4 Smart Ways to Maintain Your Natural Wood Siding in a Humid Environment

24 October 2016
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Articles

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Have you replaced your aluminum siding with wood such as cedar or redwood? Wood siding adds a natural, rustic charm to a country house or cabin, although it can become costly if you don't maintain it properly. This is especially important if you live in a humid region or an area that is prone to temperature fluctuations. Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent moisture damage or decay to your home's wood siding. Follow these golden rules after installing your wood siding to keep it looking new and to prevent costly future repairs.

1. Protect the Finished Product

Even the heartiest and most rot-resistant species of wood, such as teak, cypress, cedar, and California redwood, may decay over time when exposed to moisture. When installing natural wood siding in an area that is prone to high humidity levels, you must protect the wood with some type of finish. Otherwise, the wood may crack, peel, chip, or rot as it expands under these environmental conditions.

You may choose to paint your wood siding, as this offers an attractive and customized degree of protection. Painting is a good option, as you may choose a color that complements your home's exterior. With paint, you also have the option to change the color as you wish. Keep in mind that paint adds a coating of protection, unlike a stain, which seals the wood. Also, if you paint your siding for protection, you will need to repaint every few years as the paint begins to fade or chip.

A clear sealant or stain is a good choice for a sealant and finish, as it provides a natural moisture barrier. It's also somewhat less expensive than painting the wood siding. By applying a stain finish, you allow the grain of the wood to remain in its natural-looking state. Therefore, if a rustic look is what you're after, choose a stain. One thing to bear in mind is that once the wood is stained, you may find it a chore to paint over the stain should you decide you want a different appearance or color.

2. Clean and Brighten Your Wood

Regardless of what type of finish you prefer, any type of wood siding will need restoration from time to time, especially in a humid climate. This is because natural wood tends to turn gray or become discolored over a period of time. If your wood siding becomes discolored, use a wood-brightening agent to clean away months or years of dirt and grime. For mold, you might want to try white vinegar or oxygenated bleach. If you choose to use trisodium phosphate, be sure to wear rubber gloves and a face mask, as this is a strong chemical.

If you prefer, use a pressure washer set to the lowest setting. Before doing so, you might want to loosen the debris and dirt with a spray of water from a garden hose. If cleaning your siding regularly seems like a chore, or you don't feel confident in doing this job, hire a professional to do the task for you.

3. Keep Plants, Shrubs, and Bushes Clear Away from the Siding

You may have heard this tip before: Prune nearby tree branches so they do not touch your home's siding. Also, don't allow shrubs, bushes, and plants to come into contact with the siding. Any type of foliage will contain a fair degree of moisture, and this may be transferred to the wood, leading to moisture damage to your home's siding.

4. Periodically Check for Signs of Termite Damage

If you live in a humid region, termites may become an issue, as they depend upon moisture to survive. Termite infestation can cause extensive damage and costly repairs to your wood siding, and that is why you need to inspect the wood routinely. Signs to look for include piles of sawdust on the ground or between clapboard siding. Also, if you hear a hollow sound while tapping the siding with a hammer, termites may have infiltrated the wood. If you suspect termite infestation, contact a professional at once.