Woodpecker Damage to Siding

 

Woodpecker Damage Questions and Answers

Woodpecker Damage questions

Woodpecker Damage to Siding

 

Hello Tony,

Our house recently suffered some woodpecker damage on the siding. photo of woodpecker damage I am attaching a picture that shows the damage — this is the side over the garage (north). There’s also some woodpecker damage on the front facing (east) siding. While otherwise the siding on these two sides of the house is in fine shape, I did notice that the other two sides show some rot/aging related deterioration. The house was built in 1987. I am trying to figure out if repairing, that is, filling up the holes & replacing the damaged sidings, will do the job, or if it needs to be completely replaced.

Even with just repairing the woodpecker inflicted holes/chips, I have had a multitude of suggestions. One said, epoxy, another said, wood filler, another said, bondo.  (One contractor told me plainly that it is an urban myth that Woodpeckers attack siding due to rot or bugs, he said, it is just a mating ritual — pecking on the siding makes more noise than pecking on the trees).

If I go the replacement route, should I just do a like for like replacement or should I opt for the fiber cement siding that has been recommending. While I appreciate the durability of fiber cement, there are two issues I would love an opinion on:

1) It seems to me that even the inexpensive siding I currently have lasted pretty long, though in the 27 years it was probably painted 3-4 times. Is it true that with fiber cement I would not need to worry about another painting job for the next 15 years?  And the siding itself will hold strong for 50 years?

2) I am assuming that fiber cement (Hardie variety) will be much heavier than the planks I have right now. Will the foundation of our house be strong enough to support that kind of additional weight all around?

Any insights would be highly appreciated,

Thanks,
Blake

Woodpecker damage answer

 

Hello Blake,

Sorry to hear of your recent woodpecker damage.  I hope I can be of some service in helping you resolve your home maintenance problems.

You appear to have a reverse board and batten plywood siding often branded as T-111 siding.  This type siding may be either 3/8 inch thick or 5/8 inch thick. If your siding is 3/8 inch thick, it most likely has some other type sheeting behind it such as 1/2″ plywood, located at the corners,  in conjunction with 1/2″ fiber board or possibly 1/2 inch styrofoam sheeting, located in the central sections of the walls. If this is the case the plywood sheeting provides lateral bracing for the wall framing as required by code and the fiber board or styrofoam, which is less expensive than plywood, is used to maintain a level plane upon which to apply the siding and also adds about R 1.5 insulation value.

5/8 inch thick plywood siding is strong enough to provide the lateral bracing required by code and may be attached to the studs with only a vapor barrier underneath.  If this is the case any siding you replace it with must also meet code requirements for lateral bracing or a suitable code compliant sheeting such as plywood or OSB must be installed under the siding.

There are three reasons why a woodpecker may be damaging your home.  It may be pecking to make noise to attract a mate and warn off potential rivals, it may be looking for food, or it may be trying to build a nest. (source ~ Audubon)

Carpenter bees often bore holes in homes to hibernate and rear their young.  Carpenter bee larva are a favorite of woodpeckers.  The following posts from my blog may help you determine if bees are attracting woodpeckers to your home and provide some insight on how to prevent both bee infestations and woodpecker damage.  Bee Observant of Bee Damage and Woodpecker Damage

If the damage is not too great it is perfectly acceptable to repair either water damage or woodpecker damage using a good wood filler such as Bondo wood filler, which is thicker and less prone to oozing than Bondo auto body filler. (if areas to be repaired are golf ball size or smaller Bondo-auto body filler will work just as well)  This post,Woodpecker Damage Repair,
from my blog details a proven procedure to repair wood damage using Bondo.

Without personally examining your siding it would be improper for me to advise you on whether to repair it, or replace it with the same or a different siding. I can however discuss some options that may help you make a more informed decision for yourself.

T-111 siding is still available and with proper maintenance is an excellent product.  It will need to be thoroughly caulked and painted to maintain a pristine condition but a normal home painting schedule should be sufficient.  Another possible alternative is LP SmartSide Panels. SmartSide panels are available in both structural and non-structural versions and have a good warranty. A normal home painting schedule should still be maintained.

Hardie and other cement fiber products are a good choice in siding but there is often too much emphasis placed on how maintenance free they are.  Because cement fiber siding itself does not require painting as often as some other types of siding, home owners are often lulled into neglecting proper maintenance on their home.  Many modern paints when properly applied can protect a home for fifteen or more years on individual surfaces.  Most houses should still be painted every seven years or so anyway, not because the paint has failed but rather the caulk joints around the windows and doors and where the siding meets corner boards or other trim boards.  The siding and often dissimilar materials in these joints expand and contract at different rates due to heat, cold and humidity levels resulting in caulking failure and water infiltration.  Joints where brick molding meets window or door sills are a prime example of areas that start to decay prematurely due to caulking failure.

Cement fiber siding is quite heavy but the foundation and framing on any properly constructed home is more than sufficient to support the extra weight.

Good luck with your siding project.
Tony


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About Tony Wood

Tony is a life time resident of North Carolina with over 30 years experience in multiple facets of the industrial, commercial and residential construction industry. For the past 23 years he has owned and operated Wood's Home Maintenance Service, providing services primarily in Johnston, Wake and Sampson Counties of North Carolina. ______________ ______________________________________________________ The information contained in this Blog is opinion derived, from hands on experience of over 30 years in the construction industry and by extensive research by the author. All postulations are referenced to the geographic location in which this experience was gained.
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4 Responses to Woodpecker Damage to Siding

  1. D. Janesko says:

    Will woodpeckers penetrate a Smart Board product and does the thickness of the board make the difference as far a woodpeckers are concerned?

    • Tony Wood says:

      Woodpeckers certainly could damage engineered siding and trim such as LP SmartSide or SmartTrim if they were attracted to it. However it is unlikely to attract them if properly maintained.

      There are three reasons why a woodpecker may be damaging your home. It may be pecking to make noise to attract a mate and warn off potential rivals, it may be looking for food, or it may be trying to build a nest. (source ~ Audubon)
      The post Bee observant of bee damage enplanes one of the primary reasons woodpeckers are attracted to a structure and how to discourage them.

  2. Tom Thompson says:

    Tony,
    I’m getting my siding done as I write this. We live in a heavily wooded area, (woodpeckers galore), and I’m replacing old cheap vinyl siding with LP. Underneath, we found old cedar siding which had obviously been attacked by woodpeckers years ago. I decided to do some research on damage prevention and maintenance and found your blog. This information is extremely helpful and WELL WRITTEN. I’m so tired of reading posts by people so illiterate I have to decipher what they wrote to figure out what they meant! Thank you for providing this info and especially for communicating it so well.

    • Tony Wood says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write those kind words. It is gratifying to get feedback confirming the articles in our blog are of real value to our readers. We hope your siding project turns out great.

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