Ask Your Question

Angie's List Answers is the trusted spot to ask home improvement and health questions and get answers from service companies, health providers and consumers. For ratings and reviews on companies in your area, search Angie's List.

Top 30 Days Experts
Rank Leader Points*
1 kstreett 240
2 Guest_9020487 110
3 Guest_9190926 105
4 GoldenKid 100
5 ahowell 95
6 KnowledgeBase 95
7 skbloom 80
8 Guest_98024861 70
9 Guest_9311297 70
10 Guest_9400529 70

*Updates every 4 hours

Browse Projects By Category

Question DetailsAsked on 4/26/2017

What is the board at the foundation of my house called?

Along the foundation of my house is a board that runs just under the siding and is somewhat submerged into the ground. It's been beaten up by trimmers, etc over the years and I want to replace it, however I have no idea what it's called. Assuming I should use treated lumber, any ideas of the best way to go or ever seen this before?

Do you have the same question? Follow this Question

1 Answer


Two possibilities here, assuming you do not have an all-wood foundation -

1) one is that you are looking at the bottom plate of the wall - the horizontal lowest piece of the wall - sometimes just a 2x that the bottom of the studs are nailed into, sometimes a sill piece is bolted to the top of the foundation, then the wall (or box or girder flooring where the flooring assembly sits under the wall, as in most modern construction). This piece (which should be treated wood if touching the concrete or block wall) should NOT be exposed - the siding should fully cover it. Images below show typical bottom wall plate directly on concrete situation, and more modern diaphragm flooring construction (color image labeled Chipboard Sheet Floor) where the actual wall side on top of the subfloor framing which sits on the foundation (hopefully on a treated sill board):

If sticking down into the dirt, hopefully that is not the case.

2) more likely - a starter strip, or lap siding starter strip, aka kick strip - which is a piece used to hold the bottom of the lap siding out at the correct angle for the sloped siding pieces - similar to the starter shingle row on a roof, though that also serves as a water-shedding layer. With metal and vinyl siding commonly metal strip like this, which may also act as a drip edge and sometimes as a ventilation opening -

Or can be a strip of concrete plank with concrete lap siding like this - (part 5 photo)

A wood starter strip will look like this - (Part A)

A wood starter strip should NOT generally be sticking out from under the siding because it will pick up water dripping off the siding and rot - the siding should overhang it by 1/2-1" to make the lap siding act as a dripedge.

If it is touching the ground and being damaged by trimmers it is too low - i.e. the dirt is too close to the siding. There should be 4 and preferably 6 inches clear from ground to the lower of the starter strip, top of foundation, or siding (the latter should be the lowest if done right, commonly overlapping the top of the foundation by several inches), and in termite country should be 8-12 inches clear of the dirt plus have an insect barrier strip right below the house wall (commonly a metal dripedge fastened to the foundation just below the sill or plate).

Basically, to repair this would mean removing the bottom plank of lap siding, or with panel siding cutting through the nails with a sawzall both behind and in front of the starter strip, changing the strip out, and renailing the bottom nails in the siding. In some cases the bottom siding nails may be above the starter strip so it could have its nails cut and be removed without doing more than prying the siding out a bit, but if the bottom siding nails are through the starter strip then you have to cut them on both sides of the starter strip - a bit of a fire hazard to do this because the nails get red hot. Can be cut with a power chisel but that will bow the siding out and possibly warp/break it - so not easy to get this strip out without removing the siding.

The problem with cutting the nails and sneaking the strip out - it is going to be hard to get the new one into place in the correct location with respect to the water barrier without bunching the water barrier up on top of it. Also, the water barrier should have been installed OVER the strip if wood, so removing it will damage the water barrier. In many cases you will also have a dripedge or ventilation strip in there which would be damaged by removal.

If it sticks down and is nailed above the bottom of the siding, you could use a sacrificable skillsaw blade and trim it off at the bottom of the siding (cutting almost all the way through to avoid dulling the blade too quickly then using a chisel or knife or such to finish the cut through to the concrete/block foundation), then hand treat the cut edge with copper napthenate/napthelate or copper azeole touchup treatment like Cupreanol makes (made for touching up cut ends on ground-contact treated wood - comes in green and brown). However, if this board covers the interface between foundation and wood probably better to just treat is with the touchup treatment and leave in place, and lower the dirt. For appearance you might be able to bevel it below the siding with a belt sander (a back-breaking job) to remove the trimmer damage, treat it, then lower the dirt to provide proper clearance.

Obviously, on lowering the dirt, you do NOT want to leave a low spot along the foundation to accumulate water - should slope at least 2% (1/4" per foot) and preferably more like 10% (inch per foot roughly) away from the house for several feet at least, to drain runoff and rainfall and snow melt away from the foundation. This is critically important if this is a wind-blown rain facing side or you do not have gutters intercepting the roof runoff.

To get this sort of work done - Siding contractor is probably the "best" Search the List csategory, but most siding companies are not going to want to get involved in something like this - so Handymen is likely your vendor category.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

Related Questions

Terms Of Use
Privacy Policy