Unfortunately, there is no such thing as maintenance-free siding and your new James Hardie Siding will need to be cared for to keep it looking fresh. Replacing your siding is a big expense, usually costing between $30,000 to $50,000, so you want to take care of it to get the best return on your investment. Use these tips to make sure you don’t cause any damage and possibly void your warranty.
Most customers should expect to clean your siding once every year. If you live near a lake or in the country and near a gravel road, I expect to clean it twice per year. The good news is that this can be done using a typical garden hose. Start at the top and work your way down so that way you don’t have streaking on your cleaned area. Use a soft bristle brush or clean rag and clean side to side in the direction of the siding for plank siding and up and down for vertical James Hardie panels.
Try and avoid using a power washer. It is not usually necessary for most common debris and can cause real issues with the siding. When I worked for James Hardie, there were several times that I got called to inspect the siding and the finish had been destroyed by a power washer. Check out the picture below. Not a good situation.
If you have stubborn stains or dirt that won’t come off with water then you will need to get a bucket, some blue Dawn dish soap, and a siding brush (you should be able to find this at your local big-box store or Amazon). You want the brush to be a soft medium bristle (nonmetal) brush. Again, scrub in the direction of the wood grain pattern of the siding.
If you must break out the heavy artillery and use the power washer, just make sure to stand at least 6 feet from the wall and keep the pressure below 1500 PSI and use a wide fan tip.
Some of the biggest things that you can do to minimize the frequency of how often you clean are:
Installing new gutters - when you reside in your home it is a great time to install new gutters. As your home settles and ages, the gutters can shift and not drain properly and become less efficient. We always recommend to our clients that they go with 6” gutters instead of the typical 5”. It is not that much more expensive to go with the bigger gutter and it allows significantly more water to flow through during heavy rains.
Install gutter guards - another item to discuss with your contractor is adding gutter guards. These not only protect your siding but also free up your time and the hassle of getting out the ladder and cleaning out your gutters. At Canes Exterior Transformations we often run specials where we include gutter guards on our siding jobs.
Adjusting sprinklers - make sure that your sprinklers aren’t spraying you’re siding excessively. The minerals in the water will often stain the siding and will be very difficult to remove.
Trim vegetation - fall and spring is a good time to trim bushes, trees, and shrubs to make sure they aren’t rubbing up against the siding. Same with mulch. You don’t want the siding to be sitting in mulch. It will absorb moisture and can lead to failures that won’t be covered under the James Hardie warranty.
Another item to check every couple of years or so is the caulking. Especially, around windows and doors. There should be a solid bead of caulk that isn’t cracked or separating. This is the first line of defense from moisture entering your home. It’s important to note that with James Hardie products you don’t want the top of horizontal trim boards caulked. This is to allow water to exit the wall.
If you follow these guidelines, you will be able to enjoy your beautiful new James Hardie Siding for many years to come.