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Wood siding how-to -- Intro

The Old House Web

One of the important factors in successful performance of various siding materials is the type of fastener used. Nails are the most common of these, and it is poor economy indeed to use them sparingly.

Corrosion-resistant nails, galvanized or made of aluminum, stainless steel or similar materials may cost more, but their use will insure spot-free siding under adverse conditions.

Two types of nails are commonly used with siding -- the finishing nail having a small head and the siding nail having a moderate-size flat head. The small-head finishing nail is set (driven with a nail set) about 1/16th inch below the face of the siding, and the hole is filled with putty after the prime coat of paint is applied.

The flathead siding nail, most commonly used, is driven flush with the face of the siding and the head covered later with paint.

Ordinary steel-wire nails tend to rust in a short time and cause a disfiguring stain on the face of the siding. In some cases, the small-head nails will show rust spots through the putty and paint. Noncorrosive nails that will not cause rust are readily available.

Siding that is to be "natural finished" with a water-repellant preservative or stain should be fastened with stainless steel or aluminum nails. In some types of prefinished sidings, nails with color-matched heads are supplied.

In recent years, nails with modified shanks have become quite popular. These include the annularly threaded shank nail and the helically threaded shank nail. Both have greater withdrawal resistance than the smooth shank nail, and for this reason, a shorter nail is often used.

Exposed nails in siding should be driven just flush with the surface of the wood. Overdriving may not only show the hammer mark, but may also cause objectionable splitting and crushing of the wood.

In sidings with prefinished surfaces, the nails should be driven so as not to damage the finish surface.

Adapted from "Wood-Frame House Construction" by L.O. Anderson, originally published as Agriculture Handbook No. 73 in 1970 by the U.S. Government Printing Office and prepared by the Department of Agriculture.

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