Replacing Damaged Siding on a Historic House
By Clint C. Thomas, Esq. Photography By Sterling Thomas
It has been said that the lumber available today is not as dense or as solid as lumber that was harvested twenty or more years ago because it is now cut when it is still very young. Latex paint certainly is not as long lasting as the lead-based paint that was used by our grandfathers.
If you put these two new things together on the exterior of a house it creates a recipe for a home repair problem.
I can testify to this fact from first-hand experience. My wife and I are blessed to own a Victorian home ca. 1880, that has the old-fashioned wooden siding commonly referred to as #105 weatherboard. As with many old houses, we use the back door as the primary door since it is adjacent to the driveway. The home has a small wooden deck, some people would call it a porch, directly off of the back door.
The downside to having this deck is that it causes some of the siding to rot. Rainwater from two different roofs fall on this area of the deck, and when it hits the surface it splashes back against the siding of the house. Also, the afternoon sun relentlessly beats on this side of the house, causing the paint to deteriorate faster than normal, which in turn allows the water to seep into any crack in the lumber that it can find, eventually rotting it. In contrast to the siding, the deck is made out of pressure-treated lumber and withstands the rainwater.
This same problem occurs on the small shed that is adjacent to the house. It sits next to a cement patio, and as with the deck, water splashes off the patio back onto the siding of the shed. Over the years, this has caused the bottom three boards to get very spongy and begin to rot.
Another problem area is a narrow strip of siding that is adjacent to and directly under the roof of the side porch. Water cascades off of the main roof onto the porch roof and a large amount is then channeled over the end of the roof and invariably runs down this strip of siding.
The simple fix would be to add a couple of gutters and an eaves-trough. However, since the house is located in a National Historic District and has never had those amenities, we are prohibited from installing them now as it would alter the home’s original appearance and character. Also, this would only stop water from falling off the roof, but it would not have any effect on rainwater that fell directly onto the deck.
The second alternative to fixing the problem would be to purchase #105 weatherboard siding that is milled out of pressure-treated lumber. None of my local home improvement centers offer pressure-treated weatherboard. In fact, very few of them even carry this style of weatherboard siding any longer.