Siding The House: The Long Road Home

This past week Andy took vacation time to start siding the addition and two sides of the original house. I was going to write just about that process, but it just didn’t seem fair to not take a long look back to June 2012 when we started the addition. Quite frankly it’s staggering even to us how much has been done in 15 months.

To give some perspective, since it’s been a while, last June 2012 Andy was building the base for the new part of the addition, and tearing the siding off the house. It still perplexes me that the owners before us purposely built the addition to look like this. 

DSC_7477-01Many months and laborious hours later, as autumn 2012 started setting in, the house was ready for exterior insulation. The blue shell became jokingly known in the neighborhood as “the blue igloo”, because it looked like a giant Igloo cooler. The entire addition had the blue insulation on it through a cold winter, since there was no time to side prior to snow. Since this was exterior insulation and it was properly taped it held up to the elements perfectly fine.

DSC_0191-01The insulation isn’t a permanent siding though, and we knew this autumn (2013) we would need to get the siding on. One winter is one winter enough for exterior insulation to be exposed to harsh New England winters. The siding however wasn’t just for the addition, it needed to be tied into the original house.

Since late September/the beginning of this October we have had to (in addition to other winterizing needs around the house):

  • Tear the siding off the two sides of the original house that tie into the addition
  • Re-frame and replace the odd basement looking windows in the original house with windows that matched the rest of the addition
  • Remove the lilac (far right) from the edge of the house, which we planted into a hedgerow to create a natural fence with the neighbors which will grow in over time
  • Set up staging
  • Install exterior insulation on the original sections of the house
  • Build window trim for the new windows in both the original and addition (16 windows including two double windows)
  • Strap up the entire exterior where we would be putting siding
  • Install the siding

I knew when the house was completed it would look cohesive, but it was hard to tell how it was going to achieve cohesiveness when it looked like this.

IMG_6985After I took this photo I got my hands on a pair of gloves and a pry bar. Then Andy came out. In no time the front of the original house looked a little bit barer.

IMG_6986Within 24 hours the back of the house was pretty similar, and after waiting for our windows to come in, Andy removed the old windows and started framing up for the new ones. 

IMG_7102 DSC_7392-01Once the windows were installed, it was time to put on the exterior insulation. It was at this part that Andy stepped back and proclaimed that it actually looked like a house.

DSC_7589-03With the exterior insulation in place, Andy turned the garage into a trim shop and made classic simple trim for around the windows. He primarily used wood we already had on hand, and bought the bottom pieces. The technical name for them I have no idea, but it’s basically the outer sill. Maybe that is the name. Who knows? (Answer: Andy knows, but I don’t want to get up and ask). Update: I totally forgot to mention, until Andy reminded me after reading the post, that “wood we had on hand” has more of a back story. Do you remember when we sawed a bunch of lumber from our and our neighbors property? The wood for the trim in the entire house, interior and exterior, came from this.

DSC_7583-01With the trim installed it was time to set up the staging, get the strapping done, and start putting the actual siding on. I was working all last week which means not many photos were taken, but here are a few snapshots I took in the evenings when I got home. About 1/2 of the front of the house is also complete.


As for our siding choice? Fiber cement. We knew we didn’t want vinyl, and loved the look of wood. While we would have loved something like dipped shingles, similar to our garage, it would be slow going up, pretty expensive and high on maintenance. As it turned out Andy actually had a whole bunch of fiber cement he had been saving for years. It made the decision pretty easy. We will need to buy some more, but already having a bunch will significantly cut down on the final cost. Overall I think we would have chosen fiber cement even if we didn’t have some on hand already. It’s cheaper than wood, easier to maintain and typically costs less than wood – especially when installing ourselves. We did buy a new piece of equipment for installing it though. Fiber cement can (and likely will) do a number on your saw, so we bought a used one for $120 at a pawn shop to cut the siding with. Andy, reasonably, didn’t want to destroy his really nice one. Even with that added cost this will still be cheaper overall.

Right now the boards are a grayish color which we will leave for this winter since it will be too cold to paint by the time it’s done. Eventually the house will be the same green as the trim work so we have a monochrome color throughout the exterior. Why not do a separate trim color? Well first, we love the look of a monochrome home, and it fits the style. Second, it makes painting and touch ups a lot easier.

As of today, that’s where we are with the exterior. There’s still about a hundred and one things to do before ever calling this house “complete” but I can say we’re steadily moving along and quite comfortable. The house is a lot warmer than it was a few winters ago, and we’re still loving our new living room area. In fact, we just recently moved the wood stove in – but that’s another blog post for another time.

All for now. Time to head on outside and work the garden under before the ground freezes, which should be any day now.


2 thoughts on “Siding The House: The Long Road Home

  1. What a huge improvement. I just do not understand why people intentionally do things wrong/ugly/shortcut.

    When I saw the first few photos of the new house-old house, I admit I was having those thoughts of “I don’t know if this is all going to come together.” But then when I saw the photos with the new siding, I actually gasped. It looks awesome! The uniform windows, the trim, the continuous siding make such as massive difference. Personally, I’m really liking the two tone with the grey of the siding and the green of the trim and the black (?) of the windows, but I understand where your decision of one colour comes from. I’d love a little more detail on the cement board (installation, durability, price point, maintenance) when you have a moment.

    1. Hah! I admit I had that thought when we bought the house, Julia! I knew it would become something, just knowing my husbands skill set, but I didn’t know what the heck that thing would be. It’s so hard to photograph because the front of the house (addition porch) doesn’t face the front of the road, which makes it look especially odd in photos. If you view it from the front it makes more sense, but from either side it definitely looks a little unique. As far as the fiber cement, there are a lot of great resources on google that discuss all of those area in more depth (and with the credentials to do so). Wood siding is huge on maintenance, and we knew we didn’t want that. We also already had a lot of fiber cement on hand, and while it’s an odd thing to have on hand persay, it means that we will have to shell out a lot less in the end. Also given it’s so low on maintenance it was just the right choice. My number one aesthetically would have been shingles but I’m really loving the look the fiber cement is giving.


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