Dec 292011

Peeling paint can be an early warning sign, from your house, telling you there’s something wrong — possibly rotting wood trim. When you see paint peeling on the outside of your home, don”t panic; just have a closer look and maybe get professional consultation. It may save you money in the long run.

My company specializes in replacing exterior trim on many homes around the Groton area, which seem to have more rotted trim than I”ve seen in my long career of carpentry. Some of these houses are only 10 or 15 years old. A few reasons I”ve heard are that they grow trees very close together so they have to strive to get sunlight therefore, making them grow taller faster. Does this make the lumber inferior in that it is less dense? Hmmmm. Pre-primed lumber can have recycled primer, which is not high quality. Hmmm. We also witness a lot of unprimed end cuts, when removing rotted wood, which can leave bare wood unsealed, acting more like a sponge, letting in moisture sooner.

No matter what the reason may be, when you first notice paint peeling, it”s time for a closer look. This can help prevent further damage to framing lumber underneath your trim and siding.

If the damage isn’t extensive, it may be possible to do the work yourself if you’re familiar with carpentry and tools. Here are a few things to think about:

  • When replacing trim adjacent to wood siding, it”s important to cut along the edges and ends of the trim where it meets the wood siding. If you don”t, the siding could splinter away when the trim boards are pried off the house. Make sure the end and edge cuts, as well as the back of all trim, is primed with a good quality primer before installing. This will help delay rotting.
  • The use of boards made of different kinds of plastic, usually PVC, is a common practice nowadays. Although the cost is higher, the product will last much longer and may not need to be painted.
  • Be sure to always use a high-quality “paintable” caulking to neatly seal all joints after reinstalling trim. This keeps water from infiltrating and damaging material underneath the trim.

With a final touch up of high quality exterior paint, your home looks like new again and framing lumber underneath the surface of the trim will be saved from rotting, which can cost a lot more to repair than just replacing the surface trim boards. As soon as signs of peeling paint are noticeable investigate the cause and try to get this work done before the damage has a change to spread.