Re-siding in Massachusetts

Vinyl siding is durable, but it’s not perfect. Heavy snow this past winter surrounded my parents’ house in Massachusetts and pressed hard against the façades. When it melted in April we observed the damage: about 10 pieces of their vinyl siding had cracks or chips.

Siding removal.
Siding removal: using snips to isolate the broken part.

The damaged pieces were all in the lowest three feet, so I borrowed Terry’s siding tool from Vermont to remove them without disturbing the others. Using the Side Swiper is a struggle. Basically, I needed to hook the bottom edge of the course above the broken piece and then pull down. Starting from an end made the task easier, but I still needed to pull in precisely the right direction to unclip the siding. Once I had one area unclipped, I ran a finger across and the rest of the piece detached readily.

New siding delivery: six 12-foot pieces and one spigot surround.
New siding delivery: six 12-foot pieces and one spigot surround.

I learned a new term while ordering replacement siding: double-4. My parents’ siding comes in pieces that resemble two courses of wooden clapboards (hence “double”), each 4 inches wide. By analogy, Colin’s siding is triple-3. The contrast continues: I could remove Colin’s siding from the wall without disturbing the nails that held it in place. Here the nail slots folded back on themselves, making the piece too stiff to slide on and off existing nails. So I reached under with a cat’s paw and clawed every nail out of the wall.

Time to fill in the void. I cut a new piece of siding (or took an intact portion of an old piece), clipped it into the course below, and hammered the nails back in their old holes. To finish, I made another pass with the Side Swiper to reclip the course above, a few inches at a time. Then I moved to the next damaged piece of siding and repeated the whole process.

Back patio re-siding in progress.
Back patio re-siding in progress.

I’m pleased with the result, and I’m thrilled to save my parents from hiring an outside contractor. They have a few more projects for me in the coming months.

Front façade, re-sided and damage-free.
Front façade, re-sided and damage-free.

The Story Ends

Terry installed the last little white triangle today, and now the siding is complete. Next we’ll focus on the front porch.

No other component of Colin’s house took as long as the siding; not even close. (The best contender would be getting the site to drain properly, which is still a work in progress but with far less active labor.) We started siding way back in October, and we probably devoted 600 man-hours to the task. We worked in 85-degree heat and freezing cold, in rain and snow and gale-force wind. We used ladders, ladders on top of roofs, homemade scaffolds, and a bucket lift to reach the highest points. We emptied our massive original delivery of siding and needed about four boxes more to finish. What a relief to be done.

I wasn’t at the house for this occasion so I have little more to say about it. Just thrilled to pass a major milestone!

North gable end of the Barn... all done!
North gable end of the Barn… all done!

Alone Time

Terry spent this week working on a side project in another town. This morning he enlisted my help to move a rusty 600-pound boiler, definitely the adventure. But other than that, I’ve stayed at Colin’s house working all alone. Once again it’s nice to know I was 100% responsible for the progress made each day.

The siding continues. With a fresh supply of materials, I finished the Barn’s south gable end and started paving up the north end. Like every other wall, the bottom course was the trickiest, because the lines had to be level and match the finished side around the corner. Unlike every other wall, this time BOTH adjacent sides were already finished… and naturally, their lines didn’t match. No surprise really that somewhere around the perimeter of the house we got off level by a few quarters of an inch. Fortunately, the way the courses lock together gives me some play in their height, and by the time I made it over the doorways I had everything in line.

The lines on the siding match around every corner.
The lines on the siding match around every corner.

I also completed the top course of siding on the Barn’s east and west façades. Since the siding dies into a wide J-channel on top, there’s no way to nail the top course to the wall, at least not without leaving the nails exposed and visible. Instead, I put a bead of glue in the bottom hook, effectively adhering the top course to the penultimate course.

Siding finally finished on the front façade of the Barn.
Siding finally finished on the front façade of the Barn.

On the soffit front, the Barn is complete. I had to knock down the meanest, nastiest wasp nest of them all atop the north gable end, but that wasp should be glad now to not be built into the house. Then I got started on soffit above the front porch, quickly running out of F-channel. The materials monster strikes again.

Long way to go on the porch soffit.
Long way to go on the porch soffit.