Reuben's Home Inspection Blog

head_left_image

Problems With James Hardie Siding Installations

James Hardie lap siding is great product, but it only performs as well as it's installed.  I've heard a few complaints about this product from various home buyers, mostly anecdotal evidence about how the material deteriorates, but I've found improper installations on every damaged section of siding I've ever seen.  James Hardie siding is a fiber-cement product that comes with a 30 or 50 year warranty, but any warranty will be void if the product is improperly installed.  Listed below are a few of the most common installation defects that I find.

Improper Clearances

 

  • Must be kept 2" away from roof surfaces, decks, driveways, steps, and other similar hard surfaces.
  • Must be kept 6" above the finished grade.
  • Gutters must be kept 1" away from the siding, and kickout flashing needs to be installed.
  • Must be kept 1/4" above flashing above windows, and not caulked here.  
Click on any of the illustrations below for a larger image.

Hardiboard clearance to roofHardiboard clearance to deckClearance to stepsHardiboard clearance at gutter end capHardiboard caulked at window flashing





Improperly Attached
  • Must be blind nailed or face nailed, but not both.  The photos below show blind nails and face nails used together, and clearly shows what happens.
  • The proper size nails must be used (6d or siding nails).  Framing nails (16d) were used in the photos below.
  • The nails must be driven in straight, and must not be over-driven or under-driven.  The nails pictured were driven at an angle or driven in too far.
Click on any of the photos below for a larger image.
Blind Nailed and Face Nailed
Blind Nailed and Face Nailed
Wrong Nails, Faced Nailed and Blind Nailed, Nailed at an angle
Wrong Nails, Faced Nailed and Blind Nailed, Nailed at an angle
Overdriven Nails
Overdriven Nails
Angled Nail
Angled Nail

What Do These Defects Mean?

If you're buying a house with improperly installed James Hardie siding, be aware that damage caused by an improper installation will not be covered by their warranty, and your siding will be subject to premature damage and deterioration. If the proper clearances haven't been met, they can often be fixed.  If the siding has been improperly attached to the house, there isn't any practical way to fix this.  You'll have to take your chances and hope it doesn't turn out like the photos above, or you'll need to have the siding redone.  For a full list of installation requirements for northern climates, click here.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections - Email - Home Inspector Saint Louis Park

 

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections

        

Comment balloon 10 commentsReuben Saltzman • August 25 2009 06:26AM

Comments

There's a lot of great products out there that are screwed up by the installer's failure to READ THE INSTRUCTIONS.  This is just one of them.

 

-

Posted by Erby Crofutt, The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY (B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing (www.b4uclose.com)) about 9 years ago

I agree with both of you. Most of the items on or in a home are going to not be covered by warranty because the installer failed to do his/her job, read the instructions first.

Posted by Ian Niquette (Square One Home Inspection) about 9 years ago

Quite honestly, I've never seen fiber-cement siding installed per the manufacturer's recommendations.  Few construction materials are installed precisely per instructions.  In some cases it's no problem, but in others, as you point out, it can lead to big problems.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) about 9 years ago

I see so many decks and concrete structures installed right over the top of Hardi one would think it is "normal"----starting to feel like Don Quixote:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 9 years ago

Good information. It is often the most common defect to find during any inspection, improper installation of a product.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 9 years ago

Erby and James - I agree, installation defects are by far the number one problem we find.

Ian - "Home Warranties" don't cover defective installation defects either.  

John - Me neither!

Charles - I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I may have made a similar mistake at my own deck several years ago! 

 

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 9 years ago

Reuben, as a builder myself I can assure you that I would not want to be inspecting some of my early work:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 9 years ago

We have some builders that use it here but I haven't sold any homes with it.

Posted by Gene Allen, Realty Consultant for Cary Real Estate (Fathom Realty) about 9 years ago

Reuben, one thing you didn't mention that I run into more than I care to is paint.  Many times I've seen fiber cement siding installed with only the factory primer on it.  Like any othert siding, paint is the protector.

Posted by David Helm, Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp (Helm Home Inspections) about 9 years ago

David - that's another great thing to look for.  I don't know if I've ever seen it unpainted, but I'll have to start looking.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 9 years ago

Participate