Home Preservation

Siding
Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board

Wood Siding and Shingle Care

Wood clapboard and shingled siding creates distinctive texture and patterns, which are important to a home’s overall appearance and historic charm. When planning maintenance and rehabilitation projects, it is important to take care of your home’s “skin,” inspecting your wood shingles or siding (often called lap siding or clapboard) for damage, rot, or the need for a new coat of paint.

Prematurely peeling paint is often caused by excessive moisture. Be sure to run a dehumidifier, and ventilate kitchens and bathrooms with exhaust fans ducted to the exterior. Exterior painter’s vents (2” diameter screen vents) at an inconspicuous location at the top and bottom of an uninsulated stud cavity may also help in problem areas by allowing moisture to escape from inside the wall. Leaky roofs, downspouts and gutters may cause rot, which is indicated by wood discoloration and a spongy texture. After correcting any water problems, rotted siding should be replaced to match the original.

Considering Vinyl, Aluminum, or Other Synthetic Siding

Vinyl and aluminum siding, from an historic preservation standpoint, is never recommended. The historic character and significance of a home and neighborhood is diminished by imitation materials. If a house has vinyl, aluminum, or other synthetic siding, removing it will help restore the house to its original look. On many homes, the original siding underneath is still in good condition, but was covered when the homeowner was sold the latest siding technology or fashion of the day.

Remember that no material is maintenance free! Vinyl and aluminum siding can warp, crack and dent, colors will fade making it difficult to repair and match colors, and these sidings may eventually need to be painted just like their wood counterparts. Despite some claims, artificial sidings add very little to your home’s energy efficiency. Also, siding conceals problems such as excessive moisture, allowing the building’s structure to deteriorate undetected.

If you choose vinyl or aluminum siding, careful installation will lessen its impact on the historic character and style of a home. It is important to prevent the loss of historic features and minimize the damage to the historic siding beneath. “Jumping” or siding over the wood trim, also called casings, and fascia boards should not be done, as it will reduce shadow lines, details, and give a “flat” appearance. The placement, profile, size, proportion, finish and general appearance of the artificial siding should closely match the original wood siding. Real wood siding has a smooth finish, not wood grained, as is popular on some artificial sidings. Dutch lap or shiplap vinyl siding should be used only if the home’s original siding is of that type – clapboard vinyl siding is often more appropriate. Trim and corner boards in contrasting colors will also add to the home’s overall appearance.

As some aluminum sidings are reaching the end of their life spans, it is becoming more common to see homeowners removing them. Before assuming that you will install new siding once the old is removed, why not consider restoring your original wood siding? It may just need a good scraping, priming and painting to be just like new …historic character and all!


The Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board was established to serve in an advisory capacity for the purpose of educating, informing and making recommendations to City officials, departments, boards and commissions, and the community on matters relating to historic preservation

The Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board may be contacted through the City of Lakewood Department of Planning and Development (216/529-6630). Information in this publication may be reprinted. Please credit the Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board, Lakewood, Ohio.

© 2005 Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board

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