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Replacing a Vinyl Siding Strip

In some cases you can repair a section of vinyl by slipping a patch over the damaged area, in much the same way as shown for aluminum siding. Flowever, many types of vinyl siding do not allow you to slip the top edge of the patch securely under the course above. Fortunately vinyl bends without denting, so you can pry out the top course far enough to remove existing nails and fasten the top of the repair piece.

Tools: Zip tool (made especially for vinyl siding), pry bar, utility knife, square hammer.

Painting Vinyl Siding Vinyl siding is advertised as eliminating the need for painting. But some types (especially older and less expensive vinyl siding) may fade significantly in the sun. If you prepare carefully, you can apply paint to vinyl. First rough the vinyl with a hand or power sander and 60-grit sandpaper. Then apply a coat of alcohol-based primer, followed by exterior paint.

1. Pry out the damaged strip. Unless you want to replace the entire strip, use a utility knife to cut it in place. To remove a strip, insert a Zip tool under the lower lip, pull down, and slide the tool to the left or right. Also pull out the bottom of the course above.

2. Install the new strip. Carefully pry the upper course back, and use blocks to hold it away from the house so you can get at the nails. Remove the nails and the damaged piece. Fasten the new strip by nailing through the centers of the nail slots. Do not drive the nails tightly.

3. Finish the patch. Relock the new strip by pulling down and sliding the Zip tool while pressing in along the bottom edge.

Patching vinyl siding. To fix a tear, you needn’t replace the piece. Cut a piece of plastic slightly larger than the damaged area. On the back side of the siding, apply PVC pipe primer, then cement. Press the patch into the cement and hold it for a few seconds.

Repairing Stucco Walls

Small cracks in stucco can be filled with butyl or silicone/latex caulk and then painted. But if there are many cracks or if a section is coming loose, you must chip away the old material down to the lath or masonry underneath, then build up a new surface in two or three layers. Problem areas larger than 8 feet square usually require restuccoing of the entire wall. This is a major job that you may want to leave to a professional.

Make repairs during mild weather when there’s no danger of freezing. Plan on the project taking at least three days. Wait at least six weeks before painting, then prime and apply paint recommended for concrete and stucco. Colored stucco is difficult to match. Experiment with pigments, keeping in mind that colors will fade as much as 70 percent by the time the stucco dries. Never let the coloring pigment exceed 3 percent of the batch’s total volume. Blending the patch’s final surface with the surrounding area can be difficult. Consult with a pro to find out (or guess at) the technique and tool used by the original installer.

Tools: Cold chisel, pry bar, hammer, stapler, trowel, hawk, improvised rake, spray hose, metal straightedge.

1. Prepare the area. Chip away loose stucco using a cold chisel, pry bar, and hammer. You may need to use wire cutters or tin snips to cut the metal lath. Staple new roofing felt and metal lath onto the sheathing. Make sure the surrounding stucco is firmly attached to the wall; if not, chip away some more.

2. Trowel the first coat. Mix a batch of stucco base coat, following directions on the bag. Place a dollop of stucco on a hawk or a piece of plywood, and push the stucco into the metal lath using a straight trowel. Apply the first coat to a depth of about 1/4 inch below the surrounding surfaces. Smooth the area.

3. Scarify. When the stucco begins to firm up, scratch it with a scarifying tool, or an improvised rake made by driving nails through a piece of wood every inch. The scratches should be about 1/8 inch deep.

Finishing Stucco - Stuccoers use a variety of tools to achieve the final surface. If you are unsure how to mimic the surrounding area, spread stucco on a plywood scrap and practice using these methods:

- Dab at the stucco with your palm or a trowel and pull straight back to achieve peaks. Perhaps “knock down” the peaks by lightly passing over the surface with a trowel.

- Produce a basically smooth surface. Dip a whisk broom in a bucket of stucco and dash it at the wall to produce hills. Perhaps knock them down.

- Make a swirled surface by brushing with a whisk broom using wavy or arcing strokes.

4. Cure the base coat slowly. The more slowly the stucco cures (dries out), the stronger it will be. Mist the scratch coat with a fine spray as often as necessary to keep it damp for two days. In windy or sunny weather, repeat several times a day. If the air is dry, tape a piece of plastic over the patch while it cures.

5. Add the brown coat. Some installations omit this step and go straight to the finish coat (Step 7). Mix a batch of stucco for the second or “brown” coat. Apply this coat to within about 1/8 inch of the surface, and level it off with a metal straightedge or a large trowel.

6. Float the surface. “Float” the brown coat by working it with a trowel until bleed water comes to the surface. Avoid overworking; stop once the water has appeared.

7. Texture the finish coat. Mist the brown coat for two days and wait a week. While you are waiting, practice applying finish stucco to a scrap of plywood until you can achieve a texture that blends in with the rest of the wall. Moisten the brown coat and mix a batch of finish stucco. Smooth on the finish coat. Texture it within a half hour.

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