Wood is a timeless material and a popular exterior siding choice. But it also has a downside, which is that it requires regular maintenance and repair. While caring for your exterior wood siding takes some work, if you maintain it regularly you’ll enjoy this beautiful siding for many years to come.
Here’s what you need to know about exterior wood siding, including how to repair and replace wood siding and how long you can expect your wood siding to last.
With good maintenance, wood siding will last anywhere from 20-40 years. You should plan to reseal or repaint it every few years, patch holes or cracks as they develop, and replace damaged exterior wood siding before it impacts surrounding areas.
Exterior wood siding can be vulnerable to the elements, including water damage, dry rot, insect infestations, and splitting and bowing as it dries over time. That’s why it’s important to care for your exterior wood siding on a regular basis, protecting it from leaks and moisture that could lead to greater structural damage. To keep it in top condition, plan to treat it about every five years. You should also avoid pressure washing it, which can lead to chipped paint that allows moisture to seep through.
It’s important to repair your wood siding as soon as you notice signs of damage. If it is cracked even a little bit, it can allow water to seep in, leading to rot and mold.
Fortunately, if the damage is limited to just a few boards, you can repair them easily without having to do a full replacement. To do it, you’ll need to remove the damaged wood, being careful not to disturb adjacent boards. Working with a utility knife, slice away the caulk that joins it to neighboring boards and use an electric multi-tool to cut it vertically so you can remove damaged sections. Finally, pry it carefully away from the nails until it comes loose.
Once you’ve removed the damaged wood siding, use it as a template to measure and cut a replacement board. Then carefully nail it into place with stainless steel nails and use paintable acrylic caulk to seal the seams between it and the neighboring boards. After you’ve installed it securely, apply primer and exterior paint until the new board matches the look of the rest of your exterior wood siding.
Sometimes your exterior wood siding only requires a minor repair, like patching a hole or crack. You can use a waterproof exterior wood filler to patch a hole in wood siding. Make sure you use an epoxy filler that expands with the wood as temperatures and humidity levels change, and that will not shrink after it cures. To patch a hole in wood siding, scrape away any loose paint around the area and dig out the rot inside the hole before you begin. Then sand the area to smooth away any splinters, and mix and apply the wood filler with gloved fingers or a putty knife. Once the filler hardens, you can sand it down so it’s smooth.
If your wood siding shows signs of extensive damage, warping, or cracking, it may be time for a full replacement. This is especially true if it’s more than a few decades old. But unless you are a home improvement pro, we don’t advise replacing exterior wood siding on your own: contact local contractors and get a quote for a full replacement.
When you do decide to replace your exterior wood siding, you may want to consider alternative materials. For example, if you love the look of wood but not all the maintenance, engineered wood may be a good alternative. It has many of the same qualities as wood siding but can be more durable. For example, it’s more resistant to water damage, mold, warping, and insect infestations. It’s also affordably priced compared to solid wood siding, and should require a bit less maintenance over time.
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