After having satisfied all prerequisite items on our all too critical list of siding unknowns, as well as beginning our project by removing all old siding elements and the various underlayments we discovered along the way, we felt pretty great about the project and where it was headed...

Well, actually, I wouldn't say "we felt great," go ahead and scratch that. I'm not going to sit here and spin blog tales of the "you can do it" sunshine and DIY rainbows that somehow magically appeared amidst our siding undertaking. That's right, full honesty here, we actually didn't feel "pretty great" at all, in reality we felt...hmm, how should I put this...completely overwhelmed by what seemed as if it could turn out to be a foolish undertaking that would result in our possible need to admit defeat and call in a pro to finish what we couldn't handle. To say I was concerned this might be the route we were on, well, lets just say that I'm simply not good at "admitting defeat," and just the fact I was entertaining these basic thoughts was more or less soul crushing and a testament to my level of concern.

Just to remind you, this whole project took place in 2005 (so we're doing more of a retrospective recap here). We had never done anything this large, had never worked on scaffolding, had not anticipated the level of "decroded piece of crap" our house's deterioration had achieved, and we had very little clue about what we might find lurking around every little buh infested and rotten corner. We were learning as we went along and we hoped beyond all hope that we were not making any enormous mistakes, all the while we felt like we just kept swiping our credit card against our dwindling savings, cha-ching!!! But more than anything, I felt like I couldn't really let on to Wendy just how I was feeling. I knew she was on a bullet train to Meltdownsville and my own doubts about the project would have only helped to accelerate her voyage. Talk about a big league pickle.

Rather than each of us airing our deep dark emotions to aide our partner in their trip down disaster lane, we kept pushing along in the project and making every possible attempt to take everything just one step at a time.

Remove siding - check
Fix rotted sheathing - check
Setup scaffolding - check
Wrap house in Tyvek - check
Apply felt paper in water prone areas - check

By the time we were growing overwhelmed we had already taken delivery of the siding materials, which had filled the backyard in a staging manner, and of the copper gutters, also in the yard. 

We had already removed all of the rotten corner boards, siding, and trim. And I had even started to really tear apart the seriously rotted bay window, taking off anything that could be removed, and each piece was significantly rotten.

As if the pressures we were placing on ourselves with this project weren't sufficient, we decided to kick it up just another notch. Mid way through applying the Tyvek, Wendy and I began discussing exterior paint. Our home was a lovely horrible shade of faded pale blue. Our neighbors had just painted their home's exterior, and their fresh paint showed us just how bad our house was looking. Beyond that, we knew our siding would need a coat of paint once we got it all installed, so we had to make a decision, and that decision wouldn't involve painting the siding pale, faded, and gross blue. Here's one of the few photos of the period where our neighbor's house was painted but we hadn't painted our house yet.

Yep, that's me on the ladder, doing yet another side project.

So we decided to get quotes for house painting, selected a company, and agreed to a date that would force us to complete the siding work on a somewhat aggressive timeline. Well, at least somewhat aggressive for our normal speed. So we decided to get to getting and get our siding hanging butts in gear.

After about three weeks of fairly consistent effort we had ourselves a blank and relatively watertight canvas awaiting a whole lot of work to turn it into our work of siding art. But now what? What were the next steps? I was quickly beginning to feel lost and overwhelmed. To be completely honest, the idea that this project had to be completed in as short of a timeframe as possible was weighing heavily on me.

As much as we needed to move along in our project we had an even more important commitment to do the project the right way. The last thing we needed was to screw up in our implementation and end up ripping things apart just a few years down the road, wasting all of our time and effort. Oh god, the pressure, it's still weighing on me today like some amalgamation of DIY project PTSD!

Okay, time to regroup and get back on some sort of a topic...sorry for my blog meltdown. Deep breath,

One of the most critical steps of any siding project is actually the prep work necessary to properly protect the siding from the elements. These relatively thin pieces of wood are the first line of defense against all of the elements Mother Nature decides to throw at our home. But it's important to make sure the siding itself is protected from the elements as best as possible. To prevent long term warping or cupping due to water infiltration and moisture, wood siding should absolutely be fully primed with a oil based primer prior to be being hung. 

We knew and understood this fact, but how were we going to be able to pre-prime our siding in our tiny backyard? This is where having a great neighbor and some very helpful friends/family begin to come into the mix.

You can ask just about anyone that knows me, I like to be able to do things on our own. This translates to a stubborn mentality where I don't often like to willingly ask for any sort of help or assistance. Call it pig headed, stupid, ignorant, just plain dumb, it's all correct. However, Wendy knows better. She knows when we should probably call in reinforcements, the DIY cavalry, if you will. At this point she gave her brother, Eric, a call. Eric is a veteran painter, having worked several summers leading a crew of house painters. If there was anyone uniquely suited to help us out for the price of beer, our old TV, some second hand furniture, and a little company, it was Eric. So he made the drive from his native land of Ohio, on quite short notice, to help lend a hand.

In addition to Eric, our neighbor that we miss oh so dearly, Paul, offered up his cluttered but open backyard as a painting/staging area. Paul was as enamored with the project as anyone, and he was so happy to be playing an integral role in the work that he wanted absolutely nothing in return.

An obscured view of Paul's cluttered yard before our siding overran it.

We grabbed enough saw horses and plastic sheeting to lay out all of our siding pieces in a work area and got to priming. It was a stellar team, to say the least.

Wendy and Eric primed for hours, Paul supervised, and I worked on the surface prep on the house. We effectively turned Paul's entire backyard into an oil based primer palace. Wendy and Eric primed the fronts, backs, tops, and bottoms of each and every piece of our 400 linear feet of siding. And as I mentioned, Paul supervised.

We were trying to remember to take everything one step at a time. To keep our focus on the next task. To fight to stay above water and keep from drowning in the sea of work that lay ahead. Wendy helped me out by creating one of her famous lists and placing it on the back door. This one was so precise it had a day by day breakdown of tasks. Here I could check off just one thing at a time and make every attempt to stay on schedule. (Can I just recognize that despite my complaining, I'm so grateful for my better half's keen organizational sense? It what helps us get through the tough projects, and also makes her a great realtor by day.)

Thanks to her brother's help, and Paul's wonderful backyard, we could now check off "prime all sides of siding."

Have you ever been amidst a project that you simply didn't know how it could possible ever actually be completed, let alone completed in a satisfactory manor? Ever been on your own high speed train to Meltdownsville, population, You? It doesn't sound like a very fun place to visit, but in spite of our progress, the lengthy list remaining meant we'd probably at least make a brief stop, but we were well on our way to our final destination.

Comments 2


8/15/2013 at 3:40 PM
Siding projects scare the heck out of me. I am terrified of opening up walls.
With good reason!! :-)
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