Thursday, April 8, 2010

Archeological Dig

Curiosity got the best of me on Easter so decided to do a little archeological dig to see what was under my vinyl siding. I picked a spot on the back porch so it wouldn't be visible from the street (if I ruined things) and a place that was a little shielded from the weather.

I pulled back the siding just over a window by my back door and then the aluminum trim around the window. I was told by some of my neighbors that the house was shingled before the vinyl went up and that it was in rather good shape.

Here's a little segment of the window trim that looks like it's in pretty good shape.
I pulled off another row of vinyl and here are those shingles. It looked to me like the shingles were sitting at a plane higher than that of the window trim which seemed curious. There must be something under the shingles.
So I cut away at the top row of shingles and this is what I found. The original clapboards! It's pretty dirty and there are quite a few nail holes but it's in relatively good shape.
As you can see in the lower left of the photo, the shingles were placed so that they slightly overlapped onto the original window casing, and then the decorative piece was added to hide that overlap and to finish the edges.
I'm unsure whether or not this is good news. I don't know whether or not any of this original surface will be able usable. But what's exciting is the possibility that once everything is peeled back, that we'll get the opportunity to see the original details.

I can't wait for that day to come.


  1. Hi Steve,

    This is so exciting. I know what that feels like. Peeling back layers of time. Sometimes it works out and other times not so much. But nevertheless, still exciting.


  2. What a great find! Don't you just hate vinyl siding on old houses?

  3. Oh, how exciting! I'm surprised there were shingles over the clapboard but I love a shingled house. What a job to remove two layers to get down to the original clapboard but "if" it's in good condition, I think you'll be so happy you did it.
    Ours is a clapboard house but unfortunately, the boards were SOOO rotted that most of the contractors refused to repair it and we were forced to put on siding. I did pay the price for the historically accurate 3" siding and it's grown on me but I definately love anything original. Hopefully there are lots of details hiding under all those layers. I can't wait to hear what you decide to do!

  4. That might mean you have to buy spackle by the gallon! Sometimes siding is a blessing in disguise. It has to be good for something, right?

  5. Vinyl siding. Grr. I understand that some people just want to reduce their maintenance requirements because their older home (like yours) is exposed to extreme weather, but my neighbor across the street? In a 30-yr old house in Southern California? Why? It's cute from here, but up close it's so obviously vinyl. Good luck with your excavation! I hope it works out in your favor.

  6. It's really great that folks layered things instead of ripping it all off. I've read several articles on houses that 'revealed' the original siding and I know that the up side is that the clap boards have been kept pretty well protected from water, sun and cold. Very exciting! Trina

  7. can't wait to see what is beyond the unexpected! coming back for more...i did not know blogging can be suspenseful! maryann

  8. We unlayered our 150 year old farmhouse and found 4" clapboard... unfortunately not in great shape. We went for Hardiplank (cement composite) siding. Unbelievable !!! it looks like wood but will last forever - we just love it!

  9. NFalls: Thanks for stopping by. Hardiplank is one of the options I'm considering if I have to replace the siding. I guess the paint on Hardiplank lasts substantially longer than on cedar. Some people say it's not right for a historical house but it seems to be one of the greener options when you consider it's life expectancy as well as less use of paint.