Garage Work

March 4, 2009

Every couple of years we undertake a significant home project.  By significant I mean expensive, and by undertake I mean we hire Howard to do the actual physical work.  Howard has been our go-to-guy for every project ever since he installed new windows throughout the house when D was 2 weeks old – she’s now 9.  This time it is residing the garage.

At first it seemed as if it would be a straight-forward project – but of course it isn’t.  There is significant (and by significant, I mean expensive) termite damage under the old siding.  The plan now is to tear off the old sheathing one side of the garage at a time and replace or supplement studs and bottom plates as necessary before putting on the new siding.

I happen to be home this Spring so I’ll be the one making the quick executive decisions on this project.  I’ll have one eye on the bottom line and one eye on trying to keep the project as green as possible, and where it won’t be pure green, I hope to keep it greenish. 

The first decision we made, before we knew the studs were half eaten, was the type of siding.  Howard left us with a brochure for the siding he typically puts up.   I looked it over later that evening and realized that  we couldn’t use it.  It was vinyl.  Now there are those who support vinyl.  It is relatively maintenance free so you don’t have to worry about the environmental ramifications of your paints and stains later on, it can be recycled (although I’m not sure how easily or often it actually is recycled), it reportedly takes less energy to make than wood or aluminum siding, and in a landfill it is said to be inert and not leach chemicals into the environment.  But I can’t get past the production factor.  Vinyl siding is a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) product.  PVC production releases chlorine-based chemicals, such as dioxin, that build up in the air, water, and food chain and cause cancer, immune system damage and hormone disruption.   In other words, PVC production is pretty bad for the birds, the fishes, the plants, the animals, the whole nine yards.

So I did a google search on environmentally friendly siding.  It was a toss up between a cement-fiber siding and composite wood.  I found a couple I liked and we left it up to Howard who would be actually working with the material.  He went with LP Smartsiding – – it is a composite engineered wood siding from sustainably forested wood.  The scraps from the processing are used to fuel the plant too.  I like that.  The siding will be pre-primed and painted.  Paint is rarely eco-friendly, but at least it won’t be done by me. 

Howard is here today replacing the garage door frame and  finding one thing after another wrong with the garage (but he promises to keep the price lower than building a new one).  He is a busy guy though and it will be a few weeks before he can really get into this project.  That buys me some time to research whatever needs to be done.  Can you rehab a garage greenly and cheaply?  We’ll see.



  1. […] Once the decision was made to redo the room the fun began.  Finding the people to do the work was easy – the same people who do all our work, most recently the garage.  […]

  2. […] step.  Clean the bathroom.  Second step.  Call the carpenter.  Good ol’ Howard.  Given we’re approaching prime outdoor building time we’ll probably be an autumn […]

  3. […] now, but maybe my priorities have shifted.  My first  essay back was about  the garage rehab and since then many people have commented on my “green” garage — so apparently I am being […]

  4. […] Living &#183 Tagged Environment, Environmentalism, Products As mentioned in a previous post (Garage Work), a simple residing of the garage has turned into a major save-the-building  proposition.  So […]

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