Saturday, January 12, 2013

Time for a facelift, part one

When we built our house six years ago, I always knew I wanted to do more with the exterior. Trimless windows and vertical siding were okay for starters, but it left a lot to be desired in my mind. This past summer, after watching the paint peel from our south-facing wall again, we decided the time was nigh upon us. That's right, I said nigh. You know shit is about to get real.
Step one was to figure out what step one was, and to make a list. Step two was to research some alternative building materials that would hold paint in the face of a harsh southern exposure. Step three was to drive all of the nail heads, screw down any high spots and plane and sand the wall until things were relatively flat. By the time I finished step 3, half the summer was gone. Time flies when you are being anal-retentive.

When it finally came time to apply the trim, that wasn't exactly straightforward either. I chose Miratec, a composite material that should stand the test of time and hold its paint much better than wood. Trimming around the door was easy, just cut the pieces to size and nail it up. The windows--well, that was a whole other matter. To get the trim to sit properly around these new 'trimless' vinyl windows, I had to rout out a rabbet along the inner edge of every board. This involved multiple passes and depth adjustments for each board, and mountains of dust being kicked up in the hot summer sun.

But it was the only way to get it to look right, and in the end, it was well worth it. I even added a false sill to give it a more classic look.

 All in all, the trim took a lot of forethought and planning. There were weird distances between the windows, abutting corner boards and the question of how to transition everything into an attached deck. I spent a fair bit of time on research, but I believe it was time well spent. That is how the water table, that large piece of trim on the bottom of the siding, came about. It is a feature found on many older houses in New England and serves as protection against water splashing up against the siding. I consider it one of those details that makes the difference. As you can tell from the pictures, the prep and trim work took me well into autumn. My hope was that my previous siding experience would make the next phase go smoothly and I would wrap it all up before winter's arrival. Did I pull it off? Stay tuned for part two.


  1. Really nicely done, Richard, and that's from a lady who has designed a whole lotta window casing in her time. :)

  2. Many thanks! I went for a simple New England style, with the brackets under the soffit adding a bit of interest. I have been dreaming about window trim since I built the house, they have looked so naked without it.


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