What is the best finish for a 60-yr-old house with previously painted redwood siding?


What is the best finish for a 60-yr-old house with previously painted redwood siding?

Asked by Georgia Goldfarb

It is in Oak View, CA (between Ventura & Ojai). Paint is now peeling; last painted about 1990-95. Previously well kept up. I prefer a natural wood appearance. What is the best prep and finish, and how long will it last? I understand there are newer finishes which may hold up better than the old ones. I will eventually remodel with a sort of naturalist/modernist look (similar to architect Ray Kappe's personal residence).

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Harold Remlinger, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB's picture

With any renovation project that takes place on an older home such as yours, consideration and care should be taken during the preparation process.

With 60 years of painted finishes on the home, you will encounter traces of lead. It is recommended that if you are considering removal of the old finishes you hire a contractor specializing in hazardous material removal.

As for your love of natural wood finish for a siding material such as that used on the Kappe Residence, it may be beneficial for you to consider the investment in a new siding material at this time.

Replacing vs refurbishing

Here are a few reasons for replacement vs. refurbishing.

  • You will find that involving a lead abatement contractor will be costly and will more than likely exceed the cost of replacing the existing siding.
  • Older, lead-based paint finishes were thinned prior to application to allow full penetration into the wood grains for better adhesion. Because the paint has filled the grains of the siding, it is difficult to fully remove the existing finishes without causing damage to the siding, which will result in the piecemeal approach of replacing damaged siding -- thus increasing your labor cost by involving a carpentry contractor vs. solely a painting contractor.
  • Appearance-wise, visible traces of paint left in the grains will be noticeable beneath the translucent stain or sealer for a natural finish.

A temporary solution

For a temporary repair at this time, you would do best to scrape all of the loose paint, repair any damaged wood and repaint the home using a latex-based exterior paint.

For more information:

Read Susan Davis's Q&A "We are re-siding our home. Our builder wants us to go with vinyl, but we are looking at cedar shingles. Any advice?"