Vinyl Siding Replacement

berkshire80July 8, 2012

Hello,

My family and I have a 1950 Cape that was covered in Vinyl Siding roughly 30 years ago. The vinyl was installed by covering all of the original sheathing and shake siding with 1/2" medium density fibreboard and then slapping the vinyl on top of that. The trim work was all wrapped in white aluminum. Wouldn't the proper way to install the vinyl siding would have been to remove the shake siding down to the tongue and groove sheathing, wrap the house, then install the vinyl?

The siding has faded terrible over the years and the house is now a very bleached out grey, which I've come to detest. We've been trying to determine what to do. Most people we talk to seem to think replacing the vinyl siding would be a complete waste of money as vinyl is supposed to be "final" (not sure how much I agree with this).

I'm also concerned about what, if any, moisture damage the vinyl is covering up.

I'd love to hear some opinions on this. Is vinyl siding ever replaced or is it typically good for a lifetime? Also, the manner in which it was installed, i.e. covering original shakes with MDF and then vinyl a good installation method or should this have me worried?

I'm leaning towards stripping everything off right down to the sheathing and starting over so I can see what lies beneath before siding again. The contractors I've talked to for advice look at me like I'm from another planet when I mention this though. They seem to take the same stance that, why would anyone go through that kind of effort to replace vinyl.

Thanks for your input!

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civ_IV_fan

Thirty years sounds about right for vinyl siding. Do you have any old photos of your house to see what is underneath the siding? If it was me, I'd get back down to the wood siding and begin maintaining it, but know that means regular painting. My 100 years old wood siding is in very nice condition.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 11:01AM
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columbusguy1

Your house isn't terribly 'old', so I'd say your original siding is fine underneath...somebody just got tired of painting, and fell for the 'it adds insulation' spiel.

The ranch house I grew up in was built in 1957 or so, and my dad sided it in the early 70s, no problems, just hated painting. He used foam backing behind the aluminum. My current house built in 1908, still has its original clapboards, and while some have split, most are still good...though in need of paint touch-ups.

I'd say take off the vinyl, and don't replace it--see what shape your original siding is in, and paint that. You will not get a good effect visually with any sort of siding, no matter what claims the manufacturers make.

Siding is not a quality fix--it is done fast and cheap so they can still make a profit--which is why trim is usually removed or altered to fit into a plain j-channel outline, and no installer will remove work down to the sheathing as it is too labor intensive.

Do yourself and your house a favor, remove the vinyl and keep the original finish!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 2:00AM
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Jumpilotmdm

I agree with columbusguy. Don't be thinking you'll be in a frequent re-paint cycle either. Properly done, a coat of paint can last 10-15 years, or more. It ain't like it used to be.
The only "fly in the ointment" is the hundreds of holes in the siding from the sheathing application. You'll be patching for a while.
And pay no attention to those funny looks from the contractors. They seem to live & die by vinyl & coil stock. That thinking may never die. Look for a good restoration guy.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 8:46AM
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rmtdoug

Hey Berkshire80, as we speak I am doing exactly what you propose. I'm doing the work myself. I would hate to see the bill if we hired it out :) We also had vinyl over fiberboard over cedar shingles. It literally was 3" thick!

Starting in March, I've stripped a wall at a time and am putting up vented 8" LP smartside over the original sheathing with housewrap. I am also replacing all the windows in the house as I go and generally fixing things as I come across them. I hope to be done by the end of August.

I vented the new siding because I can be guaranteed there will never be moisture trapped behind it and my research indicated that paint jobs should last longer due to the drying effect and cooler surface of the siding. So far, I'm really happy with how it is turning out.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 9:16PM
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berkshire80

Hi rmtdoug, Very glad to hear that I'm not the only one who is undertaking such a project! I still can't see how the "siding sandwich" was viewed as an acceptable installation method. Vinyl is not water tight, and the original siding would need to breathe in order to dry out so covering it with 2 more layers of siding doesn't seem like a good idea to me. I think when our projects are finished we will have much more sound homes that will be ready to brave the elements for years to come. That's my hope anyways :)

Curious what you are doing with the windows? My house had vinyl replacements inserted into the existing window jambs, and the exterior window trim was wrapped in coil stock. The sills and many of the blind stops have rotted out over the years, underneath the coil stock.

I'm debating trying to remove the rotted sills and replace them with pressure treated or Azek. But, with them being part of the original window casings it could make it difficult to remove the sills. The other option is to remove the entire window frame and put in new construction windows as I go; but I would be wasting the vinyl replacement windows that are already there if I go that route. Curious how you ran into any moisture damage on your window frames and how you handled it.

Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 9:56PM
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berkshire80

Oh, and I think I am going to try and complete this project myself as well. I've always done all my own renovation work, but with 3 small children I thought it might finally be time to hire a contractor. I ran for the hills though after getting a few quotes on that job!

With the kids and not being able to put in 12+ hr days on reno projects like I used to, I am thinking of doing it the way you described. That is strip one wall at a time as opposed to the entire house. I haven't quite figured out what to do at the corner though. Did you just wrap the housewrap around to the existing siding and tape it off until you were ready to tackle that wall?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 10:04PM
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rmtdoug

Berkshire80, my windows were single pane aluminum inserts in the original wood frames, which where pretty beat up. Nothing to save there, so I ripped them out entirely and reframed the openings and put in vinyl with low-e glass. I resized the windows to standard 6" increments to save quite a bit of money. The inside walls (plaster!!!) are now a mess, but that will be fixed in "phase 3."

For the corners just run the housewrap long a foot or so and tack it around the corner with roofing nails. It will hold until you get to that wall. I had one corner go like that all winter without problem as I sided a small area around the back door last summer when we replaced the roof, which by the way also had three layers of roofing on it. If you think three layers of siding is bad, try two layers of comp over cedar shingles. What a mess that was getting that off.

Good luck with the project. I'm about two-thirds done. I should finish the east wall this week and that leaves only the north wall for the hottest part of our summer here. I started on the west wall this spring and worked around to the south wall. I generally only have the evenings and Saturday to work on it, so I tried to keep the sun away from where I was working as much as possible. I'll be very glad when I finish as this has been a real grind; however, the entire outside of the house will be new. Then I get to start on the inside.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 1:26AM
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