Now that the weather was getting better we were itching to get our outdoor remodel done so we could enjoy it all summer long. The first step was to see what we had to work with. I had a creeping suspicion that our 1970's siding might be sitting on top of another layer of siding. The biggest clue was that all the trim on the windows looked like it had been doubled up. So I walked over to the south side of our house, where no one can see, and started ripping boards off (Josh was not super thrilled). What I found made me jump up and down. Underneath our siding was the original 5" siding just covered up! Also, I did some very scientific rot checks (using my keys to poke at it) and it seemed to be in great shape.
Could it be we didn't need to install new siding at all? Could our dream siding just be hiding underneath our ugh-o 1970's siding? It looked like it. I suddenly want to rip all the siding off that day. Unfortunately, due to the age of the house and the way the paint was peeling off the wood it was obviously lead paint. To protect ourselves, our home, and our yard we needed to put down a plastic barrier around the house as we worked. We also recommend to everyone to wear a masks and eye protection. Also, don't eat the chips.
The next weekend armed with lead protection we set about removing the siding. You will notice in the picture the very ominous storm that we eventually worked through the whole weekend. Still, pelting rain aside, it was a lot of fun, the siding came off pretty easy. The worst part was all the bee's nests, cocoons, and spider dens that had been hiding between our two layers of siding. Gross. Josh and I spent two full days removing the siding from the South side, East side, and North side. Our demo project was certainly entertaining for the neighbors, if not a little nerve racking as we stood on tall ladders and roofs to remove the second story boards. In one weekend we removed all the siding wrapped up all our plastic and shop vac'ed every single chip of paint we saw on the yard, beds and roof top. I am sure the view of me vacuuming the lawn was pretty comical.
At this point, the house looked terrifying. The peeling paint was everywhere, but underneath was old growth Doug Fir siding from 1920's. It was not rotten, it was not damaged, and amazingly a lot of trim we thought was missing from the house was actually hiding under the old siding. Several contractors shied away from the project due to level of lead on the house and they didn't like the idea of re-using the siding. They claimed that paint would never stick to our siding again due to it's age and the level of existing paint. This is ridiculous. The siding was in great shape, the lead if properly scraped is fine. The sustainable re-user in me could not understand removing good siding only to replace it with the same thing. Worse case scenario, we have to scrap and repaint the siding in a few troubled areas in the next few years. But, that will cost a quarter of what it would be to replace the siding and start over. We had our first, and possibly last break of our budget remodel, FREE SIDING!