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Before and After Cottage – Siding and Colors

As readers know, I love a good before and after project. The following is from a cottage that didn’t look very cottage-like with its beige dutch lap siding that was installed by the prior owner. I knew there were cedar shakes underneath but wasn’t sure of the condition that they were in. Fortunately, they were in very good shape.  I finally decided to take the leap (back into maintenance) and remove the vinyl siding.

Before

This is ‘fine’, just not as cottage-like for my taste.

The prior owner meant well, but the vinyl job buttoned the cottage up and caused a number of water issues.

  • First, he had a reverse J-channel above the sill. You should be able to see it in the first photo. I think he did this to be able to have a full course of siding that began at the top of the deck, but he carried this “water catcher” around the entire cottage. This little sill could have been done for cosmetic reasons, but it allowed water to land and flow behind the vinyl siding. Not only did the water flow behind the vinyl, but it then had the opportunity to sit on top of a board that he used to fir out his starter strip.
  • The siding starter strip was catching water. This starter strip was a piece of clapboard turned upside down. This gave a 5/16″ ledge for water to run back toward the house. This sent the water beyond the shingles and wicked into the sill plate of the interior wall. Of course this wicked into the drywall and the baseboard trim. MOLD!! We pulled the affected trim, drywall and got things dried out. Problem solved. This was then our perfect excuse to tell the wife that the vinyl siding had to go. I had been waiting for a good reason for a few years.

After

Now this is a classic cottage look. Shingles, bold paint color. High contrast. A light fixture would look better than those wires though.

red and white shingle style cottage New York

After pulling the vinyl and the interior wallboard, I realized how much the prior owner reduced the window size. He went from a 30×46 window down to a 28″ x 38″ window. This is seasonal cottage. Light and airflow can be the best part. Not only did he shrink the windows, but he also covered a window completely so that his wife could have a wall shelf inside. See photo below.

He meant well with every project on the cottage, but the consequences left a house that was wicking water for a number of years and had reduced air flow due to window sizing and the buttoning up from the vinyl siding. Old houses, especially in humid climates, need to breathe. They either need to breath the way older structures did, or they needed methods to create air exchange like a new house does.

The buttoning up of this small house along with the fact that it was in a high humidity environment led to mold. There was mold in the outer walls due to the damp sills from the siding job. In addition, the vinyl siding, vinyl windows, and covered soffit and fascia didn’t allow the house to breathe sufficiently. Water and moister is always present. There are no gutters and this allows water to land close to the house and keep the crawl space wet. The windows that were added were not done properly. There was NO weatherproofing. Typically, you would add a window and caulk the flange. After that, you would add weatherstripping tape to the top of the flange before adding the trim. None of that was done. The window was simply screwed to the top of the trim boards and trimmed with J-Channel. Not only did this allow for mold, but this caused wood rot in some areas (see image below).

Article: How I Dealt With Mold In Our Cottage / Cabin / Seasonal House

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Cottage Project

Houses need to breathe

I have a cottage that was built in the 40’s and was very well kept by the prior owner. However, the prior owner took this nice shingle style cottage and buttoned everything up. He put in new windows and vinyl siding. Worse than that, he boxed in the soffits with plywood and then wrapped that in vinyl. In fact, he even caulked things prior to wrapping in vinyl. This is a recipe for ROT.

A lake environment can be very damp and humid. Because of that, air flow is critical. The photos below show what happens when something that should be open is sealed up.