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How to Install Aluminum Cladding

Bob Haring

Aluminum siding has been used to clad or cover building exteriors since World War II. Today's versions offer options that resemble cedar shingles, traditional wood clapboard or other types of house cladding. Today's aluminum siding comes with prefinished coatings that defy weather and rot. Aluminum also is more of a natural insulator than some other cladding materials and has extra insulating capacity when installed over foamboard insulation. Some aluminum cladding is made to install horizontally, others vertically.

Step 1

Snap a chalk line level at least 8 inches above the ground and fasten a metal starter strip with aluminum nails with large heads every 6 inches. Place nails in the center of the nailing slots and do not drive completely in; aluminum expands and contracts and needs space to move slightly. Nail J-channel posts at the corners for the panels to fit into. Nail every 12 inches making sure they are plumb.

Step 2

Push the first panel firmly up into the starter strip and nail to wall studs through slots on the top. Slide it into the J channel at the corner, leaving 1/8 inch for expansion. Start at the back of the wall, so panels overlap with the front one on top, to provide a more finished look. Add panels, slipping the bottom of each new panel into the slot at the top of the previous panel to lock it, then nailing the top in the nail slots. Nail in the center of the slots and don't drive nails in fully. Stagger seams, cutting panels with tin snips or a metal saw if necessary to avoid having seams match.

Step 3

Install door and window trim at those openings, first caulking around openings to make sure they are water and air tight. Nail on top trim first, then the sides and then, for windows, the bottom. Nail the trim every 12 inches; on sides, nail at the top of the first vertical nailing slot, then in the center of others down the strip. Slip siding panels into these trim pieces as you reach them. Trim panels with tin snips or metal saw to fit the door and window trims, leaving 1/8-inch for expansion. Put gutter seal adhesive on panels under window sills.

Step 4

Install F channel trim at the top of the wall. This is similar to J channel but is designed to secure the tops of the wall panels. The panels will slip into the F channel to secure them. Measure and cut the panels to fit, leaving 1/8 inch for expansion, before putting them into place.