Kicking Ass & Patching Holes

Most days my productivity around the house can be gauged by how filthy I am at the end of the day, and the fact that on Sunday I actually had to take a shower before I went running should give you an idea of what type of weekend it was. I have a skinned knee, remnants of gray paint on the eyelashes of my left eye– I have no idea how I managed to essentially paint my eyeball, but is anyone here really that surprised?– and a golf-ball sized bruise on my right hip that’s still a bit of a mystery. What can I say? It was a kick ass weekend.

One of the projects on that list from the bank (feel free to picture me rolling my eyes so hard I look like a zombie every time I mention that nonsense) that I decided to tackle was this little but of awesomeness on the exterior of the addition.


In this instance I agree with the bank in that one should not have large gaping holes on the outside of their house.


I’m still not entirely sure how this happened and why in this particular spot, since none of the other siding has shown this degree of deterioration. Judging by the state of the sheathing and sill plate (which have the consistency and structural-soundness of balsa wood), I’d say it’s been exposed for more than a year.

The problem with being able to check this off my list was that technically all of this siding on the addition needs to be replaced, or, short of that, I should at least replace the full 4×8 sheet of exterior plywood where it’s rotted away. To do that right it would mean pulling the trim off the door and at least one window, as well as the transition piece between the scalloped and “board and batten” siding. And of course if I’m going to be pulling the trim off I’d replace the back door at the same time, and redo both sets of window trim so they match, and… well, you can see how these things escalate.

Instead I decided for the short term to just patch this one trouble area. Next summer when I don’t have a rapidly-approaching bank deadline and half my money tied up in escrow, I planning to replace all of this siding anyway.

So. To start, I did exactly what any rational person does before starting a new project… Went to Lowe’s and bought a new tool.


Because clearly I don’t own enough saws. In my defense, however, I was currently lacking both a circular saw and a table saw, and for cutting down plywood siding? That’s just not acceptable. Plus, I’ll take any excuse to shop the tool aisle… I mean, you know I’m not a power tool junkie for nothing.

I can go into my decision to go with the 15A Kobalt later, but my top two requirements for new tools are 1.) Do they have enough power? And 2.) Do they fit into my teeny tiny hands? This was the best match on those criteria, and while I have some Kobalt hand tools, this is the first one I’ve bought with a power cord, so we’ll see how she holds up.

I started on the actual siding by prying off the battens at 6:30 in the morning. Something I’m sure my neighbors were thrilled about. (Don’t worry, I waited until after 7 to fire up the saw.)


Then I cut the “patch” (about 36×13) from a sheet of exterior plywood that was realfun to get home in the Xterra, let me tell you.


The saw worked great for this, but I wasn’t exactly putting it through its paces.

Because there’s fancy-ass trim around the windows I had to cut a little curve out of one side of the board. I started with a cardboard template…


And then cut it out using my handy little jigsaw.


Once the piece was cut, I fit it over the area to be patched and then traced the edges.


Then I used a combination of the circular saw and a rotozip to clear away the old siding.


Seriously, one can never have too many tools.

It took a little finagling, but I finally got this thing in place:

Now… let’s stop here for a minute and talk about “the right way.” First of all, the right way would have been to replace this entire sheet of siding, but I already explained why the thought of doing that made my left eye twitch. If you were going to patch just a section like this and wanted to do it as correctly as possible, at the very least you would patch the housewrap behind the wood, and then put a piece of metal Z-flashing in the seam between the old siding and the new to keep any moisture from getting behind the wood.

I seriously considered both of these things, but turns out 3×8″ Z-flashing isn’t easy to come by and I don’t own a metal brake (yet), so I just caulked the shit out of the board and nailed it in place.

It doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, but I keep telling myself that not only does the sheathing and sill need to be replaced and patched anyway, but it’s not like it’s going to get so bad that it will create a serious structural issue in the next year. That’s my justification, at least. Just go with it.

I also replaced the battens since they were showing some deterioration along the bottom as well.


And with a fresh coat of paint…


I definitely think it’s in better shape than it was before. Not great, but not bad for a $30 fix that will ultimately lead to getting my money out of escrow.

What is great is that I managed to finish up the paint on the whole back side of the house over the weekend, so I can officially check “back exterior” off my list for this year.

10 Responses

  1. It’s been a long time since I’ve visited, but you crossed my mind today. I am not only glad to see you doing well, but ecstatic to see you tackling a new home. Love the house and look forward to seeing it transform. Take care.

  2. Before I forget – “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” ! !
    Liberty looks better every day – keep checkin’ things off. Love the dedicated toolboxes! For my own, the labels include “Hangin-up Stuff”; “Velcro stuff”; “Plumbing Stuff”; ad-infinitum. Even have one marked “Wheelchair” – the school seems to be very hard on the grandson’s electric chair – and Grandpa is the chief fixer-upper, so I have a dedicated box of tools and parts ready for use. I think ALL DIY-ers would be better off with such marked boxes! Have a good week!

  3. doing it wrong, in the meantime, can be really difficult. but this is probably the way to go in order to get your money back and not waste a bunch of time on a project that will be redone later. it never feels right, but sometimes it’s the best course of action.
    you shoulda gotten a worm drive skilsaw!

  4. You done good! To the amateur, untrained eye, it looks almost seamless! And if it still bugs the crap out of you, you can always stick a potted plant there. Onward, little soldier!!!!

  5. Nice fix! Once I was painting a ceiling with my contacts in and a drip of paint went right onto my lens. That was fun to experience and then clean off (my contacts aren’t disposable, of course)

  6. You amaze me. Sometimes I think I could get so much more done if my man didn’t think he needed to do it all himself (and then not do it).

  7. How frustrating to be forced not to do it the “right” way. But it does really look great! Just think that with these little things temporarily fixed you will be able to do it the way you want, at a much more relaxed pace!

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I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.