Repairing Siding

Although a large number of siding materials are available today, repair choices are simple and basic. Fortunately, you can make most repairs yourself. Before you do, however, repair the problem that caused the damage—it’s usually water. Check behind the siding for dampness and water damage, and if you find any, look for the leak that caused it. If the problem isn’t behind the wall, the damage could be caused by a leaking gutter or a dripping faucet, among other things. If the source isn’t obvious, wait until it rains, and then look for the source. Fix damaged siding immediately. The longer you wait, the more extensive the damage and the more difficult the repair.

ASBESTOS SIDING - Asbestos can be found in some older types of siding. If you have or think that you have asbestos siding, check with your state department of environmental affairs or your local health department. They can tell you how to find a certified professional to test the siding material and, if necessary, remove and dispose of it. You can also contact the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) at www.epa.gov/lead or 800-242-LEAD (800-242-5323) for more information.

Common siding types and problems

Wood board-and-batten siding usually will require repair due to weathering or water damage. It is relatively easy to repair. Pry off the battens, replace the boards, and replace the battens.

Cedar shakes are traditionally single, hand-split tapered boards that vary in length and are rough in texture. Cedar shingles are similar but are machine-sawn. Repair them by removing and replacing the damaged shingles or shakes.

Vinyl siding can be difficult to repair, depending on the damage. Always check your warranty information before making any repairs to avoid inadvertently voiding the manufacturer's warranty.

Stucco siding repairs can usually be handled by the homeowner with a little practice and the proper tools and materials. Silicone stucco caulk and stucco patches can make your home look new and stop further damage.

Wood lap siding is the likeliest type of siding to need repairs due to splitting, weathering, and water damage. Luckily, it is one of the easiest to remove and replace.

Aluminum or metal siding is somewhat susceptible to damage from hail and the occasional foul ball, but replacement is quite easy with the proper tools.

Repairing wood siding

Wood siding is subject to deterioration from weather. Some varieties of wood, cedar and redwood for example, are less susceptible to rot and are therefore more desirable as siding. Composite materials, such as hardboard, resist rot but are vulnerable to moisture unless treated and sealed. Sun damage is likely to be greater on the south and west walls. Siding standards have varied over the years. If you’re replacing siding on an older house, you may find it difficult to locate a suitable match. A building materials supplier may be able to special-order replacement siding or suggest a specialty siding source in your area.

MATERIALS: Epoxy wood filler, wood spacers, siding material, siding nails, building paper, paintable exterior caulk

TOOLS: Putty knife, flat pry bar, hammer, shingle puller or hacksaw, circular saw, keyhole saw, jigsaw, hand stapler

Tips For Repairing Wood Siding

1 FILL SMALL HOLES IN WOOD SIDING BY CUTTING OUT THE DAMAGED AREA WITH A CHISEL Once you've removed all the rotten wood, use a putty knife to fill the area with an epoxy wood filler. Prime and paint to match the existing color.

2 TO PATCH LARGER HOLES, REMOVE THE DAMAGED SIDING. Start by driving spacers between the damage and the siding above it. Gradually pry up a wide area on either side of the damaged area to avoid splitting or cracking the old wood.

3 PRY OUT THE NAILS HOLDING THE DAMAGED SIDING IN PLACE. If you’re worried about damaging a piece of siding that neighbors the damaged area, slip a scrap of wood between the pry bar and siding. Remove the piece of damaged siding.

4 CUT REPLACEMENT SIDING BOARDS TO FIT, LEAVING AN EXPANSION GAP OF 1/16 INCH AT EACH END. The expansion gap is essential. Without some breathing room the new siding could warp or buckle.

5 USE OLD SIDING AS A PATTERN FOR TRACING CUTOUTS around wall openings, fixtures, or obstructions. Prime and seal the cut ends on the house and the replacement boards and let the pieces dry thoroughly before you install them.

UGLY IS MORE THAN SKIN DEEP - Wood rot is water damage from a heavy and constant exposure that encourages the growth of fungi and bacteria. Damp wood is also an inviting home for carpenter ants and termites. Before you make the repair, find the source of the problem. Sometimes the source is obvious, but it pays to be nosy. Water that damaged the surface of the siding also may have damaged the sheathing. Roll back some of the tar paper or moisture barrier and look at what's underneath it. If you see rot, poke it with a screwdriver to see how deep it is. If the damage is only skin deep, you can probably ignore it, as long as you fixed the cause. If it's so deep that it won’t hold nails, water will be able to get under the siding again, and collect in the sheathing and perhaps in the insulation, which holds water like a sponge.

Unfortunately, the source of the water damage may not always be obvious. Your house is a system and the problem can be anywhere in it. Roofing keeps the water off the house, gutters collect it, and downspouts direct it away from the foundation. Even something as simple as water from a clogged gutter bouncing back off the sidewalk and onto your deck can cause rot. If the source of the water causing damage to the siding isn't obvious, work your way up. Are the downspouts connected to the gutter and running freely? Are there loose or damaged shingles? Is the flashing sound, especially around the chimney? Find the problem and fix all the damage. If you have to, remove more siding and cut away some of the sheathing. Cut out a section that runs from the middle of one stud to the middle of another so that you'll have something to nail your replacement piece to. Nail in the patch, cover it with tar paper or moisture barrier, and then fix the siding.

6 REPLACE DAMAGED BUILDING PAPER BEFORE ATTACHING THE NEW SIDING. Cut the replacement paper so that it overlaps the repair area by at least U inches. Make a cut in and remove the existing building paper. Tuck the top edge of the patch through the cut and staple in place.

7 NAIL NEW SIDING BOARDS IN PUCE USING THE SAME NAILING PATTERN AS ON THE ORIGINAL BOARDS. If you're replacing more than one board, begin with the lowest boards and work up. Align the bottom with the bottom of neighboring pieces.

8 SET THE SPIGOT IN PAINTABLE SILICONE CAULK, THEN PAINT THE NEW SIDING. For a color match, take a piece of the old siding to a store with a computer color-matching system [or an old pro who's really good). Brush the new paint over the old and dry with a hair dryer to check the color match.

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