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Rotting soffits and facias - bad wood or bad paint?

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fobos8

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Hi all

I'm doing some major refurbishments at my dad's home and one of the thing I need to do is to replace all the rotten/rotting/peeling soffits and facias. They are painted softwood.

My dad wants me to replace them with PVC but I keep telling him that it will look....... well............ plasticy!!

My question is - is it possible to have painted wooden soffits and facias that last a long time??

If so should I be using a hardwood like iroko or should softwood be okay? My experience of fitting softwood facias is that most of it has splits and knots and that this can cause water ingress and enventual decay of the wood.

Should I be using a specific type/brand of paint to give the timber longevity?

Many thanks in advance, Andrew
 

wallace

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Hi Andrew I recently had to replace my facia boards because they were rotten. So were the rafter tails. They had been there since the house was built, 50 years. They were soft wood / painted. I think thats not bad going for soft wood. The facias at the front of my house are still going strong.
HTH
Mark
 

Phil Pascoe

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If you can afford hardwood, it's better but reallistically you'll end up using softwood. Try to get redwood rather than spruce, even if it's treated make sure you SOAK any cut ends in a good preservative.Make sure you round off the corners-paint does not stick to sharp edges well. Paint any knots with knotting. Use a good primer (aluminium is good) and good quality paint - you can get a couple of coats of preservative, a primer and an undercoat on before you fix the boards, that way you can get the backs done as well, then if you get caught by the weather you're o.k. when you've fixed them use stainless screws, fill the holes, repair any digs and scratches and undercoat again, then gloss. Use stainless screws for the guttering, and you're done.
This may seem expensive on materials, but when you take your time into consideration, and the cost of scaffold, in the case of a house, it gets put in perspective. My last scaffold was £1400, so it's not a job that I'd wish to do every 2 or 3 years!
 

Woodchips2

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Hi Andrew
A common cause of rotting fascias is disintegration of the sarking felt at the eaves. The sarking felt should extend over the fascia and into the gutter so any water seeping through the tiles drains away. If the felt has rotted then the top of the fascia keeps getting wet and eventually rots. If you replace the sarking felt with a reinforced felt then painted softwood should be fine if regularly maintained. On the other hand plastic fascias look good with an annual wipe down even if they do look plasticy :lol:
Regards Keith
 

richarnold

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altough it's a bit pricey I would highly recommend a product called Accoya. this is a New zealand pine that is put thru some sort of process in holland. They give it a 50 year unconditional guarantee, and thats with no finish on it at all!!!.
It's also very stable, and does not appear to shrink, or expand. We have used it for a couple of years now for most of our exterior joinery, and have had no problems
 

adzeman

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I have been a Property Services surveyor in London for 20 years responsible for some old buildings. These properties have facias and soffites over a 100 years old and they are still sound. Rotting is generally due to water penetration of some sort and has to be rectified. We find the unaffected timbers as good as the day they were fixed into position. Look at the end grain if you have the oppertunity, the rings are close together, due to being slow grown and air seasoned. This type of timber is not generally available but was available 50 years ago. The opposite can be said of paints, the quality of paint today is of a far better quality then yester year and has a ready available technical back up if things go wrong.
When you strip the old timber you will notice it is not painted on the back and the old carpenters told me this was intentional, allowed the timber to breathe. Because the quality timber is unavailable we tended to use reclaimed timber from demolition or hardwood though you can obtain Redwood from the U.S. or Canada at a cost. Some of this timber is reclaimed from river beds/lakes the trees being felled over a 100 years ago or from demolished trestle bridges. I hate plastic but costs and budgets dictate. I used to have big battles with the "freinds of the earth", demonstrations,pickets and enquiries. I believe in their points of view but if it is the difference between a homeless family having a home of not I would give them the home.
Another problem is an awful lot of bad brickwork was erected during the brick shortage of the 50's. My first choice for replacement joinery are Swedish windows etc The timber is slow grown, systamatically re-grown and the waste timber powers the factory. I could only use thes when the window openings are constanet. The bad brickwork of the 50's does not allow this. To individually measure and make each window as an individual is too expensive. Plastic is measured individually anyway. Pre-fabricated and concrete structures lend themselves to Swedish windows and are competiitve and I used them where I could.
I was often called out to rotten facias, gutters etc but when up there on the scaffold it usually turned out to be flaking paint which all it required was a professional paint job. I cannot stress hard enogh the requirement of preperation using knotting a primer, 2 undercoats and a good gloss.
Can I say, and I hate bein political, that after the Thatcher years and the restrictions they imposed it took us 5 years to catch up with the repairs on public buildings and it looks like history is repeating with this lot. It is essential that with timber to inspect, repair and decorate every 5 years at least. Using plastic does not elliminate cyclical repairs its just a different repair and it still costs.
 

fobos8

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many thanks for the really good points made - a couple of questions I still have are;

what to do where the wood is joined - where two bargeboards meet, mitred facias etc. The primed and undercoated wood will get cut and then joined. Should these machined ends be primed and undercoated before they are joined as suggested? this will make the glue redundant. I would normally use biscuits and wood glue for these types of joints.

what to do with timber that has splits it. Can this be use or should it be discarded?

Kind regards, Andrew
 

adzeman

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Joints should be butt mitres. Dont fasten the joint. When the timber breathes it moves, it moves most in its width it splits if rigily fixed. The butt mires allows it to slide (minute) and wont be seen from the ground. Prime the timber on th ground and let it dry but dont forget the knotting. This will be a 2 handed job and as its your first I suggest staging towers set 1200 down from the fixing point. Dont start till you have every thing ready incuding cutting the joints and both of you in a good frame of mind. Not nervous and not overconfident.

Best of Luck
 
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