Restoring cedar shingles under vinyl siding
I have a 1950 house that originally had grooved red cedar shingle siding, 14″ exposure with doubled up courses. I’m in Portland Oregon and there are many mid-century houses still with this style of siding and I love the character of it. Unfortunately, in the early 90s, a previous owner covered it up with depressing grey vinyl siding with no window trim at all and it looks pretty bleak. Today I took the vinyl off a small rear wall to asses the shingles. Here are the photos:
I would like to restore this old siding but I’m not sure how crazy the idea is. I would need to fill all the nail holes from the vinyl/fanfold/J-channel, re-trim the windows, and weather-proof the windows. They also butchered (but not too severely) the shingles around the windows where they cut off the old trim, so I’d need to fill those over-cut lines. Other walls of the house may have bigger problems but I can always replace with new shingles where necessary. Given the other questionable decisions made by previous owners, I’m hoping they just installed vinyl because they didn’t want to deal with maintenance — hopefully there are no huge disasters waiting to be uncovered. But who knows.
They put some 3/4″ thick wood strips (the unpainted wood in the photos) over the sheathing around the windows, presumably where the old trim was. The J-channel is nailed onto those 3/4″ strips. The windows’ nail flanges (if present… which I think they are) are under these 3/4″ wood strips. I’d remove the wood strips and replace them with proper trim, I think 5/4 thick?
I may or may not re-install the windows in order to properly flash the rough openings.
I guess my questions are:
- Does the cedar look like it’s in reasonable enough shape to restore?
- How do I asses its condition? I knocked and prodded and, given the thinness of shingles, it seemed pretty much intact, though obviously aged.
- Is it realistic to expect to fill all these nail holes and make them weather tight again? What would I use? Wood filler, epoxy, wood plugs, something else?
- How vulnerable to rain entry are these nail holes, if left open for a short time? Should I make sure to plug them up immediately, or is it not so urgent?
- Has anyone done this, and have other anecdotes to share?
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