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Here is the house siding that I did not notice for many years

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Does it look like the whole siding is rotting here? Should I replace the entire siding? Or is it OK to replace just the bad parts?

By the way, this is the house I am selling and one potential buyer already pointed me out. I am wondering if it is a quick fix or heavy fix.

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I'd only replace all of the siding if ANY of the following is true:

  1. At least 30 percent of the boards are visibly and significantly damaged. If you only have a few boards showing signs of rot, it's not a big deal.

  2. There is evidence that the damage was caused by an insect infestation. That would mean that the damage results not from simple, unavoidable weathering, but by a more serious issue.

  3. There is water penetration and resulting damage behind the siding (either inside the walls, or -- worse -- into the interior of your home). If the damage is limited to the siding itself, I wouldn't worry too much about it.

Absent any of these conditions, I wouldn't be too worried. Unless you are diligent about keeping it painted, all wood siding will rot a bit eventually, especially near the ground where it gets wet (and it doesn't take much paint loss to allow moisture into the boards and cause the damage you are seeing). Unless the problem has progressed to the point that it has become severe (affecting a large portion of boards, allowing water inside the building envelope or inviting insect infestation), then fixing it should be as simple as replacing any individual boards that are badly damaged, then putting a new coat of paint on the siding.

Contractors, Realtors and many home inspectors will likely encourage you to replace all of the siding, because they are incentivized in different ways to do so. (Contractors want to do the job; Realtors will be able to sell your house more quickly and easily if you do a full replacement, even if the cost of repairs won't be recouped in the sale; home inspectors are incentivized to find "problems" that their clients -- the home buyers -- use to negotiate a price reduction.) I'd resist their recommendations unless you have good reason to believe that full replacement is warranted. If they disagree, ask them to show you a house with wood siding that was built at least twenty years ago and does not have a bit of rot here and there.

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That looks like T1-11, it is not uncommon for it to have problems close to the ground. As someone that grew up remodeling houses and has “flipped “ a few I would go up 2’ cut that area out and replace with similar siding, but there is a simple needed piece of thin metal flashing that is needed, called Z flashing. Z flashing goes under the upper siding and over the new lower siding. If you can match the spacing 2’ works well because you get 4 pieces that are 4’ wide or 16’ with 1 sheet and some flashing that is totally va and fha compliant. This is what I have done several times on property I have purchased and remodeled in the past.

  • Instead of replacing it with wood material at the bottom if you do cut a strip out, you could also get a PVC trim board to go on the bottom. That's what I have on my house to keep the wood siding away from the grade. The boards I have are wood grain and 5.5" wide. Also need to be flashed as described in the answer. – PhilippNagel May 15 at 2:09

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