Hardboard Siding Issues

Hardboard Siding Issues

Hardboard siding, also known as pressboard siding and several other rather unflattering terms, is common in the Omaha area. It can be a real problem. If you have it you are probably already familiar with the issues it has. It is subject to moisture entrapment and decay. It deteriorates rather easily.

If you have this problem you basically have three options.

  1. Replacement of all siding on your home to something better.
  2. Replacement of the damaged siding with new hardboard siding.
  3. Skirting over the damaged areas on the existing siding.

Your budget will most likely determine your decision. Total siding replacement is obviously costly. Replacement of the damaged siding is more economical and skirting is the most economical choice.

If you rule out total siding replacement and go for replacement of the damaged panels only then the first thing to determine is if there is hardboard siding, that matches what you currently have, available. You will need new siding that matches the profile of what you have. There are sources in Omaha that have it but it is a limited selection so you will want to check before having the bad stuff ripped off the house!

You will be replacing bad siding with “new” bad siding but there are things to do to get the most out of the new stuff.

  1. Prime the siding on all sides with a quality oil base primer.
  2. Caulk the siding after installation with a urethane caulk like vulkem.
  3. Consider skirting the new siding.
  4. Use a quality Acrylic top coat when painting.

If you decide to Skirt the damaged siding you will want to determine that the damage is not to severe. An overlay of a 1×6 or a 1×8 normally looks ok. Beyond that it begins to look a little funny. A 1×12 running down the side of your home won’t look right. The damage is associated with where water penetrates. Usually from the bottom up so measure how far up the damage is. If the damage is less then 6 or 7 inches and there is not damage under the siding then you can probably skirt it.

If you plan to skirt the siding there are things to do to get the most out of it.

  1. Cut the top edge of the 1×6 or 1×8 at a bevel so water does not sit on the top lip of the board. Do this by running the boards through a table saw with the blade at a 45 degree angle.
  2. Prime all sides of the boards with an oil base primer before installation.
  3. Caulk the boards after installation with a urethane caulk (Vulkem).
  4.  Use a quality Acrylic top coat when painting.

We face lots of these challenges each summer. We replace the siding when possible but also skirt many each year.

Restaining Woodwork

Restaining Woodwork

Restaining woodwork is something we do every month. The color of your woodwork can be changed! Whether it is cabinets, doors, trim, etc. It is a process to do it right but it is more affordable then replacement. Changing the tone or color to a darker shade stain is a bit easier then going with a lighter color but both can be done.

What is trending in the Omaha market now (2017) is either going with a darker stained finish or painting woodwork. The days of golden oak are over.

Quality workmanship requires lots of prep work. A considerable amount of time is spent getting an area ready for the work to begin. Protecting floors, walls, furniture, etc. Sanding the old finish off and cleaning the wood takes time but is a necessary step. If going with a lighter color then additional steps involving chemical strippers and bleaching agents are added to the mix.

restaining woodwork
Golden oak going dark walnut








We like to provide sample boards so the customer can see where the project is headed. Once approved, sealers and lacquers are spray applied to protect the finish and highlight the woods beauty.

Restaining woodwork takes time and skilled hands but the end results are great!

Painting VS Vinyl Siding

Painting VS Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is something to consider, as opposed to painting, in certain situations. I should say at the start that I do not like vinyl siding. I think it looks cheap and makes what would otherwise be a beautiful house, cheap looking.

Having said that, there are times when it makes sense. Vinyl siding can be an inexpensive home improvement option. Especially if you are selling your home. The cost of vinyl siding is usually more then painting but if you consider that much of the expense of exterior house painting is the prep (labor), if you have a home that is going to require a lot of prep work you may want to consider vinyl siding to save costs.

The scenario that makes the most sense for vinyl siding is an old home requiring lots of repair and prep work and a home you don’t plan to live in for a long time.

Painting VS Vinyl Siding

Advantages of vinyl siding:

Installation is relatively fast.

Rigid foam backing insulation can be an option. Important on older homes.

It’s the least expensive siding option.

It doesn’t rot.

Disadvantages of vinyl siding:

Appearance. It is a plastic product.

It warps, bends, cracks, melts and is easily damaged.

It hides problems occurring under the siding like water damage.

You loose architectural detail of the home.

Can quickly fade.

painting vs vinyl siding
No Vinyl Siding








While we are on the subject of painting vs vinyl siding I might add that the best siding option, if you can afford it, is Hardie Board siding. It is fiber cement siding and is extremely durable.

Vinyl siding is paintable by the way. One of the best coatings for that is a Benjamin Moore product called Revive.





Pets And Paint fumes

Pets And Paint fumes

Pets and paint fumes don’t mix. Just like you, pets are sensitive to the strong fumes paint can produce and remember some pets, like dogs, have a much more acute sense of smell and may be even more sensitive then we realize. Cats, dogs, gerbils, guinea pigs, lizards… all can be bothered by paint fumes.

One group of pets that are often overlooked are fish. Some people assume they are safe in their tank but the opposite is actually the case. Fish tanks have aerators which actually take the air in a room, and the fumes, and run it through the tank. Fish are often more susceptible then any other pet.

Breathing the fumes from solvent based paint, stain, etc. can cause headaches, dizziness and nausea in both you and your pets.

A good rule of thumb is to keep your pets out of the area where painting or staining is taking place. Take them to a relatives or friends house for a couple days. Almost all paint and solvent fumes will dissipate in a couple days with adequate ventilation.

Pets and paint don’t mix. Most pets are curious and may walk right into a work area, paint supplies or right into paint.

Another cause of concern besides fumes is ingestion. Even low VOC (Volatile organic compounds)  paints have compounds that can be deadly when ingested. Many latex paints contain glycols, including ethylene glycol (antifreeze) which will cause kidney damage and failure when ingested. If you believe your pet has ingested a paint or solvent, take them to the Veterinarian right away. If you notice vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, tremors, difficulty walking or standing or difficulty breathing, take the pet to the Vet.

Pets become valuable parts of a family and are entitled to love and protection.

Caulk VS Caulk

Caulk VS Caulk

Caulk is an important part of both an interior and an exterior paint job. There are many types and brands of caulk but the two I like the most are the Top Gun brand manufactured by Pittsburg Paint and Sonneborn NP1 manufactured by BASF.

These are two completely different products with different applications. We use the Top Gun products on interior work and prefer the Sonneborn on exterior work.

On the interior applications we usually go with the Top Gun 250 which is a fast dry caulk which will allow us to move much faster on a painting project. This same product can be used on exterior applications but we tend to encourage customers to consider the NP1 which is a Urethane product. It is also much more expensive and difficult to work with but it performs extremely well.

top gun caulk









It is not common to see Paint Contractors using the NP1 because it requires a 7 to 10 day cure time before it can be painted. That causes a significant delay in the project and can make scheduling projects more challenging. It also requires a solvent for cleanup and can be a pain to work with.

Budgets are always a  factor on any home improvement project. We believe in using the best materials possible and like to give options to the customer that make economic sense whether you are selling your home or plan to keep it as your residence. In most cases, using the best materials is the best choice.

Staining Log Homes

Staining log homes takes a lot of work! The key to a successful job is how well you clean it first. Quite often when we are asked to stain a log home it is well overdue and in dire need of attention. Power washing and getting it ready to go takes a lot of effort.

It is important to use chemicals in combination with the power washing. One of the best cleaners for this process is DeckBriteWe normally use 2 to 3  of the large 3lbs containers on a log home. Technically that’s 22 gallons of cleaning solution, but we actually double up on the mixing ratio a bit so it makes less then that. When using DeckBrite the best way to mix it is in a five gallon bucket and when ready transfer it to a Hudson sprayer. Don’t mix it in the Hudson sprayer. The sprayers almost always get clogged if you do that. When the granules are mixed with water, the water turns blue. When the water looses the blue appearance you are ready to use it.


staining a log home








We like to mist the cabin logs with water and then hit it with the DeckBrite. Working in sections starting at the bottom works best. The cleaner should remain wet and given time to work, then hit it with direct spray at a relatively close angle to the logs. You will see the color and dirt being stripped  away with the force of the water. You need to be fairly close to the logs with the spray pattern for it to work. This means ladders and power washing which is not the best combination for safety sake. This is a job perhaps best left for the professional paint contractor and it is a process that takes time.

Adequate dry time is important. When it is good and dry after power washing, it’s time to stain. When staining a log home I like to use Sikkens stain. It is expensive but you will get many years out of this product. Using an airless sprayer and low pressure works well. Back brushing and working the stain into the logs is a must!


Painting Steel Siding

Painting steel siding is something we do every year. Many people are not sure if it is something that can be done but it can be under the right circumstances. We normally do a simple test to determine if it is wise to do. It’s easy to do. Take a rag and wet it with MEK. Wipe the surface of the siding. Rub just a little bit. If the color on the siding comes off onto the rag, you have a good candidate for painting.

Priming is necessary. We use a bonding primer. XIM 400 is a great choice. You can also go with an epoxy primer but I like the XIM. After the standard prep, like power washing. A light sprayed coat of primer is sufficient.


painting steel siding before








A quality latex top coat is the next step.

painting steel siding after








The coatings on steel siding tend to chalk over time. When you are doing your initial inspection, look for signs of chalking. Run your hand over the siding. If your hand is dusty/chalky. Then you will want to be sure to incorporate a good cleaner with the power wash. I like Simple GreenIt works well. Be sure to rinse a couple times.

Moisture Vapor Tests

Moisture vapor tests are a critical component of any floor coating project but they are often not performed by many paint contractors or contractors that specialize in only doing floor coatings. This is a curious thing to me because the tests themselves are not expensive although the process can be time consuming and kind of a hassle so maybe that is why the test often gets blown off.

A moisture vapor test is where the amount of water vapor passing through a concrete floor is measured. If there is too much moisture passing through the floor the coating will fail. If the floor already has a coating on it and it is failing, it may be because of excessive moisture vapor.


moisture vapor tests. area is ground and test placed.








Moisture vapor tests are not difficult to do. They can be obtained at several different outlets like AmazonMoisture vapor tests are all comprised of the same things. A calcium chloride “puck”, a ph test kit and a clear shield to place over and seal the test as it is being conducted. You will also need a gram scale.

Once you have the test or tests the first step is to grind an area on the floor to be tested. You will want to grind away all existing coatings and get to the concrete. If there are no coatings, grind an area to insure a clean test. I normally grind an area the same size as the clear shield. For best results wait 24 hours after grinding before placing the test.

Next step is to weigh the calcium chloride puck. Weigh it with the lid attached. You may notice the puck has the weight already written on it. Measure it just to be sure and record the result.

Next step is to place the puck on the test area (without the lid on). Be careful to not spill any of the calcium chloride. Pull the tape backing off the shield and cover the test puck. Press down around the perimeter of the shield to make sure it is stuck well.

moisture vapor tests. weighing the calcium








When I do moisture vapor tests, I wait 60 hours before reweighing the puck. The difference in weight is what you will use to determine the vapor pressure. The kits all have the formula you will use or there are many websites that you can plug the numbers into to get the results.  The reason for running the test for a longer period of time, like 60 hours, is to get a good sampling of the moisture emission. All floor coatings have different limits for maximum vapor pressure and there are special primers that can be used when there are higher then anticipated numbers. If the number you get is below 4, you are good to go.

Knowing what the moisture vapor pressure is will insure a successful floor coating.

The formula, in case you need it, is:


Difference in weight X 2.057 24 1000 = A

Number of hours test is run 454 = B

A /B = lbs of vapor pressure for 1000 sqft.


1.3 (difference in weight)  X 2.057 X 24 X 1000 = 64178.4

60 hrs X 454 = 27240

64178.4 / 27240  = 2.35lbs


When To Hire A Professional Painter

Professional painters play a critical role in maintaining and updating your home. As a home owner you know all the responsibilities you have. Yard work, home maintenance, etc. It never seems to end. There is always something that needs attention. It makes sense that your not going to call a professional every time something needs to be done. Leaky faucets, installing a new light fixture, etc.

When should you call in a professional painter? I get asked that question often. I tell people to look at the scope of the project to decide. There are 4 times when you might want to consider hiring a professional painter.

professional painter






1. Time

If time is a factor hire a pro. Do you have a house party scheduled and need the living room painted prior to that? Are you having a 4th of July event and need the house painted? Often if your planning an event, the last thing you need to be concerned with is the hassle of painting. A painting contractor will have all the equipment and experience to get in and done quickly.

2. Quality

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right! We have all heard that but sometimes there are areas like a guest bathroom or a room in the basement you may want to experiment with and that’s ok. If quality and skill are important then hire a pro! Are you painting your entryway or having all your woodwork refinished? Those are not good DIY projects.

3. Equipment

It is amazing how much equipment paint contractors accumulate. Almost all of it is necessary and serves a purpose. None of it is cheap. It can be very frustrating to try and do a professional job with poor quality equipment. I always suggest buying high quality materials and equipment but that may not be practical when you need to buy ladders or scaffolding. If the job requires professional equipment hire a pro!

4. Risk

If the job to be done involves risk hire a pro! If you are not accustomed to working on long ladders, scaffolding, over stairs or in tall entry ways, now is probably not the time to learn. Workers compensation insurance for painters is among the highest in the trades. Only 1 trade has higher premiums then painters. The reason the premiums are so high is because of risk. Be safe. Hire a professional painter!

Tinted Primer Magic

We have already covered the function and importance of primer but what we have not emphasized is tinting that primer. There are several reasons for tinted primer but first and foremost is depth of color and hide. Tinting your primer doesn’t mean you can skip a coat of finish. That would defeat the purpose. What it does mean is you will have a finished product with color uniformity and depth.


tinted primer on wall








Primer promotes adhesion and provides uniform porosity of the surface to be painted. We believe primers are absolutely necessary and not something to be skipped. You can definitely tell the difference between a primed and a non primed wall.

When having a primer tinted you want to be sure it is a tintable product. Most can be but check. Many stores push the idea of having your primer tinted a percentage of the finish color. The reasoning for this are it helps you see where you are when applying a finish coat. We don’t have that problem and I find most people can tell the difference between a wet section and dry section of wall regardless of color. We have our primers tinted 100% when possible. You never want to over tint a product. Primer or top coat. Normally 4 to 5 oz of tint is going to do the trick and that is an acceptable amount.