by Dianne Schaefer
After taking on the dark green wallpaper, we turned our attention to ugliness on the outside of the house.
Renovating the exterior is a much larger task. The house was three stories, four in the back because the land sloped down. The house was covered with stucco, which had been repaired in places with big blobs that looked like the “Jolly Green Giant” had thrown mud at it.
We had learned from neighbors that there were the original clapboards under the stucco. We pulled off some stucco on the non-visible side of the house, and yes, it was true.
We hired a contractor to remove the stucco. This was purely manual labor, two men with crowbars, and 3 dumpster loads. Stucco is put on a house (like vinyl siding) over the original siding. There were three layers, one tarpaper, with thin layer of smoother cement, a layer of metal lath, and then the final layer of rough stucco. The stucco was so thick that it stuck out beyond the window casings. All the architectural details of the house were hidden. Each day a new section of the house emerged, like the ugly duckling was becoming a swan. It was an amazing transformation. People driving by could not believe it.
In the end we only had to replace about ten percent of the clapboards were water damaged and had to be re-placed. When you look at an old house covered with siding, and the siding looks like it does not belong, imagine what might be underneath.