How to Repair James Hardie Siding

How to Repair James Hardie Siding

Homeowners throughout the Gulf South are all likely wondering how to repair James Hardie siding. When it comes to heating and cooling costs, resilience to storm damage, and all-round aesthetic appeal, James Hardie siding is the superior choice across the board. In the aftermath of recent weather events, and with many homeowners and contractors taking advantage of the cooler weather to undertake some crucial and overdue home repairs, many residents of the South are looking at damage from tree-limbs, and wondering how to repair James Hardie siding. 

Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or somebody who is pretty inexperienced with home repairs and maintenance tasks, there’s no reason why you can’t figure out how to repair James Hardie siding yourself, without involving outside contractors. In order to learn the basics of this essential part of homeownership, keep reading and you’ll be able to get to grips with the fundamental techniques, tools and pitfalls.

How to Repair James Hardie Siding: An Overview 

Like any home maintenance job, siding repair is best left to an external contractor who has years or decades of experience working with different types of siding and tools used. A seasoned carpenter or contractor will approach the task differently from a first timer, and their experience will mean a repair job that not only looks good, but will stand up to years of harsh weather conditions and even knocks and strikes from soccer balls, tree limbs and even clumsy humans passing by. That said, if you’re determined to make the fixes yourself, you’ll be pleased to find that learning how to repair James Hardie siding is one of the less complicated tasks around the house. 

Knowing When to Replace, and When to Caulk

James Hardie siding is stronger than Vinyl siding and older wood-based siding boards, but one weakness is that  it can be brittle while the other types can generally withstand knocking and striking without becoming chipped. Cement-board-based products are fairly rigid, and as such, susceptible to breaking off in chunks or cracking, rather than being able to resist fractures like more pliable materials. If a chunk is taken out of your siding board, you should be able to patch it up with a number of products, including exterior caulking.

If you choose to go down this route, be sure to apply the caulking on a cooler, dry day. If the weather is too hot or wet, you’ll run into difficulties with the product drying either too quickly or too slowly, both of which will cause problems in the long term. After you’ve applied the caulking and smoothed off any excess, wait for at least 24 hours to see if any shrinkage has occurred as a result of the caulking drying out. If it has, be sure to apply more in the gaps, and wait another 24 hours before painting. Don’t be tempted to paint the caulking before it has taken the time it needs to dry, or you’ll seal in the moisture, causing problems later. 

That said, sometimes it is pretty clear that you’ll need to replace an entire board, or even several. If that is the case, call a professional because the job is likely too big for one person to handle. 

Tools to Repair James Hardie Siding

Although when people talk about this element of home maintenance they discuss ‘repair’ work, if your cement-board siding is damaged, you’ll need to replace, rather than repair, the affected area. To finish removing the damaged part, you’ll likely only need a pry bar and a hammer. That said, cement-board siding is typically fastened to the plywood underneath using stainless steel brads, which need to be pulled out individually with a smaller gauge pry-bar or cobblers’ pliers. To cut the new siding boards to size, use a skill-saw with a special four-tooth blade designed for cutting cement-board, as well as saw-horses to work on. Should you need to rip any boards lengthways, a table-saw will be required, with the same four-tooth blade.  

You’ll need a trim gun for fastening to the boards themselves, and a small compressor to power the gun, as well as short brads. Be sure to purchase or use nails that are short enough that they won’t penetrate the plywood and hit electrical or water lines, and for the same reason, check that the pressure isn’t too high on your compressor. As with any construction task, safety is paramount, and to protect your eyes, lungs, and hands, be sure to use safety glasses, gloves, and a good quality mask. To avoid inhaling excessive particles, cut the boards aside, and in the event that you’re working off the ground, always follow ladder safety best practices. Make sure that your working area is well lit and level, and free from potential trip hazards.

What You Need To Know About How To Repair James Hardie Siding

Using a pry-bar and hammer, remove the damaged length or lengths of siding, and discard them. Be sure to work on a day when rain is unlikely, and if you can have a friend or family member assist you with the project it is likely to go more smoothly and quickly. Do your best to avoid scratching or chipping the other siding boards during this process, and once you’ve finished extracting the damaged boards, be sure to pull out every nail that remains in the plywood, bearing in mind that some may be behind remaining boards, or in difficult to reach locations. 

Take precise measurements for the new board you’ll be fitting, and then carefully cut to size a fresh board using the special saw blade and your saw tables. It is also worth bearing in mind that siding boards are tricky to pick up, as they are only bendy along one vector. They can snap easily, and need to be supported. Once the boards are fitted, be sure to caulk any nail holes and the gaps between boards, bearing in mind that shrinkage may require a further application of caulking. 24 hours after the final caulking application, seal the caulking with a coat of paint. 

Keep in mind that when learning how to repair James Hardie siding by yourself, you may run into some trouble. If you do, Acadian Windows is here to help. 

For Siding Installation, Repair or Replacement, Contact Acadian Windows

Here at Acadian Window and Siding, we specialize in siding work, in particular the installation and replacement of fiber-cement siding board siding like James Hardie. Taking pride in all elements of the job, from hiring the most skilled and professional installation experts to working with only the best supplies in the Gulf Coast region, Acadian Window is proud to be the region’s number one siding firm. Make contact today to arrange a consultation or site visit.

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Update 10-6-21: Dear valued customers: We are happy to say production is running at full capacity and while our building isn't fully repaired yet, we are grateful to hit this milestone. Unfortunately, we are still dealing with intermittent phone and internet, caused by our service provider Cox. It comes on and it goes back down. This has forced us to continue having calls forwarded to our answering service. The historic volume of calls has us behind on returning messages, but we are working tirelessly to get back to you. The technology constraints are causing a level of communication we are not accustomed to and for this, we are very sorry. We want existing, returning, and new clients to know you are our number one priority and we deeply appreciate your patience during this time. We can also be reached at: [email protected]