Saturday, March 21, 2020

Renovating The Exterior Of A Century Home

There are a lot of old century homes in the rural area's of Ontario, the great thing about century homes is that they av survived for over a century (100 years). The bad thing is that a lot of the times because they have survived so long that people stop maintaining the old side of them and when it gets to the point that they need to be updated or repaired they don't know what to do because it seems like a daunting task.

Repairing or renovating the outside of a century home is not easy, it's not simple and its not usually cheap. The good thing though is as long as the bones of the century home are in good shape then the outside renovation should last a long time once it's completed and completed correctly.

Most century homes are brick, now brick is great if it's been kept up with, but like most century homes that need major renovations the brick gets to the point where its not worth repairing. There are a lot reasons why the brick on a century home can be compromised;

  • Foundation shifting. A lot of century homes are built on stone or ruble foundations, over time these foundations shift and move. This movement can cause cracking in the brick above, cracking that isn't a cause for concern where it comes from the home becoming structurally unsound but it does make repairing the brick properly nearly impossible.
  • Water penetration. If water has gotten into the brick overtime the face of the brick will start to shatter and fall off. There is no treatment for this, only replacement of the bricks if possible.
  • Sandblasted. There was a trend years ago that the best way to clean brick was to sand blast them. This actually has disastrous affects on brick. It removes the skin of the brick allowing moisture in destroying the clay based brick.
  • Painted brick. A lot of people wanted to change the look of the outside of a century home went and painted the brick. Once brick is painted there is no way to return the brick to its original colour.
  • Stucco. Some people wanting to cover up damaged or cracked brick opted to cover the brick in stucco or parging. What happens is that the parging or stucco cracks over time because the brick behind it continues to move and shift.
So what do you do? Remove the brick? You could but at that point you are changing a large part of the house. 

What we have found is that if you can actually cover it in new siding. Cement or wood siding is the best as it has the strength to stay in place. Wood is the preferred method because unlike cement siding wood will bend allowing you to work easier on an un level surface like a century home.

There are several things that you will have to do to make sure that your siding lasts a long time on the outside of your century home;

  1. House wrap. You have to install house wrap on top of the brick, this is to help with the moisture that will end up behind the siding.
  2. Strapping. Wood siding requires that you strap the building. This is to help with installation and also to allow the moisture to run down the back side and out.
  3. Air movement. You have to allow air movement behind the siding. The strapping helps with that but it only works if there is a way for the air to get from the bottom of the siding to the too of the siding and vice versa. Most sidings now have flashings that allow for this at the top and bottom and around windows and doors.
  4. You will need to change the windows and doors if they are not new. Once you change the siding you will not want to replace the windows and doors.
  5. New flashings. You will have to install new flashings around all the windows and doors and around the window sills. 
  6. Caulking. This is one of the most important jobs that gets overlooked. Once you have completed the siding you have to go back around and caulk all the joints in the siding. Everywhere it attaches to windows/doors and at the corners.
The biggest thing you will need is to find the right contractor. A contractor that knows what they are doing and will properly install your siding for you.

The better your contractor the better the results you will have in the end.

Rob Abbott 
Great Lakes Custom Homes Inc.