Exterior wood on a house will last many years if it is kept free of moisture and is given reasonable care.


The main problems with siding and trim stem from excessive moisture, which can enter from either inside or outside. One of the main contributors to the problem is the lack of roof overhang, allowing rain to run down the face of the wall Moisture may also enter from the inside, because of the lack of a vapor barrier, and subsequently, condense within the wall. Decorative trim is sometimes excessive and presents unusual decay and maintenance problems, particularly where water may be trapped. Good shingle siding appears as a perfect mosaic, whereas, worn shingles have an overall ragged appearance and close examination will show individual shingles to be broken, warped and upturned. New siding will be required if shingles are badly weathered or worn.


Windows usually present one of the more difficult problems of wood-frame houses. If they are loose fitting and not weather-stripped, they will be a major source of uncomfortedable drafts and cause high heat loss. Sash and sill decay should be repaired or replaced. Many windows are double glazed or have storm windows to reduce heat loss and avoid condensation. In aluminum storm windows, weep holes should be drilled at the base of the frame.


Exterior doors should fit well without sticking. They should be weather-stripped to avoid air infiltration and this is a very simple item to add. Difficulties in latching a door can usually be attributed to warping. A simple adjustment of the latch keeper will solve the problem in some instances, but badly warped doors should be replaced. Storm doors are suggested, not only for heat saving and comfort, but also to avoid moisture condensation on or in the door, and to protect the door from severe weather. If the door frame is out of square due to foundation settlement or other racking of the house frame, the opening will probably have to be reframed. The lower parts of exterior doors and storm doors are particularly susceptible to decay. The threshold may be worn, weathered, or decayed and require replacement.


One of the components of a house most vulnerable to decay and insect attack is the porch or deck. Since it is open to the weather, windblown rain or snow can easily raise the moisture content of wood members to conditions for promoting growth of wood-destroying organisms. Steps are often placed in contact with soil, always a poor practice with untreated wood.
Decay often occurs where posts are not raised above the porch floor to allow air to dry out the base of the post. It may be worthwhile to replace a few members, but the porch that is in a generally deteriorated condition should be completely rebuilt or removed.


Failure of exterior finishes on siding or trim results most commonly from excessive moisture in the wood. This may result either from direct rain or from moisture vapor condensing in the walls. Finish failures may also be caused by poor paints, improper application of good paints, poor surface preparation, or incompatible successive coatings. Excessive peeling may require complete removal of the paint. Since this can be very expensive, residing may be considered.

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