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Old Wood Siding: Prep and Painting Tips

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Hey guys, Paul from Trusted House Painter here. I’m working on an old dormer. This is probably a 1912 1915 house. I had some thoughts that I’d love to share with you and make a short video about. So here it is:

So this is the dormer I’m working on here. You can kind of see them on a really high-pitched steep roof, and I’m prepping along here, and you can kind of see them going along there, and this kind of siding with the storm windows is, you know, it’s a normal character home of the early 1900s. Got that horizontal siding, and there are a couple of things that I wanted to share with you here because I’ve done a lot of character houses and heritage houses in my life, and there are a couple of characteristics that you should know that I deal with all the time. First one is seeing the grains like, for example, you can see the wood grains on this old house, so you know, obviously the paint is still sticking to that, and you can kind of see the wood grains, and that’s how it should look. However, when you come around here, and you start to lose the wood grains, you’ll see that the top three or five majority of that paint has come off and that wood is really dark, which means it’s letting go of the original primer and it was really quite easy to flake that off I just used a little scraper a little putty knife and most of it came off.

I’m gonna come back with a palm sander and palm sand it and work out some of those edges, but sometimes when you no longer see the actual grains but you see all the little micro-cracks, that’s indicative that you might need to strip your siding eventually because the paint is no longer the original coating and is no longer holding onto that wood, that old wood 1912 1915 wood. So you can see where there’s some wood grains here, and that’s pretty good. That shows that the wood is still holding or the wood is still holding onto the original paint and primer, and you can probably add some more, you know, it’s not a global failure here, but um, we’ll talk about this in a second, but that’s the first thing is always make sure that if you can no longer see the wood grains you can kind of see it here too, it’s really starting to lose the wood grains you see that big rough edge means the paint is no longer holding. You might want to think about stripping.

This, uh, I think the general rule is when there’s about 50 or 70 percent of um failure paint failure you should think about restrict stripping it completely.

And the second thing I would like to mention is, uh, when you put your siding up against your roof, I see this so common and so often, I’ve just finished scraping and palm sanding this wood, it’s almost ready for paint I just got to take a little sandpaper in the little corners there that my circular palm sander didn’t get. Anyhow, this siding was butted up right against the roof, and if you take a look back, you can see everywhere where it touches the roof, it’s failing. The paint is failing, and that’s probably because the gutter leaks or this roof just carries the water down, and as you can see, it’s touching it’s pretty much touching the wood or the shingles, I should say, and so what that does is when the water runs down it absorbs into the end grains of the wood and then it splits the wood. You can see that one there is split, you can see that one there split, the one above it is split, and as you start to go down this one split here, and then you know this board here is completely split right, open these ones you can see are split. It’s really difficult to get primer on that backside edge to properly do it so if you’re ever going to install new siding on your house, super important to make sure that there is a gap that there is some airflow because there should be flashing behind that. However, in this situation this is an older house, um, it just didn’t turn out that way so that’s something you want to think about and then again when you’re priming this kind of job I always want to make sure that you’re using an oil primer.

And it’s starting to rain on me now it’s pretty dark where I am, so I think i’m gonna pack it up for today, maybe get a coat of primer on this quickly just to make sure that it’s coated so that tomorrow I can come back and finish scraping and priming this old 1915 house.


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