Go to How Not to Build an Addition Index! This page includes notes on going up and down the ladder while siding.


If you are putting up T-111 for siding, you can follow the same procedure as for plywood sheathing. Clap board siding, though, is a completely different proposition.

First, put on a layer of black tar paper. Start at the bottom and work your way upward. It is similar to papering the roof. The windows should be installed before the siding, by the way. (I will explain their installation in detail in the chapter on the fat fireman rule.)

Putting up clapboard is a time consuming process, doubly so when you must climb a ladder to reach the wall being covered. Every board requires careful measurement and sometimes several cuts. I have heard it said about plumbing pipe that there are plenty of pipe-shorteners but no one has yet invented a tool to lengthen pipes. This observation goes double for siding, particularly for 10-inch beveled cedar siding whose race is rapidly approaching extinction.

I double measured every piece of siding and purposely cut them a quarter inch too long. Frequently I found that the board fit with the application of limited force. I am convinced this practice saved me from having vertical gaps in the siding.

Many of the boards I bought were fourteen to eighteen feet in length. It is best to minimize the number of cuts and apply these boards in long pieces. To put them up, I had to temporarily nail scrap two by fours into the wall to support each piece in place until it could be nailed.

This work necessitated going up and down the ladder innumerable times for each board. Had someone filmed me, and then sped up the film, it would have seemed I was doing this work on a pogo-stick. At the time, I thought a trampoline would have been useful.

Mathematics nut that I am, I occupied my spare moments by calculating how long it took me to put the average clap board in place, approximately an hour and fifteen minutes working by myself. The work was so tedious I decided to give Robin a chance to help with this part of the project. I thought she could stand in for the scrap 2X4s I was using as braces.

The next day, she agreed to help.

Robin did not want to be a scrap 2X4. So, as usually happens when we work together, I ended up helping her. I was fatigued by requests. She wanted me to hold her ladder, move her ladder, hand her nails, secure boards, etc. Four and a half hours and three clap boards later, it was no surprise to me that by doubling the manpower applied to the siding, I had INCREASED the amount of time it took to put up each board.

At the rate we were moving, I would have been better off if I had worked alone. There was only one solution to the problem. I feigned a severe headache and told Robin that we had to quit for the day.

Robin unfortunately rose to the occasion. She decided to go on alone. "You lay down, dear, and I'll see what I can do to finish up." Such magnanimity! Such courage!

Seeing her willingness to continue inspired me. I could not allow her to work by herself. The job was too dangerous, too delicate, too decisive. Besides, she might manage to do the job better or faster solo than we had together. I rushed into the bathroom and pretended to swallow a couple aspirin. I pronounced myself "much improved" and went back to work.

We slogged away all day on the siding. By the time it was over, we had run out of new siding, and run out of the recycled siding that I had recovered from the existing structure. We had even run out of nails. Robin's legs hurt from climbing up and down, and I really did have a headache.

The next day, I was back on my own. I assessed the situation. I was still two layers from the top between two windows. I waded knee deep into the siding scrap pile and came up empty. There was no more 10-inch cedar clapboard that had gone unused on the face of the earth.

I was desperate. I racked my brain until I came up with a solution. It was not a good solution, but at least it did not involve prying a few pieces of siding from the empty house down the street (a possibility I considered for a few brief moments). I cut 5/8ths-inch plywood into ten-inch strips and used it in place of clap boards. It never would have worked out on a corner or abutting a real piece of siding. However, it looked fine between the windows.

After it was painted, I could hardly tell the plywood from the real cedar siding.

It passed the toughest test of all: Robin never noticed the difference between the cedar and the pine. Anyway, it does looks good from the road.

Next Page

Sheathing and Siding:
Secret Hanging Method
Subtle Hints
Sail Area
Up and Down

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Introduction | Decision Making | Design | Permits | Buying Materials | Demolition | Digging | Masonry | Framing | Electricity | Plumbing | Inspections | Roofing | Sheathing / Siding | Soffits | Insurance | Insulation | Fat Fireman Rule | Drywall | Finish Carpentry | Tile | Painting | Carpet | Done

About the Author:
W.J. Rayment built an addition on his house, and in the course of the project learned from his many mistakes. This on-line compendium is his effort to help you learn from his experience. The advice and stories are often humorous, sometimes silly, but always informative. for yourself or as a gift for family or friends.

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