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I often think of DIY in terms of three different groupings: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Or more accurately, three distinct phases in a certain order of progression:

  • Bad (the inspiration for improvement)
  • Ugly (looking even more like crap as the Bad gets taken apart and looks WAY worse)
  • and Good (where things finally turn the corner).

The house’s exterior has been no exception to this typical pattern. The last time I left off about my exterior siding, things weren’t looking quite so hot:

repair exterior siding

repair exterior siding

repair exterior siding

Of course, this fit squarely in the Ugly step, as the guys I’d hired were getting started on a long-awaited project that I kept putting off. To recap from the beginning, when I bought the house, the exterior needed a number of repairs. Some of these things were obvious enough to take care of immediately, and prompted a lot of rapid changes, such as repairing the siding of the garage, getting rid of some wood rot on the upstairs windows, and picking new house paint colors. I was on a roll, but after months of hard work, I was running out of steam.

repair exterior siding

While each individual part of the exterior repair technically wasn’t anything I couldn’t have done on my own (provided that I had regular access to a tall enough ladder and the supplies on hand), it simply got to be too much with all of the other improvements I was making on the rest of the house. Months went by. A lot of them. I made a little progress here and there, but began to feel overwhelmed with the sheer volume of it… and that led to procrastination (for me, it always does!).

repair exterior siding

When I got too bored tired to keep the same level of repair work going, I made a handful of stopgap repairs where they were most needed (none of them pretty), and things just kind of drifted into project limbo.

repair exterior siding

Of course, this method only lasts so long before it could really use some reinforcements. Because at some point, woodpeckers and the elements will make you wish you’d called a repair guy sooner. For example, in the photo above, there’s one piece of siding that just fell off at some point, several holes from birds being assholes, and a previously caulked piece of wood trim that needed to be replaced before rain made its way inside.

I knew I could do it on my own if I found the time, but not every project can wait on me to find it; this was one of them. Even though spending money on labor was both a cost of actual dollars and pride (and I always want to DIY if and when I can because budget), it was time to just get this thing DONE already.

repair exterior siding

I know. Yikes.

Originally, I intended on getting this heap o’ mess dealt with back in March when I got my first few quotes on HomeAdvisor.com. I’d been doing some online searching and started using their service because it was free, they had useful cost calculators, and they had lots of company reviews (I’m a review nut when it comes to purchases that I have to live with for an extended period of time or over a certain dollar amount). But after realizing that my exterior repairs might not be as expensive as I’d originally budgeted for (I figured around $3k, and quotes were coming back around $1,000), I also got quotes for cutting down the pine trees in my back yard. I guess the logic behind that was that I’d already spent the money in my head on exterior improvements, and I might as well see how far the dollars could stretch while I was getting quotes. Which actually went really, really awesome.

repair exterior siding

Except having the trees cut down and the thought of no longer dealing with the overwhelming nature of six pine trees’ worth of pine needles wooed me as a BIG FAT item crossed off my to-do list, and I got distracted enough to start again on some interior work. Which meant I still needed to come back around to the whole reason I began searching on HomeAdvisor in the first place. Birds pecking at your chimney makes for a very loud reminder, so I began looking for quotes again this summer.

repair exterior siding

And here’s where the story gets a little strange. I had such an easy time finding plenty of quotes and great service for tree cutting services that I knew I’d be going back to use HomeAdvisor again for this project. I simply assumed that finding someone to do siding repair would be even simpler than the trees, and began the search process again. I even tried calling the guy back who had come in with the lowest quote earlier this spring to have him come out again for an estimate adjustment (thinking that his number might increase with a few more months of allowing the siding to get worse). But it was like I’d gone fishing next to someone who just couldn’t stop yakking: unlike before, there were no bites.

Surely, there had to be plenty of local guys who did cedar siding repair, right? Most of the businesses I found on my own online had some form of exterior repair listed, but it seemed as though my “category” for this project neatly straddled the check boxes of other categories. It wasn’t just repair and wasn’t full replacement, and there was also caulking and painting needed. Every phone call I made while doing research wound up going something like “yeah, so I need X and Y and a little bit of Z”, and they would each do one or two of the things, but not all (usually they would only do full replacement, not repair, which was much pricier). So I reached back out to the HomeAdvisor team, who created a help ticket for me to speak to one of their on-staff service folks. This guy’s job was to help me find my matches, but not in a “this is the keyword you should use, good luck” sort of way. He came back with a list for my area and had these guys already notified to call me to set up quote appointments. All for free. They were basically as nice as a Canadian stereotype (minus the Tim Horton’s).

A very short couple of weeks later (some of which was waiting on rain to stop), I had a price agreed upon and strangers taking apart my house.

repair exterior siding

As usual, I went with my gut on who to choose. These guys had been in the business for a long while, seemed to have more expertise, and possessed a genuine interest in educating me about different alternatives to what I was originally asking for (with each suggestion actually less expensive than mine). They snagged the materials quickly, showed up on time, and went well above the scope of the work they quoted. Even after finding some nasty elements hiding beneath certain parts of the house and having to repair more than they saw during their initial inspection (such as the wood rot below), they got all of the necessary repairs done, sealed, and painted less than a week later.

exterior siding repair

They also took care of it all without costing a dime more than their quote. They even climbed onto the roof and got rid of some tricky gutter issues, just because they figured I wouldn’t be able to get to it in the near future. I’d definitely hire them again (if you’re in the local area and looking for someone, his info is at the bottom of the post*).

repair exterior siding

They kind of ran with their own instincts in certain areas, which worked really well for me since I knew I could trust them to do this while I worked on other things. Here, they were explaining the use of the rough versus the smoother side of the siding and why painting it was actually a huge pain. The house had been painted before I moved in, forcing me and these guys to keep painting it, but cedar is actually plenty resistant to the elements on its own. So rather than painting, cedar should always be stained. Not much I could do once painted (other than scrape or replace it, which would be $$$), so painting continued.

repair exterior siding
Just a photo I took of their makeshift platform for keeping each piece elevated as it dried; I liked it and wanted to remember!).

In the end, things looked SO MUCH BETTER.

repairing exterior siding

repair exterior siding

The chimney looks way better too. You can’t really see it in the photo below, but they put a cap above the large band (which was supposed to be there but missing for way too long) to keep the wood rot situation from happening again anytime soon. I forgot to tell them the various areas that should be white vs. tan, but caught them before they put up the tougher trim pieces up, so the areas that need to be repainted will be much easier for me to reach.

repair exterior siding

As you can see, they didn’t paint everything, but that’s because I hired them to specifically to get to the parts that needed to be repaired or replaced and paint just that. I still have to finish painting the other spots of trim, but thankfully it’s a much easier job knowing that I don’t have to replace anything else. And of course, it’s been pushing me to get a LOT of yard work completed to complement all of the new siding work.

repair exterior siding

The work isn’t totally done yet to completely cross “exterior paint” off of the list. It’s also never going to be 100% perfect on the exterior (cedar siding doesn’t have the seamless, uniform kind of look that vinyl does), but it’s been a huge motivator to do all the things around the entryway, and I know my neighbors are probably very pleased to see the improvements.

repair exterior siding

I know I am!

repair exterior siding

Up next: my epic saga with attic squirrels. For those of you who might secretly hope for a squirrel near-ass-kicking of yours truly, you’ll want to catch the next post.

*Local Atlanta area info for the team I hired: Barry, 404-980-5228.

Huge thanks to HomeAdvisor for all of their help!

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    1. That episode is an annual re-visit in my house. Every time someone new hears it, squee-inducing giggles ensue. Hilarious!

  1. Well done on getting that organised!looks brilliant!

    We have had serious problems hiring anyone to do jobs on our house, so we have decided to do everything ourselves, just very slowly (but with love, so its all good)

    But you right, external work is another matter, and though we can fix gutters and render (no siding in this part of the world) any kind of chimney repairs are another matter and we will have to get the big boys, who have bigger ladders and scaffolds, to do that for us.

    Glad to see you got on well with it. :)

  2. The siding really looks so much better now. Sometimes, no matter how good at DIY home repairs you are, you need professional help!

  3. Finding good, reputable contractors is so hard. I am definitely going to keep Home Advisor in mind for the future, because it really sounds like they are a great resource!!
    The house looks fantastic!! My brother’s house has cedar siding too, and they just painted it blue. It was already painted before. The only nice thing about having it painted vs. stained is that I think when it’s stained you have to seal it pretty often? So having it painted is less maintenance. Hope you can keep the woodpeckers away! Those bastards.

    1. I think it’s yearly? I guess I don’t pick up on facts when they don’t concern my house. Painting is less often, but creates its own set of frustrations (mainly that the cedar can get water-logged in heavy rain and that can cause wood rot issues). Luckily there are also products these days (such as from 3M) that harden wood rot to prevent it from continuing, so just FYI on that if you find yourself in that situation and don’t think it’s bad enough to replace!

  4. Thanks for sharing this! I know we need to replace some pieces of our cedar siding as well, particularly around the chimney, and I’ve been dreading it. We also took out pine trees this year (13) and while we’ll still be raking leaves from the oaks, my husband is very much looking forward to not dealing with the pine needles this year!

  5. The house looks looks fantastic, well done! And I’ve read all of your posts, internet stalker style, so I know how proud you must feel, your starter home has come such a long way! :)

  6. It will be peace of mind knowing it’s sealed and repaired in the areas that needed it and the house does look great. Yup, awesome there’s a free service to help filter repair help as far as service, quality, dependability etc. at no charge. I could write a small novel about #squirrels#nuts#nuisance#messy-trees #time-management BUT..I don’t have time….ha! I’d get home to my new acreage at about 8:AM from third shift and spend 1-1/2 to 2 hrs. picking up walnuts with 7 white 7 gal. buckets, my J/D garden tractor with trailer, before I could spend an hour and a half mowing, edging and weed whacking. The acreage had five mature, two medium Walnut tress in my back yard and a property bordering fence line with brush, multi-flora-rose and a few more mature walnut tress. My yard was, and still is a Squirrel Nursery Feeding Ground. NUTS & SQUIRRELS everywhere, everywhere….something, which left as was, was always going to be a big dismal energy time taking draw-down of the enjoyment of living on an acreage. They are a very messy tree for any yard as a pine would be. I sold the five mature Walnut trees in the back yard, removed a medium sized one near my shop/garage and had money to apply to my landscaping from the Walnut wood buyer. I do not miss the five trees what-so-ever but still pick up many nuts from trees bordering my property. I can’t wait to hear of your experience / post on squirrel removal. I doubt you’ll have have your chair up to that table Sarah, but up north here, many people have many recipes and enjoy squirrel with dirty rice, fresh vegetables and a glass of wine.
    Good luck on your relocation venture Sarah. Looking forward to the read….


  7. It looks great! I am curious if you have found ways to keep woodpeckers away from the siding? My husband and I have been having woodpecker problems. We had a giant hole at the top of our chimney replaced a couple months ago only to have a woodpecker peck a hole in the exact same spot! Such pests!

    1. I’m still battling them to some degree, so I don’t yet have much advice to give on the subject, but the paint and getting rid of their little home in my chimney seems to have helped a lot. Woodpeckers attack in areas where they think there are bugs, so even though you just repaired it, you might want to reinforce it with some metal flashing (they don’t like the glare) or use some of that wood rot hardening stuff… I hear it hardens the wood to a super hard consistency, which of course would be unwelcome for both bugs and birds alike!

  8. It looks so good! How did Charlie do when the workmen were on the roof? And I’m also curious if she goes crazy for the attic squirrels. Our cats are funny when workmen come over. One always runs and hides under the bed until like hours after they’ve left, and the other one greets them like a dog and follows them around inspecting their work as they go. Well, we have a 3rd one, but she spends all day up in her hidden alcove, so workmen don’t phase her.

    1. She seems to have NO reaction to squirrels when they’re making a racket. Kind of disappointed, but I’m glad she wasn’t just incessantly growling at the thing in the roof either. The workers, on the other hand… yeah, she needed to be in her crate for that!

  9. It looks great! And I really like the decision to switch from a red door to a blue door, but I’m also biased because blue is my favorite color ;)

  10. The house looks awesome. I love the contrast between the beige siding and deep blue doors. Is the stone individually placed or is this siding like Boral Versetta?
    What an amazing difference when you properly maintain siding! It was a good idea to hire pro siding contractors to help with this project. We live in the Chicago north suburbs and have vinyl siding on our home, even though we don’t have to paint it, it needs a good wash once a year. :)