Fixing Our Old House

Fix wood rot
Painting siding
Fixing metal roof
Fixing wood damage
Installing gutters

Removing then Stripping and Painting and Old Wood Siding—Step-By-Step

We found it faster to actually remove the siding, when possible, before stripping the boards. In less time, all of the paint can be removed, all holes filled, the boards completely sanded, and both sides of the wood painted with wood preservative. Plus, house wrap, tyvek, can be added, further weatherproofing the house.

Here are the step-by-step procedures as discussed in our Painting Old Wood Siding page.

Remove the old siding. Carefully use a pry bar to remove the siding. Score the calk on the edges as the ends split easily. On our house, we found that a wire cutter was effective in grabbing the nail head and prying the nail out enough so a hammer could then remove it [Photo below].

Click on photos to enlarge
Removing old siding
Remove nails first.The round circle is where a plug was installed after insulation was blown into the walls.

Pry out old nails with wire cutters.

Add house wrap. House wrap is another barrier against the elements. If you live in a windy, cold or moist climate it gives you just that much more protection.

With wood siding, you should leave an air gap between the siding and the house wrap. For my last project, I used Benjamin Obdyke Home-Slicker-plus-Typar-Rainscreen.

Before adding house wrap, add insulation if necessary. In our case, we wanted to save the cellulose blown-in insulation in walls of old homes [Fiberglass versus cellulose].

We found that the blown-in cellulose would not fall out if only three boards were removed at one time. Therefore, we attached the house wrap at the top using staples and then stapled it down after three boards were removed.

Tip: If you have to add a new piece of house wrap, be sure that the top piece lays over the bottom one.

Attaching house wrap
Stapling house wrap to cover blown in insulation.

Strip the old paint using an infrared paint stripper. More information on our paint removal page.

Next glue any cracks at the ends of the boards. We spray the cracks with a little water and then apply the polyurethane glue (Gorilla glue). The water helps to set the glue. These polyurethane glues are very strong and expand to fill the cracks. Wire is used to hold the boards together (see photo) as the glue dries. Be sure to use rubber gloves when applying the glue as it stains the skin.

If your boards have plugs that were used in blowing in insulation, remove the plugs and glue them back in using polyurethane glue.

Strengthen any weak wood with an epoxy consolidant.

Fill any holes with epoxy filler. Exterior wood fillers didn't hold up as well as an epoxy filler. The epoxy filler we used has the same expansion properties as wood and doesn't shrink when it cures. We used Abatron's epoxy filler.

Using an infrared paint stripper
Using an infrared paint stripper

Gluing and using an expoxy filler
Gluing cracks and filling holes with an epoxy filler.

Epoxy filler correct both small and large damages
Epoxy filler corrects both small and large damages.

Once any glue and filler have dried, use a belt sander with 36 grit sand paper to remove any paint residue and smooth the boards. You want to see fresh wood that will allow the upcoming waterproof coating to sink in. We sanded a second time using a 50 grit paper. We only lightly sanded the backs of our boards.

If you use an orbital sander which isn't as fast on boards compared to the belt sander, purchase cloth backed 40 grit aluminum oxide sand paper.

Tip: Be sure to wear a dust mask, preferably a N110 rated mask.

Sanded board with a belt sander
Sanded board.

Apply a coat of paintable wood preservative on any wood sections not coated with the liquid epoxy consolidant. Paint both front and back. We used Wolman's Zinsser Woodlife Classicleave site. To use this preservative, the siding must be free of paint so that the preservative can be absorbed by the wood.

New Product: We have learned of Smith and Co's MultiWoodPrimeleave site, an epoxy primer.

We painted all of the the window trim using the epoxy consolidant as this provides the best water protection and paint bonding. The epoxy consolidant is too expensive to coat all the siding.

Note: Be sure to apply the epoxy consolidant before painting on the wood preservative. Don't bother to use the preservative on any painted or epoxy consolidated wood. It won't be absorbed.

Paints containing linseed oil are very susceptible to mildew. Of the available water-base paints, acrylic latex is the most mildew resistant. Porous latex paints applied over a primer coat with linseed oil will develop severe mildew in warm, damp climates.

Nail boards back on the house using stainless steel siding nailsleave site.

Tip: When we removed the siding, we marked where the bottom edge of each board was positioned. By doing this, it was easy to put the boards back on in their same position.


Caulk any remaining cracks and where the board ends meet the trim. We used GE XST Extreme Paintable Silicone IIleave site (We are now uinsg GE Groov caulkleave site) as it has a long life and is paintable.

Don't caulk the bottom of the siding boards. It is important that moisture can escape from the house.

Example of caulked boards.
Long cracks also can be caulked instead of using an epoxy filler or glue.

Apply one coat of primer. We use Zinsser® Bulls Eye 1-2-3® PLUS Primerleave site primer.

Tip: Have the paint store tint the primer to the same color as the top coat.

  • Don't let the primer sit more than a few weeks before painting. Soap-like compounds can form on oil primers in as little as two weeks.
  • Use a brush when painting old siding. It allows the paint to be worked into the siding's imperfections more effectively than a roller or spray.
  • Don't prime or paint in direct sunshine, when it is dry and breezy, or is very hot (over 90 degrees F)
  • Paint should not be applied when the air temperature is below the stated figure for the product, nor if the temperature is forecasted to drop below that minimum during the next 24 hours, nor if the surface being painted is below that temperature: Oil-based paints should be applied when the temperature is at least 40 F; for latex paints, the temperature should be at least 50 F.
    When pretreating the wood with a paintable water-repellent preservative (a recommended practice), best results are achieved if it is applied when temperatures are greater than 70 F.
  • Don't paint if it is too humid (between 20% and 80% is ideal). When water-based paints cure, the water should evaporate as fast or faster than the solvents. After the water has evaporated, the paint will shrink to nearly its final shape. As the solvents evaporate, the paint chemically reacts to form a hard material. When it is too humid, water cannot evaporate and the solvents may evaporate first, causing the paint to cure while still in a water-filled state. You cannot recover from this type of disaster. Oil-based paints will also fail if conditions are too humid.

Apply two coats of Home Depot's Behr Premium Plus Ultra Exteriorleave site. Behr paints have been mentioned as a top paint in various consumer studies for many years. We use Consumer Reportsleave site as our guide to paints.

We are now using semigloss paint as it stays cleaner; however, some people do not like the glossy look.

Epoxy fillers and consolidants:

Abatron's LiquidWood and WoodEpoxleave site
These products restore rotted, severely damaged windows, columns, frames, broken furniture, structural and decorative wood components. They are especially valuable for parts that cannot be replaced because of size, shape or other reasons. The objects restored with these products become fully functional parts often stronger and far more durable than the original.
   The consolidants (penetrants). Reinforces, rebuilds, water- and insect-proofs wood by hardening after penetrating. Regenerates rotted windowsills, frames, structural and decorative parts, furniture, boats, columns, floors.
   Epoxy fillers are a structural adhesive putty and wood replacement compound. They are a high-strength no-shrink adhesive paste to fill, repair and replace wood and other materials in structures, walls, floors, furniture, sculptures. They are unaffected by water and insects.

Rot Doctor's Penetrating Epoxy and FILL-IT™ Epoxy Fillerleave site

Smith and Co's MultiWoodPrime epoxy primerleave site


Purchase Abatron Epoxy Products
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