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Bulding the Wood Shop: Part X - Siding, Soffit, and Paint

The weather warmed, and the shop was ready for some finishing touches on the exterior. I had thought over and over about what the exterior finish was going to be. The original idea - way back when - was to use a board and batten, of cedar. The method of construction didn't lend itself well to a vertical siding, however - and cedar was much too far outside of my budget. Next I thought maybe I could do a cheat of a board and batten - basically use a plywood and nail battens on top of it. This was most tempting, but truthfully it didn't match the neighborhood, nor did it match the house, which is currently T1-11 Besides that, the plywood used today simply doesn't have the quality of the plywood used just 20 years ago unless you buy the highest priced stuff out there - which kind of defeats the purpose of using the stuff to my mind... . So - for those same reasons I considered T1-11 and just as soon abandoned it. Another choice could have been steel or vinyl lap siding - but that just doesn't turn my crank at all. I hate the monotonous fields of vinyl lap siding cropping up in cramped subdivisions, so I wrote those off of my list.

In the end, it was budget that made the call, I'm sad to say. There were two choices in my price range - fiber cement lap siding (HardiPlank by James Hardie) and composite wood lap siding and trim (LP's "SmartSide"). It was a tough decision to make, believe it or not... Tough because I didn't like either option - but basically needed to put something up, so here's how I decided. Whether it makes any sense is up to you, but it seemed all quite logical. Of course if I had my druthers it would have been something a little more elegant, but then again one has to draw the line somewhere. It's not like I live in a neighborhood of million-dollar homes, nor do I have that sort of income.

First thing I don't like about standard lap siding is the seams - so, I figured, I would need to come up with a design for it that would reduce - if not eliminate - butt to butt joints in the siding. The windows seemed like a logical place to make the break, and so I thought I could put some sort of vertical element up at the windows. That would solve the splices issue, but brought up what I was going to use at the windows - but it solved which material I would use - the LP siding came in 16' lengths, which works out well with the dimensions of the windows. The fiber cement siding was only available in 12' lengths, which would have meant HUGE amounts of waste. Besides that, the composite siding was cheaper - though in reality, had the waste not been as big of an item I would have preferred using the fiber cement siding just for it's longevity, but we'll have to see how well the composite siding holds up over time.

First up was to install the soffit. For ventilation, I chose the standard 2" strip vent installed between two strips of 3/8" soffit plywood:


Here you can see it installed the length of the north side of the shop, along with the corner and gable trim:

The splices in the trim would be filled with paintable caulking and once painted are practically invisible. But - there are always a few spots that get interesting. First is where the shed roof on the back butts into the main building:

I ended up coping in the vertical trim on the side to fit around the fascia of the shed roof, caulked it and it came out pretty well.

Next up was the windows - here's the idea I came up with for a "vertical element" at the windows:

I could afford to use the premium plywood siding here, as it only involved just a few sheets. I continued the same idea around the front three sides of the building:


I placed a vertical trim piece at the "join" between the main shop and the "lean-to" part (you can see it just to the right of the walk-in door in the above photo) to break up the two visually. I think without it the front would look rather pedestrian... I then continued and put in trim around the gable vents and electrical meter.

After that, it was simply a matter of installing the lap siding. It made it easier having fairly short segment that I could work on after coming home from the day job. I could just pick a section, and go:

Again I worked my way around the three front sides until all had been covered. I had a different idea for the gables, so those would wait for now:

For the back - because it would be covered, and because I believe I may add on in this area someday, I put T1-11 under the shed roof. Above, I followed the same patter of siding, with the bottom trim of the gable also acting as a cap flashing over the headwall join between the shed roof and the main building:

It took a good part of the summer to put all the siding up, what with only being able to work on it after my regular job and other summer activities... but it was finally ready for the next big job - painting. 

Once all the siding and trim was up (sans the gable ends), I caulked up all the joints, taped off the windows and prepped the building for paint. Once I had it prepped, I took advantage of the fact and decided to paint the house at the same time. I took a week's vacation to get the job done - but I knew that doing it the old-fashioned way would still take me longer than the week to get done, especially if it included prepping the house. The answer to that was this little unit:


A Wagner airless "Paint Crew" sprayer. I have to say, I was quite impressed with the unit - and I'll be able to use it again when the time comes to paint the interior of the building, and whenever I need to paint the fence, house, or shop again. In order to get both buildings painted in the short time I had off of work, I needed quite a choreography of events to happen without a hitch. Fortunately in this area of the country we are blessed with beautiful weather - almost guaranteed - during the time of year I was painting.

Here's a rundown of the week-long Norse Woodsmith Big Paint Fest.

Day 1 - finish everything that needed finishing -set nail heads, caulk joints, and off to the paint store to get some five 5-gallon buckets of paint and the above mentioned paint sprayer. Spent a couple hours familiarizing myself with it so I knew how it would work, and then cleaned up around the shop and house to get stuff out of the way for the paint crew (which consisted of only myself).

Day 2 - First, pressure wash the house to get the big flakes of paint off and so it has a chance to dry for a day, then back to the shop to tape off the windows and spray the soffit and trim with a coat of paint. Then, climbing on the roof and painting the cupola. There is a lot of ladder work involved, so my knees were already shot.

Day 3 - Prep the house for paint (scraping, scraping, scraping), tape off the windows and get the trim it's first coat, then return to the shop and give the soffit and trim a second coat. A very long day, it was dark when I finished.

Day 4 - I jumped back on the house and applied the second coat of trim paint there. Next, back to the shop to tape off the trim on the shop and give the main body of the shop it's first coat. Then up on top of the roof to paint the cupola with it's second coat of paint.

Day 5 -it was over to the house to tape up the trim and give it the main color's first coat of paint. After that, it was back to the shop to give the main body it's second coat of paint. Then it was off to the paint store for another 5 gallon bucket of paint.

Day 6 -It was back to the house to give it it's second coat of the main color. While that dried, I painted the underside of the porch roof (which I had built 4 yrs. prior and never bother to paint). Then it was time to take all the tape and newspaper off of the windows and trim.

Day 7 - Going around and touching up all the missed spots by hand, and cutting in along the soffit where I hadn't bothered to tape. Fortunately I was pretty accurate with the spray gun and it only took me most of the day to fix my errors...   Then it was a second coat of paint under the porch roof. 

It took the whole 7 days, but I had done it. Whew! But what a week. Here's what I had:

The next weekend, I picked up a square of some extravagantly expensive cedar shingles and spent that and the next weekend installing them onto the gable ends:


When that was finished, it was a coat of stain for the new cedar shingles - which don't look nearly as red in reality as they do in the photos:

And there it was - the exterior of the shop was completely finished!

Honestly - I think the painting was tougher than the siding...  Of course, that included painting the house, but man that was a tougher week than I thought it was going to be! 

Next up is the interior - framing a loft, a couple rooms, and starting the wiring. Stay tuned!




I feel for the loss of your dad. I am sure he would be very proud of you and your impressive accomplishment. I read your postings when searching for information for my C-5 carpentry licence in California. You were very informative and entertaining. You have a bit of a knack for writing. I wish the best to you and yours.


Thanks, Luisandres!