Source of replacement antique wood siding?

donk4kyvAugust 9, 2011

My house was built circa 1850-1870 in the humid climate of middle TN. The original weatherboard siding appears to be made of yellow poplar. It is of uniform 7/16" thickness, and each board is about 6 1/2" wide, with enough overlap to leave about 5" of exposed board.

Some of the original siding planks are in such bad condition they need replacing - splits in the board, rotted ends and rot around the nail holes. I have repaired many of the boards over the years using epoxy filler, but some boards are just beyond repair.

I cannot find a source of wood siding that comes anywhere close to the dimensions of the original. I have considered replacing the rotted pieces with cedar instead of poplar, but the only cedar siding (or for that matter any species of wood) I can find is wedge-shaped instead of uniform thickness. The wedge shaped stuff (also available in pine) would be OK if I replaced all the original siding, but it won't work as a replacement for the rotted planks, mixed in with the original.

Any suggestions where I could find something identical or similar to the original, or how I could go about having some custom sawed? The local sawmills only do rough-cut oak and poplar for barns and farm buildings.

I don't want to replace all the siding, since only about 10% of the original planks are damaged beyond repair.

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You need to find a wood shop that has a resaw and does planing. The sawmill can supply the poplar lumber, the woodshop can resaw it in half, then plane one side. Likely that the original stuff was only planed one side, too. If the sawmill can give you rough 5/4 stock (five-quarter) you will be able to get your exact dimension, planed both sides. 4/4 would be a bit shy I'm afraid, unless you're okay with having saw marks on the face.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 4:04PM
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Call some restoration guys they can duplicate it,Do you by any chance live near Geyytsburg Pa I know a couple of guys that are good..

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 9:02AM
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"You need to find a wood shop that has a resaw and does planing. The sawmill can supply the poplar lumber, the woodshop can resaw it in half, then plane one side. Likely that the original stuff was only planed one side, too."

That's correct. It was planed on one side only. Sawmill stock would have to season for several months, since green timber shrinks substantially.

I might be able to repair it to good enough shape to re-paint this time, since I have some spare pieces removed from a wall that was partially covered over by an addition, probably enough to replace the worst rotted sections. But I doubt it will stay in good enough condition to re-paint again next time. By then I hope to have some replacement wood lined up, or perhaps purchased and stored away.

Eventually, it will need complete re-siding, which would make it more energy efficient and protected from moisture. The old siding was nailed directly over the studs with no sheathing, with plaster interior walls and nothing in between. Insulation, sheathing and re-siding would be a big improvement, but since the house is two-storey, 22' X 50', that would be a costly upgrade, probably something best left to the next generation of occupants.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 12:15PM
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If you take the siding off and add sheathing, you'll probably play havoc with all your window and door trim since the thickness of the vertical wall will change relative to the trim. I'd leave the dilemma to the next occupants!

Liriodendron aka Tulip poplar

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 6:02PM
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You can probably obtain kiln-dried rough poplar from a hardwood dealer.
_Liriodendron Tulipifera_, to be exact.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 6:33PM
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My suggestion may not work in your situation, but I restored several rotted windowsills in an 1840 home using two-part epoxy products called CPES that I purchased online from the Rot Doctor. One product is a sealer that binds with the rotted wood fibers; a second product is a filler that comes in a paste or a gel. I used both types of fillers; the gel is good for deep, hard to reach areas since it flows into the spaces. It can be used with a caulk gun. After everything had dried and cured, the window sills were like concrete. Like most epoxy products, they can be sanded and painted. They're nasty to work with but effective. The link below has alot of information. Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Info on CPES epoxy products

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 5:48PM
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