How to Repair Rotted Wood Siding (7 Easy Steps)

If the birds are pecking at the wood siding of your house or you’re starting to see wood flakes or even holes on the hardboard, you must fix the rotten pieces of siding immediately. 

Or, you might be thinking about painting it. That, too, requires repairing the panels. 

Repairing or replacing the wood siding on your house is essential as it enhances the siding’s durability and protects your home from further damage. Additionally, you can beautify your home by painting the siding after it is repaired. 

If this is something you need to do, read through this guide that shares the step-by-step process for fixing wood siding. 

7 Steps to Fix Your Rotten Wood Siding


Wood siding is a popular choice for homeowners who prefer a natural look over metal and concrete designs. However, it’s always better to weigh the pros and cons of wood siding before you make a decision. 

Although the tones are warm and attractive, wood siding can decay quickly if not properly maintained; hence, having to make occasional repairs is inevitable. 

Replacing the wood siding yourself requires minimum working knowledge of measurements and tools. If you’re handy, this might be a project you can tackle yourself. Below are the seven pro steps to replacing your patchy wood siding. 

Tools You Require:

  • Marker/carpenter pencil 
  • Speed square/metric ruler
  • Utility knife 
  • Oscillating tool
  • Caulk gun
  • Claw hammer and nails
  • Electric miter saw
  • New/replacement board
  • Pry bar
  • Primer
  • Paint and brush 

Let’s go over the replacement steps below: 

Step 1: Marking the Rotted Area

You can’t start fixing the problem on your wood siding without clearly marking the area that has rotted. 

  • So, first, take out a metric ruler or a speed square. 
  • Next, draw lines vertically and horizontally around the rotted area. 

These lines will serve as a guide so you’ll know how much to cut out from the board. You can also remove the whole board if the amount of rot is considerable. 

Step 2: Removing Paint and Caulk

You have to get rid of any paint and caulk since they keep the rotten part attached to the whole board. 

  • Take a knife and run through the paint and caulk lines. 
  • Do it several times to entirely remove the paint and caulk. 

Getting rid of the old caulk and paint will help you easily separate the rotted board. 

Step 3: Cutting the Lines

It’s time to cut through the marked lines on the wood siding. 

  • Take an oscillating tool.
  • Fix the blade’s depth measurement. 
  • Turn it on and cut through the lines. 
  • Try to cut as precisely as possible. Avoid slicing the wood outside your marked areas. 

Step 4: Removing Nails

It’s necessary to remove the nails from the damaged board before removing it completely. 

  • Use a pry bar and push it into the gap between the rotten and intact boards. 
  • Hold and move the bar slowly so the joining nails start poking out. 
  • Now, remove the nails with your hammer’s claw section.  

Step 5: Preparing New Board for Replacement

The new board needs measuring and cutting for precise replacement. 

  • Use the removed part of the rotted board as a guideline for measuring. 
  • Mark the new board based on this measurement. 
  • Cut it to size with an electric miter saw. 

This helps you get a precise board for the replacement job. An uneven cut won’t allow the replacement board to fit perfectly.  

Step 6: Fitting the New Board

Now that the replacement board is ready, it’s time to put it in place. 

  • Take the replacement board and slide it upward below the upper siding board. 
  • Check to make sure you’ve made it even and flat against the existing siding work. 
  • Nail the replacement board to the one above it.
  • Consider nailing other sides of the upper board, and drive nails a half-inch above its bottom edge to join the replacement board. 
  • Now, repeat, nailing a half-inch above the replacement board’s bottom edge to join the neighboring bottom board. 

Step 7: Caulking Again and Painting

You’re nearly there— just a finishing touch to go with the caulking and painting.

  • Take a caulk gun and seal the seams between replacement and adjacent boards.
  • Use your fingers to press the caulk tightly into the seams. 
  • Wait until the caulk sets. 
  • Prime the wood siding.
  • Pick your favorite color and paint the wood siding. Apply a double-coat if you’re painting the wood siding for the first time. 

Congrats! You’ve accomplished your job of replacing the rotten wood siding.  

Many consider staining rather than painting it since it seems more durable. Explore your choices and go for the one you think is best for your wood siding. 

5 Signs You Must Replace the Wood Siding

You should be aware of the red flags that may indicate that it’s time to repair your wood siding. You can check for these signs during your normal maintenance. 

These are the five signs you should look for: 

Wear and Tear Caused by Weather

Rain, storm, sunlight, and air debris can impact your wood siding panels. As a result of these weather factors, your siding may look discolored, fragile, and dirty.

The side or center of a board may decay. If these signs show up, get the replacement job done soon. 

Pest Invasion

It’s difficult to keep bugs away from the wood, especially critters like rodents, termites, and carpenter ants. Potential pests become more of a threat over time as the wood priming wears off and exposes its natural surface. 

Pest control and remediation can get costly once the infestation spreads to a larger area of your wood siding. You’ll want to replace the affected pieces immediately to avoid further damage. 

Effect of Flying Materials

Dust, debris, tree limbs, damaging winds, etc., can harm wood siding panels. Check the condition of your home’s exterior often if the wood siding of your house is constantly exposed to rough wind.   

Ring Shank Nail Missing

You might see holes in your wood siding panels with dark rusty shades on the edge. This shows that the nails have popped out due to age and that it’s time to replace your wood siding. 

Birds Pecking at the Wood

When you see woodpeckers or birds pecking the wood siding to collect insects, it’s a sign that it needs repairing or replacement. Birds can detect if a wood panel has become a breeding place for insects. So, follow their cue. 

3 Ways to Seal Your Wood Siding for Better Protection

Sealing is protecting. Repairing or replacement isn’t enough if you can’t protect the wood siding from water and the external environment—sealing ensures that protection. 

You can seal your wood siding in three ways:

  • Staining: Staining is simply a color sealant that covers and protects the wood siding. It gives your house an attractive look. 
  • Special painting: Special painting is something that seals your wood siding while allowing you to add color to your home’s exterior. Primer and paint protect the panels from external harm. 
  • Oil Finish: For a more natural look, a clear oil finish is optimum for wood siding as it absorbs well into the wood boards. It protects them from water and dust. 

Depending on your aesthetic preference, you may choose among the three available options to seal your wood siding. 

How to Protect Your Wood Siding from Water

If your area experiences a lot of wet weather, sealing may not be adequate to protect your wood siding from water damage. You may need to take further measures to ensure your siding’s longevity. 

  • Clean Gutter: Ensure there are no clogs in your roof gutters. Clogging leads to overflowing and leaking. Remove any clogs to allow the water to flow to the downspout. You can also install a gutter guard to prevent leaves or debris from clogging your gutters. 
  • Flashing: Prevent your wood siding from rotting by applying to flash. Flashing is a very effective water-resistant sheet that can protect your wood siding from rotting. 

Call the Professionals If Required

You can always carry out the wood siding replacement task yourself, but some situations may require expert attention. If you don’t do it correctly, more severe damage could happen, and it might get costlier than you expect. 

Most DIYers can easily fix a few holes caused by pests and birds or a rotted wood panel.

However, if your wood siding has a lot of holes and rotten areas, it might require a more substantial replacement. You may want to consider replacing your wood siding with more durable fiber cement panels. 

Calling termite control experts may be necessary if you have signs of an infestation. Ignoring pests can lead to the total destruction of your home’s siding in a short time. 

Your Wood Siding Maintenance is Easy

Keeping a careful and regular watch on your wood siding can save it from damage. An annual inspection should be enough to keep your wood siding in good shape. 

Things to look for when maintaining your wood siding:

  • See if there are any cracks, holes, or warping on the boards.
  • Trim tree branches and bushes so they don’t touch the boards.
  • Sweep the dirt, dust, or mildew off the boards.
  • Clean the roof gutters regularly.
  • Repair or replace any damaged wood siding immediately. 

Overlooking regular maintenance may allow the wood siding to deteriorate, damaging both your home’s first line of protection and its curb appeal. So, be sure to maintain your siding properly. 

Wrapping Up

By now, you understand the basics of fixing your wood siding in seven steps. Don’t forget to check out the signs for replacement. 

Ensure future protection by sealing your wood siding with stain, special paint, or a clear oil finish. Water can damage the boards the most, so keep the roof gutter clean.

Since wood siding is made of natural wood, it’s prone to decay. Maintaining it properly can save you from costlier alternatives like fiber cement board, brick, or metal siding.

Kevin Smith

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