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Restoring and Moisture-Proofing an Older Home

As one of the best-known Colorado Springs home improvement contractors, we get a lot of questions about how to restore older homes. Some of our client...


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Monday, 18 August 2014

colorado springs sidingAs one of the best-known Colorado Springs home improvement contractors, we get a lot of questions about how to restore older homes. Some of our clients will go to great lengths to use only the finest materials, restoring the home to its original splendor; but the majority of homeowners don’t have the resources to splurge on a full restoration.
In many cases, the wood siding has been so badly neglected and water-damaged it requires a complete overhaul. While many homeowners will be tempted to put up vinyl siding, this can act as an exterior vapor barrier, trapping moisture within the walls and hastening decay. Additionally, vinyl siding cracks easily in Colorado’s colder temperatures and its color will fade over time.

If you watch home improvement shows like “This Old House,” or documentaries on restoration, the host will rarely recommend vinyl, but rather a host of alternatives for siding, windows and entry doors that mimic the original character of the building. Not surprisingly, experts in restoration often recommend fiber cement shingles over vinyl siding. While they may be more expensive, they add a lot of character to an older home.

A composite of cement and cellulose, fiber cement siding is warranted for up to 50 years. The most popular brand of fiber cement shingles, HardieBoard, is developed and manufactured by the James Hardie Company. Available in 12-foot lengths, it is installed like any lap siding, but it is best to nail it directly into the studs using stainless steel nails.
While some fiber-cement shingles are purchased in specific colors, it is preferable to paint them in a custom color. You can also refresh the color with paint down the road. Once painted, the siding will not need to be repainted for ten years. The material is also non-combustible; it doesn’t dent, crack or rot, and termites don’t eat it. Designers and architects love HardieBoard because it comes in a variety of textures, including wood grain, and it doesn’t cost much more than vinyl.

Why hire a Colorado Springs HardieBoard contractor?

If you have never installed fiber cement shingles and you want to the job to be done right, it makes sense to work with an experienced siding contractor or installer. HardieBoard installation is a lot different than vinyl siding because the boards are heavier and must be individual mounted to the wall. Professional installers are very experienced with this material and will make sure your home looks fantastic.

A word about trim

Whatever siding you choose for your older home, it is imperative that you leave the original trim intact. While the process of stripping and repainting may be labor-intensive, it would do irreparable harm to the architectural character of the home if this trim was replaced with vinyl. When you or the installer put up the new siding, make certain that the seams between it and the old trim are tight. Cut rabbets in wood drip caps and sills to channel water away from the siding and use copper or galvanized-steel flashing to prevent possible water traps. Don’t rely solely on caulking; even the best acrylic copolymer caulking will eventually fail if it’s the only defense against water penetration.

How to prep for your new fiber cement siding

Before your siding can be installed, it is important that you or your contractor apply an anti-infiltration membrane over the sheathing. This will prevent outside air from getting into the house and it will make it easier to control the internal humidity, but it will also reduce the risk of condensation beneath the siding. Also, while the old siding is removed and before re-siding, you can blow additional fiberglass or cellulose insulation into the wall cavities.

Other ways to prevent moisture infiltration

Moisture-proofing an older home will require more than siding; it’s also important to get new storm windows or double-glazed replacement windows. A vapor barrier is also recommended over a bare-earth cellar floor. Use a heavy polyethylene material that is covered with an inch of sand and 3 to 4 inches of crushed stone; or you could simply pour a concrete slab over the polyethylene.

Whether you’re planning to restore an older home or starting from scratch with new construction, fiber-cement siding is an ideal way to beautify your home’s exterior.

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