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Replacing Wood Shingle Siding on Your Historic Building | Wisconsin Historical Society

Guide or Instruction

Replacing Wood Shingle Siding on Your Historic Building

Replacing Wood Shingle Siding on Your Historic Building | Wisconsin Historical Society

If your historic house or building has wood shingle siding, you may occasionally find cracks or splits in the wood. Any shingles that have large cracks or splits will need to be replaced.

Historic wood shingle siding can become very brittle over time, so removing a bad piece is a bit like a surgical process. If you are not careful, you can create additional problems with the shingles above and below the wood shingle piece you're trying to replace.

Evaluate the Damage

Make a point each spring to closely inspect your exterior wood siding for large splits, cracks or rot. Horizontally laid wood shingles will occasionally split or crack along the vertical grain lines. When you find a damaged shingle, you must decide whether to repair or replace it:

  • If you find damage with less than a 1/16-inch gap, you can use a filler to repair these small splits.
  • If you find a split or crack wider than 1/16 inch, wood rot or excessive cupping, you should replace the shingle by following the instructions below.

Gather Your Tools and Supplies

To replace wood shingle siding, you’ll need the following tools and supplies:

  • Flat pry bar with v-notch in the flat and hooked ends
  • Staple gun with 1/4" staples
  • Bastard file (metal file)
  • Pliers
  • Pair of side cutters
  • Hammer and nail set
  • Utility knife for scoring
  • Small spray bottle with water
  • Tape measurer
  • Pencil
  • #7, exterior-grade, hot-dipped galvanized box nails
  • Duct tape to wrap the heel of the flat pry bar
  • #1, Blue Label cedar shingles
  • 15-poundb building felt (tar paper)

Prepare Your Tools and Supplies

It is always a good idea to keep a small number of wood shingles on hand that match the shingles on your house or building. Historic wood shingle siding is almost always #1 heartwood, which has no light-colored sapwood on its edges. The only way to match #1 heartwood is to use #1 Blue Label cedar shingles. These wood shingles are readily available through your local lumber yard or online.

If your house is primed and painted, you can purchase pre-primed siding or get some primer to coat your new shingles before painting them. Apply primer to all sides of the new shingles (if they are not pre-primed). If your house has a solid-body stain, be careful not to purchase pre-primed siding.

You can create your own wood siding and wood shingle removal tool with a standard flat pry bar. Flat pry bars have a straight end and a hooked end. Both ends have a small v-notch in the center. Use a bastard metal file to file both sides of the v-notch until the edges are sharp. This sharpened v-notch will easily cut through nails.

Wrap duct tape around the heel of the pry bar. The heel is the spot on the flat or hooked end where the prying pressure is applied. The duct tape will create a padded area that will cushion the good wood and prevent it from being dented or marred.

Remove and Replace a Wood Shingle

Follow these steps to remove and replace a damaged wood shingle:

Step 1

EnlargeSiding repair.

Source: Bob Yapp

Use a spray bottle to lightly mist the face of the damaged shingle and the shingles around it. The mist of water helps to control dust from the old paint on the shingle.

Step 2

EnlargeSiding repair.

Source: Bob Yapp

Use a utility knife to score through the old paint on all four joints around the damaged shingle.

 

Step 3

EnlargeSiding repair.

Source: Bob Yapp

Use a utility knife to horizontally score across the grain in the middle of the damaged shingle. Keep rescoring until the utility knife penetrates completely through the wood shingle and cuts the shingle in half across its width. This is relatively easy to do because the middle of the wood shingle is only around 3/16 to 1/4 inch thick.

Step 4

EnlargeSiding repair.

Source: Bob Yapp

Insert the flat end of the pry bar under the cut-off shingle until the v-notch in the end of the pry bar is against one of the two nails holding the shingle in place. Make certain the sharpened v-notch goes over each nail from under the piece. Use a hammer to give the pry bar a couple of swift blows. This force should cut through the nails, freeing the shingle from the good piece above it. If any nails or pieces of nails remain, gently pry them out with side cutters. Tip: If the shingle does not come out easily, rescore the paint lines or use a pair of pliers to gently pull it out.

Step 5

EnlargeSiding repair.

Source: Bob Yapp

Cut the new wood shingle to the proper width using a utility knife and a straight edge as a guide. Wood shingle siding should have a gap at least 1/8 to 1/4 inch between pieces, so subtract this amount from the width that you need to cut.

 

 

Step 6

EnlargeSiding repair.

Source: Bob Yapp

Slip the top edge of the new wood shingle under the shingle above. The new shingle will overlap the nails in the shingle below it so the nails are not exposed. Position the new shingle so its bottom edge is about 1/4 inch lower than its final position.  Use two #7, exterior-grade, hot-dipped galvanized box nails to attach the shingle. You can do this by driving the nails upward at a 45-degree angle into the new shingle. Place the nails 3/4 inch from each edge and just below the bottom edge of the shingle above. Stop hammering the nail when the head of the nail is close to the shingle.

Step 7

EnlargeSiding repair.

Source: Bob Yapp

Use a #10 nail set (a nail set with a fat point) and finish driving the nail into place. The 1/4 inch of the shingle that hung down below its final position should disappear as the nail set drives the nail and shingle into place. If the shingle is still a bit lower than you want it, use a wooden block to lightly tap it into place.

Step 8

EnlargeSiding repair.

Source: Bob Yapp

Apply two coats of exterior paint or solid-body stain to match the siding around the patch.