Massachusetts is full of beautiful wood homes, both old and new. There is nothing more beautiful than a painted wood home, but the extreme weather in New England can wreak havoc on exterior paint jobs. One of the biggest challenges facing do-it-yourself and professional painters is rotting wood. Whether your home is an antique home or one built more recently, you are likely to have to replace a lot of trim boards prior to painting.
Exterior trim boards are traditionally made of pine, and more recently primed pine. While affordable and easy to work with, the pine used in the last 50 years is not nearly as hearty as the wood used on older homes, since that lumber was usually milled from old growth forests. This has lead to a lot more rotting trim boards in the last 25 years, and a lot more carpentry work required prior to an exterior paint job.
It is not always obvious which boards are rotting. Sometimes they rot from the inside out. In the picture shown, this board looked like it was in perfect condition and ready for paint, however, when probed it was obviously rotting and in need of replacement.
Here are some tips to help see you through to successful replacement of your rotting trim and a great, long lasting paint job for the exterior of your home:
1. Check EVERY trim board on your home prior to painting and replace all the rotting boards before you start.
2. Don’t use wood filler! In the example shown, many painters and homeowners would use wood filler. That’s a bad idea, since this wood is saturated with water from top to bottom. Keeping a moist, rotting board on your home will invite carpenter ants and other pests in, and you are only putting off the inevitable.
3. If possible, replace trim with composite boards. The new composite trim boards including Azek, Kleer, and Versatex are exceptional products. While they may cost a little more in the short term, they should last indefinitely and when painted, they look identical to primed pine.
4. If you are hiring a professional painting company, make sure the staff that is performing the repairs are professional carpenters who know how to safely perform the repairs on your home.