The first impression of any property is its exterior.  Are the windows foggy?  Is the landscaping overgrown?  Is the concrete buckled?

On this house, the cedar shakes were deteriorating.  The couple had lived here for 18 years.  Due to a northern climate, over time, freezing and thawing had cracked some of the wood.  Plus, woodpeckers tried to peck their way into the cedar for their next abode leaving holes to be patched.

A few years ago, the cedar shakes had been stained with Sikkens Cetol.  Sikkens is a film- forming stain, kind of like a transparent paint. Over time, it fails. Failing means it changes color significantly and may no longer repel water. At this point, it may give up its hold on the wood and flake off;  it may turn a dark color;  or it may still cling to the wood, but not do its job. Every stain in existence fails; Sikkens is not special or deficient in this regard.  The problem is when people have expectations of a longer time-frame in-between stainings. After 5-6 years, the wood has already gone beyond normal maintenance whereby adding another coat will make a bad situation much worse.  Normal maintenance is cleaning the surface gently with bleach, TSP, and water, then re-staining.

The homeowners consulted with a painter, thinking he could perform the cleaning maintenance and then re-stain.  The painter tried to clean a small area around the back but realized the cedar could not be lightened without damaging the wood itself.  He suggested the entire group of cedar shakes be removed and a new, maintenance-free product be installed.

New Vinyl Cedar on Left; Old Cedar Shakes on Right

“Foundry Split Shakes, is a vinyl product created from cedar molds.  It offers the look of wood that has been hand-split by an axe, revealing random grooves and grain. The depth creates captivating contrast between light and shadow to heighten visual appeal.” [from brochure]

When the siding crew went onto the balcony to gain access to the upper level cedar, the crew chief noted the balcony was wobbly.  He determined the wood wall underneath the grey vinyl siding was rotted and unsafe.  He suggested building a sturdier treated wood frame and wrapping the new balcony in the Foundry vinyl cedar product.  He also recommended openings for removing leaves or snow that piled up on the balcony each season when told of potential ice-dam problems—a brilliant idea!

Balcony removed.

The homeowners  decided to match the balcony railing (and the interior stair railing) with a non-continuous exterior stair railing.  A metal craftsman fabricated the railing and had it powder-coated.  The railing makes it safer to traverse either the stairs or the driveway when slippery with snow or ice, yet allows access to the hillside vegetation from the gaps.

Stair railing blends with landscaping

The homeowners would like to acknowledge and recommend K&N Exteriors, Cottage Grove, WI; and JM Metalworks, Madison, WI for their highly-skilled work.

Finished Product

For a consultation on color choices for your exterior, contact Gina Newell, Premiere Stagers & Realty, at 608-345-9396.