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Refinish or reshingle?

The finish on my original red cedar shingle siding has failed nearly 100% on 3 of the 4 sides (house was built in 1972 and is located in eastern Massachusetts). My options are to either strip and refinish the siding, which will cost between $16,000 and $18,000, or reshingle. On the reshingling front I've been considering factory stained Maibec white cedar shingles. They carry a 7 year warranty and the cost is approximately $23,000-$25,000 installed.

I've spoken with at least 9 or 10 professionals (coating company technical reps, painting contractors, GC's and even a forest product scientist), and most of them tell me that stripping and refinishing is the way to go. One of the best GC's in my area told me that I wouldn't be compromising at all if I decided to strip and refinish vs. have him reshingle. My concern is that if I spend the money on stripping and refinishing I might experience another finish failure down the road, their assurances aside. Semi-transparent stain looks awful on my red cedar shingles, so I'd have to go the semi-solid or solid stain route. However, I'm told by some experts that the shingles available today aren't as high quality as those that I currently have (even though there is substantial cupping on many of them).

The stripping and refinishing process would be as follows:

• Mechanically Strip Front And Sides Of House

• Prep And Sand All Surfaces

• Spot Prime All Knots And Stains With B.I.N Shellac Base Primer

• Apply One Coat Of Oil Base Primer to Bare wood (California Troubleshooter)

• Finish All Sides With 2 Coats Of 100% Acrylic Sikkens Rubbol

If I go the reshingling route I have a few concerns about the Maibec shingles. I read on a contracting forum that some contractors and homeowners have experienced substantial movement, cupping and curling on newly installed factory-stained Maibecs, especially on sides that receive significant sun exposure, even with a 4 1/2" or 5" exposure (3 of the 4 sides of my house are exposed to strong sun). A forest product scientist advises me to reshingle with white pine shingles if I do reshingle, but I'm not sure such a product is even readily available or what the benefits and drawbacks may be vs. white or red cedar. The scientist also told me that any factory stained shingles should first be treated with a stain-blocking primer, and I don't think any are (including the Maibecs). He also told me that the thicker and lighter colored the shingles the better.

My questions are:

1. Given what I've described, what route would you go and why?
2. What would give me a longer finish with a lower risk of finish failure: stripping and refinishing as described above or reshingling with factory stained shingles?
3. If I do reshingle, what are the highest-quality shingles available (and are they eastern white, western red or white pine)?
4. Any other feedback would be GREATLY appreciated. This is far more confusing than I ever thought possible and I don't want to make an incredibly expensive mistake whichever route I go.


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