Composite exterior cladding materials (siding) have gained more popularity over the past 20 years as they provide a high-end look, are paintable and more impact resistant than traditional siding materials like vinyl and aluminum. However, a significant amount of the installations I see in the field are incorrect per the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Below is a list of the more common installation mistakes I routinely see.
INSUFFICIENT CLEARANCES: The manufacturer requires the following clearances be maintained in order to protect against water penetration and thus damage to the product significantly reducing the service life of the component.
- At least 6 inches of clearance from the bottom of the siding to the finished grade
- 1” to all roof coverings
- 3/8” gap above windows and doors with visible flashing
- 3/16” gap at butt joints (between horizontal sections) and where the siding meets doors, windows and corner trim.
OVERDRIVEN NAILS: The manufacturer requires proper fastening of the product to the home. The nail heads should be driven to the top of the siding only and not below where visible product fibers can be seen. This requires properly setting up of the pneumatic nail guns and supply air pressure but is easily done with experienced installers. The good news is the manufacturer has recommend “fixes” if mistakes occur which usually consist of caulking and sealing to prevent excessive water penetration into the siding at overdriven nails.
MISSING PAINT: The manufacturer requires that all exposed edges (usually bottom or at field cuts) be properly primed and painted. However, this is usually if not always ignored which will ultimately lead to premature product failure and unhappy homeowners.
BUTT JOINTS: The butt joints or gaps between horizontal sections of siding must be properly maintained for product longevity. There are currently three approved methods for proper butt joint maintenance. The gaps can be caulked (with approved products), have joint mouldings/covers, and be flashed from behind the siding provided the opposing ends are factory finished and have not been field cut.
LP SmartSide® is becoming more and more the high-end composite siding of choice among builders as it looks good, is durable and has the advantage of being able to be painted to restore like-new condition. If the product is installed and maintained properly it should last for years with no issues. For a complete list of installation instructions please visit: http://lpcorp.com/products/siding/lp-smartside-trim-siding/.