With the days of summer waning I figured I better get started on at least one of the exterior projects I planned for this year. The sill under the front door threshold is severely rotted and needs to be replaced.
I've been pretty confident all along that the awful looking rot was limited to that one area but I really couldn't be sure until I removed some siding to have a look. The siding on Chez Melendy is cement asbestos shingles. These shingles were probably added to the house sometime in the 50s when asbestos was all the rage and before it was deemed a hazard. The shingles are fireproof and are a good protective siding with decent insulating qualities. They don't pose the same hazard as other forms of asbestos because the asbestos is trapped in cement. Unless the shingles are pulverized in some way, the asbestos remains encapsulated.
Knowing the lack of danger posed by the shingles didn't keep me from being cautious, however, so I donned my fine-particulate respirator and got to work removing the first two courses of siding. The shingles are strong when mounted flush to the house but are brittle when removed. I couldn't help but break some as they came off, and it was for this reason that I wore the respirator.
Once the asbestos shingles were removed, I was ready to remove some of the original siding that was underneath. I was happy to see that the original siding is in pretty good shape. At some point in the future I'd like to remove all the asbestos shingles and go back to the original clapboards to bring out the original charm of this old cape cod style cottage.
With all the siding removed from the lower 12" of the house, I could see the condition of the sill beam all along the front. Happily, it's not in real bad shape after a hundred and fifty years of existence.
The real work is ahead of me though as I need to chisel away the rotted section and then use pressure treated lumber to replace what's been removed. I'll be looking for advice from some local builders as I start to put it all back together. This section of the house is critical in that it's susceptible to moisture and, if not insulated properly, can provide a place for cold air infiltration. I want to get this job right the first time, and completed before the snow flies.