Replacing Historic Clapboards

At some point, every historic clapboard house will experience exterior damage due to weather, insects, and general wear and tear. when old claps split, rot, or warp, they can’t perform their crucial job of shedding the elements. Such was the case with the quarter sawn, old growth white pine clapboards on this 1840s -era Greek revival house, which had enough splits and rot to require replacement.

Before Your Start Replacing Historic Clapboards

Selecting the right modern materials is an important step that, when done correctly.

What You’ll Need :

Protective gear

  • Heavy plastic ground cover tarp
  • Dust mask ( lead paint certified )
  • Goggles


  • 2 or 3 pry bars
  • Hammer
  • Staple gun
  • T-square
  • Crosscut handsaw or chop saw
  • Ruter / measuring tape


  • Galvanized 5d cut nails
  • Tin or tar paper flashing
  • Red cedar clapboards

Instructions of  Replacing  Historic Clapboards

Step 1

Start by identifying the damaged clapboards. To remove, pry bars and hammer, starting with the easiest one to pop off ( likely the one with the most damage). start at one end of the butt joint, and work your way across horizontally until it comes free. Sometimes tapping nails shanks under the clap ( to the left and right) will free a nail reluctant to come loose.

Step 2

To make the replacement clapboard, measure the location of the old one not the board you just removed. Measure out the first clapboard (always measure twice) and add 1/23 “ extra, then cut it the additional length helps secure the board for a watertight seal. When cross cutting the new clapboard, always cut from the finished side and cutting to ward the thicker end to prevent breakage. Repeat this process as necessary for each replacement clap needed.

Step 3

Before installing the new clapboard, place tin flashing or tar paper between joints to provide additional weather protection. Slide the tin flashing underneath the neighboring clapboard’s. start your installation with the bottom clapboard’s end and staple it in place. Start your installation with the bottom clapboard and work your way.

Step 4

Gently tap the board into position, then hammer it into place, matching the nail placement of the new clap to the existing ones. Next, insert the upper clap and hammer into place. Go easy on the hammering to prevent damage to new claps. Once all the new boards are installed, apply a second coat of primer and then a top coat of finish paint, which will cover most dings.

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