House of Questions

"What can I do to maintain the integrity of my Eichler's exterior siding and extend its life?"
Fridays On the Homefront
Healthy looking exterior siding gives a sharp, vibrant appearance to an Eichler home (like the one pictured here). But how hard is it to maintain those good looks? Photos: David Toerge
Fridays On the Homefront
Siding manufacturer Jeff Nichols   of Eichler Siding.
Fridays On the Homefront
Siding installer and general contractor Tim Lawlor of Tim Lawlor Construction.

From what the experts tell us, careful installation and painting prep and follow-up vigilance play big roles.

As we know, one of the trademarks of an Eichler home is its grooved exterior siding. When that siding starts to fail, the house looks more timeworn than modern.

For this round of questions, on siding maintenance, we turn to two Bay Area siding experts, both of whom have extensive experience with Eichlers—one on the manufacturing side, the other an installer: Jeff Nichols of Eichler Siding (based in Marin County) and Tim Lawlor of Lawlor Construction (based in the East Bay).

What causes exterior siding to break down over time?

Nichols: There can be a number of problems. One would be poor maintenance of paint that's on the siding. So when the paint job starts to break down—mainly through UV, then moisture, probably rain of course—that allows penetration of moisture, which allows a place for fungus and rot and all that kind of stuff. I mean, just UV alone destroys stuff. Fungus and rot destroys things as well. So, good repainting and good prep work before repainting are critical, not just painting over pre-existing paint problems.

What are other important factors to consider when installing new siding?

Lawlor: What we find is that, with the older siding, if you replace just a couple pieces, it just doesn't match, because the new siding looks brand new. So on a lot of the jobs...we'll do the whole wall, so at least that whole wall looks good.

One of the things I feel that is super-crucial is priming all sides of the siding before it's installed, so it really can't absorb moisture. Priming every single square-inch of it before it's installed, and then a really nice paint job on top of it, really helps protect it in the long run.

Nichols: One thing is, if you're about to need a new roof—because the siding is also tied into the roof edge, it's good to do the siding first, then come over the top with the roof edge, rather than getting a brand new roof and going, 'Oh, we need to do siding.' Now, you've broken the connection point between the siding and the roof edge. So that's a consideration.

What are the most common errors when installing new siding?

Lawlor: Not using the proper primer so that everything's going to adhere properly...