How to Ventilate Exterior Wood Siding

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If the clapboards on your home's exterior siding were installed too snugly, they have the potential to trap moisture within the siding construction. Over time, this moisture can weaken the wood, rust the nails and cause exterior paint to crack and peel. You can stop the damage before it is too late, though, by ventilating the siding. Ventilating wood siding is actually a fairly easy job that can be finished in an afternoon. All you need is a little patience, the right tools and a little direction.

Things You'll Need

  • Aluminum or plastic siding wedges
  • Hammer
  • Small wood screws (optional)
  • Screwdriver or power drill (optional)
  • Tape measure or ruler
  • Buy your siding wedges. These can be found at almost any hardware store or siding store. Some wedges are designed with screw holes that enable you to attach them directly to the siding with wood screws. Whether or not to use these is entirely up to you, but you should be sure to buy plenty of screws if you want.

  • Stick the narrow point of a siding wedge under the bottom of a siding clapboard. If you can get the point even a little way into the gap between the top clapboard and the one beneath it, it will usually hold itself in place.

  • Carefully tap the butt end of the wedge with a hammer. As the wedge is driven up in between the clapboards, the gap between them will widen. Stop tapping when the gap between the boards is between a 1/4 inch and a 1/3 inch wide. If you chose the wedges with screw holes and wish to install them permanently, drive a screw through the hole and into the siding using a screwdriver or power drill.

  • Move along the same clapboard, installing wedges about every 18 inches. The distance doesn't need to be exact. Use the same method described in Steps 2 and 3 to install each wedge, and keep the gaps between the clapboards within the specified range.

  • Continue inserting spacers one clapboard at a time until all of the siding on the structure is properly ventilated.

Tips & Warnings

  • The screw-in spacers can be installed during the siding installation process. This is a great preventative measure against moisture and rotting wood.
  • Do not attempt this project if your siding is particularly old or brittle, as inserting the spacers may crack or break the clapboards.
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