Posted by Northface Construction -Owner & Founder
Wood Rot Is Inevitable. Your once beautiful siding has had a good run. Unfortunately, replacing rotten wood siding is something every homeowner who has wood siding will have to do.
Fortunately for you, we’ve got your back. In this post, we are going to cover signs of wood siding damage, when you should enlist professional help, the dangers of replacing it yourself, how to protect your wood siding from the get-go, and how to save on siding repair costs.
Let’s dive in!
Understanding Wear And Tear On Your Home’s Exterior
There are two things that are part of your home or commercial building that often receive the most neglect: the roof and the siding.
For your roof, you need to make sure you build with quality materials. Quality materials are more likely to stand up to the harsh outdoor environment. So when replacing a shingle roof, make sure you are using trusted shingle brands.
When it comes to siding, this exterior material layer offers the building protection to ward off moisture as well as hot and cold temperatures to keep your place safe from the outdoor elements. However, rot and decay from negligence, pests, and age can quickly leave your building exposed.
There are many different types of siding out on the market. Wood siding has been a popular choice for centuries as people enjoy the natural look of wood while taking advantage of its benefits as it can come in clapboards and beveled siding. There’s even wood roofing options like cedar shakes or cedar shingles. The durability and strength of the siding will be based on the type of clapboard wood that was used.
Many people delay getting new wood siding when one or two boards are rotted out because it can be hard to match new materials to the wood species and the same look of the existing siding. However, by waiting to replace the one or two rotten boards, this problem can lead to more significant damage in time.
Signs You Should Replace Your Rotted Wood Siding
Wood siding is susceptible to rot, mold, warping, and mildew in different ways. Here are several common reasons for damage:
- Woodpecker poking holes to get at the insects lurking underneath
- Pests such as termites, rodents, and other animals
- Missing ring-shank nails that popped out due to age or movement
- Worn, cracked or missing caulking allowing moisture to penetrate
- Normal wear-and-tear from age and weather
- Impact from blown debris, tree limbs, or other object
The moment that wood siding becomes damaged, it can allow water to penetrate into the core of the board and to the felt paper underlayment. You can find signs of water damage on the exterior and interior of the home. Warped, loose, and cracked clapboards are common signs of rot that can be seen outside.
If you frequently paint or stain the surface due to constant color fading or paint blisters and bubbles, this situation could be another indication of moisture penetration. Inside your home, you may have peeling wallpaper or paint on your walls. Mold or mildew on interior drywall or fungus along exterior siding seams are additional signs of wood rot.
When Replacing Your Wood Siding Requires Professional Help
Replacing wood siding will be based on the amount of damage that may be present. Holes caused by pests and woodpeckers should be addressed immediately as a person only has to fill in the holes with wood putty. A single rotted clapboard can usually be replaced by the homeowner or the commercial maintenance crew by using the old rotted clapboard as a measurement board for the new siding plank.
However, the amount of present rot can be deceptive. If your siding has a lot of damage due to pests or rot, then that’s probably the time to think about replacing it for a more robust siding like this fiber cement lap siding. Generally, fiber cement sidings last a lot longer than their wooden counterparts.
In terms of damage from pests, if you are suffering from a serious infestation you will most likely need to seek professional help from some termite control experts. If wood damage isn’t fixed quickly, the results can be devastating which is why you need to contact a professional as soon as you are aware of a problem.
While you may think only the clapboard is damaged, the underlayer may have also turned soft from rot. Using a screwdriver to poke at the underlayer can determine if rot penetration has impacted far more than just the wood siding in one spot.
If you are unsure of the amount of rot that is present, always hire a professional such as Northface Construction. A contractor can perform an inspection without damaging the existing clapboards or beveled wood siding to determine the extent of the rot.
If you are dealing with a few boards, the contractor can help assist you in finding materials that match the wood species and color of siding, as they have broader access to wood siding suppliers as vendors.
The Dangers Of Replacing Rotten Wood Siding On Your Own
The process of replacing rotten wood siding isn’t difficult. The steps involve cutting away the rotten siding, clearing out the old nails, cutting the new siding to the appropriate length, and fastening the siding as well as caulking it to make the siding watertight.
However, if the process is not done right by the homeowner or commercial building owner, you could damage the existing clapboards around the rotten boards. This issue can increase your costs and prolong the repair project.
In addition, replacing wood siding can take time and frustrate regular home and commercial building owners. With the right team of contractors, the wood siding can be replaced the first time correctly. You won’t have to deal with inferior workmanship or need to fix repair efforts if you do the job personally and rush through the process.
Protecting Your Wood Siding From Rot And Decay
The obvious solution to protecting and ensuring the longevity of your wood siding is regular maintenance. While maintenance is probably the least sexy term in the homeowner’s dictionary, it is essential to keep up on, especially when you have wood siding.
Wood that’s left unprotected and exposed to the environment will decay, underperform, and cost the homeowner much more in the long run. Fortunately for those who are looking to protect their wood siding, you have options. It should be noted; if you have neglected maintenance on your wood siding, you may need to do some restoration work before jumping to protective methods.
Best Ways to Seal and Protect Wood Siding
There are three common ways to seal and protect wooden siding. The first is by using a clear, oil-based finish. This clear finish is absorbed into the wood, preventing any water from working its way into its pores.
The second option is staining your wood. Staining your siding is exactly the same as using a clear sealant, but with color to change the final look of the wood.
Your third option is to use special paint to both seal and recolor your wood siding. Painting wood siding does add some additional protection by creating a layer between the wood and its environment.
Determining which method of protection you should use depends on what you want out of your siding. If you like the look of your bare wood siding, you should consider using the transparent, oil-based stain. An added benefit of this protection method is that mistakes are very difficult to detect. So if you aren’t a professional, then this one may be for you.
If you like the wooden texture but want to change the color, apply a colored stain. Finally, if you are willing to do a bit more work for some added protection, finding paint for your wood siding is an excellent option.
Protect Your Siding from Water
Water is the greatest enemy to wood siding. While adding stains and paints to your siding can help protect your wood siding from rot, it is not perfect. Even with the best products, increased exposure to water will still cause your siding to rot exponentially faster. This is why it is crucial your roofing system, gutters, and flashing are doing their part.
Clean gutters is a must and will protect your siding from unnecessary exposure to water. If you notice water starting to leak or overflowing, it is important to bring out the ladder and make sure there is nothing clogging your gutters from performing at their best. If you notice your gutters clogging often from leafs and debris, you might want to consider gutter guards to save you from repeated trips up the ladder.
Flashing is another effective tool to protecting your siding from water. Depending on how old your home is, your roof might not be up to code with the latest flashing. Kickout flashing is an excellent example of this as it was not always a code requirement. We often find older houses missing this and their wood siding is often rotten because of it.
Let Northface Construction Replace Your Rotten Wood Siding For You
Northface Construction can help homeowners and commercial building owners with their siding projects. If you suspect your siding is rotting, contact us immediately so we can perform an inspection and provide you with options to help repair the exterior of the building to prevent further moisture penetration.
If you are looking for more helpful information on your home’s exterior, check out our roofing checklist!
Frequently Asked Questions
How can you tell if your wood siding is rotting?
There are a number of sings your wood siding is rotting. Look primarily for warping, mildew buildup, or insect infestation. Obviously these vary in severity, but if your home has wood siding it’s a good idea to check up on it once in a while.
What regular maintenance can I do to prevent my siding from rotting?
The best thing you can do is check up on your wood siding at least on an annual basis. Make sure its sealed, not warping or cracking, and generally in good condition. Catching a crack early on, and making sure its properly sealed will greatly increase its lifespan.
Is wood siding worth it?
While this question is very subjective to personal preference, wood siding does have various pros and cons that appeal to certain homeowners. If you are looking for low maintenance siding, we would recommend going with a different material.
It's Rotting or Warping
If your siding has begun to warp, rot, or become soft, it is time to replace it. To test for rot, insert a screwdriver or prybar gently under the boards and joints along gutters and chimneys to see if the material underlying the area is soft and easy to poke into.
The Quick Fix
A cheaper, faster repair method is to dig out the rotted section, let it dry, then fill the area with epoxy, prime it and paint it. This type of repair works well when you're trying to save money or if the rotted area is difficult to replace (and when the rotted area is dry enough to accept the filler).
Any existing wood boards with rot, mould, or mildew will need to be replaced to match the thickness of the exterior wall before installing vinyl siding on top. A moisture barrier is imperative under the siding to protect your home's structure and mitigate damage.Should you replace rotten wood? ›
If the wood is too rotten, the repair won't help much. In this case, it is recommended to get the piece replaced.