Few home designs express classic Americana and cottage comfort like wood siding. Wood-sided houses are charming, natural, and timeless. Unfortunately, the siding itself can be hard to care for. If you’re not careful, the elements will warp and damage your siding — leading to potentially expensive repairs. How can you maintain your wood siding to keep it looking crisp and clean? Read on to learn the basics of siding maintenance.
Care Tips For Your Wood Siding
Seal Your Siding
Humidity does a number on wood. As moisture works its way into the fibers, they swell, causing the panel to actually expand in size. This can cause your paint to chip as the siding’s surface gets distorted. The swollen siding also puts pressure on the caulked seams around your windows and doors, leading to cracks. Wood is also ripe for fungal infestation, so if it’s not sealed, it will quickly rot as water invites spores into each panel.
To prevent all this, invest in a powerful sealant. Paint does qualify, assuming that you use outdoor-quality latex and re-do your paint job every five years. Homes in very humid environments may need more frequent re-paintings. You can also use wood stain, which bonds the fibers and buffers against moisture. Because wood stain penetrates deep into the siding, it permanently affects the color of your house.
You can also use clear sealant if you like the natural wood color, but this typically needs to be done every 2 years. It also does not prevent the natural shift of siding color to grey, which happens with exposure to sunlight.
“Remember where not to use caulk, since this is just about as important as knowing where to use it if you want to avoid larger home improvement bills and more frequent repairs in the future.”
Kill The Mildew & Rust
Even sealed wood siding can still grow mildew. Just as in your shower, mildew thrives in damp environments. If you live in a humid or rainy area, your siding will likely accumulate mildew at some point. Use warm, soapy water to gently scrub your siding and follow up with an anti-fungal cleanser. For severe issues, blend one part bleach with four parts water, then use a soft-bristled brush to apply the solution to the siding.
If you’re seeing rust stains, check your hardware. You may have a non-galvanized screw or hinge on your home. Over time, exposure to moisture causes metal to oxidize, leaving unsightly orange streaks on your home. You can fix this with a combination of oxalic acid and warm water. Rinse thoroughly, then change the hardware to a galvanized version.
Repair Damaged Or Worn Caulking
Just as swollen wood siding can damage caulk, cracked or broken caulk can allow the siding to shift and swell. Think of your home’s exterior as a cohesive barrier against the elements. To provide a protective shield, both the wood siding and the caulk need to be flush, sealed, and damage-free.
You can repair caulk yourself, and you should re-do every few years, depending on the damage you see. Even the smallest crack can permit moisture into the wood siding.
Clear Away Foliage
Your home’s surrounding trees, shrubs, and vines may provide delightful greenery, but they also could be introducing moisture and even roots into your wood siding and caulk. This causes cracks, distortion, and fungal rot that can harm both your plants and siding.
Keep your trees and bushes trim to minimize direct contact between the plants and your home. Be sure to clean any climbing vines off your walls and clear out your gutters, which could trap moisture and encourage fungal growth.
Care Tips For Vinyl, Fiber Cement, and Steel Siding
Is your siding made of synthetic materials? While it may be more resistant to the elements, it still requires maintenance.
Vinyl siding doesn’t warp due to moisture, but high heat can essentially melt it. Keep grills, heat lamps, and other hot fixtures away from the sides of your house. Note that the sun’s heat can also melt your siding, and dark colors absorb more sunlight. For best results with vinyl siding, keep your house color a lighter hue.
Be sure that your vinyl siding stays in place as well. It’s relatively lightweight compared to wood, so it can be damaged by high wind. If you live in a windy or hurricane-prone area, always inspect your siding after a storm. Loose panels can permit moisture to seep underneath, causing rot.
Steel siding is prone to rust and cannot be sealed like wood. Some homeowners do paint steel, but it will need to be re-done more often. Your chief concern is to make sure that your steel siding doesn’t get scratched. This could lead to rusting. As with any sort of siding, trim nearby trees or shrubs and secure any items that could strike the house on windy days.
Siding Maintenance Doesn’t Have To Be Daunting!
Depending on the type of siding your home has, you can make a schedule for yourself. Remember, cracks and scratches are a sign that something needs to be fixed! The good news is that all types of siding can be easily cleaned with warm, soapy water.
If you’d like expert assistance with your home siding maintenance, reach out to Whatcom Pressure Washers. We’re able to efficiently and safely clean your home’s siding to keep it fresher and cleaner longer.