Generally we do not recommend removing building siding in good condition, even if there are cosmetic issues that need to be addressed.
But if building siding is extensively damaged, or so badly installed that building wall leaks are widespread and damaging the building, one might consider removing and replacing all or more limited sections of the wall siding on the building.
When owners asked for advice from several building inspectors, industry consultants, and siding contractors, they learned that the product they thought they were buying, HardiePlank fiber cement siding, was not what their original contractor installed.
Watch out: this article describes the removal of fiber cement lap siding - horizontal "boards" such as shown in our photos. These procedures are not suitable for the removal of fiber cement shingles nor asbestos cement shingles. If you are working with those siding shingle materials and need to remove shingles for repair,
see ASBESTOS CEMENT SHINGLE REMOVAL.
Why remove limited sections of fiber cement siding
But even if there is no sound reason for removal of all fiber cement siding from a building, it may be necessary to remove sections of damaged FC siding such as the impact-damaged siding shown in our photograph at left.
Note that that damaged FC siding was at a different property from the "counterfeit" bad siding job installation discussed here and illustrated just above.
The siding damage you see in this photo was caused by a vehicle or by an impact.
Visible & Hidden Trouble Points in & Behind the Original FC Siding Installation
Further close-up inspection by the repair contractor, Galow Homes, as well as by the author (DJF) found numerous other siding installation SNAFUS including:
Widespread rotted trim and window and door damage due to improper original installation
Omission of required window & door flashings
Omission of caulk where it should have been installed
Omission of back-flashing at siding butt joints. If the housewrap had been properly installed and if butt joints had remained tight between the ends of adjoining fiber cement siding boards we doubt that this would be much of a worry on most buildings.
On this building where the FC butt joints were open like wide gaping howling mouths (see our photo at left), the housewrap was improperly installed, and wall leaks over the life of the structure were likely.
Omission of required clearance between siding ends and vertical trim, contributing to siding buckling in some locations.
Improper and inadequate nailing, leaving the fiber cement siding loose, buckling, and in some locations literally falling off of the building. At some locations, once the upper course of siding had been removed, we could simply pull some siding nails out of the building wall barehanded.
Installation of caulk where its use was not recommended (at gaps in lap siding butt jointds)
And more FC siding installation snafus were discovered as we began pulling the old material off of the building, including
It seemed likely that had the home been more than just ten years old, more extensive rot, insect damage, wall cavity mold contamination, and lost insulation values would all have accured.
The owners ultimately decided to remove the siding, thinking that either the material would be salvaged and re-installed correctly, or the "counterfeit" fiber cement siding woudl be replaced entirely with new product.
The contractor at the job we investigated considered the remove and salvage approach, though there would be some lost material due to damage during removal.
A second consideration during fiber cement siding material removal was the wish to avoid exposure to high levels of silica dust. Note the silica dust warning in the HardiePlank® product label shown at left.
Modern fiber cement products do not contain asbestos but silica dust from these products may be a hazard itself. Asbestos from older asbestos cement shingle siding and roofing products is a widely recognized hazards. For information about that different hazard, see ASBESTOS ROOFING / SIDING DUST.
How to Remove Fiber Cement Siding with Minimum Damage & Dust
Since the old counterfeit fiber cement siding was going to be removed anyway, the contractor chose to remove it with care, minimizing the damage, to give the owner the option of re-installing the orignial siding without gaps. (The owner later elected to toss the old siding and purchase new Hardieplank fiber cement siding - a step that was not without its own difficulties -
see SIDING, FIBER CEMENT MOISTURE LEVELS
Removing and reinstalling building siding, especially over a cosmetic issue, is a very costly approach but makes sense in some installations such as the fiasco of a fiber-cement siding installation job shown at SIDING, FIBER CEMENT GAPS.
Trying to just pull boards off of the building or pry them off will ... well basically it'll destroy the siding, breaking it at almost every attempt. In the photos above you can see how we used a nail punch to drive the siding nails through the siding to permit removal of the boards for possible re-use. After each board is punched and lifted carefully off of the wall we have to also pull all of the siding nails out of the sheathing to give a smooth surface for the next job.
At above right you can see the material lost on the back-side of the fiber cement siding boards when nails are punched through.
Watch out: when carrying any long fibre cement lap siding board, be sure to keep the board in the vertical or "as it would be on the wall" position. If you carry the board on the flat and it's got any length to it you're inviting breakage.
After "punching" to set the siding nails in through the fiber cement lap siding board, for boards more than about 6 feet in length, two workers should cooperate to carefully lift the board off of the building surface and carry it or hand it down for flat stacking under cover for protection from the weather.
Storing Re-Claimed Fiber Cement Lap Siding
The contractor stored the reclaimed lap siding indoors in the client's garage, stacked flat, and placed on a tarp to avoid picking up moisture from the floor.
Any loose debris was swept or HEPA vacuumed to avoid a possible silica dust hazard indoors, and the stack was also covered.
If the siding were to be re-used the contractor would have a bit of clean-up to do as well, to remove any caulk left adhered to the siding faces or ends. (Photo below).
The contractor would probably not bother to try chipping away at caulk bonded to the siding board ends; rather when the boards are being cut to size for re-use the messy ends will simply be chopped off before the board is cut to the new required length.
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
 " Anyone else have HardiePlank siding on their house?", Early Retirement.org online blog, retrieved 1/14/2013, original source: http://www.early-retirement.org/forums/f27/anyone-else-have- HardiePlank-siding-on-their-house-19475.html
 - DIY Chatroom, retrieved 1/17/2013, original source http://www.diychatroom.com/f2/ certainteed-weatherboard-vs-HardiePlank-4638/
 Certainteed Weatherboard fiber cement siding and trim products - see certainteed.com/ or see certainteed.com/resources/sidingandtrimspecsheet.pdf
[5a] "CertainTeed WeatherBoards™ Fiber Cement Siding Installation Manual", CertainTeed Corporation, 2012, CertainTeed Corporation, PO Box 880, Valley Forge PA 19482, Professional Help Line: 800-233-8990, Consumer Help Line: 800-782-8777, Website: Certainteed.com www.certainteed.com/resources/fc017.pdf retrieved 4/11/2013, [copy on file as Certainteed_Fiber_Cement_Siding_Install_fc017.pdf ]
[5b] "Certainteed WeatherBoards™ Fiber Cement Siding Best Practices for Effective Job Site Management", CertainTeed Corporation, retrieved 4/15/13 original source: www.certainteed.com Copy on file as Certainteed_FC_Handling Brochure-Contractor_FC063.pdf
[5c] Personal communication, M. Smith, CertainTeed Corp, Customer Service, to D Friedman 4/16/2013
 "Moisture Control in buildings: Putting Building Science in Green Building," Alex Wilson, Environmental Building News, Vol. 12. No. 5. [Good tutorial, "Moisture 101" outlining the physics of moisture movement in buildings and a good but incomplete list of general suggestions for moisture control - inadequate attention given to exterior conditions such as roof and surface drainage defects which are among the most-common sources of building moisture and water entry.--DJF]
 J. Tibbets, "Green Houses", NCBI, retrieved 1/17/2013, original source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1469482/
 Gleeson et al, "Fiber Cement :Building Materials with Low Density Additives", U.S. Patent 8,182,606, B2 5/22/2012, [adding low volumes of volcanic ash & hollow ceramic microspheres to cellulose fiber-reinforced building materials.
 Thanks to reader Marie Carr for James HardiePlank siding photograph and case history information.
 JamesHardie HardiePlank® Lap Siding information can be found at the company's web page on this material:
 "30-Year Limited Warranty
HardiePlank® HZ5® Lap Siding, HardiePanel® HZ5® Vertical Siding,
HardieShingle® HZ5® Siding, HardieSoffit® HZ5® Panels", 1-800-9-HARDIE
10901 Elm Avenue Fontana, CA 92337, retrieved 1/18/2013, original source: http://www.jameshardie.com/pdf/warranty/hz5.pdf [copy on file as Hardieplank_Warranty_hz5.pdf]
 James Hardie Building Products, James Hardie CustomerLink™ Service Centre, 10 Colquhoun Street, Rosehill NSW 2142, Tel: 13 1103, Outside Australia 61 2 8837 4709,
Fax: 1 800 818 819. Hardie has operations in Australia, Asia, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, United States, and the Philippines. The company is a significant producer of fiber cement siding and backerboard. Email: info@JamesHardie.com and Website http://www.jameshardie.com/
[12b] "Technical Bulletin #9, Joint Flashing at Field Butt Joints", JamesHardie, retrieved 4/15/2013, original source: www.jameshardie.com, copy on file as James_Hardie_9-joint-flashing.pdf - quoting: This Technical Bulletin is an explanation supporting the
announcement made by James Hardie on September 8th, 2008
withdrawing its recommendation on the use of caulk at field butt
joints for HardiePlank® lap siding.
 Instructions for application of HardiePlank lap siding can be found at http://www.jameshardie.com/homeowner/products_siding_hardieplankLapSiding.py?openTab=jsnavLink4
 "Homeowners Care and Maintenance Tips", 1-800-9-HARDIE
10901 Elm Avenue Fontana, CA 92337, included with product warranty information, retrieved 1/18/2013, original source: http://www.jameshardie.com/pdf/warranty/hz5.pdf [copy on file as Hardieplank_Warranty_hz5.pdf]
 "HardiePlank HZ5 Lap Siding Installation Requirements - Primed & Colorplus® Products",JamesHardie, November 2012, 1-800-9-HARDIE,
10901 Elm Avenue Fontana, CA 92337, retrieved 1/18/2013, original source: http://www.jameshardie.com/pdf/install/hardieplank-hz5.pdf, [copy on file as Hardieplank-hz5_Install.pdf]
 Technical Bulletin #9,
Joint Flashing at Field Butt Joints, James Hardie corporation, retrieved 1/19/2013, original source: http://www.jameshardie.com/pdf/technical-bulletins/9-joint-flashing.pdf
 Technical Bulletin #17,
Fastening Tips for HardiePlank® Lap Siding, James Hardie Corporation, retrieved 1/19/2013, original source: http://www.jameshardie.com/pdf/technical-bulletins/17 -fastening-tips-for%20-plank.pdf [copy on file]
 Technical Bulletin #8,
Expansion Characteristics of James Hardie® Siding Products, James Hardie Corporation, retrieved 1/19/2013, original source: http://www.jameshardie.com/pdf/technical-bulletins/8-expansion-characteristics.pdf [copy on file]
 Eric Galow, Galow Homes, Lagrangeville, NY. Mr. Galow can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone: 914-474-6613. Mr. Galow specializes in residential construction including both new homes and repairs, renovations, and additions. Personal communication 3/20/2013.
 Johnston, Colin D., Fiber-reinforced cements and concretes. Vol. 3., Taylor & Francis, (CRC Press) 2000. ISBN-10: 9056996940
ISBN-13: 978-9056996949, "This book summarizes and simplifies the results of a considerable body of research and practical experience with a wide range of fiber-reinforced cementitious composites."
 James Hardieplank, personal communication with Daniel Friedman, 6/6/2013. We called James Hardie to ask for guidance in determining just how much moisture was "too much" in Hardieplank siding, after observing that siding at a job arrived visibly wet from the factory even though still inside its original sealed plastic wrapping. We called James Hardie's technical support line where a courteous representative told us he would refer us to Hardie's expert Benjaman Batres. Our call to Mr. Batres was returned by Stephanie (declined to give last name) from James Hardie's customer warranty service department. Stephanie informed us that there are no moisture numbers, that it is not possible to measure moisture in fiber cement siding (utter nonsense!) and repeatedly advised "Just read our instructions" or "So file a claim". Don't count on much help from James Hardie's customer warranty department on siding shrinkage or butt joint gap concerns. Gaps at Hardieplank siding butt joints continue to appear in the Hardieplank installation.
Paint Handbook: testing, selection, application, troubleshooting, surface preparation, etc., Guy E. Weismantel, Ed., McGraw Hill Book Company, 1981, ISBN-10: 0070690618, ISBN-13: 978-0070690615, [Excellent but a bit obsolete paint theory and practice, also a bit light on field investigation methods, out of print, available used-DF] How to select and apply the right paint or coating for any surface. The first major reference to help you choose the correct paint or other finish to do the job best on a particular surface exposed to a particular environment. Experts in the field give full advice on testing surface preparation, application, corrosion prevention, and troubleshooting. The handbook covers wood, metal, composites, and masonry, as well as marine applications and roof coatings. A ``must'' working tool for contractors, architects, engineers, specification writers, and paint dealers.
Paint and Surface Coatings, Theory and Practice, R. Lambourne & T.A. Strivens, Ed., Woodhead Publishing Ltd., William Andrew Publishing, 1999 ISBN 1-85573-348 X & 1-884207-73-1 [This is perhaps the leading reference on modern paints and coatings, but is a difficult text to obtain, and is a bit short on field investigation methods - DF]
Provides a comprehensive reference source for all those in the paint industry, paint manufacturers and raw materials suppliers, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and industrial paint users. R. Lambourne was in the Research Department at ICI Paints Division and the Industrial Colloid Advisory Group, Birstol University, UK.
Seeing Through Paintings, Physical Examination in Art Historical Studies, Andrea Kirsh, Rustin S. Levenson, Materials in Fine Arts, 2000 ISBN 99-051835 [ forensic science, technical reference, focused on art works - DF]
Sealants, Durability of Building Sealants (RILEM Proceedings), J.C. Beech, A.T. Wolf, Spon Press; illustrated edition (1995), ISBN-10: 0419210709, ISBN-13: 978-0419210702 This book presents the papers given at the RILEM Seminar held at the Building Research Establishment, Garston, UK in October 1994. The book provides an opportunity for researchers to review up-to-date progress towards the achievement of the objectives of the standardisation of laboratory techniques of sealants in the variety of service conditions to which they are exposed.
Staining, Prevention of Premature Staining in New buildings, Phil Parnham, Taylor & Francis; 1996, ISBN-10: 0419171304, ISBN-13: 978-0419171300 The appearance of ugly staining early in a buildings life, ruins an otherwise pleasing appearance, tarnishes the image of the owners and gives rise to costly refurbishment works. In this book Phil Parnham raises a number of questions that should be considered whenever a new building is being designed or built. These are: * why has staining become so prominent; * what causes premature staining; which parts of new buildings are likely to be affected; * how can it be avoided? By using a number of highly illustrated case studies, the author answers these questions and ends by suggesting measures that should be taken by all design and construction professionals to prevent premature staining.
"Weather-Resistive Barriers [copy on file as /interiors/Weather_Resistant_Barriers_DOE.pdf ] - ", how to select and install housewrap and other types of weather resistive barriers, U.S. DOE
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
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