LESLIE: Brad in Iowa is on the line with a siding question. What can we do for you today?
BRAD: I’ve got an old caboose in my backyard. It’s a long story but it’s a wooden caboose. I got it in 1985 and I – shortly after I got it, or not too much longer after that, I had to put new siding on it. Because the place where I got it had sand-blasted it and it really did a job on the wood. Now, the siding was 1×4 V-groove – tongue-and-groove – all the way along it. Now, it’s about 25 foot long, 8 foot high and then where the cupola is, it worked about 12 foot high. But the siding I replaced it with was a pine car siding with a V-groove to keep it looking original. And I backed that, after I took the old siding off, with an exterior-grade plywood.
And so it’s been quite a while but it’s deteriorated really bad due to the high moisture content we have up here in Iowa. And then we get the extreme hot and cold. And I have to replace it and I ran out of time this year, so come springtime I’ll have a big project. But I don’t want to make the same mistake over again and have it just rot out again. And I don’t know if I’m choosing the wrong type of lumber or if I’m not treating it – prepping it right or house wrap or if I need special ventilation or something. Because I keep it closed up most of the time.
TOM: Well, I’ve got to say first off, Brad, this is the first caboose-repair question we’ve ever received, which is kind of cool. It sounds like you put that plywood – you put the plywood on the structure and then you put the siding right on top of the plywood. Did you have any building paper underneath that siding or did it go right on the plywood?
BRAD: No. When I took the old siding off, there wasn’t anything on it. It had a peculiar kind of insulation and some of that stayed and some of it I took out. But it’s only got 4- or 6-inch lumber in it.
TOM: But you said you sheathed it with a plywood. My question to you is did you put the siding right on top of that plywood or did you put a building paper or house wrap in between?
BRAD: I put 30-pound felt paper on it.
TOM: So, it’s wear and tear – the wear and tear is mostly not because you installed it incorrectly but it’s just because it’s – like you say, it’s a moist, humid environment there that probably causes a lot of decay.
Would you consider putting something besides lumber back on that? Because I’ve got to tell you, there’s a lot of really beautiful, very authentic-looking composite materials that are out there today that look just like wood. In fact, I would dare to say they’re almost indistinguishable from wood. But they’re not organic, so they don’t rot. I mean you have materials like HardiePlank, you have materials like Novik, you have materials like AZEK. There’s a lot of good composites out there that can look a lot like wood but not rot and not decay.
BRAD: I installed it vertically instead of horizontally and that was the problem with the car siding. And I thought maybe I didn’t give it enough time to adjust – to acclimate to our weather.
TOM: I don’t think so. First of all, it’s hard to keep that kind of siding completely leak-free because it’s basically – the water’s going to get into those grooves. So I think you’ve got an authentic look to it but I think it’s probably done the best you can with that. So I would tell you you’re either just going to have to replace it the same way you did the first time. But I would strongly encourage you to investigate in the many, many composite materials that are out there today that could look just like that but will absolutely never decay.
BRAD: Well, I appreciate that. Given that strong consideration, even if I had to do a little milling on my own, I’m pretty good at lumber work. But well, that’s a great tip. I just really don’t know anybody to ask and not too many people are into this. I suppose there’s been a few restored around the country. They don’t use them anymore, so …
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. What are you working on fresh into this new year? Give us a call. We’d love to lend you a hand with whatever it is. Whether it’s a home repair or a home improvement or even if you’re just planning a project for the new year, we’re here to give a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.