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Thread: Grand old lady

  1. #1
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    Aug 2011
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    Default Grand old lady

    Our 1906 Victorian is in need of repainting the original (mostly) cedar clads. The previous owner sprayed the house without using any primer and I am now in the process of taking individual clads off house, numbering them, scraping and sanding to bare wood. It is a lot of work but I feel this grand old lady deserves the respect. As a result of neglect or just bad workmanship by previous owners, some of these clads are very light weight, dry, and generally in bad shape. I am filling and gluing with poly glue as I go, trying as best I can to get back to original condition. Any suggestions on products to use as fillers, painting of cedar, painting of new cedar, etc would be appreciated. In the interest of time I have to use latex paint, although I would rather use oil. I simply don't have the time or work area to wait til they all dry. Also, when reinstallling should I caulk the underneath of each clad or allow it to 'float'. Thanks, Sue

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
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    Default Re: Grand old lady

    Jeez, you certainly like tedious work! However, I do admire your willingness to bring back an old lady.

    There are fast drying oil primers rated for exterior work - "Cover Stain" by Zinsser is one of them. "Kilz" is not rated for exteriors. It can be re-coated in as little as an hour. It is important, especially on older,uninsulated homes , to back prime the siding( older homes have little or no insulation and no vapor barrier). This will aid in keeping moisture from the house from condensing on the rear of the siding and entering the wood. This is especially important in cold climates.

    Oil primers are preferable because they prevent tannens from the cedar from bleeding through to the surface and causing reddish stains in the surface of the paint. They also don't raise the grain as much as a water based primer, as well as sanding much easier. There are now later generation water based primers which claim to stop tannen bleed if given 24 hours to cure before finish coating. "Kilz Premium" is one of these.

    The underside of a clapboard should not be caulked, as it would trap any moisture from draining outward. Such moisture could be from an outright leak, or from condensation forming on the back side of the siding. Your rainshield is your main barrier against the wooden sheathing getting wet. In a house of this age, the rain shield could be as simple as red rosin paper, but is more likely to be tar/felt paper. Today's homes would use a product such as Tyvex.

    For minor dings and scratches, simple vinyl based wood patching materials are fine. For deeper holes, a catalized woodfiller is good. Minwax makes one such product. I even use Bondo for this purpose. Both are polyester based, don't schrink, sand reasonable well and are stable under heat and humidity changes. You only have to mix in a squiggle of the catalyst into th paste to activate it. You will have about 5 minutes to work with it before it sets, so don't mix too much at one time.

  3. #3
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    Aug 2011
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    Default Re: Grand old lady

    Thanks, Ordjen, for your reply. I am actually using Kilz Premium on the clads, and also back priming. I am not sure as to the tannen bleeding, as most of these clads are very dry. That bothers me, as it seems to make the cedar very fragile in places. The house does have rosen paper and I am replacing that with Tyvek. It also has blown in insulation of the 'newspaper' kind, but I am finding that it is spotty, as it has only one hole of an inch diameter per two studs. It is also spotty around the bottom of the windows where it really needs the insulation. I found this out by tacking a couple of insulation projects from the inside. I am replacing those plastic plugs with a one inch cut wooden dowel glued into the clad. Since I don't caulk under the clads do I caulk the joints between the clads and the apron and other decorative boards? It seems some of the apron and other boards that make this a Victorian are in rough shape due to water infiltration. The house also has wooden gutters lined with lead (?) which are very shallow and splash water all over the siding, etc, instead of actually working properly. However, to remove them would be to destroy the looks of the house. Any hints there? Thanks for being so kind. Sue

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Northern Virginia
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    Default Re: Grand old lady

    Does this house have any sheathing? Like board nailed to the studs either inside or preferably outside? You didn't mention it, and it's pretty important.
    Cedar siding, as great as it is, does eventually reach the end of its lifespan. Any boards that are split their whole length or have thinned down too far at the lap edge need to be replaced. It has become very costly lately, too, as I'm sure you are aware.
    Casey
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

  5. #5
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    Aug 2011
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    Default Re: Grand old lady

    Hi Casey, yes the house has sheathing, diagonally placed, and boards longer than any you could find today. I wasn't sure whether to caulk between them before adding the Tyvek in the interest of keeping wind and rain out. I have pretty much just started this work although I have been at it for a month now. I can pretty much undo everything I have done as I haven't really re-installed the clads yet. Too busy scraping and mending. Yes, cedar is expensive and that is why I am trying to save as many boards as possible. Also, I detest vinyl siding, especially on Victorian houses. Also, that isn't cheap, either. I do have a mill that sells me board feet of cedar for 50 cents per foot. This is a labor of love, luckily for me, as I have been told this 4,000 sq foot house could take awhile. Thanks for replying, Sue

  6. #6
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    Northern Virginia
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    Default Re: Grand old lady

    Hi Sue,
    You don't want to caulk between the sheathing; the tyvek is going to keep out the wind and water.
    $.50 is a great price for cedar siding, even if it's only 6". Is that clear or knotty?
    Given any thought to turning the boards backside out? They may be in better shape on the reverse.
    Rehabbing the siding a board at a time is hard core. And bonus points for backpriming. Keep up the good work.
    Casey
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
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    Default Re: Grand old lady

    Sue,

    If you don't see the Kilz Premium with yellowish/reddish stains, your finish coat should not get them either.

    Caulking is used to keep exterior rain water from gaining entrance to the interior side of the siding. This means mainly verticle joints such as where the siding meets the windows,siding butt joints, etc. However, some horizontal areas are caulked for air infiltration and/or aesthetic reasons, i.e. under your sills or where your freeze board meets the upper upper most clapboard. The rear of the siding is not intended to be an air-tight area. Indeed, modern siding is often hung on batten strips to allow the free movement of air behind them.

    The reason these "old ladies" remain in such good shape after all those years is that they leaked air like a sieve and could dry out, even if they got wet. They were often built with "balloon"construction with no firebreaks from the basement to the attic! Sidewalls were often built on the ground and raised like in a barn raising. Vapor barriers and insulation were virtually non-existant back then, so that moisture could migrate both inward and outward from the wall cavity.

    I suspect that your cellulose insulation has merely settled from its original fill. It might be possible to have it topped off.

    I grew up in an 1883 Victorian in a wonderful old neighborhood in Chicago. My parents paid $16K for that house in 1956. Zillow says it is now worth about $600K! The present owners have done a wonderful job of restoring both the exterior and interior to its original state. They replaced all the clapboards on the front facade.

  8. #8
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    Aug 2011
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    Default Re: Grand old lady

    Hi Casey and Ordjen, The cedar is sometimes both, it sometimes has to be cut around. As I am allergic to cedar (yeh, imagine that), I am not the one working with the new stuff. The old stuff doesn't seem to bother me that much, but it might be different without allegra. And I am pretty certain that the house is balloon construction. In fact there was this terrible breeze coming from between the floors, upper from lower. I finally figured out it had to be from the construction of the porches where the joists hook on. Hot in summer, freezing in winter. It is impossible to fix short of removing every ceiling in and near the rooms where the porches are located, which is pretty much every room in the house. I have taken a couple rooms right to the studs and am in the process of redoing those also. That's what I do on rainy days, altho in west central Illinois on the Mississippi river we aren't getting much rain these days. One of my projects is actually sitting on the floor with a couple of sc****rs taking adhesive from a 70's shag carpet off of pine flooring. I figured it wouldn't gum up the sandpaper on the floor sander if I got off most of it beforehand. Nutzzz, I know. But it keeps me busy and out of trouble. Would that I have paid 16 thousand for this place. Actually it wasn't that bad for a lot of room on 7 acres in the country.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    Default Re: Grand old lady

    I was wondering that if I could go with an oil exterior paint, at least on windows, what brand to buy. There is such a discussion between really good latex vs oil that I am not sure what to buy. I feel slow drying is better than fast in oil, but maybe I am just old school. I do know that product is getting incredibly hard to find. Also, any hints on the wide but shallow wooden gutters would be appreciated. Thanks, Sue

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