Saturday, April 28, 2007

Adventures in Home Repair - Siding

It was another cloudy, dreary, drizzly day today. I didn't feel like doing anything but as always things came up. Earlier in the week we noticed that the lowest siding boards had buckled and was allowing water to get underneath. After checking the home repair guides and asking a few pointed questions about repairing sections of siding we thought we were prepared to tackle the job.

We pulled the offending siding off only to find out the interior cladding was warped, buckled, and rotten in places. Using the trusty Saws-All we trimmed out the worst of the cladding and that is when everything got interesting. The siding was 1 inch thick cedar that had been painted white over the years and repainted by us last year. The cladding was, well in truth we don't know what it is made from. It's at least an inch thick, but it isn't plywood. We had to cut a piece out that was 10 inches tall by 6 feet long and it was solid wood.

The house is a Century Home, which means it is somewhere between 90 and 120 years old. There are a lot of features that lead us to believe that it is at least 100 years old, but has been subject to numerous renovations. The root cause of the problem was work done sometime in the last 30 years or so.

Like most old homes in this area, the house has a stone foundation. Sometime in the last 30 years, thought we suspect more recent than that, the stones needed to be remortored and re pointed. Rather than doing that, the owners decided to parge the foundation using concrete. The parging butts up against and in most case sticks out past the lower siding boards. Well,as it turned out, the parging also overlaps the interior cladding and ocasionally the siding itself. Unfortunately, this allows water to run down the siding and into the house by wicking up the interior cladding.

So, we pulled the piece of cladding away from the house removing the rotted pieces right down to where the parging overlapped the bottom of the cladding. Behind the cladding we found that there was only a small amount of the cellulose insulation visible along with peach pits. I don't know if the peach pits were purposely put in the wall or if we found an old mouse nest.

Once the loose insulation was removed we could see the original 8 x 8" sill plate with axe marks visible. The studs are 6 x 6" on 48" centres. The original 1 x4" tongue and groove floor boards came out to the edge of the sill plate and the interior walls were build directly on top of floor. There was quite a bit of rotten wood around the base of the studs and a few of the visible floor boards so we scraped as much of that away as we could.

Next we took a trip into town and bought the thickest plywood we could find as well as some cedar fencing boards to cut into strips so we would have something to screw the plywood and eventually the siding too. Home Depot only sold siding in 100' amounts and it would take a week to arrive. Instead we purchased some 5/6" x 6" x 12' cedar decking planks which we plan to shape as best we can to match the existing siding. We also bought some insulation batting, to stuff up into the wall, a piece of aluminum flashing, a roll of fibre paper and a roll of tar paper, and some deck screws for attaching everything.

When we got home PeterC began stuffing the insulation into the wall while I cut the cedar fencing into the right size pieces to level off the sill plate and studs so that the boards would be even. We cut a piece of aluminum flashing to the width of the entire section and screwed it into place. We hope this will let any water that does get under the jury rigged siding planks, and new plywood cladding, to simply drip out harmlessly to the ground.

Next we cut the plywood to size and screwed it into place. On one end it is fairly even with the old cladding. On the other there is about a 1/4" difference but we can live with that. We used some silicon caulking to fill the gaps between the old cladding and the new, squeezing a little extra caulk into areas were water might continue leaking down into the parging. We left the lowest edge of the plywood open so the water could get out along the aluminum. And finally, we put a layer of the fibre paper over, stapling it into place as close to the old siding as possible along the top and side edges, the repaired area. By this time it was getting dark and the caulking needs 24 hours to cure completely.

Tomorrow we will take a piece of the removed siding and attempt to shave our cedar boards down to have the same profile. I hope we can use the skill saw, but if we have to we can use a plane. We'll install the new siding and caulk all the edges where it butts up against the old. Once the weather become a little warmer and dryer we will seal the wood and paint it white to match the rest of the house. We plan for this to be a temporary repair job until we can reside the entire house, but until then we want our repairs to be done well and last as long as needed.

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