How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

Should I be suspicious of an old wood frame house covered with vinyl siding?

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

An older wood home that has been wrapped with vinyl siding always makes us wonder what’s under there. Is there new wall sheathing and house wrap, or did the remodeler just nail vinyl over deteriorated older wood siding in bad condition.

    Why would somebody cover up old wood siding? There are three reasons we can think of. One is devious, another is sensible, and the third is gullible:

•• Devious - We have inspected multiple wood houses over the years  that have been wrapped in siding to conceal unrepaired wood rot and termite damage. That’s our big concern in this situation, and is usually done to “flip” a house by an investor. The original siding itself is no longer visible and we have to look at the floor and attic around the walls for evidence of problems—except that small areas can be exposed by pulling back a section of vinyl. See our article What is a vinyl siding zipper? And sometimes it’s not pretty.

    Sloppy and missing installation details can also be telling, like this window trim on the house shown at the top of the page.

•• Sensible - If a homeowner of an older wood frame house builds a large addition with wood frame walls, it makes sense to cover the original wood siding with the same vinyl siding used for the addition, because It ties everything together and often modernizes the look of the house.

•• Gullible - Remodeling salesmen, especially for national home improvement companies, preach the “never paint your house again” gospel when selling a vinyl siding redo to homeowners, and that is especially attractive to seniors. If you saw the 1987 movie Tin Men, starring Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito, about the rivalry between two high-pressure aluminum siding salesmen in 1960s Baltimore, you’ll understand how this could have happened. It might just be that the previous owners got sold a whole house of siding they didn’t really need.

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Here’s links to some of our other blog posts about HOUSE SIDING:

• Can vinyl lap siding be installed diagonally? 

Is vinyl siding waterproof?

• What are the pros and cons of vinyl siding? 

What causes warped, buckled vinyl siding?

What is the average life expectancy of vinyl siding? 

 How can I tell if vinyl siding is installed correctly?

Can vinyl siding be painted? 

• Can termites eat through siding?

What do you look for when inspecting vinyl siding?

What causes vertical cracks in fiber cement siding planks?

What are the vertical butt joint requirements for fiber-cement (Hardiplank) lap siding? 

What is the difference between Acrocrete and EIFS? 

Do stucco walls mean a house is concrete block?

How long does exterior house siding last? 

What is board and batten siding?

Why is my stucco cracking?

The house has asbestos siding. What should I do?   

What are the pros and cons of aluminum siding?

Should I be suspicious about a concrete block house covered with siding? 

What is engineered wood siding?

What is the average life expectancy of wood siding?

What is the average life expectancy of plywood siding?

What is the average life expectancy of stucco? 

Should I buy a house with asbestos siding?   

What is the difference between "composite" and regular wood siding?

• What are the code requirements for installing manufactured stone on the exterior of the wood stud wall of a house? 

How can I tell if a crack in a stucco wall is a structural problem and what is causing it?

How long does exterior siding last?  

        Visit our EXTERIOR WALLS AND STRUCTURE page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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