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Until I decided to replace a couple of ~16-inch long, beveled-siding from exterior I have never given thought on the width of the exposed face. On my house, the exposed face of the cedar siding measures 4". When I removed the old pieces, I noticed that they are 5-1/2" wide (actual size.) My replacement pieces were also 5-1/2" wide. This means that overlap between the beveled pieces are 1-1/2". And the nails were put ¾" to 1" above the bottom of the planks. This means that nail goes through the overlapping piece under, and most likely cracks it.

At the beginning I did not make anything of it, since I had no clue. However, when I did Google search, I have realized that every website recommends that nails should not go through the bottom piece but slightly over it. Now, with the current overlap size of 1-1/2" and where the nails are put, that is not possible. I have big house and all the exposed faces measure 4" or slightly narrower to 3-3/4". The house is 30 years old.

I am wondering if the builders did it wrong from the beginning, or installation instructions changed in the past 30 years. I have some other cracked beveled siding which are as long as 14 ft long. I just wanted to get an opinion before I start my repairs. Should I overlap them as it's (ignore if it cracks) or should I cut the siding to a narrower size so that nail does not pierce the plank underneath. Or Should I put the nails slightly higher than 1-1/2 inch from the bottom of the plank, to avoid the the plank under. Thank you.

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The short answer is that it just isn't that critical. There will still be enough unpierced lap to provide weather resistance, and the sliver that cracks off the top edge usually doesn't result in a problem. In a rare case the wood grain angles down far enough that the crack shows, but that's not likely.

Longer answers involve the need for wood siding to have a little room to move and flex with seasonal changes, but that describes an ideal that isn't at all critical. I've owned homes sided with cedar lap for decades (some of which I installed decades ago; I'm in one now) and it has been an issue that the top edge was nailed exactly zero times.

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  • Why wouldn't one nail the siding with 1-1/2" overlap 2" above the bottom? Where would be the best location for secure and long lasting attachment of the siding and resistance to splitting? – Jim Stewart Oct 19 '20 at 19:33
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    Cedar tends to cup when it dries out. It's best to keep the fastening closer to the bottom edge on each course to keep it flat. 2" up is getting rather close to center of the exposure. – isherwood Oct 19 '20 at 19:45
  • These comments are super helpful. I feel confident now for the repairs. I will stick to the original design. it makes my life much easier. It might be that they did the exposed face narrower because of the aesthetic reasons. Now, I have to check my neighbors' houses :) – Supertech Oct 19 '20 at 20:51
  • I replaced three courses of 12 ft long 8 inch lap and gap cedar which had rotted due to a poorly placed sprinkler head. I used 304 stainless steel ring shank wood siding nails from Simpson Strong-Tie. I used mostly 8d (S8SND1 2.4 x 64mm), and some 6d (S6SND1 2.4 x 51mm) because I replaced the sheathing under these courses with plywood (with generic tyvek house wrap) and didn't want nails going too far into the studs. It seems to me that cedar siding deserves the highest quality nails. – Jim Stewart Oct 19 '20 at 22:34
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    As a mention, I intentionally keep the nails just below the top edge of the lower piece, I have split siding nailing above the lower piece since there was nothing keeping the siding from buckling in. – Jack Oct 20 '20 at 4:01

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