Taking sides on siding questions

Now is the time of year that most of us have either begun – or at least begun planning – our major home improvement projects.

When you look at the overall presentation of your house, is either painting or new siding a possibility?

Today we’re going to answer some frequently asked questions about siding options.

Q. How do I know how to tell if I need to replace my siding?

A. Some visible clues that you need to replace your siding are that the siding:

• won’t hold paint anymore

• is cracked

• has numerous missing knots

• has curled ends

• has lots of missing pieces

• is rotted

• has lots of loose nails

• there are leaks when it rains

So, take a good look and see if your house’s siding is showing you it needs to be replaced. And, here’s a little warning: When it comes to purchasing siding, be careful of any telephone solicitation contractors.

Instead, do your own research, try to work with locals and check with friends, neighbors and relatives who are happy with their new siding and siding contractor.

Q. What are the options to replacing old cedar siding?

A. Once you’ve decided you need new siding, or if you’re building a house and are beginning to research siding, it’s smart to consider all the options. If you are going to reside no matter what the type of siding and don’t have insulated walls, now is the time to get the blow-in insulating done so that all the plugs are covered by the new siding. Be sure to talk to PUD about their great weatherization program rebate. And, make sure to call them before you start the project.

Wood: There are shingles, cedar bevel siding, Dutch lap, board and bat and sheet materials such as T-111. Many of the homes in the Pacific Northwest have some sort of wood siding but many are changing to other man-made sidings that require less maintenance. Maintenance-wise, wood usually requires sealing of some sort – such as paint or stain.

Aluminum: There are several companies selling and installing this type of siding and they are generally found in the phone directory. Maintenance-wise, an annual scrubbing is needed. One downside of this option is that it dents when hit.

Cementuous siding: Available at your local lumber store, this type of siding looks similar to wood and is easy to install, keep painted and is easily cleaned. Various types are used more and more on new construction and it has a very long life – generally not needing to be replaced if kept painted and cleaned.

Stone or brick: These materials can give a home a distinctive look. You’ll want to call a masonry contractor for information, options and installation of these types of material.

Vinyl siding: Seems like we are seeing this more and more, especially as an overlay over the old siding. You’ve seen numerous ads in the newspaper and maybe have received your share of telephone solicitations, but most local contractors can handle your needs.

Maintenance-wise, an annual scrubbing should keep it looking good. Generally it is not painted and can oxidize over time. It can also be brittle and break when hit.

Q. Can you use the old wood to re-side a house?

A. Reusing old siding makes sense if it is in good shape. Another deciding factor could be availability of like materials. Can you replace a few bad spots and not have to replace all the siding is a good question to ask.

Historic preservation may play a role in deciding what to use or re-use, too. Finding the appropriate material is the key.

Costing out new materials versus using old may also be a big factor in this decision.

Q. You’ve recommended before to scrub the exterior of a house with soap and water to add years to any paint job. Is that true for most houses around here or are there some kinds of siding that aren’t helped with a good scrub?

We can’t think of any kind of siding that would be damaged by Dawn soap scrubbing and a water rinse. If there is mold you may want to add some bleach or spray on some “30 Second Cleaner,” an emulsion available at your local hardware stores. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for great results.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.

Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner? Call us at 533-7828, or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.


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