please advise on best way to attach a windoware outdoor retractable blind to hardieplank cladding. The frame is steel but unsure where the studs are. Can I attach blind direct to cladding? Will it be strong enough to support it particularly in wind? What should I use?
You'll need to find those studs @smillc. You should be able to get a good enough stud finder for $40-50 but if you think you'll continue with DIY works, spend some extra up front and get a better quality one from Bosch that finds timber and steel studs, live wires, etc.
I don't believe the fibre cement boards alone will be strong enough to hold over time. They're actually quite brittle once screwed/broken and the constant movement due to wind (and retracting) will where away at the fixing points.
Welcome to the Bunnings Workshop community @smillc. It's great to have you join us and many thanks for your question.
It's fabulous to see the ever-helpful @ProjectPete has provided some excellent advice on your project.
I'd just like to confirm that cladding is not a suitable mounting point for a retractable blind. As @ProjectPete has mentioned you will need to locate solid studs to mount onto. The cement cladding is not designed to withstand the stresses involved in the operation of the blind.
Once you have used a stud finder which is suitable for detecting steel studs like the Ozito 50mm Stud Detector, you might find they are not in a suitable location which matches the mounting holes on the blind. In this case, you can install a horizontal timber between the studs and then fix the blind onto it.
We look forward to hearing about the successful installation of your blind. Please let us know if you need further assistance or had any questions.