As a rehabber, you will need to be able inspect a property's siding and determine if it's in acceptable condition, or needs to be repaired or completely replaced.
Siding can generally last 15 to 30 years or more depending on the type of siding material, so siding is rarely replaced and typically the Original siding that was installed when the property was built.
For this reason, it is fairly easy to tell if the Siding was Original or if it was newly installed. If the Siding looks like it was original to the property be sure to thoroughly examine the siding condition and check for the warning signs discussed in this article.
Sign #1: Faded Siding
Siding loses it's color over time due to prolonged sun exposure. If the siding appears to be faded or discolored that is generally a sign of older siding. If your siding is discolored be sure to check to see if the siding has dry rot.
At the very least if your siding is faded or discolored you will likely need a fresh coat of paint.
Sign #2: Dry Rot
Dry rot is caused by a fungus that feeds on wood which causes the wood to decay over time. Dry rot is generally a problem in older homes and is found on siding, window sills, fascia/soffits & the ledger board where the deck attaches to the home.
Use your car key to test areas of the siding for rot. If you car keys easily penetrate the siding that is an indicator that your siding has started to rot and needs to be replaced.
You may be able to only patch and replace the effected area. Test multiple locations along the siding to see if you need to patch or replace all of the siding on the home.
Sign #3: Water Damage
Water stains, fungus, mold or mildew on siding indicate signs of water issues and potential water damage.
Water damage usually occurs where horizontal surfaces such roof valleys or decks attach to the siding. These horizontal surfaces retain water, cause splashing or catch wet leaves for long periods of time causing water damage and mold.
If the existing Siding is painted or caulked properly moisture can penetrate the Siding joints and get into the wall cavity causing further damage to the wood framing & drywall.
Sign #4: Termite or Ant Damage
Termites and carpenter ants can do some serious damage to your siding and to the interior wood framing of your home. If you find signs of termite or ant damage you will want to be cautious and make sure you explore the interior walls as well. Siding is expensive to replace, but replacing siding is a fairly straightforward repair.
The real issue you should be concerned about is how extensive the termite/ant damage is to the wood framing.
Sign #5: Cracked or Broken Siding
Cracked, broken or warped siding is a fairly obvious sign that your siding needs to be repaired or replaced. If it's only a few pieces than you can simply replace or patch those spots. However, if the damage is extensive in several areas around the house, you need to consider replacing all of your siding.
Cracked or broken siding is an invitation for water to penetrate the siding underlayment, so you will want to check the interior to make sure there isn't any water damage or mold issues as well.
Sign #6: Missing Caulk
Your existing siding could be in decent shape, but if your siding has exposed joints between siding panels or trim boards you will need to caulk those joints to keep future water from getting behind the siding and causing water damage or rot.
Unfortunately, unless you can find a pre-colored caulk to match the siding paint color you will likely have to re-paint the entire house.
Sign #7: Asbestos Siding
Asbestos siding was very commonly used in homes around the 1920s until the 1980s. Asbestos siding typically comes in the form of asbestos shingles (see photo on left).
Asbestos shingles only become a problem if you disturb the shingles which can cause asbestos fibers to become airborne, which can cause mesothelioma, asbestosis and other diseases if inhaled.
Some states offer free testing for residents, or you can buy asbestos testing kits online for $10 to $25.
If you find asbestos siding on your home you have a few options:
- Leave it alone/paint it
- Encapsulate the asbestos siding with new vinyl siding
- Hire an abatement company to remove, abate & dispose of the siding
If you go in the attic and can see daylight shining through the roof sheathing and roof shingles, then you will need to repair or replace the roof. If light can get in, then water can get in!
#8: Architectural / Aesthetic Reasons
The previous reasons to replace your siding were purely based upon the structural integrity, but you may also want to replace the siding if it just looks plain ugly. Next: Window warning signs
Curb appeal is a big factor for getting potential buyers in the door, so if you have ugly siding, you may want to consider replacing it.