Things you need to know about waging war and installing siding

For the last week I’ve been preparing to side the house the way a general prepares for battle. I took two days off work –one for framing the windows, and one to get the siding going– and the seven days leading up to them have been a study in cramming every bit of knowledge about siding installation I can find into my head when I’m not a.) doing my Actual Real Job or 2.) trying to track down the most obscure and expensive nails on the planet and get them to my house on time.

So I woke up this morning bright and early, ready to cut some wood, inhale that sweet smell of sawdust, and break in my brand new hammer. (That’s right, hammer. Not nailer, nail gun, screw gun, or other reasonably fast and easy to use fastening device. These boards must be hammered. By hand.) And hey, it’s pouring down rain today!

While I’m waiting for it to dry up a bit, here are my tips on waging war and installing siding. I think they work equally well for either application.

1.) Gather your ammunition ahead of time. The proper nail to use when installing beveled cedar siding is a 10d stainless steel ring-shank split-less siding nail. It took me at least 3 hours on the internet to figure that out, and then another hour to figure out what in the hell they looked like. (Here. So you never have to go through that bit of agony.)

Do you know how many places I had to call to try and find out where I could get these? I finally gave up and ordered them online, paying another $30 to get them shipped to my house on time, which, by the way, they are definitely not here. After calling countless lumber yards, the guys at Renter Lumber (it’s local for to Toledoans) finally put me out of my misery told me to ask for Maze nails, which is the brand name, because no one calls them ring-shank nails. And also to try Menards.

None of the closer big-boxes were even close to having these things, but I’ll be dammed if I’m not standing in Menards late last night and the hallelujah chorus starts playing when I walk down the nail aisle. They have siding nails! 10d! Stainless! (They are not splittless, which means I have to flatten out the point of every nail before I use it, but what the hell, I’m hand nailing them anyway.) And oh, half the cost of the ones I bought online!

Lesson: Could probably have planned better for that one.

2.) Devise a plan of attack. Maybe you can think of something better than sketching out diagrams of proper flashing installation on envelopes after midnight, but I can’t.

I am spending a lot of time on these two websites, reading tutorials and watching videos of Bob Vila siding stuff.

Lesson: I have no idea what I’m doing, but as usual, this probably won’t stop me.

3.) Organize your troops. Thank god for MysteryMan’s parents for pitching in to help us get the trim painted before it goes up on the windows. And by “help us”, I mean “do it for us while we’re working after we call them at the last minute”.

The days I could reasonably take off of work without the universe coming to a screeching halt do not coincide with the days MysteryMan can take off work, and as much as I like to be a one-woman-show around here, these are 20 ft long pieces of siding. Oh, and winter is coming so we need to get them up and painted before all of Michigan goes into a deep freeze. Waiting for the stars to align so we’re free at the same time is not an option. So one of the donkeys may have to hold up the end of the siding for me.

Lesson: Make do.

Also: Be grateful for parents.

I think I hear sunshine outside now, time for me to get to it.

5 Responses

  1. Yay! for research and finding the right kind of nails!

    However . . . I may not be interpreting your sketch correctly, but ideally the siding should lap over the outermost face of your foundation. In that case, it wouldn’t necessarily need flashing at all, just a bead of caulk.

    But if your sketch reflects the true conditions, you absolutely need to make sure that that wood blocking at the top of the stone facing slopes radically to the outside. You don’t want any place where water can pool and work its way into your wall. The closer to triangular that blocking is(i.e., more like a cant strip), the better. (It wouldn’t be a bad thing, either, if the blocking protruded an inch or so out from the face of your stone, like a sill. You want to eliminate any place where water and ice can sit and collect.) There should be one narrow piece of flashing nailed to it and the wider piece you have shown should run down over that second flashing piece with its bottom edge crimped back up over the bottom edge of the narrower strip. Both these pieces should totally cover the cant strip and lip over the top of your facing stone.

    Alternatively, I see you have a separate piece of flashing between the blocking and the facing stone. But water can still work its way in over the top of the flashing, between it and the bottom of the blocking (and rot it out). If you ran the piece you show coming over the blocking (again, with the blocking sloped)and crimped the two pieces together, that might work as well. Not sure how it would look, though.

    This is me speaking as a trained architect, not as a DIY blogger. Though if I’ve misconstrued your sketch, never mind. Take it for what it cost you.

    1. Kate. Will you marry me?

      The EXACT thing we were trying to figure out was if we even needed a “sill” board around the bottom edge of the house (under the siding, above the stone veneer).

      Our siding is 15/16, and the board we bought for the sill was 2×4, only because that’s what we were using for the rest of the trim.

      So 1.) DEFINITELY BEVEL the sill which we kind of knew already, but its good to hear from another person.

      2.) Do we even need that piece at all? These are 12″ wide boards, and we can start it above the actual sill plate and cover at least 6″ of the top of the foundation. And you’re saying caulk it to prevent any moisture from wicking up the back?

      3.) The stone veneer is 1-1/2″ thick approximately, so wider than the siding. In which case, should we use the sill? If we do use that 2×4, we thought we needed flashing to fully cover from behind the siding over the top of the foundation because 3.5″ won’t do it (probably).

      Luckily I’m just doing window and edge trim today so we haven’t gotten to the point of no return on the siding yet.

  2. Wow, I didn’t realize I could learn SO much about nails from reading one blog post. Thanks for that Nail Chart!! (I saved & printed it, hehe)

  3. LOL!

    Probably the best reason to keep that sill is so you have something you can get a consistent bevel onto, so the water will shed. Even with flashing over the top course of your stone veneer, there’s no easy way to get a consistent slope on it, even if you glop mortar on top of it.

    As you say in #2, you could run the bottom course of your cedar siding down over the sill plate and the top 6″ of your poured concrete (or is it block?? whichever) foundation. But you’d still have that nice (ha) little 9/16″+/- ledge to collect water at the top of the stone. Not to mention the exposed tops of the vertical mortar joints. It’ll need to be covered, and if the beveled wood sill could protrude maybe an inch or so past the face of the stone, that might be a neat and functional separation between the siding and the stone. (The official architectural term for it is a “beltline.”) If you can rout a drip groove into the overhanging part and tuck your flashing into that and cement it in, that would work well. And with the protrusion, you wouldn’t have to flash between the beltline and the stone if you didn’t want to, just caulk the gap.

    On the other hand . . . How does your exterior sheathing fit in? Your drawing shows the primary foundation wall, the sill plate, and the exterior wall studs all the same thickness, and flush to the exterior. Typically for wood framing, the outer face of the sheathing would run over the sill plate and be flush with the outer face of the foundation. Is that where yours is? Because if it comes out farther, that might just get your siding flush with the stone veneer . . .

    But nope. That’d really be awkward (and leaky) and give another reason to have a beltline sill between the two materials.

    I think a 2×4 should do for your beltline, because that’d give you a good 1-1/2″ protrusion past the outer face of your veneer. Though you may want to start with a thicker (i.e., taller) piece of wood (4×4?), so it won’t look too mimsey between the siding and foundation veneer. Especially once you’ve run the slope on it. If you’ve got the tools (which I imagine you do), you could even rout it so it lips an 1″ or so down over the face of the veneer. If so, the flashing between the stone and the beltline sill would be redundant.

    Have fun! You’re getting more done than I am, since I broke the sander I borrowed to do my stair treads and have to be patient until it’s fixed. So jolly to mind other people’s business in the meantime!

  4. Siding! *feels faint* That’s something I am NOT looking forward to. My house still has the crapola cement-asbestos junk (what WAS it with the 60s and asbestos?!?!) and beneath that, the original 1855 wood clapboard siding. Contractors say I should leave it all up and add *another* layer of siding to the mess. It goes against my grain, so to speak, haha.

    That pdf file is marvelous. Thx.

    Have fun.

    (I much prefer hammering to drilling. It’s more satisfying to me).

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