better outdoor living at home spring


Repairing Woodpecker Damage to a Porch’s Cedar Clad Beams & Posts


Woodpeckers seem to love the parts of a house that are built or covered with cedar, like cedar beams and cedar siding. It’s too bad because cedar is really a beautiful building material. Maybe it’s because cedar is a soft wood and it’s easier to drill into.

Woodpeckers will drill into the wood on houses for several reasons including hunting for food, looking for a place to nest or roost, or displaying territorial behavior.

That is what happened at our brother and sister-in-law’s house. Woodpeckers had a field day drilling into the cedar boards of their back porch. Part of their lot is wooded, and provides beautiful scenery for porch views. Perhaps the woodpeckers, looking for a new adventure, wandered out of the nearby woods and found the cedar of the porch!

 

 

Under the beam

 

While there are things to use as deterrents to frighten woodpeckers away such as noise making devices and things that create movement in a breeze, these don’t always work 100% of the time. Many times you don’t know there’s a problem until you actually hear them drilling on the house or other outdoor wood structure, or, you see the tell-tale signs that they had been there.

 

Not only is the damage unsightly, as you can see in these before photos, but to protect your house from water infiltration and pests, there’s really no alternative but to make the repairs as soon as possible. The contractor and our brother and sister-in-law worked out a solution to clad the damaged posts and beams (the damage was cosmetic, not structural) using PVC siding.

 

And this is how it looks now, after the repairs were made.

 

 

The PVC siding looks like a great idea in taking care of both the damage, and deterring pesky woodpeckers in the future.

 

 

Luckily, the damage was on the outer parts of the porch, and not on a wall of the house. If a woodpecker has been at it for a while, and has invaded your house (they go right through the siding and plywood into the insulation) there may even be a nest with eggs. This can delay the repairs while you wait until they’ve flown the nest.

The repairs were made at the end of this past summer (2012), and the photos of the completed repairs were taken a few months later at Thanksgiving.

 

 

PVC products are made of polyvinyl chloride. These products are usually termed low maintenance, but we think that would depend on the quality of the product.

PVC products may, or may not, be produced in a range of sizes that most projects require (something to consider before you decide on a certain product). This particular product was available in standard dimensional lumber sizes, which means it can be cut and installed the same as wood. In fact, it can be mitered to create the finished corner joints that were used for the trim work on the posts for this repair.

 

 

While we prefer the beauty, look, and feel of real wood, sometimes using this type of product makes a lot of sense. This is a close up of a piece of one of boards used in the repair, and you can see how well it cuts to get a mitered edge.

 

 

The existing cedar cladding was removed from the posts and beams, and replaced with the new PVC boards, creating a surface that hopefully the woodpeckers will not be too fond of. Over time, we’ll see how well this product performs.

The contractor added new detailing to each post – trim work at the top and at the bottom of each post (architectural terms for these features are the capital and the base, respectively).

 

 

The skill and workmanship of the contractor was top notch, and the results look beautiful!

 

Here are a few general things to look for if you are considering using PVC or a composite (usually made with recycled plastics and wood fibers) home improvement product, but do your own homework, too – every project and its requirements are unique. These include (but not limited to):

  • With generic PVC or composite home improvement product you don’t really know what kind of quality you’re getting. It’s wise to use a manufacturer that has a track record for producing durable, high quality, and long-lasting products.
  • Make sure that the PVC or composite products you are considering, have high performance properties including resistant to staining, scratches, fading, splitting, cracking, and warping; and for composite products you want to be sure they’re mold and mildew resistant because of the wood fibers.
  • Depending on the type of repair, you may need a product that is produced in a range of standard lumber sizes – that feature is what gave this repair its finished look.
  • Some projects need a product that can be cut (sawed), ripped, and installed the same as wood. Even its ability to be mitered to create a finished appearance is a great feature.
  • Some manufacturers of PVC and composite products only offer a limited number of colors like white, brown, or tan, while others offer a range of architectural colors. But if you need to use a custom color, it may limit your choice in products. You might consider going with a high quality fiber cement exterior home improvement product.
  • Some manufacturers of PVC and composite products make trim pieces, like mouldings, that are great for adding ‘woodworking details’ to your project.
  • This may, or may not, be a concern for you, but the finish on PVC and composite home improvement products may have a sheen or shiny appearance especially in direct sun, which you don’t typically see on wood.

 

Beautiful view of the woods from porch

 

This was one practical solution for repairing the damage caused by woodpeckers to this particular home. If you think you’d like to use PVC products in an exterior home repair or home improvement project, talk to your contractor about product brands and the ways it can be used. This type of repair could be a DIY’er project, too, if you’re skilled at using the necessary tools, including a circular saw, a miter saw, and a nailer.

 

 

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