Big siding decision! Removing vinyl from cedar.

enigmaquandryJuly 31, 2011

I am COMPLETELY torn and really looking for some advice about our siding issue. We live in a 1950 cape cod in Illinois, it is currently sided with a horrible, cheap vinyl that is cracking, twisting and fading. However, it doesn't seem to bother anyone but me. I have been thinking for two years about our options. I truly love cedar but we are enormously under the gun when it comes to budget. I had FINALLY settled on Certainteed's vinyl shakes, I don't love vinyl but we could install it ourselves and the shakes are quite convincing. I was happy with the decision and just waiting till we could afford it.

HOWEVER, this week we were talking to a neighbor and he told us all the houses on our street were cedar sided with lap or shakes (they are ALL vinyl or aluminum now). So on a lark we peeled off some of the vinyl from the back of our house, cut out the foam layer and voila! The original, painted cedar shake siding is still there! The two issues are, they're not the cute little shakes most people think of, and that I personally prefer, they are the much larger, taller ones that resemble asbestos shingles. Secondly, I'm freaked out about committing to removing all the vinyl siding and possibly finding that the cedar is not in good shape, looks terrible, or is rotting away. We could not possibly afford to remove the vinyl, remove the cedar (which certainly has lead paint considering the age) and hire someone to re-side quickly.

I'm also concerned about our resale, are we ruining the perceived value of our home by revealing (clearly) worn cedar shakes?

I appreciate ANY insight into this, I'm completely out of my element when it comes to siding, I'm not even sure what to remove...around windows etc.

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There is no way to know for sure, but most people wouldn't pay to put new siding on if the old siding was in great shape. Chances are, you are going to find a significant amount of damage.

Have you checked to see if you can easily find shingles in the dimension you have? One of the great things about shake siding is that you can replace a few shingles without ripping out the whole side of the house. Of course, that is going to require some carpentry skills. Are you up for that or are you going to have to hire everything out?

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 7:36PM
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Many people sided their homes because they were either dirty, needed paint, because their neighbors did and most of all because a 'Tin Man' was "curious if they have ever thought about getting away from the maintenance on the outside of their home".

Wether you re-side or paint the broken vinyl needs to be removed either way and if there is rot/damage it also needs to be repaired before the new siding goes up anyway. Just remove the siding and then make you decision. Unfortunately sometimes the damage is caused by the installation or the siding itself. Depending on when it was done you may have to replace the window sills as they usually hacked off whatever extended beyond the casing.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 12:01AM
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Thank you for your input! Wwe are up for work, I know there's probably 2,000 nail holes to be filled, probably some paint scraping and definitely a lot of painting. I am confident we will be able to replace a few shakes if needed and our local menards does carry the right size.

I'm just scared that the WHOLE THING will not be salvageable somehow...there's no way to know what the previous owner was thinking. My guess was just that they didn't want to paint anymore but you never know...

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 12:04AM
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Ian, we must have been typing at the same time :)

I agree with you, the issue is, if we take the siding off the it turns out we HAVE to re-side this will be a very big financial burden. I guess I'm trying to plan for possible pitfalls or gauge the likelihood the shingles will be viable. I'm so nervous!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 12:17AM
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I agree that the siding must come off...and that you are imagining a bigger problem than probably exists. The house isn't THAT old, so I doubt the whole house is covered with rotten shingles. I'm sure you will have to replace some, but you start with the worst ones first, and work your way to the rest later--no one says you have to do the work all at once.

I would not put any kind of siding back on...let the house return to what it is. By the way, if you can reshingle, that will be cheaper than having new siding installed.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 4:15AM
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"The house isn't THAT old, so I doubt the whole house is covered with rotten shingles."

Don't bet on it being in god shape.

The p[resent siding may have trapped water and held it against the likely damaged cedar and made it even worse.

You have to remember that siding is NOT waterproof, and it NOT the actual drainage plane.
It is there to protect the drainage plane form the sun and physical damage.
The tar paper, felt, or other liquid impermeable surface behind the siding is the drainage plane.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 12:40PM
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In the Same Boat here ... 115 year old house, cedar shakes and clapboards sheathed in vinyl. We have removed some of it and found it either in great shape or discovered a few less than distressing things (some minor wet rot, a missing foot or so of clapboard on a porch pier). On our side is that the house was left just stained (unpainted) until the mid 60's, then in the mid-late 70 was sided with vinyl. and it IS cedar ...

We dont know what well find elsewhere(we removed about 7% so far) but think it will be far less expensive to remove and repair than leave the vinyl and watch more wet rot happen (ok, hidden beneath the vinyl, but you know what I mean). Neighbor houses of the same vintage (also cedar and stained for the first 50 years of their lives) are in pretty good shape ... you'll never know till you take it off ...

My biggest concern is that our house is a full 4 stories tall ... and I am scared to death of heights ... YIKES

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 6:52PM
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