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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
live in Tennessee
Yep, makes not difference where you live. It’s still a bad idea.
I just bought a double wide trailer in St. James city Florida. It has aluminum siding which is in good condition but I want to install new vinyl siding. Someone told me I could install it on top of the aluminum is that a good or bad idea
Sorry for missing this. It slipped by me. As you very well know, in life, there is a difference between what you “can’ do and what you “should” do. IMHO there is never a good reason to shingle or side without removing the old material. If it were my home or trailer, that’s not how I would do it. I’ll tell you something else, the fact that you just purchased this unit is an even more compelling reason to remove the old material. You want to protect your investment and know that it’s sound underneath. Isn’t that better than hoping it’s ok?
My situation is slightly different. My home was built in 2014, has nice cement siding. It’s in great condition since it’s south facing. I am interested in putting dark brick/stone over it to serve as thermal gain inside a lean-to greenhouse space. I can pull off the siding and repair/replace the vapor barrier but if its in good shape, what is the risk in confirming the vapor seal and bricking over the siding? Note there will be air circulation in the greenhouse space.
Your project sounds interesting. I would not recommend installing brick over the cement. That’s just not going to work. I’m sure you could find some creative ways to do it but that doesn’t mean you should. As you stated, the vapor barrier is of primary concern. That bad boy needs to be intact! I would remove the siding down to the barrier and then approach the brick facade installation as it would normally be done (the right way) depending on the material being used and how the manufacturer specifies. The approach would be different for a brick wall as opposed to actual stone or precast concrete. I hope this advice saves you some headaches.
…and maybe an unplanned renovation.
FYI, this is similar to my plan although the greenhouse won’t be as deep.
Can you install metal siding over existing Masonite panels? Or should you tear that off and start fresh?
Rob, I would recommend tearing it off and starting fresh. There is peace of mind that comes with knowing that there are no potential problems lurking beneath the old paneling. We always rip the old cladding. The potential financial consequences of not removing it far outway the cost savings of installing any siding over existing siding.
Thanks, I appreciate it.
I have an old cabin that is dry and free from water damage, bugs and structural damage. It has INSELSYDE siding on it over top of 1×8 plank siding that is not lapped. Would that be ok to put vinyl siding over that INSELSYDE as the walls are straight and flat. Would I need to Tyvek it.
I would think I would not need to Tyvek it and that vinyl would be fine. Thoughts?
I get asked this question all of the time. It sounds like you currently have 2 layers of siding already existing and you want to put a third layer of vinyl over it. You should definitely not do that. The right way is to remove all layers so you can address any sheathing issues or concerns that may exist under the current siding. Even if all appears dry on the interior, you cannot possibly know what’s brewing under the exterior if you don’t strip it down. Inspect it, and get a new vapor barrier on there as well before installing the new cladding. There are no shortcuts … “Sometimes taking time is actually a shortcut.”
“Sometimes taking time is actually a shortcut.”
HOW TRUE!!!! I am going to be using this one in the future. As clients always ask when will you be done? As I am in the middle of a rotten wall that was suspect during the initial bid process.
I was told by my dad that you save a lot of time doing it right the first time.
Hah! Yeah Dale, that’s a good one for sure. You could apply that to all sorts of situations in life. Wish I could take credit for that but it comes from the Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami.
Thanks guys, I failed to mention that the walls are unfinished on the inside and can see studs and pine boards as there is no insulation. Basically it looks like a framed house after drying in. Does it sound more reasonable knowing this?
Ryland, I’m afraid my approach would still be the same regardless of seeing the interior wall cavity or not. I can’t ever remember kicking myself later for taking the extra time to do it right.
Additionally, the plank siding is not siding it is the sheathing, they did not use plywood on this construction type. So think of it as a stucco house that has no issues, would it be acceptable to just put vinyl on it in that case. Thanks in advance, trying to not misstep and leaving to the experts for advice.
If the plank is the sheathing then the visible cladding should be removed and the new product installed over a new vapor barrier.
Thanks, very helpful. If you were down my way in Virginia I would hire you. Most contractors would have deleted the posts as it was taking too much of their time. Thanks man. A big help, I will yank that asphalt siding off that puppy this weekend and get ready to have a contractor install vinyl, it is for appearance more so than functionality currently. But to your point, nothing will last forever.
Hey Ryland, no problem at all really. It’s my pleasure. Let us know how the project turned out.
I’m considering installing cedar shingles over my existing beveled wood siding that is in good shape.
Can this be done if so, should there be a vapor barrier added?
K.Wilson, thanks for reaching out. What you are considering is not something I would recommend. Yeah, you could do it, but the question is, would you want to? The answer to that question is no, and here’s why. You said the existing siding is in good shape, and that may be, but it doesn’t mean unseen problems aren’t lurking underneath (see blog post). The fact that you are asking about installing a vapor barrier means you don’t know the condition of the existing one or if it even exists. Whether or not adding a second vapor barrier will do harm is a good question. I suppose it could potentially trap moisture where it shouldn’t be trapped. It’s also not what the cladding or vapor barrier manufacturers recommend, and that’s probably for a good reason. Then there is the fact that you probably wouldn’t be able to lay down your new siding over the old siding on a flat plain and may have to fur out the exterior. It’s just more work all around and there is too much room for error. Do it right and remove the old material. That’s my five cents. 🙂