During a recent site visit to a senior living community under construction, we observed the following conditions associated with the installation of fiber cement siding:

  • Unpainted plank ends
  • Warping and rippling of planks (Photo 1)
  • 1/8” gap not provided at terminations (Photo 2)
  • Overdriven nails on panels
  • Face nails (Photo 3)
  • Misaligned butt joints (Photo 3)
  • Uneven laps

During the Owner/Architect/Contractor (OAC) meeting, we passed around the photos, which the general contractor printed, and discussed the issues with the team.  The Ownership and zumBrunnen team decided to withhold payment to the siding subcontractor for the work done that month.  Fortunately, a representative from the manufacturer was scheduled to visit the following day.

The inspection identified additional issues during the walk-through, including loose clapboards.

The manufacturer’s representative responded to the issues with the following comments:

  • Loose clapboards –the loose planks must be addressed
  • Unpainted plank ends –cut ends need to be either painted or treated with caulking. The manufacturer’s written instructions call for painted ends.  It is our opinion a bead of caulk is substandard to painted ends.  Some of these caulked joints will fail and these unpainted planks will then be  exposed to wind driven rain and ice, and can deteriorate from the moisture. If this occurs and causes material damage, we would expect the manufacturer to void his warranty.
  • 1/8” gap not provided – the 1/8” gap is not a requirement for the material warranty but a best practice.  This comment is contrary to manufacturer’s written instructions.  We are concerned that if gaps are not provided, thermal expansion will contribute to the warping and rippling that we have observed around the site. If this occurs and causes material damage, we would expect the manufacturer to void his warranty.
  • Overdriven nails and face nails – this issue remains unresolved and an answer is forthcoming.
  • Warping and rippling of planks – this issue remains unresolved and an answer is forthcoming
  • Uneven laps – this issue remains unresolved and an answer is forthcoming
  • Misaligned butt joints – this issue remains unresolved and an answer is forthcoming

Summary/Conclusions:

Our advice to anyone using fiber cement siding is to get a copy of the manufacturer’s written instructions from their website, and require that the contractor follow the instructions to the letter.

It is critical that the materials be stored in accordance with the manufacturer’s written instructions.  We are aware of instances where a manufacturer has not warranted an installation because the materials were found to be improperly stored.  It is also a good practice to get a list of approved installers from the manufacturer.

zumBrunnen, Inc.

Atlanta, GA

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