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Finger jointed cedar bevel siding?

Marson's picture

I am siding my own house and am considering using finger-jointed cedar. Since it is my own house, I'm willing to take more risks than on a customer's. The price and the 16' lengths are attractive, but obviously having finger joints pull apart etc. is a concern. This is a factory primed product that I am painting with latex. Also using a rainscreen. So I would like to hear from people who have used the product successfully or unsuccessfully.

Yes, I know about fiber cement.

(post #81592, reply #1 of 17)

I used it on my house 2 years ago...hardi not an option as I wanted an alternating exposure using 1/2 x 4 and 1/2 x 8. I didn't use a rain screen detail because the poorly maintained 70 year old lap siding that I removed was in very solid shape and it would have created depth issues with the different siding above it on the gable ends.

The product seemed solid to me...I never had a piece break at the finger joints when I was handling it. From the researching I did, I think the exterior glues used these days are trustworthy. However, even with 2 coat of Hirshfields Platinum exterior (the stuff with the ceramic beads or whatever), if you get up close and look for it, you can definitely see the different pieces of wood because of differences in grain texture. I can see an occasional joint telegraphing through, but I really have to look for it.

I think the real test will come in 40 - 50 years, so I can't help you there. But all in all, I'm happy with the decision. I only had one wall with any butt joints due to the long length, and I think it's a good use of the resource. It's basically scrap bits of clear cedar made into 16' siding boards. From 10' back or farther, it looks very even, and even up close the grain differences don't jump out at me.

Here's a couple of pics, and for anyone curious, I built the new front door from scratch in my wood shop.

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(post #81592, reply #2 of 17)

Very cool.

Mike Hennessy
Pittsburgh, PA

Mike Hennessy
Pittsburgh, PA
Everything fits, until you put glue on it.

(post #81592, reply #3 of 17)

Average my butt!

That's sweet!

Edit: A Rumi fan too! It is.

Spheramid Enterprises Architectural Woodworks

"Success is not spontaneous combustion, you have to set yourself on Fire"

Edited 3/8/2008 10:10 am ET by Sphere  

(post #81592, reply #5 of 17)

Nice Entry Door and Roof!!

They can't get your Goat if you don't tell them where it is hidden.

Life is Good

(post #81592, reply #6 of 17)

Thanks for the compliment, It's obviously a work in progress, but what isn't when it's your own house! The door is Red Birch (heart of yellow birch). Maybe I should start a thread in the pictures section.

(post #81592, reply #10 of 17)

Beautiful job.

Sounds "green" to me.

Bob's next test date: 12/10/07

(post #81592, reply #4 of 17)

There are different manufacturers, so there can be differences in quality. Some finger jointed material can be made from lumber that would ordinarily be discarded. Wild grain that twists and varies in color and texture. I used one product that had weird, curved scarf marks. Square stock was finger jointed and when tapered, left these half moon shapes that were quite visible, even though the clapboards were primed. One coat of paint/stain did not hide them.

Exterior door casings have been finger jointed for years. As time passes, each individual piece of lumber acts as an individual. Some shrink, swell, twist or warp differently than it's adjoining neighbor. They look like a solid continuous piece at first but it's evident in a short time that it's just a bunch of scraps. This would be my main concern. The product may still have integrity but visually, the construction shows. As the finger joints open, weather gets in and it's end grain. You may be replacing the siding 20 yrs. down the road.

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

(post #81592, reply #7 of 17)

I have used a LOT of FJ clap siding and the conceern has never been joints pulling apart for me. It is when they telegraph that I see problems. Factory pre-primed cedar is barely ever noticeable on that concern though. #4 white pine moves more so it telegraphs terrible.



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Oh Well,

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(post #81592, reply #8 of 17)

I've used a bunch (a few 10,000 ft or so) of it in the past 4-5 yrs.  Both new construction as well as residing antique homes in the area.  Our local supplier carries Boston Cedar brand.  Was all we could get around here during the the cedar strike a few months back.  Have used it both smooth and rough side out depending upon the customer wishes.  You can see the joints if you look close enough and the light is right, particularly of you install with the rough side out, but haven't had any problems with it coming apart.  Seems to hold paint well. 

I think it's a nice product.  PFJ is currently running at $.75/lf vs. $1.45 for primed solid cedar.

I'm planning to use it on my own house this summer.


(post #81592, reply #9 of 17)

Thanks for the responses. I'm thinking I'm going to take the plunge on Monday and order it--a lot of people warn against finger jointed but noone who has actually used it seems to have major complaints about FJ cedar siding. FJ pine brickmold isn't really comparable. Seems like a good compromise between the real thing and fiber cement. I can handle a few visible fingerjoints. Painting doesn't scare me.

(post #81592, reply #11 of 17)

I'm planning to use WR cedar clapboards on my house; however, my plan is to use random lengths and instead of cutting the ends so that they fall on the furring strips (I plan to use the rainscreen detail), I plan to use blocking to support the butt joints.

Has anyone used this detail before? This way I hope to save on material costs by ordering random lengths and save by not having to cut the ends to fall on the furring strips.


(post #81592, reply #12 of 17)

Haven't done it, but see no reason it wouldn't work.

The only complication if I was doing the siding would be that I use a 45 degree scarf joint, and put a little piece of flashing behind each joint. That would be a little fussier on a narrow strip than it is flat on the sheathing, but not a big deal. If I was billing for it, I would have to ask myself if the time spent fussing with blocking outweighed the savings in siding waste, but if it's for your own house...well, we all know what our time is worth on our own houses...


(post #81592, reply #15 of 17)

I'm planning to rip 3/4" ply into 3" furring strips and use shorter pieces at the butts. Works out that ripping ply saves $$$ in lieu of 1X solid wood.

(post #81592, reply #13 of 17)

I'm doing the same thing. I have 3/4" shiplap so there is adequate nailing. I'll just slip a piece of furring behind the joints. I have done this before some years ago and don't remember a problem. We used tyveck to flash behind the joints.

I like the sixteen foot lengths not just because the seams fall on layout...when I have got random length in the past, they were pretty generous with 3 and 4 footers which are work to use up.

(post #81592, reply #14 of 17)

I don't mind the additional work since I'm obviously making every effort to keep the costs down. Costs are astronomical in Hawaii. Shorter pieces will work better for me since I'm planning to do the work myself and can better handle shorter lengths.

(post #81592, reply #16 of 17)

Factory butts are often ragged and from the chainsaw used to fell the tree, Given that and end checking for the first few inches and snipe..I see cutting away the junk more important than joints / layout.

I think random is fine if you pay attn to the defects and such.

And by all means preprime that end grain.

Spheramid Enterprises Architectural Woodworks

"Success is not spontaneous combustion, you have to set yourself on Fire"  

(post #81592, reply #17 of 17)

Already planning to do that; i.e., trim ends to minimize gaps at butts. Also planning to termite treat entire clapboard and prime and 1st coat entire clapboard before installation. Termites are a serious problem in Hawaii.