Aluminum Siding: Maintenance And Repair
Repairing, and repainting aluminum siding takes a lot less time than you think. Learn easy maintenance for your aluminum siding.
Using aluminum siding to beautify your home has become very popular today. Home owners love the way it saves them time by not having to scrape and paint the exterior of their homes so often. Patching, cleaning and repainting aluminum siding takes a lot less time than the house painting process. Not to mention that a simple dousing with a high pressure hose can leave your home looking newly painted. All this coupled with the way aluminum siding protects the material your home is made of makes it a number one pick for many.
Aluminum siding, if properly taken care of, can last for an indefinite time. Unlike most metal objects where minor rust and damages can usually be repaired, aluminum products do not tend to rust. Since it is rust that will destroy metals most if not taken care of quickly, this problem is eliminated with aluminum. Because aluminum is too soft to use alone it is always contained in an alloy. It is a lightweight metal that is easily drilled and cut. On the other hand, it cannot be soldered and is difficult to weld. Aluminum is known to resist atmospheric corrosion, anodizing an electrochemical coating process that dramatically improves its performance. Aluminum comes in sheets and many other forms including pre-shaped flashings and rods, angles, preformed thresholds, television antennae, frame work for windows, screens and greenhouses. When working with aluminum, whether forming original work or making repairs, it is a good idea to work with good materials and make careful preparations.
It is a good idea with aluminum siding to inspect it seasonally for any damage. Making minor repairs as they are needed can save you major expenses in the future. If you inspect your aluminum siding and find small punctures or cracks, they can be filled with a good quality caulking compound. Most aluminum siding can be cleaned with a mild detergent and water but if your aluminum siding is 15 to 20 years old, it may have begun to chalk or discolor. To see if your problem is chalking, simply apply a piece of masking tape to any area of the siding. When you pull the tape off check to see if a whitish residue remains on the tape. If you find this residue, the siding is chalking and will need immediate attention. To remove chalking or corrosion you will need to scrub the siding with a wire brush and detergent solution. After you have scoured the entire surface, carefully rinse the surface and let it dry. If your entire house is covered with siding you might consider renting a pressure washer, which works great to scour such large areas.
Many times, home owners decide to paint their aluminum siding. This decision is usually based on appearance. If the surface of your siding is in poor condition or if you want to change the color you too might decide to use paint. To begin, you will need to clean the siding thoroughly. When the aluminum siding is completely dry, you should brush on two thin coats of an oil or latex base metal primer designed for bare aluminum. When this is dry, using fine sandpaper, you should feather, or sand smooth any ridges or irregularities. Finally add a thin top coat of an acrylic paint with a flat or semi-gloss finish. Since aluminum expands and contracts with changes in the weather, make the paint coats as thin as possible to avoid cracking. Be sure and talk to your paint dealer when choosing your pains since with some paints you have to apply an intermediate bond coat.
Most major repairs or replacement of aluminum siding should be done by a professional. In a case where you have decided to make your own repairs, you should know that nonferrous metals such as aluminum can usually be found at hardware stores and building supply stores.
The thickness of metal is measured in gauge numbers. The lower the gauge number is, the thicker the metal. The most common systems are the Brown and Sharpe or American Wire Gauge for nonferrous metals. Be sure when you follow patterns or order stock to ask for a chart that will help you compare these systems. You can also use a gauge plate to roughly measure the thickness of metals. Even more precise would be the micrometer or virnier caliper. If you are planning to replace a single piece of siding you will need to make a pattern from the old piece before tossing it away. This should be done on a heavy weight paper and all the bends and cuts will need to be plainly marked on the pattern. Pay very close attention when you remove the old piece of siding and make notes if necessary since you will be reversing this process when you replace it with the new piece. Bent and cut areas can be marked on the pattern with colored pens to help you remember what the marks represent. Be sure you check all the measurements twice to be sure every part is an exact match. Extremely thin metal, such as aluminum siding, can be cut by scoring it with a utility knife several times along the cut line. Be sure to use a steel ruler as a straight edge. Use a miter box to make any angle cuts in your aluminum siding. You can do this by clamping or holding the metal in the body and using a metal cutting blade with a miter box saw, or a hacksaw to make the cut.
When drilling holes in aluminum siding use a drill press to provide stability, accuracy and control. Even a portable electric variable speed drill mounted in a stand can be used. Be sure you choose sharp high speed twist bits for drilling. Mark the locations you will be drilling by denting the center with a punch. It is also wise to back the metal with a piece of scrap wood before drilling. As you drill you can apply several drops of light household oil to keep the cut smooth. When drilling any type of metal you should wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from metal chips. To fold the metal for bends and angles, start by bending it with your gloved hands. Do this slowly moving along the entire fold line and working toward the ends. You can complete the bends and folds with a flat faced mallet. The edges can be finished with a wedge faced hammer.