Installing Fiber-Cement Siding and Cellular PVC Trim

Project: Building an Addition for an Elderly Parent, Episode 4, Part 3

As the house is being closed in, work can begin on the roof. Homeowner Howard Brickman decides to install a special underlayment that will allow the roof to breathe and clear any attic moisture that might build up. A peel-and-stick membrane is applied to keep out exterior moisture before the Galvalume standing-seam metal roof is installed using a steel and aluminum mix that prevents rust and deterioration at the cut edges.


The roof is finished with a set of photovoltaic panels that will absorb the sun’s energy and send it to a basement inverter that will convert it into AC power and store it for the household's electricity. If more power is generated than needed, it will be sent back along the power grid to the power utility for a homeowner's rebate to offset future energy spending.


The closing in of the house is completed with fiberglass-framed windows that feature low-e glass, a slim-profile sash, dual-operation sash that go up from the bottom or down from the top, and a tilt-in design for easy cleaning. The core humidity in the building materials is logged and the moisture is sucked out to dry the house before walls are installed and mold has a chance to take hold. Outside, preparations are underway to attach fiber cement siding and cellular PVC molding that will last without painting and can be profiled on site.

Part 1: Installing Galvalume Metal Roof and Solar Panels
Part 2: Fiberglass Windows, Sliding Glass Patio Doors, and Mold-Growth Prevention
Part 3: Installing Fiber-Cement Siding and Cellular PVC Trim
Bob talks with homeowner Howard Brickman about a device he's invented that measures the relative humidity of the interior of the concrete and predicts what will happen after the concrete is covered with a floor covering. It's critical that the concrete that makes up the floor be dry before the wood floor is installed. This is especially true in southern climates where there is a high amount of humidity.

While the house is being dried out, the siding can be put in place. The furring strips are attached to the foam exterior with an adhesive foam. Bob talks with Jack Armour from Powers Fasteners about the fasteners used to secure the HardiPlank fiber-cement siding. The trim in New England houses has traditionally been made from pine or cedar. Bob talks with Kristen Baer of Azek Trimboards about their product, a cellular PVC trim manufactured with a "free foam" process. The Azek boards have the look and feel of wood boards without any of the hassles.

Azek is impervious to water, termites, and other insects, and comes with a 25-year warranty. These trim boards are especially useful in New England where harsh weather conditions cause freezing and thawing and expansion and contraction. They hold up well in coastal areas, too, and cost roughly the same as trim made of clear cedar. Azek trim pays for itself through savings on paint and maintenance. It doesn't need to be painted for protection but holds paint nicely. Homeowners should use 100 percent acrylic latex paint and, if they choose a dark color, VinylSafe by Sherwin-Williams is recommended.
More and more homeowners are converting their houses into multi-generational homes for themselves, their children, and their aging parents. In Norwell, MA, Bob Vila meets a couple making room for a mother-in-law.

Also from Building an Addition for an Elderly Parent

  • Episode 1 - Reviewing Wetland Protection and Laying the Foundation


    <p>Bob introduces homeowner Howard Brickman, who is building a new addition for an aging parent that will nearly double the size of his colonial home in Norwell, MA. It showcases concrete building technology that is streamlined, efficient, and versatile.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There were some delays in obtaining a building permit because the home is near a quaking bog that serves as a wildlife habitat and natural filtration system for the town. Steve Ivas, an environment consultant, leads a tour of neighboring Black Pond Bog.&nbsp; Formed by melting glacial remains, the pond is covered by a moss layer that has since formed a 20-foot thick fibrous mat.&nbsp; At the home site, a hay-bale buffer was created on the property to protect a connected wetland from erosion or runoff during the project.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At every step, time and materials savings speed the construction and save countless hours of labor.&nbsp; A monolithic pour, or single pour that would normally take three, is used for the concrete slab and frost walls.&nbsp; ReddiForm's innovative plastic footing ICF forms are used to create and reinforce the structure.&nbsp; Insul-Tarp is used to create an insulated vapor barrier and reflect heat back into the living spaces.&nbsp; Fibers are blended into the concrete mix, eliminating the need for a traditional steel reinforced mesh.</p>
  • Episode 2 - Building the Foundation, Floor, and Walls


    <p>The finished addition will look like the original traditional shingled home and be indistinguishable from the house, but the construction technologies and innovative products in use are anything but traditional. Bob talks with Ron Ardres from ReddiForm about their polystyrene blocks, or ICFs, that reduce steps and labor.&nbsp; With contractor Todd LaBarge, Bob learns about Insul-Tarp and efficient concrete pours.&nbsp; Jason McKinnon of Viega North America and Tim Cutler, of TJ&rsquo;s Plumbing &amp; Heating explain PEX tubing and radiant heat.&nbsp; Jim Niehoff of the Portland Cement Association and builder Howard Brickman talk about the almost unheard of speed with which the addition is coming together and the anticipated energy-efficiency of the new building. By using concrete and foam construction for the footing, garage, first-floor slab, and walls, and also being used to set up for the upper levels of the addition, significant savings in time, energy, and cost are achieved.</p>
  • Episode 3 - Installing Garage Doors, Framing the Interior, and Upper-Floor Decking


    <p>Bob is on site where insulated, steel garage doors are being installed to replace the original, low-budget fiberboard doors. He walks through the new insulated concrete addition with the homeowner Howard Brickman, who explains how the layout of this in-law addition essentially doubles the size of the existing home. They talk about the concrete construction, how quickly it went up, and how insulated concrete form (ICF) construction allowed them to get a basement and slab, full upper story, walls, and first floor poured for nearly the same amount of concrete as a traditional basement wall-and-slab design.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This building process purposely uses innovative techniques and improved building practices &ndash; like the stay-in-place forms for the footings, the under-slab insulation and vapor barrier, the engineered lumber for I-joists and rafters, and the innovative DryPly decking being used for the second floor. Not only do these these technologies reduced waste, but any waste generated is being sorted for reuse.</p>
  • Episode 5 - Finishing up with Cedar Porch, Fireplace, and Stone Veneer

Hi, I'm Bob Vila. Welcome to the show.

Our in-law suite addition has got a nice Galvalume roof that's been installed and also some photovoltaic panels we'll be looking at.

We've also installed Pella's and [??] fiberglass windows and sash and patio doors. We're going to look at that.

Inside we're dehumidifying the work space with a giant machine that rolls up to the work site. And on the outside we're putting up some Azek trim.

Stick around. It's good to have you with us.

This is our fourth visit to our in-law suite, our addition onto this little colonial here in Norwell, Mass. and we've gotten very familiar with the whole whole process of ICF insulated concrete forms and how that creates the shell of the house.

Basically, using foam building blocks that are filled with rebar and concrete to form the frost wall, the walls and even the first floor deck.

Next, we saw how Howard and his crew framed the second floor deck, the wall that supports the ridge and the roof. The roof deck was sheathed with GP's Plytanium ply wood.

We're using the deck armor material as our underlayment over the deck.

We ended up putting the roof on in very cold weather, and we were concerned about adhesion between the storm guard which is the peel and stick, vapor impermeable material and so we're using this because the deck is going to be nice and clean and worried about frost, this eliminates the possibilities of frost.

OK, this is a storm guard product. You can see what they are doing is putting the first piece on and he's going to peel the very top half off and leave the bottom half with the plastic covering on it, so that he can work from the top down. So, he's basically sticking the the storm guard directly on the deck armor underlayment. And then he's gonna nail the storm guard as he goes as well.

Next our homeowner Howard, found a source for metal roofing at MetalRoofingW and we have got a professional to come here and show us how it is installed.

This is made out of Galvalume and what that is, that's a steel with an aluminum mix, and you can get it just with steel but the Galvalume, it does a lot more for you as far as rust factor goes.

Especially at the ends of the roof line when you cut your panels, or they're pre-cut, then you're going to have exposed metal on the edge. And what that does, is it prevents it from rusting as much as like a normal steel panel would.

They do sell them in steel panels and you can get 'em that way but I recommend getting gavel loom, 'cause that's the best for it. Now this type of panel here, this is a 5V crimp. And you can get in 29 gauge, 26 gauge .

You can get it cut to length you can get any size you want up to forty feet, and it's a special order for anything you do, but they cut it right then and they ship it in a week. So you can get whatever you want to fit whatever job you have.

OK. Well, what we do is we use an outside closure and it goes on the panel like this. And then after that your ridge cap will go on top of your closure.

And at the screw line, which is here, you put a what they call a self tapping metal screw on all your ribs, and this will prevent any rain or moisture going up into the roof cap.

And you've gotta be careful installing these Galvalume panels 'cause they're big, they can bend, and they can get scratched, but anyway the other panels that we have on the roof are photovoltaics, and Jeff Wolf is with us to explain how photovoltaics work. It's solar energy, right?

Right, it's solar energy, Bob. It's solar electricity. And the way that the panels work is very easy. The sun rays come down, the photons hit the panels. The photons make electricity flow through the panels, that direct current solar power comes down through a wire into the house into an inverter.

So that's what you have in the basement. The other component.

Right, right. So in the basement, we had that inverter which converts the direct current solar power into alternating current, AC power, that's used in every house in the United States.


That power is fed into the main electrical panel and feeds the house with solar power, and also when the house is not using so much energy, sunny day, feeds power back into the utility grid and spins the meter back which is making a credit for the customer.

That's the amazing part because all of a sudden you're in the business of generating electricity and selling it back to the utility.

That's right. That's what people really love, is seeing the meter spin backwards.

Now, people always used to talk about paybacks with any kind of energy related materials. And, I think it's a little bit less relevant nowadays than it is green. The big buzzword is green, and we are doing is essentially conserving energy right?

Well, we're conserving energy. It's green, it's clean, it's reliable, it's U.S. made, invites independence. Every dollar we spent for electricity and solar power replaces a dollar we send overseas. So that money stays here.

That clean, green, reliable is what people are really buying today. And different states are helping people buy that. In Massachusetts the Renewable Energy Trust actually subsidizes and helps buy down the solar power. Making it more affordable for people. Most states have a program like that Yeah, and it is an important thing. Especially in places where the utility rates, the electricity rates have gone up, by as much as 80 percent.

Right, in many areas of the country we're seeing utility rates escalate and we'll be seeing more of that in the near future. GroSolar operates throughout the country at .

People can find us and find how to work with us anywhere in the country. We have deals and partners to put solar energy like this on their house anywhere in the US.

Now you were saying this is close to a $15,000 investment, though, and I think the point that needs to be made is that when you are doing a major rehab, and refinancing the equity in your house, etcetera, it's something worth considering as part of it...

Absolutely worth considering as part of that rehab. Even without a rehab. With the state programs buying down, that $15,000 investment can become as little as half of that.

Very interesting.

And very affordable for the average homeowner.

Thanks, Jeff.

You're welcome, Bob. Thank you. Once we had a roof over our heads, we could get tight to the weather installing our windows and our sliding patio door in the back.

And these are low-E glass windows. They're a new fiberglass window from Pella that includes low-E emissivity glass. Which means that they fit right into our energy conservation story.

Plus, the fiberglass frames, you know, they're not susceptible to extremes of weather, heat, or cold. They're not going to warp or rot or anything like that.

This is our Pella Impervia patio door. It's made from Dura-Cast, a fiberglass composite. A very strong material, a very durable material. Resistant to impact, to scratches and just a very, very low maintenance material for windows and doors.

Another feature I want to show you on our product is all of our hardware is color matched to the product. So it blends very, very nicely for the interior look. And as an upgrade option, it's also available in other finishes, like brass, satin nickel, or oiled bronze.The other feature of the double hung obviously is the dual operation of the sash. So, the lower sash raises, the upper sash lowers for very natural ventilation.

And then the other feature we have is an easy tilt clean feature. So, it's easy to tilt both sash and clean the exterior and the interior from the inside of the home, so you are safe.

So, you don't have to get on any ladders, and then they simply snap back in place, and you can close the window.

The other feature of Impervia is the Energy Star rating. Pella Impervia products are Energy Star rated in all fifty states, saving the average home owner 24 percent over single pane wood windows.

And the powder coat finish over the fiber glass means that you don't have to worry about staining or putting a finish on it. You can use them right like they are.

I also like the very slim profile and the fact that you get full screens on them. But anyway, once the windows are all in place in the construction site, that means we're into the weather and we can start worrying drying out the inside of the job. And that's become more and more of an concern for builders all over the country because of mold growth problems, within the house, as it's being built. We brought in the pros to show us how it's best done.

My name is Curt Bolden, I'm with the Hydro Lab Training Facility. Training research is what we do for water damage mitigation, new construction drawing.

We train mainly insurance risk, or insurance companies and restoration contractors. We do property management and also contractors. Our goal is to basically educate them on the effects of water damage to a structure . Whether it be from a broken pipe, a hurricane, or just new construction.

New construction is a big problem in our industry right now because a lot of the materials that are to be delivered to the job sites are wet, a lot of people don't know how wet they are.

This is an example of a new construction. It has been wet, as of up to a week and a half ago.

It appears to be dry and a lot of contractors at this point would go ahead and start putting in their insulation, hanging the wallboard. What they don't know, though, is what the moisture content load is in the structure.

Obviously moisture being one of the number one causes of defect in a home or in a commercial structure. We need to map this structure out showing them how much moisture is in all these different building materials. At that point, we dry. This being one method, we actually install long pins or screws. I can show you how we do this.

Alright, once we install the screws, we've actually, we've actually taken a pin or a screw and we put it through this mass of material. The purpose of that is now we can check the moisture content in the core of this entire piece of wood.

What we do now is we're gonna actually use what is called a Delmhorst meter. This particular meter basically reads moisture content from these two pins. I'll demonstrate here as you can see the moisture content on my finger. So, it gives you a reading of what the moisture content load using electrical current.

The pins or the screws that we install into the wall are basically extensions off of these pins. So at this point a surface reading, for example, on this piece of wood shows that this wood is dry. If that's as deep as you use this meter, then you're not getting an accurate reading. Once you actually take the pins and put them on the screws, you can see that the moisture content load of this particular mass of lumber is running about 18 percent.

Industry standard in this region is about 12 percent this time of year. A number that's very dangerous is the 16 percent moisture content load which is basically where you get fungal growth, where you get a mold growth. So, if you were to trap this lumber behind drywall and insulation, there's no way for it to dry. Obviously leads to a possibility of having fungal growth in the wall structure.
Inside the building, we're creating an atmosphere which is going to promote the rapid evaporation of the bound water inside of the building materials.

As we bring very dry and warm air into the building and circulate it through the building, the wood will give up its moisture.

That moisture will become part of the air. We will take that air, and bring it back out of the building.

Basically, what this equipment is doing is it's turning the inside atmosphere into a huge sponge that can absorb tremendous amounts of water .

Once that water is absorbed into that dry air stream, we remove it directly to the outside. So the building dries very, very quickly and there is no odors left behind.

Equipment that you are looking at were a trailer and there are about 200 of them around the country presently. Our typical project is drying flooded buildings from all sorts of mishaps. Anything from a hurricane to a pipe break, ice machine.

This trailer is designed to create an environment inside of a building that will evaporate the excess moisture, bring it to the outside.

Keep bringing dry clean air in, taking wet moist air out. Taking air with odors to the outside.

It will dry a building incredibly fast, whether is happens to be a hurricane, or just in this particular case, bow moisture to new building materials. our homeowner, Howard Brickman, has been, well you actually invented a bit of a testing device right? To see how dry it really is?

Yeah, concrete's a real problem for the wood floor installation business, actually for any floor covering or coating in the business.

So we developed a meter that measures the relative humidity in the interior of the concrete, and it will predict what's going to happen after we cover it with the floor cover.

Exactly, and because of the nature of the whole shell of the house here, we are standing on a concrete slab.

The whole exterior structure except for the roof deck is concrete, and so it's critical that we dry the concrete on the floor prior to installing the wood floor on top.

Yeah, and that's the case anywhere in the country. But especially in southern climates, where you have slabs on grade.

That's where you really have to check what you're doing.

Exactly, because you'll have ground moisture coming up.


So, while the house is drying out and all this interior work is going on, we can also be putting the siding on, right? And because it's a concrete shell, Howard, how do you go about putting on the furring strips. We attach the furring strips with an adhesive to the foam exterior structure.

And then you need these fasteners to make sure that the siding and everything is not going to go anywhere. And Jack Armor is here from Powers, how do these things work?

Well, Bob, all you do is you simply drill a hole and drive down.


Same diameter as the diameter of the fastener.


So as far as this is concerned a quarter inch diameter, you drill a quarter inch hole into your substrate, right through your two by here.

Right into the masonry.


And does that, that wrinkle in the front end of it, that little band?

Yes, that's the s shape. The s shape version of that. What happens is it's bent and it's manufactured with the S-shape in there.


And then that turns into a heat treating process and once, once they heat treat that process, and they drive into the hole, it exerts against the walls of concrete, because it has memory and it wants to get back to that That's is how it works.


Now, this is a company that is almost a century old with this kind of a product, right?

That's correct, Powers Fasteners is formally known as the Ralpoint Company. It was a European company in which they were the first manufacturers of a masonry anchor.

Which was marketed by the Powers family about 75 odd years ago in the United States.

Did they really make them out of jute?

Yeah, it was a jute fiber plug with a lead based insert.

Yeah, and then that evolved into the lead shield....

Which then came into the plastic.

Then came into the plastic, wonderful. Well thanks for your help.

You're very welcome, Bob.

So Howard, this is what we're gonna be using for the siding. What's it called?

It a HardiPlank, it's a fiber cement product.

So what does that mean, it , it's got Portland cement in it with some sort of fiber?

It's Portland cement with cellulose.

Wood fibers.

Which is wood fibers. It's kind of counter-intuitive that the two would work well.

You would think so, but they do work extremely well together, this is a very, very durable product. It takes paint extremely well.

But you're gonna use it with this finish already, right?

This is a pre-finished, so.

It goes installed with the color right on it.


The trim in New England houses houses has traditionally been made from pine, sometimes cedar.

We have a new product, it's called Asec.



Asec Trembor .

And this is Christian Baer who's here to tell us all about it; what's it made out of?

Asec is, it's a cellular PVC product. It's made by a manufacturing process called a free foam manufacturing process.

And what are the big advantages, I mean, it looks just like boards, it hasn't been painted up here, but it comes through like this right?

It is, yes, and this is going to give you the look and the feel of wood without any of the hassles. For example it's impervious to moisture, termites, insects and it gives you a twenty five year warranty.

How is it to work with?

It's great to work with. As you can see here, they routed this, as is, right on the house.

Oh you mean this, this edge that they've put on it?


Was routed out after they'd applied the wood to the frame.


Yeah, and it also provides moldings like we see up here, this crown?

Yes. Currently AZEK has a crown mold, a drip cap, and a brick mold. As of March 1st, there will be fifteen AZEK profiles available.

Amazing. So, is AZEK very useful in different regions in terms of climate?

Yes. Especially in New England, where there's harsh, harsh weather conditions.


And especially we're there's, on the water, AZEK holds up very nicely.


And in terms of cost, how does it compare?

You're looking about the same as a clear cedar, but once you repaint your wood, probably, every three to five years, you've already made your money back.

Yes, yes are there any warranties associated with it?

There's a 25 year warranty.

That's pretty impressive.

Yes it is.

Very good. Well, the spring time weather comes back we'll have to put a coat of paint on it.

Absolutely, and you know with Phase II, you don't have to paint it for protection. However, it holds paint very nicely.

Yeah, so you want to have your trim picked out in a different color obviously, you can do that.

Absolutely. You want to use 100% acrylic latex paint and if you'd like to paint it a dark color, make sure you use VinylSafe made by Sherwin Williams.

Okay, we'll keep that in mind. Thanks Kristen.

Next week we're gonna be working on the front porch; installing doors, putting up drywall, insulation and I can't think of what else. Until then I'm Bob Vila. Thanks for joining us.



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