Blind-nailing clapboards - Fine Homebuilding Question & Answer
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Blind-nailing clapboards

Q: I am about to side a house with 1/2-in. by 6-in. beveled prestained cedar-clapboard siding. I would like the fasteners not to be exposed, so I was thinking of just attaching the top hidden edge with 1/2-in. crown staples. However, I’m concerned about cupping because the bottom edge isn’t fastened. Will this plan work?

A: Mike Guertin, a builder and contributing editor to Fine Homebuilding, replies: The nailing method you are describing is called blind-nailing. I once had a client who insisted that I blind-nail clapboards on a remodel project. He’d tried it once and claimed he had no problems. I obliged him after registering my concern and blindnailed the 1/2-in. by 6-in. beveled cedar. Everything looked fine for about nine months. Then several pieces went south, a couple went north, and so on. Not the whole house, mind you, but enough to annoy me.We face-nailed the cupped pieces and now come back every year to face-nail any boards that have cupped since our last visit -- at his expense.

I wouldn’t recommend blind-nailing 1/2-in. by 6-in. beveled clapboard siding unless you were going to expose only 3 in. You are much better off face-nailing with stainless-steel 5d or 6d ring-shank siding nails. The heads are tiny, not much larger in diameter than a finish nail.They also have a good shoulder, so they hold well and don’t pull through the wood.

If I am exposing the rough side of the cedar, the cross-hatched nail heads disappear nicely into the field of siding. On smooth siding, I set the nails slightly and putty the hole. My painter puttied and painted a couple of clapboard-sided homes I’ve done, and you can’t tell where the nails are several years later. Galvanized nails would have bled through by now.

If you insist on blind-nailing your siding, I recommend switching the siding. Use a fiber-cement product, and the cupping and splitting problems are moot.

From Fine Homebuilding 142, pp. 20 November 1, 2001

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