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Each piece of siding should move back and forth at least 1/4-in. if it's been nailed correctly. Test all the pieces on the noisy wall, and mark pieces that don't move.
If your siding sounds like rodents running inside the walls whenever the sun shines on it, you may have one or more pieces that were nailed too tightly. Vinyl siding tends to expand and contract considerably with temperature changes. For this reason, manufacturers design it to hang loosely on the nails rather than to be tightly nailed like wood siding.
The problem should be easy to diagnose. Simply go outside, grab the lower edges of a siding course and try to slide it back and forth (Photo 1). Manufacturers require about 1/4-in. play at both ends, so if it's nailed properly (loosely), you should be able to slide it 1/4 to 1/2 in. If all the siding is tight, it was installed wrong and should be redone. If only a few pieces are tight and you can't find the contractor who installed it, buy an unlocking (“zip”) tool and unfasten the section above, exposing the nails (Photos 2 and 3). Find the tight nails and cut them (Photo 4). Renail right next to the old nail, leaving at least a 1/16-in. gap between the nailhead and the vinyl to allow easy movement.
Natural wood has long been used in home construction thanks to its ample supply and versatile appeal. When it comes to siding, its unique, textured aesthetic has been recreated in plastics and vinyl, giving builders more cost-effective home design alternatives, though often at the expense of natural charm and long-term usability. But thanks to recent trends calling for eco-friendly and more sustainable home building materials, this natural siding choice is once again being revisited and adapted for the modern home buyer.
Before you make a decision about what you will use for your home's exterior, learn about the pros and cons of natural wood and how easy it is to install.
Although other materials have been created to mimic the look and feel of wood, only natural wood siding can give you that grainy, organic look. Below are a number of other reasons why wood is a fantastic choice for homeowners looking to redesign the exterior of their properties.
Unlike factory-made materials that must be ordered and cropped in-house before delivery and installation, natural wood can be bought, cut, and installed all in the same day by anyone with basic carpentry skills.
This nature-made resource is easier and less expensive to replace than plastic or vinyl materials. Wood siding is also simple to match in color and texture when you do need to replace segments.
Because this material works well with paint and stains, it gives more design options to homeowners who choose it--a freedom they would forfeit by choosing other types of siding. Vinyl, plastic, and aluminum may look pretty, but they do not easily hold paint and stain the way organic materials are able to, forcing homeowners to either pay higher costs for customization or accept the material's limited options.
Natural wood siding creates the timeless, finished look yearned for by many modern consumers. Although typically associated with higher upfront costs, the increase of curb appeal and monetary value from designing a home with this material has more and more builders revisiting this classic aesthetic.
Due to the recent success of tiny and sustainable living movements, new focus has been put on using renewable and eco-friendly materials such as natural wood to complete a home’s exterior. Wood itself, of course, is biodegradable, and depending on the brand and origin of the lumber used can actually be produced using less energy than vinyl and aluminum alternatives.
Unfortunately, as with any material, there are downsides to choosing wood siding for your home.
Choosing natural wood siding means committing to regular upkeep after installation. The materials must be repainted, stained, sealed, or, in some cases, replaced to ensure the wood doesn’t rot, warp, or twist with time as it's exposed to various elements. The wood’s upkeep must be considered before deciding on this type of home detail, as it's crucial for the safety and structural soundness of the home, and it can become costly for some homeowners.
Depending on climate and environmental factors, there is a chance your materials could face bugs and critters. Consider for a moment the damage a colony of termites could inflict on a wooden-fronted home if the homeowners are caught unprepared for the bugs' arrival. Stains, finishes, sand barriers, and seals can work to combat pests, though they should be a factor to calculate into your potential long-term costs.
Lack of Insulation
Many current store-bought vinyl and plastic siding options now come with layers of hidden insulation tucked behind the factory-made finish, which is ideal for keeping the cold out during wintertime and keeping the cool in during summertime. However, choosing an organic, earth-made material means losing this benefit and possibly paying more in the long run for heating and cooling costs.
As mentioned, choosing natural wood for a home project often results in added expenses that wouldn’t be present with other options. Depending on the area you live in, vinyl siding can cost approximately $4 per square foot, while cedar can cost around $6 per square foot. With American homes averaging at approximately 2,400 square feet, installation and maintenance costs of natural wood siding can quickly add up.
The Installation Process
After applying a weather-resistant barrier (whether you choose asphalt felt, building paper, or plastic house wrap), you need to choose a pattern for layering the wooden pieces onto your home.
There are two common patterns for installation: staggering the boards with overlapping pieces and intersecting seams, or layering the pieces to display a more traditional, shingled look. Both methods are installed similarly, only differing slightly in the way the boards themselves are laid.
Once you've decided how to lay out your tiles based on your design preference, you can begin the installation process.
Step 1 - Cut wood boards to the correct and desired size.
Step 2 - Starting at the bottom of your first wall, place the first wooden piece approximately one inch from the home’s foundation line. (You will need scaffolding or ladders in order to complete this project, so plan accordingly as you work your way toward the top of the home.)
Step 3 - Nail tiles down in a horizontal fashion every 24 inches or so in accordance with your county's building regulations. Stainless steel nails driven by hand are preferable. Should studs be available, attempt to drive nails onto them, as they will more greatly secure the lumber to the home’s front.
Step 4 - Scale the wall following the tile design pattern you chose, repeating the process of frequently nailing pieces to more securely fasten the siding. (Keep in mind, the less gaps and flaws that are created during installation, the less clean-up will be needed later.)
Step 5 - Clean up gaps, holes, cracks, and other flaws using caulk. This will prevent critters and, more importantly, water from infiltrating your home behind the newly installed boards. (There are a variety of clear-drying, painted-on wood finishes that also aim to protect natural woods from weather, mildew, UV rays, and pests.)
Step 6 - Treat the siding edges and the top layer of lumber with a wood-specific glue. This should not be used in replacement of nails, but as a means to ensure proper security of the structure’s most vulnerable pieces.
You probably don’t give your gutters much thought, but you have them to thank for every door, window frame and strip of siding that isn’t rotting from water damage. Your gutters are also responsible for protecting your foundation from cracks and your basement from flooding. So, it’s a big deal when they’re not working properly.
Luckily, you don’t have to shell out big bucks to fix gutter problems. With these tips, you’ll learn how to handle the four most common home gutter repairs the way.
How Do Gutters Protect Your Home?
“Most foundations float, so when the soil expands or contracts from uneven moisture levels, the foundation moves up and down. The whole point of the rain gutter system is to keep the moisture level consistent around your house so you avoid that shifting that can cause foundation failures.”
How to Repair Sagging Gutters
Person Repairing a Gutter
Over time, gutters can sag due to debris pileups, high winds or other unavoidable weather issues. It’s important to fix gutters that are pulling away from the house to avoid drainage problems that could dump water on your foundation. Luckily, repairing sagging gutters is pretty simple.
Use a claw hammer, pry bar or locking pliers to remove the spikes holding your gutters to the house. If your gutters are held on by screws instead, use a drill to unscrew them.
If your gutters were secured by spikes, buy gutter screws to replace them. Screws give a sturdier hold.
If your gutters were secured with screws, replace any that are bent or damaged.
Line your gutters back up with the existing holes and use a drill to drive in the screws. Be careful not to drill so deeply that you dent the gutter.
Pro-Tip: If the screws aren’t quite snug enough, you can dip small strips of wood in all-weather adhesive and push them into the screw holes to better secure them.
When Should You Inspect Your Gutters?
“Wait until after the leaves fall off the trees on your property. Different parts of the country have trees that drop their leaves at different times, so it really depends on the type of vegetation that surrounds your home. If you wait for the right time, most people only need to inspect their gutters once a year.”
How to Make Gutter Seam Repairs to Fix Leaks
Gutters in Heavy Rain
Leaky gutters are a recipe for water damage and foundation issues. This is almost always caused by two sections of gutter pulling apart at the seam during severe weather or temperature fluctuations. Repairing gutter seams takes a bit of time, but it’s a straightforward task most DIYers can handle.
Use your utility knife to chip away the caulk around the screws connecting the two leaky gutter pieces.
Remove the screws with your screwdriver and pull the pieces apart.
Use your utility knife to remove any caulk left on either side of both pieces.
If there is rust on either gutter piece, use your wire brush to scrap it away. Then smooth the area with sandpaper, apply spray paint and dry completely.
Use the caulking gun to apply your silicone sealant to the inside lip of the bottom gutter piece, known as the “downhill.”
Carefully lower the top piece, or “uphill,” into place and press both pieces firmly together for about 30 seconds.
Replace the screws and apply sealant around them.
Pro Tip: Be thorough removing the old caulk. Your new caulk won’t bond as securely if it’s applied onto leftover residue.
What’s the Worst That Could Happen When You Ignore Your Gutters?
“For foundation failure, cracks in your foundation, you’re going to pay somebody tens of thousands of dollars — or more — to repair your foundation. If your gutters get full, water can get behind the fascia of your house, run down inside the walls and rot them.”
If water regularly overflows your gutters and you know they aren’t clogged, then the problem is that they aren’t sloped enough to keep water flowing freely. Your gutters should slope downwards a quarter inch every 10 feet, and when that ratio is off overflows happen. Here’s how to make DIY repairs to this gutter problem.
At the farthest end from the downspout, measure the distance between the bottom of the fascia board it’s attached to and the bottom of the gutter.
Move 10 feet down the gutter. Measure and mark the fascia board a quarter inch lower than the original measurement.
Reposition that section of gutter so that it rests on the mark you made, unscrewing and re-screwing wherever necessary.
Continue measuring your gutter in 10-foot segments, ensuring that each segment rests a quarter inch lower than the one before it.
Once you’re done, use a garden hose to double-check that water is now flowing freely.