When getting a quote for residing your home, removal and disposal of the old siding should be factored in to any quote you get from a contractor.

Contractor quotes can vary wildly. That’s why it’s important to make sure that the quote you get includes removal of the old siding.

Even though most reputable contractors will never install siding over existing siding, there are knuckleheads out there that will say you can do it and it’s not a problem.

Why siding over existing siding is a bad move

Yes, you may be able to save some money by not removing the old siding, but that old siding could be hiding problems that may bite you down the road.

Left unchecked, small issues can become major problems that could end up costing thousands of dollars to rectify.

Asphalt shingles found under aluminum siding

As we peeled away the aluminum siding on this house, a gruesome history of neglect, questionable taste in style and shortcuts unfolded.

The pictures you’re seeing were from a project in Kingston, N.Y., on an old house that was built in the early 1900’s. The new owner of the home had no knowledge of the work previously done on the house.

As you can imagine, with a house more than 100 years old, you never know what you’re going to find when you start peeling away the layers.

Rotten, structural water damage uncovered.

This is what we found once all of the old siding was completely removed.

Sometimes you just need to start over

A close inspection of the damage showed us that at some point water had penetrated the wall. Although the wall was dry, much of the framing crumbled when touched with our tools. The only way forward was to start over and frame out a new wall.

Rebuilding an exterior wall

Looks like a big deal, but it wasn’t. We had this wall framed out and sealed up within a day.

Almost there

Here’s the new wall wrapped in Tyvek just before the siding was installed. We also slapped a new window in, where there should have been one from the start. The client was really happy about the added light.

Wall rebuilt and wrapped

Wall rebuilt and wrapped in Tyvec within a day.

Aluminum siding installed

On this particular job, the home already had aluminum siding. The client had a tight budget and just wanted to patch-in new siding to match the existing siding.

Typically aluminum is not used anymore to reside residential homes, so the siding needed to be special ordered. It wasn’t cheap, but it was less costly than residing the entire house in vinyl.

When we were done, it tied-in quite nicely with the existing siding. The client was pleased that he did not have to reside the whole house as several contractors had suggested.

Many contractors just don’t want to deal with aluminum, so they do try to push for a full vinyl reside as apposed to a repair, but that’s not how we roll.

Aluminum siding installed.

Aluminum siding installed to tie-in to the rest of the existing aluminum… Yeah it’s a little funky with the foundation not being square, but it’s an old house and you have to work with what is, when you’re working on old homes.

Lessons learned

Although it seems obvious that the right thing to do is to remove old cladding before installing new, but there are installers out there that will do whatever it takes to keep the cost of the job down.

To be honest, given the age of the home, it’s quite possible that the installer was not even a contractor. It could have been one of the previous home owners.

Regardless of who did the job, the down side of this approach is that you can end up covering up issues that might be easily resolved before becoming major problems…

Cutting corners can end up cutting into your wallet when all is said and done. 

 

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North East Remodeling Group: We are a team of interior and exterior specialists, versed in all phases of construction. From renovations and additions, to home building from the ground up. We also happen to be one of the select few James Hardie Certified Remodelers in the Hudson Valley.   Have a question? Just ask me in the comments below and I will do my best to respond in a timely manner.

Comments

  1. Was the problem that they put new siding over old, or that they put new siding over a rotted wall with no drainage plain in between? I’ve seen house fires where the vinyl siding burned off only to reveal the superior asbestos shingles underneath, which saved the house. If the job had been done “right”, the house would have been a total loss. I’m not saying that new siding over old is often preferable, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything. Anyway, I’m glad you were able to save the aluminum siding; if the paint holds up and it doesn’t get dented, it might outlast a brand new vinyl job.

    • Thanks for your comments. In the photos you can see that one layer of siding had asphalt shingles that probably date back to the early seventies or perhaps even earlier. My guess is, at some point the roof was leaking at that wall. Though the roof had been redone in rubber in recent years, you could see evidence of pooling due the the irregularity of the roof itself. So it would be no surprise to me if a leaking roof was at some point the cause of the water damage in the wall.

      That said, it’s hard to say at which point this damage occurred and when the residing of the wall over the existing siding took place. The point here is that it’s always best to strip down the layers before residing because you never know what what could be hiding underneath. This is especially important if the house is sketchy to begin with as this house was.

      Now, the example you gave with the asbestos siding, that’s just one of those lucky stories where having the old asbestos siding under the existing siding worked out to everyone’s benefit. It does give me pause because you are correct in your assessment about the asbestos being superior in its protection against heat and flame. Although I do not recommend siding over existing siding, I suppose a case could be made for doing so, if you had an asbestos shingled house that was in great shape and you wanted to retain the fire retardant protection of the asbestos but still reside the house cheaply. This could be done with vinyl, but not with a cement siding, where you nail right to the house as opposed to “hanging” the siding like you do with vinyl or aluminum.

      Thanks for your interest in the project.

  2. I think you missed the boat on the bottom line. Why not drop the level down another two or three inches, install a starter strip or J channel and have it nice and level all the way across the face of the wall?

    Following the old foundation is standard practice but sometimes it pays in a final look to think outside what is “normal” and apply some creativity.

    DAS

    • Das,

      It’s a valid point, however what’s not being clearly shown in the image is that the foundation actually protruded away from the plain of the wall. So, what you can’t see clearly is that there is a bit of a shelf at the top of the foundation. The wall was recessed about 6+ inches from the face of the foundation. If you look at the Tyvec photograph above, you can see the outline of this shelf under the Tyvec. We actually created a custom capping that goes against the wall and then comes out over the foundation.

      The more expensive route would have been to fur out the wall so that siding and foundation would be on the same plain, BUT then that would have meant that we would need to disrupt the roof line and rebuilding the roof was not in our client’s budget.

      Had the foundation been on the same plain as the siding we could have done what you are suggesting, but that just wasn’t the case. This was a very unorthodox foundation/ wall situation. Given the circumstances, budget restraints and goals of the client, I think we actually did use some creativity.

      Thanks for your comments. 🙂

      Anthony Ferrara

  3. have cedar siding on now very brittle and splitting in places install America co. are going to install siding over cedar siding I have already pointed some flaws out to them but they insist it will be fine would you do it this way?

    • Frank, regardless of where you live, you should never go over any siding, especially when the existing siding is in poor condition. You never know what could be hiding under the old siding. I would suggest getting several estimates if you haven’t done so already. If that company you mentioned gave you a lower estimate, it’s for the reason you stated. They are “cutting corners” on your job to keep costs down. The R&R of your old siding adds a lot more time and cost to the job.

      So to answer your question, no we would never do it that way and I doubt any reputable contractor would suggest you go that route.

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