In the Nick of Time
The best way to keep wood siding in good shape is to inspect it regularly. Look for cracks, holes and warps, paint that is cracked or blistered, missing shingles or shakes, and insect and bird damage.
In the Nick of Time
Some hardboard siding products, such as Masonite, have hard surfaces, but if water penetrates the surface, the material will quickly deteriorate (this problem has also made them the subject of class-action lawsuits). The edges of these products are most susceptible to water penetration. Painting the edges every fall—particularly edges that are low enough that snow can drift over them—will help protect them.
Wood siding, which includes clapboard, shingles, and shakes as well as plywood and hardwood sheets, can last up to 30 years if well maintained. This means keeping it sealed, stained, or painted to protect it from weathering, decay, and insect damage.
Many wood siding repairs are pretty easy to do, and they should be done as soon as you spot problems. Before you do any repairs, however, it's a good idea to figure out what caused the problem and correct it to prevent problems from continuing. Typical culprits include the following:
Leaky or clogged gutters
Damaged gutters and/or downspouts
Damage along the edges of eaves and roofs
Tree or shrub branches
Termites or other wood-loving pests
Depending on the type of siding that's on your house, it might be easier to repair it than replace it, as finding a perfect match might be difficult. However, if damage is extensive, plan on replacing the material.
As mentioned, minor damage to wood siding, such as splits and small holes, is easy to repair. Some splits can simply be glued back together with waterproof glue. Drive a nail or two into the board to hold it in place while the glue dries. Paint over the glue, if necessary, when it's dry.
Replacing entire boards, shingles, or shakes can be a little tougher, especially if you can't find products to match. One approach is to remove what you need from an inconspicuous area on your house, and replace what you removed with new product.
Vinyl and Metal Siding
Vinyl or metal siding is often applied over existing finishes, such as masonry or wood, to freshen the appearance of older houses, to improve their insulating abilities, and to better protect them from the elements. Both products are extremely durable and stand up well to weather. However, they can crack, crease, or puncture. Heavy winds can also rip siding right off a house.
Keep siding in good shape by inspecting it regularly. Keeping trees and shrubs trimmed back will also help minimize damage.
Slight surface damage, such as cracks, creases, and other small blemishes, can be repaired on vinyl siding with color-matching caulking. Dents and dings in metal siding can be filled with auto body filler and painted.
Anything more than this typically calls for removing and replacing the entire section, which is best left to the experts.