My husband and I moved to Hawaii more than 10 years ago. We keep in contact with family back home through chats, sending photos and videos throughout the day. Like most aspects of life, it is the little things that add up to make something significant. This daily interaction helps us to feel like we are part of everyday life and that there aren’t so many miles between us.

In one of our recent exchanges, my brother-in-law, Kevin, kept us in the loop on his weekend project: cleaning up the wood siding on his garage. Through some trial and error, he figured out what worked best. If you are in need of freshening up your home’s exterior by cleaning up your wood siding, consider some of his advice.


First, decide how much work your wood siding needs. Sometimes, you can clean it up with a hose, a soft bristled brush and some warm, soapy water. Experts recommend going for the less-is-more approach with wood when possible. If you can get away with a simple cleaning, do it. You do not want to risk damaging the wood if you can avoid it.

For Kevin, his siding was beyond that point. The paint was chipping and falling off in large chunks. It needed a power washing, scraping, sanding and repainting.

When power washing, keep your distance. If you get too close, especially if you have an older home, you can damage the siding by stripping off layers of wood in addition to the paint.


Before you start scraping, lay down some tarp or a drop cloth. This will catch your paint chips and play the double duty of keeping potentially toxic materials out of the environment, while also making your cleanup easier.

Then, smooth it out before you start painting. As with any paint job, you will want to sand before you apply any paint. This will give you a smoother finish in the end while also roughening up the surface just enough to allow the paint to adhere better.

Kevin also says to pick your sander wisely. An electric sander will get the job done faster, but keep in mind that, unlike a tabletop, you will have to hold it up. Kevin tried a belt sander at first but found that it did not work well and became too heavy to hold up for long periods of time. Instead, he recommends using a random orbit sander.


And last, but not least, keep it clean. Trim back any foliage surrounding your wood siding. Branches and shrubbery contain moisture that can penetrate the siding and eventually lead to damage.

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