Need a Lift?

At Colin’s house, we finally conquered a mighty adversary: the rear wall. With a walk-out basement, two more stories, and a 12-on-12 gable peak, this wall measures some 40 feet bottom to top. Ladders just wouldn’t cut it at this height. No, sir… to install siding and trim on this bad boy, we needed a lift.

Terry rented a boom lift from Richmond Home Supply and towed it to the site. I helped him to position and level the machine, and I put plywood under each outrigger to spread its load. The lift is a lot of fun to operate. Inside the bucket you have four controls: one for each of the three connected arms and a fourth to pivot left and right. It has an impressive reach – we could access any point on our wall from the one spot we parked – and it’s remarkably stable. It does wiggle a little when fully extended, especially if the wind blows, but I felt much safer than I do high on a ladder.

Maxed out the ladder... Terry installs siding from the lift.

Maxed out the ladder… Terry installs siding from the lift.

Speaking of ladders, we used them in tandem with the lift until they would reach no further. It’s easier to install siding with a buddy, especially a full-length piece, which measures north of 12 feet and flops around a lot until you click it into place. Above the second-floor windows, it was Lift Only, and Terry called down measurements which I cut at ground level for him to pick up when he descended. I worked solo for a while as well.

Actually, siding is the fast-paced part. The tedious part is setting up J-channels and F-channels along the perimeters, giving the siding (and soffit) a smooth frame to hide unsightly cut edges. Previously Terry has done this job, but Colin suggested I give it a try, and with some thought I puzzled out the order of operations. The goal is not just to look pretty but also to prevent any wetness from sneaking inside the vinyl façade. (Terry’s advice: “You need to think like a drop of water.”)

The rear wall, fully sided. Still missing some aluminum trim.

The rear wall, fully sided. Still missing some aluminum trim.

Later on I folded some flashing with the aluminum brake, and Terry installed it along those vertical faces between the soffit and the roof. He put up several more bits of aluminum trim, installed soffit in all the high spots, and that was that. Our nifty lift is back at Richmond Home Supply now. It was fun while it lasted.

Terry installs aluminum trim - the lift's last hurrah.

Terry installs aluminum trim – the lift’s last hurrah.

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