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ASK THE CARPENTER

The natural: Cedar is big hit for house siding

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If you want a truly natural look, you have two choices: white- or red-cedar shingles, according to Rob Robillard.

Q. We are planning on re-siding our 1960s ranch-style home this year and would like a shingled look with no maintenance (for at least 20 years). Can you recommend a product with known performance? Are we better off considering a man-made product? We prefer a natural look. Our plan is to add corner boards, window trim, etc. in PVC again to avoid maintenance. We are somewhat gun shy because our 30-year roof shingles failed in just seven years. We are replacing the roof at the same time.

CAROL EATON, Portsmouth, N.H.

A. There is no magic product; all things require maintenance. If you want a truly natural look, you have two choices: white- or red-cedar shingles. White cedar patinas to a uniform silver color, while red cedar can get blotchy. If you live near the ocean, red-cedar shingles can turn blackish (often with mildew). Red cedar, however, has a tighter grain and more tannins, making it far more resistant to insects and decay.

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To answer your question, if you prefer a natural wood finish and 20 worry-free years, I guess I’d go with white cedar. If you want the shingles to last even longer, go with western red cedar.

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Some folks use red cedar and treat it with a bleaching oil to fight mildew and allow the shingles to weather naturally. Cedar shingles do require an initial treatment to last and some maintenance to ensure longevity and appearance. Most pros recommend reapplying the bleaching oil every five to seven years. I recommend starting on year four and doing one side a year. Breaking the house into parts makes it more manageable. Using PVC trim makes sense.

Q. A year and a half ago we renovated our bathroom and installed a wedi system for a full tile shower, including walls and floor. Since it was completed, however, we have experienced water seepage around the edge where the wall meets the floor. It remains wet between showers (24 hours) after squeegeeing and towel-drying daily. Now we frequently get a small puddle on the floor that returns after wiping. We do not have any signs of leakage on the ceiling under the bathroom. We have contacted our contractor several times about this problem, and he has no answer as to what is going on or what to do to rectify the issue. It isn’t a lot of water, but my concern is mold and mildew over time.

The last thing I want to do is tear it up, but I would like reassurance that it’s OK to leave as is. Our contractor has reached out to various people in the field, and no one has heard of this issue. What are your thoughts? Thanks for your help.

J.B.

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A. You haven’t given me enough information to diagnose your problem. Photographs would help. But I will say, in my experience, that most of these instances are related to shower door drippage after shower use or spray getting through the door seams or around the curtain, causing puddling. If the shower was installed properly using all wedi materials as a complete system, there is a limited 10-year warranty on it from the time of completion. Peace of mind for the homeowner.

If it was installed improperly, however, then the responsibility of the repair falls solely on the contractor. At best, you have not called and spoken to the right people, and I can help you with that.

Send me pictures and I will put you in touch with the area representative for wedi to make a “claim,” but that person might require the contractor to be onsite if an inspection needs to be performed. This might involve pulling tile off the walls and floor.

Rob Robillard is a general contractor, carpenter, editor of AConcordCarpenter.com, and principal of a carpentry and renovation business. Send your questions to homerepair@globe.com or tweet them to @globeaddress or @robertrobillard.