In my last article, I wrote about installing a fence post. Although it was dirty and hard work, I enjoyed every minute of it. Seeing that fence post today, standing plumb and solid, makes me feel glad that all the steps I did were well worth it.
I helped my dad install the other post and build the gate, too.
(Note: Click any image to enlarge)
Today, as I pass through that gate, I appreciate the value of hard work and knowing that this gate will be up for many years.
A Note from the Publisher:
In an effort to keep abreast of the impact that young carpenters are having in the industry, we’re publishing this article by Carter Silva. Manny Silva, Carter’s father, will be moderating all comments and discussion that follow this article.
We have many ongoing projects at our house. This past summer, my dad started installing clapboard on the back of the house, which led me to a new project: siding. My dad gave me the opportunity to install one of the sections. Following his steps, and being patient throughout the process, helped me accomplish great results. Here’s how I did it. (Don’t worry! I only used hand tools in this project!)
Flashing the skirtboard
After my dad finished installing the housewrap, flashings and trim work, it was ready for siding. I started by cutting the housewrap along the top edge of the skirtboard, being careful not to cut through the flashing tape behind it. My younger brother, Corey, held up one edge of the housewrap, which made it easier to cut.
Once I completed the cut, I cut along the ends in order to flip up the house wrap. I used my dad’s cap hammer to hold up the housewrap while I installed the drip cap.
My dad pre-formed some aluminum stock to act as a drip cap. One piece would have been ideal and easier to install, but my dad used up remaining stock we had on hand.
I started by installing the first piece, nailing from the end, working my way down the piece while applying minimum pressure in order not to bend the drip cap.
Before nailing the last nail to the end, I installed the next piece overlapping the previous piece by three inches. I then nailed through both pieces and nailed the remaining nails.
I applied housewrap tape to the top edge of the drip cap in order to keep any water or moisture from entering.
Once the drip cap was sealed, I pulled down the housewrap, taped both ends, and skip-taped the middle so that any water that gets behind the housewrap can escape.
To see if the clapboards would fit without any adjustments to the rows, I measured up from a spacer on the drip cap and found that they would need to be adjusted.
In order to keep all the clapboards at their same exposure and not get into any math work, I used a story pole.
To make my story pole, I grabbed a scrap piece of wood long enough to fit all the measurements needed. I hooked my tape and measured down the board, marking every four inches, and squared them off with my speed square.
Then, I placed the board against the wall on top of my spacer at an angle and slid it until it reached the bottom corner of the sill.
Using my marker, I marked off each exposure on the housewrap and followed up by transferring them with my level to the corner boards.
Each row was less than 4 in., but they were all at the same exposure–about 3 3/4.
I repeated the same process of measuring along the sides of the window and found that no adjustments were needed, so I used the story pole from the bottom of the sill and marked all the way up the wall.
Measuring for rainscreen and clapboards
Naturally, I want my siding to last for many years, so I applied one coat of solid stain to all sides of my clapboards a couple days before. In order for my clapboards to dry properly, I installed them on a drying rack my dad built.
Sealing up all the sides would help prevent the siding from moisture-induced rot. To keep out moisture from behind the siding, I installed a rainscreen on top of the housewrap. This material creates a space behind the siding wide enough to let moisture dry. (For more information on rainscreens, read Gary Katz’s article, “Rainscreen Walls.”)
I measured for the bottom and side sections of the window and transferred them onto the rainscreen.I then used a pair of scissors to cut them to the sizes needed.
Attaching them to the house using a staple gun with 3/8 staples was so easy—I even taught my younger brother how to do it.
This wall was only 8 feet long, so I measured it in three sections, under and along the sides of the window. Knowing that the window trim and corner boards were plumb told me that I would have three accurate measurements.
My dad ripped some pieces of scrap clapboards to act as filler for the first row of clapboard.
Installing this piece is important because it redirects water from the house. It also keeps the second row from tilting in, which would look bad.
After checking my stockpile, I found that some of the clapboard ends had some cracks, so I had to make some joints in some of the rows. This is where most leaks start if not properly flashed and sealed.
Layout and pre-drill clapboards
I started by giving my dad the measurements needed so he could cut the clapboards to size.Knowing that the sheathing was 7/8 thick, I was able to nail wherever I wanted, so I chose to space my nails 1 ft. apart.
To make fast work of pre-drilling my clapboards, I again made a story pole on my worktable, measuring 1-ft. spaces long enough for my longest piece.
After making my story pole, I placed the clapboards one at a time from one end and transferred the marks to the boards.
Once I finished marking my boards, I placed my speed square along each mark and drilled up from the edge 1 inch. Measuring and pre-drilling my clapboards would help prevent any splitting and also keep all my nailing consistent.
I then sealed all my cut ends with one coat of solid stain to match the finish.
Before installing my first full clapboard, I installed the starter strip leaving 1/8 space above the drip cap.This would help prevent water from wicking onto the first row of clapboards and provide a space for moisture to drain from above.
I then installed my first row using the bottom edge of my starter strip as a guide.
The next couple of rows were pretty easy—I used the marks located on the corner post and checked the measurement in the middle as I used stainless steel nails to nail them off.
I made sure to not overdrive each nail as best as I could, and most important not to miss each nail.
I knew I would have to make a seam between two boards, which would be a challenge. This is where it got tricky, but I worked slowly and with patience, taking it one step at a time, and I was able to make my seam just about seamless.
I started by installing the first piece, making sure not to nail the end where both pieces would meet. This made it easy to adjust and it also helped me slide my flashing behind it.
After having the first piece in place, I then butt the next piece up against the corner board and under the previous piece, and I marked where they both meet.
Having that piece cut about 1/16 in. shorter would allow me to apply caulking to both ends, which would help prevent water from entering.
Before that piece was installed, I sealed the ends. I slipped a piece of flashing behind the first piece, making sure to leave enough for the next piece.
I ran a bead of caulking along the edge, and then I installed the next piece, which would help fill in that joint and make it watertight.
I nailed them off while checking that both pieces were flush. I knew that all boards don’t sometimes meet flush, so I lightly sanded both boards and applied a coat of sealer to make them look perfect.
To fit the next row under the window, I placed the clapboard under the window, marked where the windowsill ends met, and transferred the marks to the edge with my speed square.
I connected both marks from the corner posts using my level and measured up the distance for the bottom section of the clapboard, which told me how much to cut out of the section.
After transferring those marks to the clapboard, my dad cut out that section and I sealed the cuts. It was then just a matter of sliding that piece in place and securing it with stainless steel nails.
For the clapboards that met the lower corners of the sill, I repeated the same process, making sure they fell flush with the bottom of the sill.
From there on, I ran the clapboards along the sides of the window high enough to where my dad will eventually rebuild all the overhangs on the house.
I then stood back to look at my work. I was very proud of how it all came together, knowing that those clapboards will be up for many harsh seasons of New England winter.