As a former James Hardie employee, I have seen thousands of James Hardie installations. I have seen some truly beautiful projects that were done by true craftsmen who take pride in their work, and it shows in the finished product. Unfortunately, I have also seen some awful installations done by fly-by-night contractors who couldn’t care less about the manufacturer’s specifications, and it shows in their finished product.
The siding contractor you choose should take pride in the work they do and always be on the lookout for ways to improve their skills. One of the things that we do at Canes Exterior Transformations to ensure that we are at the top of our game is conducting quarterly training with all the products that we install. These pieces of training cover the installation and any new changes to the product lines. Our main products are James Hardie Siding, Timbertech decking, Marvin Windows, and Wincore windows.
We also spent a lot of time creating documents and checklists to ensure that our crews are held accountable for the quality of their work. For example, with James Hardie Siding we have a 42-point inspection checklist that we complete throughout every job. The document is a simple checklist complete with pictures of critical installation steps that our production managers can check yes or no on each item and then this document is included in the warranty packet at the end of the project.
The most common mistakes that I would see contractors make when I would do my site inspections as the James Hardie representative in Kansas City falls into two categories:
The most common issue that I would see was excessive touch up on James Hardie Colorplus products. The James Hardie Colorplus Touch Up kits include two applicators. One is about the size of a quarter and is designed to touch up any cut ends of siding or trim. The other applicator is a ballpoint-type tip and this is designed to touch up any scratches in the finish. James Hardie installation guidelines state that touch should only be used on areas smaller than a dime. This is because the touch-up paint will fade and weather differently than the baked-on factory finish.
The mistake that I would see is that the installer would use the bigger touch-up applicator to touch up the face of the product. This looks good long enough for them to get the job done and collect the final payment from you but ends up looking terrible 2-3 years down the road.
Once this happens there isn’t much that can be done but paint the entire exterior.
When you install lap siding there are times that you need to nail down the corners (pin backs) so that the plank lays flat. Every wall is not flat and there are pin-backs on every lap siding job but you want to minimize how often these are done. Some contractors will nail every single corner or worse they will use a full-headed siding nail instead of a finish nail-like James Hardie recommends in their Best Practice Guide. Using a full-headed nail is much more noticeable and will require more touch-up paint to conceal and leads to the issues I mentioned earlier regarding touch up.
These “critical to quality” issues are the serious installation issues that lead to product failure and will void the James Hardie 30 Year product warranty.
The most common issue I would see we’re not having the proper clearances. The biggest one is not having the 2” clearance at the roofline. I would see contractors install the Hardie siding so that it was touching the roof. This leads to issues for a couple of reasons. When the siding touches the roofing shingles it will draw moisture from the shingles and lead to the separation of the layers of the Hardie siding. At Canes Exterior Transformations we use a product called Boral trim to give that 2” clearance. This provides a nice clean look with a product that can withstand the elements.
Another corner that some contractors cut is not nailing into studs or having the planks end on a stud. This can lead to the product flaring out from the wall and being loose. Eventually these boards will work their way free from the wall and need to be replaced. At Canes Exteriors we use a Tetragrip James Hardie fastener that is specifically designed for James Hardie products and is meant to be installed directly into OSB. This eliminates any errors regarding missing studs from the siding contractor. This fastener is a stainless-steel screw / combo and is the top-of-the-line fastener on the market. Another benefit from the fastener is that it is only 1” long which means that it is far less likely to damage your interior drywall or puncture an electric or water line. This helps lead to a perfect installation.
To error is human and siding is installed by humans so there is always going to be challenging with any remodeling project but there are ways to minimize the likelihood a problem occurs from shoddy workmanship. At Canes Exterior Transformation, we are the premier James Hardie contractor in Kansas City. We have taken our 16 years of manufacturer direct experience and created a “42-point Siding Perfection Inspection” checklist that is completed on every James Hardie siding job and is included in your warranty packet at the completion of your project. This provides peace of mind to you that your remodel investment is protected and will be backed by the manufacturer.
We would love to quote your exterior project. Give us a call at (913)645-1007 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org