If you like the appearance of shakes but are concerned about rot and constant upkeep, fiber cement shakes may be the right material for you. Manufactured to look like cedar shakes, these fiber cement alternatives are impervious to rot and insect damage. They are also used in areas where fire damage is a major concern.
Keep in mind before installing your fiber cement shakes that the manufacturer of the product will have specific requirements and guidelines for installation. Pay particular attention to these guidelines: installing the fiber cement shakes incorrectly could void your warranty.
Step 1: Nail felt paper over the wood shealthing to create a waterproof barrier using galvanized roofing nails. Be sure to overlap the felt paper and cover all of the wood shealthing before continuing.
Step 2: Install a starter strip at the bottom of the exterior walls by nailing through the strip and into the studs using stainless steel nails. A piece of fiber cement siding should work for this step.
Step 3: Cover the starter strip with a piece of fiber cement siding that is approximately 8 inches wide. This will give your exterior walls a finished edge.
Step 4: Nail on the fiber cement corner trim. If you prefer contrasting trim, paint the trim now to avoid accidentally painting the fiber cement shakes.
Step 5: Install the first shake, starting from the bottom of one wall. Cut the first fiber cement shake in half, vertically, then align it with the corner trim, making sure there is a 1/8 inch gap. Nail the shake to the sheathing, covering the top of the starter board, using stainless steel nails.
TIP: Many people like to snap a chalkline against the shealthing to make sure that their rows are completely straight. If you would like to do this, create the chalkline rows before installing the first shake and check their accuracy with a level and measuring tape.
Step 6: Install the next shake by butting it up against the first shake and nailing it into place. Continue installing shakes until the first row is complete.
Step 7: Start the next row with a full shake, maintaining the 1/8 inch gap between the trim and the beginning of the row. Overlap this second row by about 10 inches. Continue until the row is finished.
Step 8: Continue installing rows, using the fiber cement shakes manufacturer’s recommended overlap. Be sure to maintain a 1/8 inch gap between the fiber cement shakes and any trim.
Step 9: Run a bead of silicone caulk in the 1/8 inch gap between the fiber cement shakes and the trim. This will allow the exterior materials to expand and contract with the temperature without allowing water to work it’s way behind the shakes.
Step 10: Paint the fiber cement shakes your desired color using a paintbrush or paint sprayer. Two coats of paint is best for overall coverage and durability.