How to Maintain Wood Siding

Wood siding is appealing to many homeowners because of its timeless beauty. Cedar shingles, clapboard siding, and other types of wood cladding are an eco-friendly green option because they can be recycled when the siding eventually needs to be replaced. But that might be a while – wood siding is very durable has been known to last up to 75 years or more. To prevent cracking, splitting, and general deterioration here are some tips on how to maintain wood siding.

Trim Trees and Bushes

If your home’s exterior is made of wood or composite wood, your landscaping could play a role in the health and longevity of the siding.

Trees, shrubs, and plants that grow close to wood siding can expose exterior walls to more moisture when foliage sheds water after a rainfall or being watered. Plants, shrubs, etc. too close to the siding could also be an invitation to pests. Branches and limbs in close proximity might look fine on a calm day, but be in striking (scratching) distance when the wind picks up.

When installing new landscaping or redesigning existing flowerbeds, plant trees, and shrubs far enough away from your home to create space between the foliage and the wood siding. Trim trees and shrubs that grow close to the house.

Stain, Paint, or Clear-Seal

Wood siding can be easily damaged by the elements, especially rain and snow. Add the natural expanding and contracting wood siding experiences as it responds to changes in humidity and over time. When the finish becomes chipped, worn, or compromised in some way, this makes siding vulnerable to water damage, mold/fungus growth, and insect infestations.

Maintain any kind of wood siding including cedar shingles, clapboard siding, and board and batten siding by reapplying stain, paint or clear-seal paint every five to seven years. If the siding is scratched or damaged in between paintings, take the time to repaint/stain/clear-seal the affected sections to prevent water from infiltrating the siding. When your house is large or more than one story, consider hiring a professional painter to do the work for you – it will be safer and allow you to spend the time doing something else.

Remove Mold and Fungus

Moisture that infiltrates wood siding or seeps in behind wood cedar shakes and isn’t allowed to dry up is likely to provide a place for mold and fungus to grow. Periodic inspections will help you identify any small, dark spots, and let you clean them as soon as mold and fungus are discovered.

On the other hand, if mold and fungus take over a widespread area of your home exterior, particularly on north-facing walls, it’s a good idea to either thoroughly remove the fungus or mold with a water/liquid soap/bleach solution or hire a siding professional. Once it takes hold, while it has never been documented to cause structural damage to a house, it can compromise the wood, encouraging rot and the appearance of holes and further deterioration.

Clean Wood Siding

Mentally divide siding into sections and clean one section before moving on to the next. Start at the top just below the gutters. Use a garden hose with a low to medium spray nozzle to help loosen built-up dirt and grime.

Start at the first section again and look for stains that need specific attention. Fill a pail with a solution of water, liquid dish soap and oxygen bleach (does the job but is more eco-friendly). Use a sponge to apply the solution, rubbing in small circles until the stain disappears. If you are dealing with a stubborn stain, use a soft-bristled brush to scrub away the dirt or mold/fungus.

Rinse away soapy residue either with the garden hose or with a pail of clear water and a sponge.

When cleaning wood siding, take note of any damaged wood shingles, shakes, boards or panels. Pay special attention to caulking next to doorframes and windows and in corners – ensure it’s not loose or missing. Be careful when spraying water in these damage places and have them repaired as soon as possible.