Wood-Rot on the Exterior of Your Home

“How could I have so much wood-rot on my home?”  It’s always surprising for a homeowner to discover their extent of wood damage.  The obvious damage stands out to most people with wood that is visually deteriorating.  Wood-rot only occurs when the wood absorbs moisture multiple times (Formula: WOOD + WATER = WOOD-ROT).  This can be prevented by visually inspecting your home twice a year for cracks and/or caulk-lines that have opened up.  Be aware of damage to the edge of the roofing shingles as this may lead to fascia wood-rot. Since most rotting occurs from moister damage inside the wood, it is seldom noticed during a casual inspection.  Many homes have both exposed and hidden damage.

This obvious wood-rot was caused by the roof shingles not extending far enough to prevent water back-flowing onto the fascia.

To locate wood-rot the best tools for inspecting are a good pair of binoculars and some type of pointed tool (pen or screwdriver) to poke suspected areas.  The areas of most concern are at the base of door casings, trim around windows, joints on the fascia (board at roof line), and occasionally joints on the siding.  Begin your inspection by looking for wood that appears cracked or discolored.  The tool will penetrate any rotten area even if it appears good on the surface. 

Most wood decay is less obvious and only can be detected once you have a trained eye.  With your binoculars examine the upper fascia, trim, and siding.  You will be looking for a “waffled” surface.  The latex paint may still look good, but you will notice indenting on the surface that runs 2 or 3 inches along the grain of the wood.  Usually this occurs at wood joints where the caulk lines have opened, thus allowing moister to enter.

When replacing the wood it should first be primed, and the joints sealed with a 60-year rated paintable caulk.  High-quality caulk tend not to shrink or crack and are more pliable over time.  The most important suggestion I wood make is to use premium paint with a color-fast formula.   When you have a lot of wood damage and cracking it is best to apply two-coats to all painted surfaces.  Following these steps should ensure long-lasting protection for your home.

If you would like to have our “trained-eye” take a look at your home and give you a free estimate for repairs and painting give us a call.  Our estimates our always free:  210-403-3232.

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White Trim and Doors are Yellowing – Why?

A Clean color of white around Trim and Baseboards, accentuates your home's walls and flooring.

Homeowners will find that most of the trim and doors in their house are painted with an oil-based product.   Trim is found around the edges of the house (baseboards, windows, doors) and can accentuate and add style when installing crown molding or decorative trim molding.  The problem is oil-based paint on interior trim and doors is notorious for changing from white to an antique cream 7 to 10 years after painting.  Over the years, I have been asked “Why does this happen?” by many customers. 

First of all, you may wonder why oil-based paint is used so often; especially considering that it has strong fumes and isn’t  very environmentally friendly (due to high Volatile Organic Compounds- VOCs, strong solvents needed for clean-up and difficulty to dispose of properly)?  Using oil-based paints has its advantages:

  • It goes on smoothly
  • Is resistant to abrasion
  • Is moisture resistant
  • Dries to a hard / glossy finish and is more durable in areas with lots of traffic, which is why it’s used so often for baseboards. 
  • Using it on the decorative trim and doors helps to add continuity and color/sheen match with the baseboards.

The yellowing effect of oil-based paint occurs over time due to several causes. 

  • The alkyd chemicals in the oil begin to age/break down due to their curing mechanism. 
  • Exposure to sunlight and gas heat increases the yellowing. 
  • Oil-based paints are more susceptible to mildew.
  • Tobacco staining from smoking leads to a premature aging-effect.

There is really only one option for regaining the original trim/door color:  They must be repainted. The process to do this is:

  1. First, lightly sand the trim/doors with a 220 sand paper. 
  2. Wipe the surfaces to remove any dust from your sanding
  3. Finally, using a quality brush, apply the top coat with even strokes using high-quality oil-based paints.

If your trim/doors have oil-based paint you have to go back with the same type of paint.  Use this painter’s “trick” if you are uncertain what type of paint you have:  using an alcohol swab or cotton swab with alcohol, try rubbing off the paint.  If the paint comes off fairly easily, it latex, if not, then it is oil-based. 

Keep in mind that water/latex-based paints will not stick to oil-based paints resulting in peeling and being easily scratched.  You can use an oil-based primer prior to applying a latex top-coat, however there are problems:

  • you’ll still have to deal with the high VOCs of the oil-based paint
  • more paint is used
  • brush strokes will be more evident
  • Latex paint is generally not as durable as the oil-based.

If you have an option, try to use a quality interior latex paint, especially on decorative trim (crown molding).   Keep in mind that if any alcohol-based products touch the latex paint it will cause the paint to deteriorate and eventually come off.  FYI – some household cleaning products contain alcohol.  The advantages to using Latex paint are:

  • Low odor (lower VOCs)
  • Faster dry time
  • Water clean up
  • Long-term flexibility
  • Non-yellowing
  • Not combustible

Whichever option you choose, whether oil-based or latex, be sure that you use high-end top-quality line of paint.  Examples of paint brands that all have great oil-based (Alkyd) paint product selections are:  Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, and Pittsburgh Paint.

NOTE:  A few paint manufactures have been testing out and/or have on the market new oil-based and latex trim paints that can be applied to trim/doors. These should release less VOCs into the home environment and be able to be cleaned with only water.  We will report on these products in the near future.

PRESERVING YOUR HOME INVESTMENT

Your home is an investment that needs to be protected

Protecting your homes’ exterior surfaces can be costly, so often the question is when it is necessary to spend the money for preserving this important investment.  This all depends on how well your home has been protected by the products used and how they were applied at the time it was painted.

 If you have an older home (10+ years) the expected lifetime of the painted surface depends on the last painter’s discretion and integrity.  Preparation, application, and quality of materials all play into the longevity of the painted surface in protecting your home.  This holds true for newer homes, as well.  It is not uncommon for new homes to need the exteriors repainted within the first 5 years due to poor application and inferior materials.

The most important indicators as to when to paint your home are:

  • open caulk joints,
  • peeling surfaces,
  • chalking or dullness on the painted surfaces,
  • mildew growth, and
  • wood damage. 

 A timely paint job can save you money by preventing deterioration of exterior surfaces thus requiring minimal or no repairs.  Secondly, a professional paint job can save you money over time by having to paint less often:  approximately every 10 years instead of every 5 years. 

 When choosing paint, select a premium grade from a local paint supplier such as: Sherwin Williams(Duration Paint); Coronado (Crylicote); Pittsburg(Manor Hall) just to name a few.  The top-of-the-line paints tend to have advanced latex formulas that last longer, are resistant to fading and help prevent mildew growth.

 When choosing a company to paint your home, follow these guidelines:

  • require many references,
  • drive by a home that was completed by the paint company,
  • check the Better Business Bureau,
  • have everything in writing,
  • pay no money up front,
  • meet the individual in person to determine character and comfort level in a working relationship.