I’m interested in doing fiber cement board siding. I only have
15 square, my own house. I thought a pneumatic nailer would keep
things consistent. Now I see there are roofing nailer and siding
nailers. The only difference I see is the length of nail roofing
goes 1 ¾ siding will go to 3 inch. I would use the 1 ¾ length…
Anyone know if the siding nailer performs better than a
roofing gun? I’m wondering also if there are special nails
needed for cement plank siding. Stainless, ring shank, etc.
I'm doing fiber cement siding (and new windows) on my house now. I opted to
hand nail... 2" roofing nails. The long length is because the house is
sheathed with 3/4" Johns-Manville Weatherite Sheathing (the brown fiber
sheathing commonly used a half century ago). One of my associates did his
house in fiber cement last year. He used a siding nailer with ring shank
siding nails. I trust his choice of pneumatic nailer as he is the long time
hardware manager for a family owned chain of home improvement stores. Part
of his rationale in using the siding nailer was that the ring shank nails
would hold in the sheathing (he used plywood rather than OSB) pretty well
even if he missed a stud. For cutting the siding he used a cordless tile saw
with carbide blade. I borrowed his tile saw last year to cut the fiber
cement trim (5/4 X 4). The slow speed of the saw resulted in little airborne
dust. BTW, he trimmed with white pine.
I went the hand nailing route as I'm working alone and figured that I'd
spend more time measuring, climbing up and down from the pump jacks, and
cutting than I would actually nailing--that has proven to be the case. For
cutting the siding itself I'm using Porter Cable fiber cement shears--no
dust. For the trim I'm using my angle grinder with a diamond blade to cut
the fiber cement trim--lots of dust.
Regarding the nails, if you blind nail galvanized are fine. If you face nail
I'd go with stainless. I'm blind nailing with galvanized and use stainless
siding nails in the cases where I need to face nail (e.g., under windows,
the occasional butt joint where the siding will not lay tight due to wavy
You should check the manufacturer's specs for the type of nails they
recommend for their product. You may want to follow their instructions
to maintain the warranty. I've been looking into fiber-cement siding
and just bought a Porter Cable Coil 350 nailer. It shoots 1 1/2-3 1/2
nails. I'm planning on using 2" hot dipped galvanized ring shank nails.
I've looked at the Hardiplank and Certainteed products (check their
websites) and they recommend either hot dipped galvanized or stainless
steel nails. I'm not a pro but I believe most roofing nailers shoot
electro-galvanized nails. I went for the PC Coil nailer instead of a
conventional framing gun for a couple of reasons- 1) It offers me most
versatility because I can use this gun for framing, siding, fencing,
etc. and 2) I was worried that a conventional framing using plastic
strip collated nails might leave bits of plastic under the nail heads
when doing siding. The PC Coil nailer has an adjustable depth feature
to keep the nail heads flush with the siding and uses wire collated
coil nails. I haven't loaded it with nails yet but it is quite a beast
of a nail gun. I definitely wouldn't want to do siding with it for a
living. They do make dedicated siding nailers that might be a little
lighter and user friendly but again I opted for versatility. You also
may want to check on availability of nails for the particular gun that
you chose. At this point I'm planning on ordering nails from Tool Crib
(Amazon) as I haven't seen nails for the PC Coil nailer in my local
Borg or builder's supply store. Good luck with your project.
You might want to rethink using a framing nailer on any kind of fiber
siding. They are simply not made for this application. By nature, the
framing nailer will or will try to sink the nail below the surface of
the siding. These gun shoot a thicker shank nail, and therefore also
lead to problems caused by too much fastener and too little material.
When I was trying out my framing nailer with 6ds, it pounded the crap
out of the siding.
So I went to 8ds. Same thing. Fiddled and screwed with depth gauges,
pressure, and all combinations. I called one of my fellow contractors
that puts this stuff up for a living and he told me that not only was I
wasting time, but that the framing nails work loose over a relatively
short period of time.
If you can do your project in a day or two, rent the nailer you need,
set it up and go.
There is a ton of stuff on the Hardie site for any installation
questions you might have. I do my own installations according to them
so I don't lawsuits. Note the approved use of the roofing nailer... I
always win at least lunch off my contracting buddies when I tell them
that is an approved fastener. I did it too, until I finally got enough
biz to warrant the utility nailer.
Check this out:
BTW, the coil framer you bought is great for just about everything
else, including installing all wood and masonite siding, exterior
trims, cornice work and all kinds of utility stuff.
There is an alternative to using nails. There is a self drilling screw that
is made for Fiber Cement siding. Use a drill to put them in. I got my
screws at a "normal" lumber yard that also sold fiber cement products.
We did our garage with 7.25" Certainteed lap siding a year ago,
replacing decayed Masonite. I'm delighted with the finished look and
will likely use the product when we build our next house. It takes
paint well and really does look like wood from a few feet away.
Certainteed has very clear instructions for fasteners. IIRC, it was
6d or 8d galvanized siding nails or stainless steel screws. We blind
nailed our garage by hand, using screws only in the gable peaks and
other places (like the ends of planks) where we could not nail to a
stud. Sheathing is 45 yr old 1/2" ply, and we replaced all the trim
The stuff is tough to cut and nail. Since we were doing just one
garage (28x22 with 8' walls) we did not want to invest in diamond
blades, shears, etc. We used a cheapo 5 tooth carbide blade designed
for fiber cement in a skill saw-- two of them actually, as the first
one was shot about 2/3 through the project. These ran about $15 each
and cut cleanly but made a lot of dust. If I were doing another such
project I'd get shears. Nailing was a chore too-- we ended up
predrilling all the nail holes as otherwise we'd end up bending the
8d nails or spliting the siding trying to get them started. Next time
I'd rent a nailer; Certainteed specs fasteners and guns in their
product literature (see "weatherboards" on their website and find the
I researched these products a lot, and though none of the local pros
are installing fiber cement (it's all crappy vinyl around here) I
imagine they will eventually. The finished product looks much better
than the three new houses adjacent my 1958 cape, and importantly to
me, it looks age/style appropriate. When I build our next place I'll
probably go with either the Certainteed lap siding or the board and
batten product, depending on what style we go with for the house. I'm
sold on the product for sure.
Thanks for all the suggestions. I like the idea of a self
drilling screw for the siding. Since cement does have some
weight to it and I need to go through 1 inch thick Armstrong
sheeting. I can’t find anyone the sells a self drilling SS screw
specific for fiber cement siding.
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