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How to install cedar cladding

Updated February 21, 2017

Whether you are building a new house or remodelling an existing one, the installation of cladding is one final step in the process. Cedar wood is a good choice for siding material; it is an attractive, durable product that also features resistance to rot and insects. Installing cedar cladding to a house is a process of carefully levelling, measuring, cutting and fastening the cedar boards to the house's framework with corrosion-resistant nails. The house should be wrapped in house wrap prior to cladding installation, and the boards should be primed or stained before they are fastened to the house.

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  1. Figure out the starting point for your cladding. Refer to the cladding manufacturer's recommendations regarding how high from the low point of the house the boards should begin. Use a level and tape measure to determine the low point; then measure up from this mark the distance specified by the cladding manufacturer. Mark this point with a pencil. Use a chalk line and a level to extend this baseline around the perimeter of the house.

  2. Cut the boards to size with a circular saw. Apply a coat of primer or penetrating stain to all sides of the cladding boards. Take special care to coat the end grain; this portion of the wood can absorb up to 250 times more water than the face wood.

  3. Fasten starter strip around the base of the house. Refer to your chalk guide line. The lower edge of your cedar cladding boards will rest on the starter strip. This establishes the proper slope for the first course of cladding.

  4. Install your first course of cladding to the house. Run the boards from one side of the house to the other. Leave a 4 mm to 3 mm (1/6 inch to 1/8 inch) gap between adjacent cladding boards to account for expansion. Fasten the boards with corrosion-resistant nails driven at a distance of 40 cm (16 inches) to no greater than 60 cm (24 inches) apart. Drive the nails through the upper portion of the board that will be covered by the overlapping board above. Be careful not to overdrive nails when fastening siding. The nails should be driven until the heads are flush with the surface of the wood. Divots created from overdriven nails should be filled with polyurethane caulking.

  5. Fasten the second course of cladding. The overlap between one course of cladding and the next will vary depending on the size and style of the boards being installed. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions regarding the proper amount of overlap. Stagger seams between siding courses by 1.2 m (4 feet) to increase water-resistance.

  6. Check your level every fourth or fifth cladding course. If you lose your level make small adjustments over several courses, as opposed to a single, notable repair. Work your way from the base to the top of the house.

  7. Tip

    You have a couple of options when it comes to finishing the corners. A mitre box saw can be use to cut the corner pieces to angle and create a seamless, tight fit. Many builders elect to use prefabricated corner pieces. These wooden pieces are fitted to the inside and outside corners of the house before the cladding is installed. Then the cladding boards are cut to fit up against the corner pieces. When it comes to finishing, you can either paint or stain your cedar cladding. A paint is a good, economical and long-lasting finish. Many homeowners prefer the look of stained wood; if you are installing a quality cedar cladding, a transparent oil-based stain will highlight the look of natural wood while also protecting your investment from weather damage. Paints require less frequent maintenance, while stains can easily be reapplied. The choice between a paint or stain for your cladding comes down to the look you prefer and the amount of maintenance you are willing to perform.

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Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Chalk line
  • Corrosion-resistant nails
  • Hammer
  • Circular saw

About the Author

Robert Howard has been writing professionally since 2004 and writes a weekly column for the "Synthesis," a Chico, Calif.-based newspaper. He maintains a blog and has published articles and works of fiction in a variety of different print and online magazines. Howard holds a Bachelor of Arts in visual arts from the University of California, San Diego.

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