you need to consider while installing Hardie boards so read this through and take notes. I try to be as specific as I can imagining the project.

Before you start Hardie board installation

A good renovation always begins with tearing down the old materials. Some days I love it as it means you get to update your house, but other days it’s torture as there might be surprises waiting under the surface.

So before you begin any siding renovation, the old stuff has got to go. Removing everything down to bare wood is recommended, especially in older homes with tar paper as a waterproof underlayment.

More modern waterproofing barriers are mold and mildew-resistant. Foam insulation on top of the original wood, followed by a waterproof barrier such as Tyvek creates the perfect water and insulative barrier.

So if your house doesn’t have those it’s good to consider changing them while you’re at it. You are already tearing down exterior walls so why not take a step further.

Attach water table trim

Next, a piece of water table trim should be attached to the bottom of the area to be sided. By measuring down from the soffit, you can achieve a perfect look every time.

Using lasers or levels is worthless if the soffit is not leveled. By maintaining a consistent measurement around the perimeter of the home, your siding will look right, even though it may be a little out of level.

You can imagine this as two lines going in a little different directions. If you look at it from far away it might disturb you until you decide to do it again.

That being said, install window, door and soffit trim. Frieze trim should also be added over any roofing.

Nail the starter strip

A starter strip is then nailed just above the water table trim. This piece is also known as the kicker or faker.

It is simply there to keep the same profile of lapped siding. It is simply a ripped down piece of siding.

Nail the next whole piece of siding directly onto the kicker. Use galvanized roofing nails and a pneumatic roofing nailer for quick install times.

Keep the rows identical

The next row nailed on must maintain the same reveal or exposure. A simple storyboard or notched piece of wood can ensure each piece of siding has the same reveal.

Hardie board comes in varying thicknesses for different reveals. A minimum of 1 ¼” coverage is needed for the Hardie board. Work your way up the wall nailing each piece, staggering laps a minimum of two feet.

Cutting Hardie board can be done with a carbide blade in a skill saw or miter saw. Extreme amounts of dust, debris, and noise are generated when cutting, so protective gear is a must.

Another good tool is electric shears and a carbide jigsaw; perfect for cutting curves or other awkward cuts that may be impossible with a conventional saw.


Installing cement fiber board siding should be done patiently like any other surface finishing job. You will be watching them for a long time after they are installed as the Hardie boards usually last few decades.

Take your time to see everything is going so that it is pleasing to the eye. It might not always be what a laser or level says, but sometimes you have to use your eyes with old buildings. Well, new buildings, as well as there, are a human factor in all of them.

Cement board siding panels are a nice way to build new surfaces as they come in standard size and are easy to put together. Playing with wood is sometimes such twisting and using leverage that it’s a nice change to work with something else now and then.

Also, the good thing is, these boards come with many different textures so you should be able to get one that you’re happy with during that time. They should also be a low maintenance option when compared to some competitors.

Not only sidings, if you have some other small projects, you could play around with these. Cement boards are used also as backer boards for bricks and ceramic tiles. Because these are resistant to water, they make a good base for many different projects.

You could also use cement board around fireplaces if you like to cover old brick walls around it or something else like that. It could give a new life for some rooms like that that you don’t know what to do with. It will save you time if you’re thinking of rendering those bricks.

As you can see, uses for cement boards are quite many.