Even though old houses were crafted beautifully when built, years of bad updates and neglect can leave the entire house in need of renovation. Historic exteriors especially require a lot of TLC to get them back to their former glory.

If you’re renovating a historic home, you have several options for restoring the siding. When you hope to preserve the home’s original character, you have to be more selective about color, appearance, and longevity. Here are the main elements you need to consider when upgrading your historic home.

Repair or Replace the Components

Many older homes have beautiful original siding that may not have been properly cared for. Layers of paint and weather damage can make some siding unsalvageable. Sometimes, poor quality vinyl siding covers up original materials, hiding them from view.

How can you know if the siding is actually worth the work it will take to repair? Is replacing those components a better alternative? Here are some questions you should consider

Are there Signs of Insect Damage?

Termites and carpenter ants love to snack on exterior siding. However, having wood siding doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll invite termites to your property. It only means that if the home has not been maintained and sealed, insects could have gained access in the past.

Have a siding professional inspect your old wood siding for signs of insect activity. It’s more common to see insect damage on wood siding that has been covered up by vinyl or aluminum siding, as the damage gets worse the longer it goes without detection.

Is the Paint in the Home Lead Based?

Part of maintaining wood and even stucco siding is painting or re-staining the home exterior at least every five years. In years past, the paint used could have been lead based, and that material is now a concern for public safety. Removing lead-based paint requires extra remediation, and the process sometimes can be more expensive.

However, the reward of proper lead-based paint removal is that you uncover beautiful siding that can last several years into the future with the right care.

If you suspect your old wood siding has lead based paint, speak with an exterior professional about your options. Removing the old paint and repainting the areas could end up being a better investment than removing the old siding or covering it up.

Are You With Wood, Stucco, or Brick?

Old exteriors are not limited to wood siding. Other common finishes include stucco and brick. Stucco homes are more common than you might realize, especially for Craftsman homes and less expensive bungalows. Brick finishes are found in every historic building era—but they are especially common in Federal and Colonial homes.

Repairing stucco or brick that has been left in disrepair can be more challenging than sanding, sealing, and repainting wood, and patching and matching texture requires skilled masonry experience.

Are You Willing to Do the Necessary Maintenance?

Wood or brick exteriors last the longest, but they also require more maintenance than modern vinyl or cement-board siding. Some homeowners enjoy options that are maintenance free. If you’re debating between the cost of replacement and the cost of repair but are unwilling to maintain wood siding in the future, replacement might be the best option for your lifestyle.

Stay True to Character

After you’ve gotten to the bottom of whether your siding is repairable or not, you’ve got to make the choice about siding type (if you’re replacing it), paint or stain colors, and trim. Most owners who prioritize restoring older homes try to remain true to the colors and styles from the original time period. Here are some tips that can help.

Know the Era of Your Home

Victorian houses were more likely to have complex color schemes with deep, vibrant finishes. Renovations and repainting over the years often turned these homes into plain white, grey, or beige entities without differing colors for decorative accents. Craftsman homes, on the other hand, were more likely to be finished with natural colors like green, harvest yellow, or fawn brown.

Knowing the style of your house can help you make an informed choice when you’re choosing new siding and color options as well. For example, choosing vinyl siding can often downplay the unique architectural features of a Queen Anne Victorian home. In this case, it’s better to choose wood or cement-board siding that imitates wood.

Assess Your Windows

Siding and windows play together in older homes to provide beautiful curb appeal. If you’re keeping your original windows, you’ll want to make sure you make the siding work with them. Some siding types have edges around the windows that must be covered after installation, reducing the contrast between the window and the siding.

If you’re set on highlighting the original feature windows, choose new wood siding or restore your old siding—it’s one of the only ways to keep the original interplay between the texture of the siding with the window and its decorative frame.

For more information about updating your historic home’s exterior, contact us at Beissel Window & Siding.