7 Helpful Tips For How To Maintain Wood Siding

Shake home siding

Wood siding is a staple of American architecture. It’s strong, durable, and provides a unique natural look that can enhance the curb appeal of any home. However, wood siding is also susceptible to damage from the elements.

Over time, sun, rain, and snow can take their toll, causing the wood to warp, crack, and eventually rot. That’s why it’s essential to regularly inspect the natural wood siding and repair any damage as soon as possible. By taking care of your wood siding, you’ll not only improve your home’s appearance but also protect it from further damage down the road.

Here are seven helpful tips for how to maintain natural wood siding and keep it looking its best for years to come:

1. Maintain Yearly Cleanings

As the old saying goes: an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. So many problems associated with wood siding can be prevented by simply taking the time to perform a yearly cleaning.

An annual cleaning will remove dirt, grime, and other pollutants that can damage the wood. In addition, a yearly cleaning will also help to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

While wood siding is a tough material, it’s important to remember that it is still vulnerable to the elements. By performing a simple yearly cleaning, you can help to ensure that your natural wood siding will continue to look great for years to come.

Read on to discover the best way to clean your wood siding.

How To Clean Wood Siding

There are two primary methods for cleaning wood siding: using a soft brush or using a power washer. Let’s take a look at how each method works and the benefits and downsides of each one.

How To Clean Using A Soft Brush And Soapy Water

You don’t need harsh chemicals to clean natural wood siding. In most cases, warm, soapy water and a soft brush will do the trick. 

  • You’ll want to start by wetting down the siding with a garden hose fitted with a spray nozzle. Then, mix up a solution of warm water and gentle dish soap in a bucket.
  • Use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the solution into the wood siding materials, working from the bottom up. Be sure to rinse away any soap residue with clean water. Obviously, for higher-up areas, you’ll need to use a ladder.
  • Once you’re finished, allow the siding to dry completely. You can make your wood siding look new again with a little elbow grease!

The benefits of cleaning your natural wood siding with a soft brush and soapy water are that this method practically guarantees you won’t damage your siding with high-pressure water or force water past your wood siding’s protective barrier.

On the other hand, cleaning with a soft brush and soapy water typically takes longer than cleaning with a power washer.

How To Clean Using A Power Washer (Pressure Washer)

Before you start cleaning your wood siding with a power washer, there are a few things you need to know:

  • Always start with the lowest pressure setting and work your way up if needed. If you use a high-pressure setting, you may damage the natural wood or even allow water to penetrate your siding
  • Use a fan tip rather than a zero-degree tip to avoid damaging the wood
  • Be sure to rinse the cleaning solution entirely off the siding after your cleaning is done

Now that you’re armed with this information, follow these simple steps to make your wood siding look new again:

  • Begin by mixing your chosen cleaner with water in the power washer’s tank
  • Next, attach the hose and sprayer wand and turn on the machine
  • For horizontal siding, start at the top of the wall and slowly move the wand back and forth as you work your way down. Be sure to overlap each stroke slightly to ensure a thorough cleaning. If you have vertical siding, use up and down strokes to avoid spraying water under the siding
  • When you’re finished, turn off the machine and disconnect the hose. Rinse any residual cleaner off the siding with clean water from a garden hose
  • Allow the siding to dry completely 

2. Apply A New Coat Of Staining And Sealant To Protect The Wood

Wood siding with a new coat of staining and sealant.

Your home’s wood siding is constantly exposed to the elements, so it’s no surprise that it can start to show signs of wear and tear after a few years. UV rays from the sun can cause the wood to fade, while wind and rain can lead to cracking and peeling. Wood is also susceptible to mold and mildew.

Sealant provides a barrier against water damage, while stain helps to prevent fading and sun damage. Sealant and staining can also help your wood siding to resist mold and make it more rot-resistant. So applying a new coat of sealant and stain is a simple and effective way to extend the life of your wood siding.

However, before you start applying sealant or staining your wood siding, it’s essential to properly prepare the surface.

Follow the steps below to seal and stain your wood siding the best way:

How To Apply A New Coat Of Staining And Sealant

*The order in which you apply a stain or sealant will depend on the manufacturers’ recommendations. In general, however, staining is done before sealing.*

  • Clean your wood siding and remove any old paint or stain
  • Once the surface is prepared, you can then apply the new sealant or stain according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Follow the manufacturers’ recommendations regarding how many coats of stain or sealant to apply. Just make sure the first coat is completely dry before applying another

These simple steps allow you to keep your wood siding looking new for years.

3. Inspect Wood Siding Regularly For Damage And Signs Of Rot Or Insect Infestation

Hand pointing at termites destroying wood.

Wood is one of the most durable building materials, but it is not indestructible or rot-resistant. Over time, wood will succumb to the elements, especially if it is not maintained correctly. 

Keep your eyes open for signs of damage, rot, or insect infestation described below:

  • Inspect wood siding regularly for general damage, such as holes in the wood. If you see any damaged boards, replace them immediately to prevent further damage
  • Be sure to also check for signs of wood rot, such as discoloration, softness, or warping. If you suspect wood rot, have wood siding pros inspect the affected area and make any necessary repairs. There are serious consequences if siding repair isn’t done routinely
  • Be on the lookout for insect activity, such as wood-boring beetle holes or sawdust around cracks or joints. Wood insects, such as termites and carpenter ants, can do significant damage if they are not controlled. If you see any evidence of insects, contact a pest control specialist to treat the problem before it worsens. However, insect infestation is less of a risk if you have cedar siding since it is naturally resistant to bugs

4. Keep Shrubbery Trimmed Back From Touching The Siding

A close up of a hand trimming back a branch of a shrub.

Another essential task for maintaining your wood siding is trimming any shrubbery that comes into contact with the siding. While it may not seem like a big deal, letting shrubs touch wood siding can cause much damage.

There are several problems that vegetation touching your wood siding can cause:

  • The leaves and branches can trap moisture against the wood, leading to discoloration, rot, and decay
  • Leaves and branches blown by the wind can damage or even penetrate your real wood siding, allowing water to seep into your home
  • Pests like termites and carpenter ants are attracted to wood that is in contact with plants, so keeping shrubs trimmed back can help to prevent an infestation. Again, cedar siding is less likely to have issues with insects since it is naturally resistant to most insects

Of course, you don’t want to completely remove all the vegetation around your home, as plants can also help protect wood siding from sun and wind damage. But keeping them trimmed back can strike a balance between function and aesthetics.

5. Remove Any Moss, Lichen, Or Other Debris With A Soft Brush Or Broom

Another crucial maintenance task for wood siding is removing any moss, lichen, or other accumulated debris. These organic materials can cause several issues with your wood siding:

  • Moss and lichen trap moisture against the wood, leading to rot and decay
  • These growths can also provide a potential food source or pathway for wood-destroying insects
  • Moss and lichen also prevent paint or stain from adhering correctly to the wood, leading to peeling and flaking

The best way to remove these materials is with a soft brush or broom. Scrubbing too vigorously can damage the wood, so it’s essential to use a gentle touch.

6. Treat Mildew And Mold With A Fungicide Approved For Use On Wood Siding

A man wearing protective gear spraying fungicide on wood siding to maintain it.

Any kind of real wood siding is susceptible to mold and mildew growth, especially if it’s not properly sealed or maintained. Not only does this give your home an unsightly appearance, but it can also lead to wood rot and other severe damage. That’s why treating mold and mildew is important as soon as you spot it.

While some DIYers recommend treating mildew and mold with a mixture of 3 parts water and 1 part white vinegar, we believe a fungicide approved for use on wood siding is the best way to eliminate this problem.

There are several reasons we recommend using a fungicide that’s specifically approved for use on real wood siding:

  • A fungicide will kill the spores of the mildew and mold, and it will also help to prevent new growth
  • A fungicide will also help to protect your wood siding from UV damage
  • A solution not explicitly designed for wood siding could cause the siding to become discolored or deteriorate and become unsightly

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, as some of these products can be dangerous if misused. It’s also a good idea to test any fungicide product on an inconspicuous area before applying it to all of your wood siding.

7. Keep Your Gutters Cleaned And Clear

A hand cleaning leaves out of a home's gutter.

Maintaining your wood siding means having to regularly inspect and clean your gutters and downspouts. Why?

When leaves, acorns, and other organic debris build up in your gutters, they can hold moisture against your wood siding. This promotes wood rot and invites wood-destroying insects

If you live in a colder climate, clogged gutters and downspouts can also lead to ice dams, which can damage your siding and cause water to leak into your home.

Fortunately, unless you have a lot of trees surrounding your home, this is a task you should only have to do a few times every year. We recommend cleaning gutters and downspouts in the fall after the trees have shed their leaves and in the spring after the warm weather has returned.

Contact Urban Exteriors For All Your Wood Siding Maintenance Needs

Following these 7 helpful tips, you can keep your wood siding in great shape for many years. Regular inspection, cleaning, and repairs will go a long way towards maintaining the beauty and value of your home.

So, don’t wait until there’s a problem with your wood siding to take action; start taking care of it today! Have any questions? Fill out our contact form today, and one of our experts will be happy to help!