When clapboards or shakes are rotten or broken, your home's siding can no longer do the job it's meant to do. Damaged siding lets air, water, dirt, and insects through to the inside. It also allows decay and further damage in the wood around it. In this article, we'll discuss how you can repair damaged areas or individual shingles yourself, which can save you money and head off problems before they become too serious.
When you notice a bad spot in your home's siding, repair it as soon as you can. The damaged board or shake is the only part that must be replaced, and the job goes fairly quickly. Replace the old board with a new one of the same size and shape. Here's how to repair damaged clapboards (also known as bevel or lap siding):
Step 1: Wedge the board away from the house by driving wedges up under the damaged board to pull it out from the sheathing below. Look for the nails in this section of clapboard and pull them out. If you can't remove them with a claw hammer or pliers, use a hacksaw to cut them off flush with the sheathing. To release the top of the board, drive wedges under the clapboard that overlaps the damaged board and remove the nails from the top of the board.
Step 2: Cut through the board on each side of the damaged area, using a backsaw or a hacksaw. If you don't have enough room to use a saw conveniently, use a hacksaw blade with one end wrapped with electrical tape to protect your hand. Cut all the way through the board to include the damaged area.
If necessary, move the wedges to make room for the saw, but leave the wedges under the clapboard. When the board is completely cut through on both sides of the damage, the damaged section should pull down and out fairly easily. If it won't come out, break it up with a hammer and chisel, and remove it in pieces. Be careful not to damage the surrounding boards.
Step 3: Cut the new clapboard to fit the opening and test it for fit. It should slide right into place, with its top edge under the board above and its bottom edge over the board below. Plane the edges for an exact fit, if necessary.
Step 4: When the new board fits well, paint it with a primer coat. Make sure both sides and all edges are covered. Also paint the raw edges of the opening, where the old siding was cut out. Let the paint dry completely.
Step 5: Set the new board into the opening and adjust it so that it fits perfectly. Nail the board into place with 16d nails, driven through the bottom and through the board above into the top edge. Caulk the edges of the patch with acrylic latex caulk. When the caulk is dry, paint the new siding to match the rest of the house.
Slide the new clapboard into the gap, with its top edge under the board above and its bottom edge over the board below.
Shakes or Shingles
Damaged shakes or shingles are replaced the same way clapboards are. If they're natural unstained cedar, however, it's a good idea to take your replacement shakes from an inconspicuous area of the house and to use the new shingles on that spot. This trick eliminates a new-looking unweathered patch in the repair area.
Wedge each damaged shake or shingle out, driving wedges under the damaged shake and under the shakes that overlap it. Pull out or cut off all nails, as above. Then remove the damaged shake. If it doesn't come out easily, split it into several pieces with a hammer and chisel and remove the pieces. Insert the new shake and nail it into place with 16d aluminum nails; do not use steel nails. If the shake doesn't have predrilled nail holes, drill pilot holes for the nails to keep the wood from splitting.
Replacing shingles or clapboards as they become damaged will keep your siding from deteriorating quickly and better protect your home from the elements.