How to Install Exterior Plywood Siding


Compare to other types of exterior finishes, plywood siding cost much cheaper and it is available in various sizes like 4-by-8, 4-by-9 and 4-by-10 foot sheets while its thicknesses varies from 3/8 inch, 1/2 inch or 5/8 inch. Before you start any of your installation of plywood siding, you must ensure that measure the plywood that you want to use according to the perfect size for your specific exterior siding. Plywood siding can also be found in several styles or decorative grooves that will provide an attractive outer appearance, architectural design and able to protect the structure from weather elements. In order to install exterior plywood siding, you must at least have basic carpentry skills with the right kind of tools to help you complete the task.

To install exterior plywood siding, you need:

  • Exterior plywood siding (vertical groove, lap, flat)
  • Galvanized finished nails
  • Hammer or Nail gun
  • Carpenter’s level
  • Z-flashing
  • Caulk
  • Staples construction adhesive
  • Tyvek house wrap or foam insulation (1/4 inch, 1/2 inch)
  • Stud finder
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Table saw or miter saw
  • Safety goggles and dust mask

Installing Exterior Plywood Siding

How to Install Exterior Plywood Siding

  • First thing that you need to do is to waterproof your plywood siding by using sealant before you start the installation task. You also need to seal all windows, doors and corners with caulk in order to prevent water from getting behind the siding. The caulk will help provide you with a second layer of defense against water damage.
  • You need to install foam insulation or Tyvek house wrap (paper) as an extra barrier in order to increase air and water resistance. By using the foam insulation method, you not only insulate but also able to keep the walls looking straight right after the siding has been installed. It is easy for you to install the foam insulation because you only need to use staples, nails or construction adhesive to install it.

    You will notice that not all walls are constructed straight and over time you need to adjust its levelness. By using foam insulation, you would be able to fill out the wall where the need arise. Some of house owners prefer to use both the Tyvek wrap together with the foam insulation.

  • After that, you need to position the first sheet of plywood siding in a vertical way starting from a corner.
    • Then, you have to flush the entire side of the plywood siding edge with the framing on the corner of the wall while the opposite side of your plywood siding should be line up right on the center of the stud.

Always choose a 1/2-inch or 5/8-inch thick siding for the project because cheap and thin plywood will buckle easily under the weather and it will wear a lot faster than thicker plywood.

  • Next step that you need to do is to nail the top edge of your plywood siding by using galvanized finished nails and a hammer.
    • Make sure that you nail the galvanized finish nails along the perimeter with a distance of at least 6 inches. As for the middle section of the plywood siding, you need to nail the galvanized finish nails every 12 inches.

Galvanized finish nails are used in this project because the material will not rust.

  • The remaining sheets of exterior plywood siding should be installed similar with the step that you have done in step 1 and 2 until all the sheets has been installed successfully.
    • Make sure that you check each sheet of your plywood siding for its levelness by using your carpenter’s level. If it is not level, you have to adjust the sheet accordingly until it is all level.
  • Take your Z-flashing and install them with galvanized nails and a hammer along the top edge of your plywood siding.
    • Z-flashing can help you in preventing water from traveling behind the plywood siding which can cause the wood to rot.
    • You need to also install the Z-flashing in between rows of your plywood siding in order to prevent water from entering in between the seams.
  • Then, take the corner trim and install it by nailing 2, 1-by-4 boards in an “L” shape so that you will create a 90-degree corner.
    • Next, nail the boards together with galvanized nails and a hammer.
    • You must repeat the same process for each corner on the exterior siding.
  • The 90-degree corner trim that you have created earlier should be positioned in a vertical way on all corners of the exterior plywood siding.
    • Ensure that the corners are all level by using your carpenter’s level.
    • Then, you need to nail the corner trim onto the siding by using galvanized nails and a hammer.
  • You can use caulk similarly as you did when you installed your insulation. You need to caulk the surrounding area to ensure that your siding will always be protected against water and wind.
    • Caulk in the area especially around every opening and at every corner
    • Once your caulk has dried completely, you can proceed the painting task of your plywood siding.

    Always remember that whenever you want to install your exterior plywood siding especially if it is not pre-treated, you need to seal all edges by using water repellent sealer or stain. This method can help extend the life of the plywood.

    • You should always read and follow all instructions provided by the plywood siding manufacturer before applying the solution onto the plywood siding. For instance, you will notice that some siding sheets will feature overlap areas that must be aligned between each sheet. Therefore, you need to seal any of the gaps between boards using caulk or molding.
    • In order to install your plywood siding, always use a ladder or scaffolding. As for those of you who are afraid of height, it is wise to seek help from a professional builder or contractor to the installation of your plywood siding.

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