Wood trim is vulnerable to wood rot because it sticks out from your house. This means it's exposed to more wind, sunlight, rain and other elements than most of your home. If you don't inspect and paint any exposed wood consistently, then water is able to penetrate the wood and wood rot begins.
When building a home, you have choices in the type of features and materials you select for your home's exterior. These decisions should be made with thought given not only to how your home will look but also the time and cost to maintain the features selected. When picking features which will require significant painting, you should consider using newer composite materials that don't require painting. The front door portico shown here is one example where a composite is recommended to avoid maintenance and costly repairs of such intricate, and hard to reach wood trim.
Exterior Home Trim Problems
We pick exterior trim for our homes as a way of adding beauty and appeal to our home. It is true that a home needs dressing up and the most common features include a dressy front door, landscaping and shutters. Fortunately most new shutters are vinyl and don't need painting, just cleaning. Trim around the front door is easier to maintain, as you'll do it at the same time you review and paint the door.
Let's look at a few examples of wood rot, what happened and why, so that you will have a better idea when selecting features for your home … which ones need more work.
- Bay windows are lovely and they bring extra sunlight into your home. They also use a lot more wood so painting them, especially if it can't be done from the ground, becomes a home maintenance chore that can easily be deferred until you have serious damage like the window shown here. With bay windows, one option is to use a vinyl or aluminum clad window to reduce your risk of wood rot and many of these offer a wood interior option.
- Columns are a popular option to dress up the front entryway, deck or many outdoor settings. There are now many choices in materials for these features, so if you want to use them … find one that doesn't rot if you're not able to keep up with a strict painting schedule.
- Corner boards give depth to your home's exterior and on houses with wood siding, they're made of wood most of the time. While more expensive up front, using a composite like Azek will more than pay for itself by eliminating or reducing the time and cost to paint and maintain these boards.
- When the Victorian in the lower right corner was built around 1900, the intricate trim finishes, varied siding and decorative ledges where common. You painted the Victorian accent pieces in different colors and they popped to create that “Victorian” look and feel. Beautiful to look at but challenging to maintain as you can see here, needing scaffolding to replace rotted trim and siding on the third floor.
Read the rest of our series on water damage and wood rot repairs …
I loved reading what you said about corner boards giving depth to a home’s exterior. I have never thought of using a composite instead of wood, but I can see how a cheaper material would be a good way to save money. I bet that a good remodeling contractor would be able to help you save money as well.