Wood Home Siding Maintenance | Maintaining Your Wood House Siding
Wood is beautiful, organic, and hardy, but it is still vulnerable, and wood in particular faces a unique set of problems. Wood siding needs to be safeguarded against the elements and insects. Too much moisture and you might experience wood rot or mildew, or just inconvenient cracking and splitting from expansion. Termites and other insects also pose significant threats. If you want your wood siding to look as good years from now as it did the day you installed it, you'll need to take a few simple precautions.
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Maintaining Wood House Siding -- Wood Rot
Your wood siding is there to protect your home from the elements, but what can you do to protect your siding? For one thing, make sure you treat the wood with oil or stain, and do so regularly. Some types of wood (cedar, redwood, cypress) withstand weathering better than others and will last longer, which is why they are the more popular choices for wood siding, but they still need some help. Repainting or restaining every couple of years will help minimize the damage from Mother Nature's seasonal assaults.
The generally recommended maintenance schedule for wood siding is to repaint at least every five years, and treat or stain every three years. Some types of wood may require a little extra TLC, especially if you live in a wet climate.
Wood that is exposed to moisture for too long a period (that could be an exceptionally long rain storm, or an extended rainy season) can absorb the water and expand, possibly bowing outward. If this happens, or if the wood rots, or if woodpeckers or other pests (especially termites) create holes or weaken the wood, the shingles or boards will have to be replaced.
Cleaning Wood Siding
There are a few different ways to clean your wood siding. You can hire a professional to steam clean or pressure wash your siding, or you can rent your own power washer. If you rent your own machine, you do need to be careful. Too much pressure can ruin the wood and it will strip the paint, requiring you to repaint afterward. In most cases, you can use a 2200 psi or higher pressure washer.
If the thought of repainting after cleaning doesn't fill you with excitement, you might want to opt for a soft-bristled brush and a homemade solution of water mixed with mild dish or laundry detergent. If there's mildew, simply mix 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar. You'd be amazed by the powers of white vinegar! Some paint stores sell a mildewcide, too, but vinegar is cheaper and more eco-friendly. As with any cleaner, test a small section for color fading first. Remember to wash from the bottom of the siding to the top, but rinse from the top down. This prevents the dirty water from streaking or staining the newly cleaned sections.
Some simple steps to follow when washing your wood siding:
Make sure your windows are closed! You don't want to spray water into your living room.
Angle the spray away from doors and windows.
Cut the power to any outside lights that may get wet.
If you have shrubbery or flowers below, and you're using bleach or other cleaners, protect them with plastic.
Remove anything that might get in the way of cleaning the siding, or get in your way (safety first!).
Work from the bottom up when washing, and the top down when rinsing.
Don't take a break after washing but before rinsing! You don't want your cleaning solution to dry while on the siding.