Home fix-up

Q I am planning to cover the wood siding on my house with aluminum, vinyl, or asbestos shingles. Will bugs be a problem? If I use insulation under the siding, will moisture be a problem? What about popping noises as the siding expands and contracts? Will nailing the new siding cause the nails to pop through the interior drywall? Julius Jelinek San Francisco My response is confined primarily to aluminum siding. You can check at a few building supply stores for information on all three products.

Bugs should not be a problem, because this is not a native environment for them. Your home is already wrapped with a layer of felt building paper beneath the siding, so placing the new siding over the old is the equivalent of adding a new coat of paint. As a result, moisture should not be a problem. Moisture that forms on the back of the aluminum is allowed to escape through weep holes in the siding.

Noise occurs only when the siding is nailed down too tightly. The siding is made with slotted nail holes. The best method for fastening the siding is with staples shot with a pneumatic gun. Only one leg of the staple should go through the nail slot, while the other leg is above and outside the siding. This allows for the free movement of the siding (provided the staples are not too tight). Also, the impact on the wall is not enough to cause the inside drywall nails to pop out.

The siding can be bought with both foam and fiber insulation backing with an R rating of about 0.9 to 1.6.

Be sure the siding you select harmonizes with the character of your home. Consider how the added depth of the siding will be trimmed out around the doors, windows, and corners.

For information on aluminum siding call Alcan Siding at 1-800-992-5226. For vinyl siding you may write the GAF Corporation, Building Materials Group, 140 West 51st Street, New York, N.Y. 10020. Q The brick fireplace in our living room is painted white. We would prefer, however, a natural-brick fireplace and wish to remove the paint. How? Nancy Mack Castro Valley, Calif.

Removing paint from brick is difficult, because the paint penetrates into the pores. Water jetting or sandblasting is the only successful method of which I am aware. You may want to consider simply refacing the fireplace with ``soaps,'' or thin brick tiles that can be applied over the present surface in much the same manner as ceramic tile. First, however, the surface has to be roughed up.

If you have a question about designing, improving, or maintaining your home, send it to the real estate editor, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115. Richard A. Kent is a practicing architect and general contractor in southern California.

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