Which should be replaced first - windows or siding?

Answered by Brett ~ January 7, 2011 ~ Comments

I live in a condo that was constructed in 1980. All buildings are 2 stories with 8 units per building. Each unit has its own entry. So the buildings are similar to a town home but smaller like a condo. My unit in May had some siding removed and there was a lot of water damage underneath. Only one unit had water damage inside the condo due to the siding leaking. The condo board has decided to replace the siding. However, they would also like to replace the windows at the same time. The home association does not have enough money saved so they will have to raise the monthly rates significantly. My opinion is we need new siding since we have had problems with the original siding. The windows haven't caused any water damage so we don't need them. I understand it would be easier to replace both at the same time. But the amount they want to increase our fees is too high to do both. Without seeing our buildings, is it okay to replace siding first then replace windows at a later time like 5 years from now?

Han ~ Richfield, Minnesota

Brett Kulina

Han, when considering the best way to go about any remodeling project, you can choose the best way to accomplish the task as if money was not an issue, or you can figure out the best way to get the job done right given the realities of your checkbook. Obviously, it would be best if your condo association replaced the failed siding and upgraded the old windows at the same time, but if the money isn't there for both projects, then that's a reality that must be faced.

Siding replacement and window replacement are generally two exterior projects that are best done at the same time, because ultimately it is less work to caulk and seal the window openings, siding joints, and window trim only once. Additionally, there is some work efficiency lost when the contractors have to set up the scaffolding and work site tools twice, rather than just once.

I agree with you that the siding is probably the higher priority, because it has failed and caused water damage to the underlying sheathing. If the old siding is not removed and some new siding with a functioning vapor barrier is not installed quickly(and correctly), then there is also the risk of further water damage and possible mold issues, both of which can be costly problems to fix.

If the window replacement project must happen after the siding replacement is complete, then it will be especially important to protect the new siding from damage when removing the old windows. One way to help insure that the new siding is not damaged when the old windows are removed, is to install window trim around the existing windows when the new siding is installed . This way the new siding will not overlap the windows' nailing fins, which means that when the old windows come out, the new siding does not have to be disturbed(only the window trims will have to be removed). Likewise, it may be best to install the window trims with screws, instead of nails, so that later on down the road the trim pieces can be removed without too much destruction.

You can discuss the details of this construction plan with the contractors who you hire to do the siding replacement. Who knows, perhaps they will install the siding at a cheaper price if they know that they are going to be back in a few years to install the new windows?

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