Many historic homes- especially those constructed during the Victorian Era utilize wood siding. Wood siding around LA is usually either in the form of weatherboard (lap) siding or shingle siding (learn more about shingle siding here), and it is typically made from Douglas Fir or Old Growth Redwood. Why these woods? They are resistant to termites.
Taking care to maintain your wood siding is the best way preserve it and to prevent costly damage. Be sure to check for leaks especially around the gutters, chimneys, roofs, and windows. Not only can leaks cause damage to wood siding- they can also attract pests. It is a good idea to caulk over holes, cracks, and joints to seal out insects followed by a protective layer of paint, and treat exposed wood siding with pesticide. To ward off termites and protect against dry rot, be sure to store any wood products at least 20 feet away from your home, and remember to seal all cracks in the foundation and don’t allow water to pool around your foundation. Make sure you maintain a 1-inch gap between the soil and any wood sections of your building.
However, wood siding is still susceptible to damage from termites and another common problem- Dry Rot, a fungus that can form in areas where water does not properly drain.
What to do if you suspect you have damaged siding:
Before attempting to replace your siding, try cleaning it to preserve to original wood. A mixture of 25% bleach in water with a small amount of detergent can take care of mildew and other stains.
You may have to repair or replace wood siding if it has not been properly cared for. First, test for dry rot by pushing a nail into the siding by hand. If it goes in easily, you will have to replace the wood. You can save wood that isn’t rotten, and replace the rotten stuff by “piecing in” like materials. If the historic material is not available, you will have to use a different type of wood. When searching for wood siding at lumberyards, ensure that the new material is the same size, profile, detail, and finish as the original siding. It is best to use stainless steel or aluminum nails because they will not stain the siding.
-Clean regularly (25% bleach in water with a small amount of detergent).
-Paint or stain exposed wood siding to help protect it- fix minor damage with epoxy.
-Repair damaged siding by “piecing in” with materials that match the original.
-Cover wood siding or details with vinyl, stucco, or other materials.
-Replace wood siding with materials that don’t match the original.
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