How to Install Panel Siding

Installing panels is an option for wood siding in many houses. They install much faster than individual cedar shakes, clapboard planks or tongue and groove special siding. With fewer seams, they can also be more weather-resistant. Most wood panel siding is plywood, which can have many surface textures, from a rough-sawed look to grooves that make it appear like vertical planks. Newer siding options include engineered panels, made of wood products, or cement fiber, a cement-based material made to resemble wood. Corrugated metal and vinyl are other panel siding options, but they lack the visual appeal of wood or wood-type panels.

Step 1

Buy plywood panels rated for exterior use, made with special glues that resist weathering; this is not a consideration with engineered or cement fiber panels. Get sheets sized to the job. Standard panels are 4-by-8-feet but lengths of 9, 10 or 12 feet are available for taller walls. Use tongue and groove panels or cover the seams with batten boards. Some panels have a reverse batten, with an indentation at joints between panels.

Step 2

Wrap the house in a moisture-proof membrane. Mark a level line around the house at the bottom of the wood sheathing. Use a tape measure, level and chalk line to snap the line. Nail on a 2-by-4-inch ledger board to support the panels. Start installing panels at a corner; use a level and framing square to make sure that the corner is plumb and square.

Step 3

Fasten panels to wall studs with galvanized nails and a hammer. Space nails about 18 inches apart vertically on every stud. Nail the tops and bottoms of panels to top and bottom wall plates. Butt panel edges together if they don't have tongue and groove connections. Add panels around the house. Cut out spaces for doors, windows and other openings with a jigsaw. Put metal flashing around doors and windows to seal them.

Step 4

Trim the panels at the corners and every joint. Use 1-by-4-inch trim boards, overlapped, for corner trim and top trim where the panels abut the roof eaves. Make battens of 1-by-2-inch boards, nailed over seams between panels. Make sure every seam or opening is covered.

Step 5

Install engineered or fiber cement panels the same way, but use fasteners recommended by the manufacturer, especially for fiber cement. Use corrugated metal or vinyl panels in a similar fashion, but these typically come in panels to cover only 24 inches of width rather than 4 feet, and usually are fastened with screws with plastic washer heads rather than nails.