Restore Or Replace Old Wood Siding: What You Need To Know

Posted on: 17 December 2018

Many older homes have wood siding. It is one of the most attractive types of siding when it is well maintained. However, when it is not maintained, it can quickly begin to look worn or even damaged, and homeowners might wonder if they need new siding because the wood siding looks so terrible.

Sometimes, even siding that seems in terrible shape can be restored to look beautiful again. But other times, the siding actually is too damaged to restore, which means you need to consider other options. Here's how you can tell if your wood siding is salvageable. 

Insect Damage

Wood siding that is not regularly painted or sealed is more likely to become a feast for wood-loving insects such as carpenter ants, termites, or bees. Sometimes, even insects that don't eat wood but nest inside the wood can find a warm home in your siding. 

Usually, siding with extensive insect damage cannot be restored. The structure of the siding itself is compromised, so the boards cannot be sanded down to be repainted or refinished. 

Moisture and Swelling

Water is another common type of siding damage. When wood siding is neglected, the wood can absorb water from rain, humid summers, and ice during the winter. Over time, the water can cause swelling in the wood, and the wood itself can rot or shrink away from the side of the house, leaving portions of the structure underneath exposed. If the boards curve up or rot away from window and door casings, they cannot be restored and instead need to be replaced. If too many sections of your house need replacement, restoring the siding as a whole might not be possible; replacement with vinyl, fiber cement, or new wood siding is preferable. 

Sometimes, homeowners buy homes that have wood siding underneath a layer of different siding. People might have updated an old home in the past by adding steel, aluminum, or vinyl siding. These siding types can make the old house look newer, but they can also trap moisture against the wood siding underneath. If you find out you have wood siding under a layer of different siding, you might hope to tear off the outer layer and restore the original wood siding underneath. Realize that this is not always possible because some newer siding does not breathe, so the wood siding might have deteriorated to the point where restoration is not possible. 

Lead Paint 

Some wood sidings were in the past sealed with lead paint. Siding with lead paint can be restored, but you need to check with local hazardous waste management to learn which restoration method is the safest for your home. Sanding off lead paint is often not possible. Instead, the siding must be scraped or the paint needs to be removed with a heat gun. The presence of lead paint does not mean that your siding is unsafe or that it needs discarding. After the paint is removed, the wooden siding can be repainted with new exterior oil or latex paint. 

Splits and Warping

Old wood siding can sometimes show wear because certain bards get damaged. Rocks from the lawn mower and hailstones can hit the siding and make the wood split. If just one or two boards split, you can remove and replace them with new boards. If many boards are splitting because they are warping from age (they will split where the nail meets the board), your siding might not be restorable.  

Replacement options for old homes are durable, paintable, and beautiful. Talk to a siding contractor in your area, such as Amenity Roofing Siding & Gutters LLC, about which exterior option matches the style and beauty of your old home.