One of the biggest unknowns is just was is under that siding? It is rare that a home has its original siding in good condition, UNLESS, it was covered at some point in its life. Naturally wood siding wears out and over the years there have been a variety of "Home Updates" to make you home look "modern" that come along. The most curent is vinyl which is maybe the worst thing you can put on an old house as it promotes mold, had little insulation value and is considered a cheap material that is environmentally unfriendly. In fact many cities have now banned vinyl and if you ever see a house that had a fire you know why. It is highly flameable!
Most Victorian era homes are recovered in one of the following material.
Cement Siding: used from 1925-1960
Aluminum siding: Used from 1940-1980
Shingle Tar "Brick look" siding: used from 1940-1970
Vinyl siding: 1980-present
Stone/brick veneer 1950's-present
Our home was covered with Cement shingled siding what is called "asbestos cement siding". Now asbestos cement siding is a broad term used to classify what is basically portland cement mixed with fibers. A few manufacturers used asbestos, most other manufactures used mineral wool material. You need to determine what kind of material you have on your house as what you have dictates how you remove it. Even among manufacturers the fiber material varied depending on region of country where the plant was and year of manufacture, so don't "assume" you know what it is made of.Always have it tested.
Asbestos based material should be removed by a containment contractor. The mineral wool material can be safely removed by a homeowner. We had our siding tested and the lab determined it was Mineral Wool based and manufactured in the 1930's. If you have asbestos you need to check with your local building department as regulations vary depending by state and even locality.
Our siding was installed with 3 roofing type nails at the top and 3 Brass nails at the bottom. This siding is brittle and will easily break. You need to take your time and it will come off in full panels. Since it has mineral wool in it you may find the particles are irritating ( It is allot like working with insulation.) You should always wear a good mask and make sure your clothing fits well so fibers don't get under them and cause irritation. I always recommend, changing once you are done with work, and that you wash your work clothes immediately after you are done with work for the day. Under this siding is a heavy black paper and there will be the dust of decades under it. So once again always wear a mask!
We decided this was the weekend for the "Big Reveal" and I agonized on the way down about just what we would find under the siding. In short just how bad the siding and the walls would be under that siding put on in the 1930's. If it was installed well our siding might be in good condition, if not well we could be looking at total replacement. As luck would have it our siding was well installed and flashed well at the top and edges and as a result our siding was in remarkable condition! Other than a few areas and of course the corners where they took the corner boards off and replaced them with thinner material we are in great shape.
The house was of course painted a bright sunflower yellow originally with a subsequent coat of whitewash probably around 1910. So we didn't have to worry about heavy lead based paints used in the 1920's through 1970's. The paint appears to be bonded well and only will require stripping in some areas ( mostly near windows that usually have problems due to improper caulking).
A BIG sigh of relief on my part as it means our exterior restoration will be far easier than I imagined with only minimal repair and replacement. No termires, no carpenter ants, just an occasional old "dirt dobber nest". I have done many "reveals' on old houses over the years and this one was one of the best!
The only area we didn't remove was the second floor area over the porch as I plan on removing that side porch put on in 1915 that replaced the double gallery side porch that was original to the house that we plan on recreating. Even though that porch was reroofed a couple of years ago I was not going to walk on it as I had no idea what repairs, if any, they made to the decking. Better safe than sorry! Much better to remove this section after the old side porch is deconstructed and we can safely access the upper wall area.
The change is incredible. The lap siding being exposed really gives the house back its original Character. I can't wait to begin the cleaning and painting process! We also worked on the yard some more and mulched some of the beds. A very busy,but very productive weekend.