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Our house was built in 1922, and due to some ongoing exterior water damage due (I think) to poor gutters and some ice dam damage after this past horrible Minnesota winter, we have been getting some estimates for various repairs.

Our plan at first was to get new gutters installed and have the fascia boards replaced if necessary. Things escalated quickly to getting the attic properly vented and better insulated to resolve the ice dam issue. Then, exterior wall insulation along with the necessary repair work for the siding where holes would be needed to blow in the insulation. Then, it was mentioned that with the condition of some of our siding that we may want to consider new siding all together (Hardi board or LP Smartside).

When we first bought the house about 7 years ago we had it painted, and I remember the painter saying "never replace this siding, it's redwood and people will try to talk you into replacing it - don't listen to them". Admittedly, some of the siding is in pretty rough shape with some splits in places, uneven spots from over-eager sanding, and so many layers of old cracking paint that the idea of replacing it with an easier to maintain option appeals to me. However, what that painter said to me is stuck in my mind, so I thought I would come here to ask what people think.

So, was that painter just trying to secure future work from me by telling me to keep that redwood no matter what, or is there something more to his words?

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Sounds more like an emotional reaction from the painter rather than any practical advice. Or maybe he was afraid it would be replaced with an inferior wood product, which really would be a shame. Cement board is not an inferior product! –  bcworkz Apr 9 at 4:49

3 Answers 3

Everything sounds good but I would hesitate to replace the siding. You might consider insulating the exterior walls from the inside. Though it is a bit of a dusty mess for a day, I'd argue that it would probably be a good idea to repaint the plaster with a low-perm paint anyway to help prevent water vapor from passing through and condensing in the insulation or on the back of the sidung. Insulation changes the dynamics of a house, before any vapor would just get blown away in the cavities.

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Any additional details on why you would hesitate on replacing the siding? –  G_P Apr 23 at 12:15

I'm with your painter. It's like throwing out a pair of Allen Edmunds because there's a hole in the sole and replacing them with a pair of Timberlands.

Find out what it would cost to repair/replace the split boards. It'll probably be cheaper than redoing all the siding in a new/cheaper material. In addition you might lose some value in your home by removing the redwood siding.

Have the insulation contractors blow the insullation from the inside. Much easier to repair drywall and you don't have to worry about poor repairs causing water infiltration.

Maybe find a better contractor all together. Some people just do what they know and they may not be familiar with other materials and methods and they wind up talking you into paying more in time and meterials to do things their way.

I was just talking to someone the other day about their garage door. They used to have a very nice wooden garage door but when they got an automatic garage door opener installed they were talked into replacing the door with a poorly insulated metal one. Something about the opener not being able to handle the weight of the door. This was for a single car garage so that shouldn't have been the case. Anyway point is... This was many years ago and they still regret the decision.

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Thanks for the response - to be fair to the contractor, the siding replacement only came up after a long discussion about options and how I wasn't happy at the prospect of an $8,000+ full-house paint job every 5 to 7 years. Also, I wish we had drywall - we have plaster throughout. –  G_P Apr 28 at 14:13

Get rid of the existing siding which is clearly at end of life. Blow in your insulation while it's off then replace with Hardiboard which is a great product and looks like wood (make sure you paint it). It will last a lot longer than than redwood.

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Our contractor mentioned that the Hardiboard could come pre-painted from the factory, is that correct/desirable? –  G_P Apr 28 at 14:17

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