How to Nail Clapboard Siding

Clapboard siding has been in use since Colonial times. Attractive, hardy in tough weather and easy to maintain, it's easy to see why homeowners are so enamored with it. Installing your own clapboard siding is not as hard as you might think. Once you have prepared the exterior wall, follow these steps to make sure your clapboard siding stays firmly attached to your home for years to come.

  1. Use the stud finder or tap along the wall to find the studs. They should be spaced every 16 inches to 24 inches.

  2. Mark the studs with vertical chalk lines.

  3. Staple strips of builder's felt vertically along the chalk lines to aid in the drainage of condensation, if desired.

  4. Cut a one and one-half inch wide strip from a clapboard with the table saw. Nail this horizontally along the waterline of your house.

  5. Draw an arrow on one end of the plywood, then work your way up from there, marking off lines at least one and one-half inches narrower than your siding. This is called a swing stick and it will help keep your clapboards spaced evenly.

  6. Draw a straight horizontal line between the house corner and the nearest window, even with the bottom edge of the windowsill.

  7. Hold your swing stick vertically between the house's corner and the window, with its arrow on the bottom, even with the bottom of your starter strip. If a line on the stick matches up with the chalk line on the wall, then fill in the rest of the lines on the wall, using the stick's lines as guides. If none of the stick's lines match the chalk line, just tilt the marked side of the stick toward the chalk line until one does line up, and space out the rest of the chalk marks onto the wall accordingly.

  8. Place a clapboard so that it overlaps your starter board, and use the nail gun to attach the clapboard to the studs.

  9. Repeat, using the chalk lines on the wall as your spacing guide.

  10. Use the utility knife if you have to cut a clapboard to fit around a windowsill or outside vent.


  • Keep nail guns away from children. Always wear goggles when using a nail gun.

About the Author

Emmy-award nominated screenwriter Brynne Chandler is a single mother of three who divides her time between professional research and varied cooking, fitness and home & gardening enterprises. A running enthusiast who regularly participates in San Francisco's Bay to Breakers run, Chandler works as an independent caterer, preparing healthy, nutritious meals for Phoenix area residents.