DIY exterior siding: Setting higher goals

DIY exterior siding: Setting higher goals

It's almost time to replace your home's old exterior siding and the big question looms: handle the project yourself or hire a contractor? Many types of veneer are considered DIY-friendly and you're fairly skilled with most common tools, but how will you reach the second level of your home?

A two-story house can be somewhat intimidating, and if it happens to have a walk-out basement, installing siding on that high rear wall may appear downright scary. Not to worry - if you don't have a problem with heights, there is some equipment that can provide an assist in getting the job done.

Installing siding on taller homes

When wood, fiber cement, and vinyl siding are described as being fairly easy for the average DIYer to install, the statement is usually referring how easily the materials can be cut, handled, and attached to a home. In fact, if those claddings are going on a one story house, the only tools you might need are a tape measure, hammer, some type of saw, and a tall stepladder. But for anything over a one level home, here is some equipment that might help you reach the higher sections:

  • Extension ladders - The advantage of using an extension ladder is that if you're an avid DIYer, the purchase can be a good investment - the ladder is sure to come in handy during other home improvement projects. The disadvantage is that working off a ladder means moving it constantly as you work your way up a section of wall - a task that might require two people if it's a tall or heavy model. Extension ladders are available in lengths up to 40 feet for residential use and rated by how much weight they can support. The best models have a load capacity of up to 300 pounds.
  • Scaffolding - This is a system that you're probably not going to want to purchase, but the components can be rented at just about any tool rental depot. The advantage of a scaffolding system is that once set up, you can work along the entire width of a wall section. While you might be tempted to use old framing lumber lying around the home as walk boards, it's always safer to use an aluminum unit specifically engineered for the purpose. If you're an especially handy DIYer, scaffolding can be used to install stone or brick veneer as well as more conventional types of exterior siding.
  • Pump jacks - This is another system that may be better to rent than buy unless you have plans to install siding on other neighborhood homes in your spare time. A pump jack setup consists of two vertical posts, two "jacks" that can be pumped by foot up and down the posts, and a walk board that extends between the two jacks. Setting the configuration up usually takes two people but once in place, a single person can normally handle its operation. A pump jack system offers the same efficiency as scaffolding in that your wood, fiber cement or vinyl siding can be installed on an entire wall section without constantly having to move equipment.

So there you have it - three different configurations that should allow you to tackle the exterior siding on those tall exterior walls. However, just because you can do a project doesn't necessarily mean you should. If you have any qualms about your safety or working at heights, it's always best to hire a contractor.

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