From the roof and eaves to the siding and windows, the outside of your home needs to be inspected and maintained regularly to keep it in good condition. Watch this video to see how to make the following common exterior repairs.
Common Exterior House Repairs
- Eave Boards: See how to remove and replace existing fascia boards on eaves that have been damaged by squirrels.
- Wood Siding: Find out how to remove and replace rotten wood or fiberboard siding.
- Column Repair: Learn how to repair damaged wooden column bases and newel posts with rot resistant wood.
- Window Screens: Make replacement window screens from aluminum frame stock and fiberglass screening.
Read episode article to find out more.
- Replacing Rotten Siding (video)
- How to Repair Rotten Wood (article)
- Tips to Prevent Squirrel Damage (article)
- Window Screen Replacement (video)
Danny Lipford: Eventually, the outside of every home needs some repair, so this week, Today’s homeowner is taking on five common ones. Get your notepad and pull up a chair.
Hays Holmes: I’ve got to get the outside done, which I probably should have done several years ago.
Danny Lipford: This beautiful, old house was built in 1885. And for the past 11 years, Hays Holmes has called it home.
Hays Holmes: I do love the old house—the details, the woodwork, the floors, everything is wonderful in that way. It’s just a good location. I like the style.
Danny Lipford: But the downside of an old home is maintenance.
Hays Holmes: You know, in our weather—the heat, the humidity, old house—I’ve got to get the outside done. I want to learn about how to do things. I need to replace some rotten wood, I need to fix the trim, obviously paint. Just your basic maintenance, which I probably should have done several years ago, and I’ve just put off and ignored and just been lazy.
Any house is an investment, and I want to take care of it. I want to get knowledge from Danny Lipford and the rest of you to do what I need to do. I know I can’t do it all myself, but just knowing how it’s done, or being a little bit familiar with how it’s done, will help me.
Danny Lipford: So Hays gives me the nickel tour to show me what we’re up against.
Hays Holmes: I’ve actually seen a squirrel walking down this wire…
Danny Lipford: Oh, yeah.
Hays Holmes: …and I guess it chewed its way in. And sometimes, especially if it’s cold, I’ve heard him in the attic. And if I’m sitting in bed reading a book—
Danny Lipford: That’s comforting, isn’t it? It’s only about a three-foot board there that—be pretty easy to patch that up. So, that’s pretty easy.
Hays Holmes: So you would just take that off?
Danny Lipford: Yeah, uh-huh.
Hays Holmes: And this is another place right here.
Danny Lipford: Oh, yeah.
Hays Holmes: I don’t know whether this—I don’t know the terminology, but I guess it wasn’t done with weather…
Danny Lipford: With treated wood?
Hays Holmes: …with treated wood.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, probably not. It may have been. We’ll just have to kind of get a screwdriver and kind of probe around a little bit and see how bad some of that is.
Hays Holmes: Well, this is a tiny part. You say you just need a screwdriver for that? Let me show you some other stuff that’s going to require a lot more than that.
Danny Lipford: OK. All right.
Hays Holmes: I was telling you, I’ve noticed a lot of loose or rotten siding in different places. This is a place over here. You can see it over there in the corner.
Danny Lipford: Oh, yeah. It looks like some repair took place there—maybe some plumbing repair or something, since they…
Hays Holmes: Yeah, the bathroom is right there.
Danny Lipford: Oh, I’ve got you.
Hays Holmes: But there’s a place—the place that I really wanted to show you is right over here.
Danny Lipford: All righty. Man, what a cool backyard. This is kind of nice. I can see spending some time out here.
Hays Holmes: this is embarrassing. I noticed this and I just can’t…
Danny Lipford: Oh, you got it hidden away here.
Hays Holmes: I was hiding it behind this potted plant. And I used to put a potted plant on top of it.
Danny Lipford: Yeah.
Hays Holmes: But both sides are just kind of rotted away.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, a lot of that’s just from it being so shaded, and then obviously this wasn’t treated wood here. But so much of this kind of thing looks a lot worse than it really is. Plus, you can peel these things away, hopefully not find any more than what we’re looking at, and then re-case it with treated wood, put a cap on it, and, heck, it’ll be good.
Hays Holmes: So these are not as bad as they look.
Danny Lipford: Not as bad as they look.
Hays Holmes: OK.
Danny Lipford: So in a few days, our team shows up with tools and materials.
OK, so, you’re going to help Hays with the siding around back.
Allen Lyle: Right.
Danny Lipford: He’s really anxious to find out exactly how you do that.
Allen Lyle: Easy to do.
Danny Lipford: You’re going to take care of trimming a few hedges, hopefully not find any more rotten wood.
Chelsea Lipford Wolf: I hope not.
Danny Lipford: OK. I’ll take care of the little squirrel damage upfront if you can kind of help me with this big, long ladder here.
You know, one of the things I found over the years when you’re repairing wood on the outside of the house, take care of all of the high work first. If that squirrel jumps out and jumps on me, that’s going to be some great video.
This repair is right next to the incoming electrical service, which can be very dangerous. So we had the utility company temporarily de-energize this line at the street before we started working.
Because there’s a seam close by, the damaged board is easy to remove. While I make sure the squirrel is not at home.
He’s got a little hole dug down into this area. Hey, hey.
Allen and Hays get started on a replacement piece.
Allen Lyle: Hays, you see we didn’t have just a squirrel, he was an architect squirrel. It was in, and he was working on a way out right here.
Hays Holmes: I think there’s more than one.
Allen Lyle: All right, this actually is going to be easy. What we’re going to do is just set it on a piece of the exact type material. I’m going to square it off on the edge here. Give you the pencil. I want you to draw me a line right there and right on the other side.
Danny Lipford: After a quick lesson on the miter saw, Hays makes the first cut, and in no time I’m completing our very first repair.
Thank you, thank you.
Hays Holmes: Now, that looks great.
Danny Lipford: Good.
Hays Holmes: I’m happy with it. The squirrel’s not going to be happy, but I like it.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, that’s going to be a rude awakening when he gets here tonight.
Joe Truini: Storing glue bottles in the workshop is not a particularly difficult challenge. I mean this is how most of us store glue bottles, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but there is a better way. And all you need is a drill with a 3/4-inch diameter spade bit.
What you do is take the drill, and drill a couple of holes in a shelf near the workbench. And then all you need to do is store the bottles upside down in the holes.
And the great thing about that is, first, the glue is always right there, you know where it is, you don’t have to go searching for it. But the glue will drop down near the tip because it’s stored upside down.
So when you get ready to use it, it comes out really easily because you dispense it, because you don’t—especially if it’s half a bottle. It’s not sitting at the bottom, it’s now sitting near the top. And the glue sitting near the tip will seal out air so that the nozzle won’t get clogged as easily.
Now, if you don’t have a shelf like this in front of your workbench, you can simply drill a hole in the end of your workbench, set it in there, and that works just as well.
Danny Lipford: We’re helping Hays Holmes make five common exterior repairs to his 130-year-old home. Next up is some damaged siding, so Chelsea is helping Hays prime some replacement pieces.
Hays Holmes: So we’re just going to paint this one side?
Chelsea Lipford Wolf: We’re actually going to paint all the sides, what’s called back priming. Since it’s wood siding, it expands and contracts a lot, but this will help keep some of the moisture out so we don’t have to worry about coming back and repairing it in five years.
Hays Holmes: Oh, good.
Chelsea Lipford Wolf: I went ahead and got a tinted primer just to make our final coat a little easier, instead of the white primer.
Hays Holmes: That’s great.
Danny Lipford: While the primer dries, Allen gets Hays started on the repair.
Allen Lyle: You can see where someone actually cut and probably put the same boards back. I hate seeing a straight line like this. So we’re going to pull off at least five of these, and I’ll show how you can then weave it in back and forth so you don’t see all that.
Hays Holmes: Great.
Danny Lipford: They begin removing the damaged boards from the bottom up and quickly discover that something’s missing.
Allen Lyle: There’s not a stick of insulation in here. I mean nothing. What we’ll do, since we have this off, we’re going to pull all this off of here. Let’s put some insulation in while it’s—while it’s open. OK? We’ll do that.
Now, you know what’s interesting here, is I don’t see pipes anywhere. I assumed this might have been a pipe leak. Of course, there was—that might be your moisture right there.
Hays Holmes: I didn’t do it.
Danny Lipford: To avoid damaging the boards above the patch area, they’re using an oscillating tool to cut the nails that go through both the damaged board and the one above it.
Allen Lyle: So we’re ready to start installing our boards. The important thing is putting it in the right spot. We could try to eyeball it, and that might work OK. But this is one of my little tricks here, just a little jig. You can put that against the bottom of the board under it, and you’re going to be right on spot every board that we go up.
Hays Holmes: All right.
Allen Lyle: So take you one of those. I’m going to take one of these.
Danny Lipford: With Allen’s gauge blocks in place, they can nail the upper edge of each board so that the fasteners are hidden by the board above. And with a little practice, Hays gets to be pretty proficient with a hammer as well, even if Allen is his teacher.
Meanwhile, out front, Chelsea is trimming the shrubs back from the house to prevent further water damage while I’m getting started on that rotten column base.
I can’t tell you how many column bases like this I’ve replaced over the years. You know, you have vegetation growing up on it or either you have irrigation system hitting it.
Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Yeah. That doesn’t look that bad.
Danny Lipford: Looks pretty good.
Using the old skirt pieces as a template, I can mark and cut out new ones from a piece of treated one-by-eight. Then it’s a simple matter of tacking them in place with some galvanized finish nails.
Out back, Allen and Hays are nearing completion on the replacement siding.
Hays Holmes: my last piece.
Allen Lyle: last piece.
Danny Lipford: Once the nailing is done on repair number two, they can apply caulk to all of the joints and seams to seal out moisture and smooth the transitions.
Up at the front porch, I’m installing new cap molding around the base to wrap up repair number three.
Hays Holmes: Looks really good. I cannot tell you, after having—I’ve seen it so many times look so bad, I forgot how bad it looked.
Danny Lipford: You started looking away?
Hays Holmes: Absolutely.
Danny Lipford: While Hays is sealing up the new column base, Allen climbs up on the roof to tighten up that piece of loose siding. He’s pre-drilling the holes for his fasteners since this piece has to be face nailed.
Now, after that, he moves on to a small repair in the middle of a piece of siding.
Allen Lyle: going to repair this with painted wood’s best friend—it’s automobile body filler, commonly called Bondo. That’s a brand name. Let me show you how easy this one is.
Danny Lipford: Putty in this can is mixed with a cream hardener, and the resulting reaction makes it dry incredibly hard, incredibly fast.
Allen Lyle: We’re going to take, scoop it, spread it in. But I want you to do that.
Hays Holmes: OK.
Allen Lyle: OK.
Hays Holmes: And just dollop it in?
Allen Lyle: Uh-huh, that’s it. Remember, it doesn’t have to be neat.
Hays Holmes: Well, that’s a good thing.
Danny Lipford: With a little sanding and another light coat of filler, this repair is complete.
Jodi Marks: Yes, my recip saw is one of my favorite power tools. However, I will tell you my biggest complaint with a recip saw are that the blades don’t last very long. This is the Diablo Steel Demon blade.
Let me tell you what all this little bad boy can do, what this little demon can do. This is perfect for cutting really thick metals. It can cut from 3/16 of an inch all the way up to a half-inch.
Well, you may be asking yourself, “OK, Jodi, that’s fine, but what kind of steel or metal is it going to be cutting?” Well, you can cut cast iron—that’s impressive. You can also cut high-strength alloy. You can also cut stainless steel.
And again, my biggest complaint is that these blades wear down very quickly. Not this one. This actually lasts 20 times longer than a standard blade.
So, you know what, I’ll be quite frank with you. It doesn’t really matter what recip saw you have, it’s the blades that count. And this one definitely makes the grade.
Danny Lipford: This week, we’re tackling some common exterior repairs with homeowner Hays Holmes. In just one day, we’ve completed three of our five projects. Now onto day two.
Yesterday was a great day. We got so much accomplished. But today we’re planning on finishing all of the repairs on the outside of Hays’s house so that he can move forward with his paint project.
Now, Allen and Hays are going to be working on a pretty simple way of replacing a missing window screen and also repairing some torn screen. Chelsea’s going to help me replace all this rotten wood with some treated wood that’ll last a long time.
Hey, I’m going to need you to help me move this big thing out of the way.
Chelsea Lipford Wolf: All right.
Danny Lipford: There you go. Thank you. It seemed—it seemed like you weren’t helping much.
Chelsea gets a little more involved moving the next one. While we’re making room to work, Allen is taking the measurements he needs to create a new screen frame.
All right, let’s get this wood off here.
Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Looks like we have our work cut out for us.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, I hope that post is good. It seems to be.
Chelsea Lipford Wolf: It looks like it.
Danny Lipford: Looks like it kind of got a little bit of damage there, but…
Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Well, if it’s so rotten, it should be easy to take out.
Danny Lipford: You would think so. Let’s see. Well—pretty easy, your turn.
Chelsea Lipford Wolf: I want to do that. Aw, man. You gave me the hard side, Dad.
Danny Lipford: Here you go. All right, now.
Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Ew! Ew!
Danny Lipford: What is it?
Chelsea Lipford Wolf: There’s a—ugh! Wow. There was a roach or something. It’s gone now. It’s going to be in my boots later probably.
Danny Lipford: Probably.
Allen Lyle: Can you take all this wood and build a fire over here? Because it’s a little chilly.
Danny Lipford: It’s a little cold. That would be a great way to get rid of that.
Allen Lyle: Yeah. It’s not treated, right?
Danny Lipford: That’s not treated.
Allen Lyle: We can burn it.
Danny Lipford: OK. Go ahead, fire it up.
Allen Lyle: Cool.
Danny Lipford: Good.
With the handrail propped up, we can remove the remaining rotten wood wrapping the post along with plenty of rusted nails.
Hays Holmes: Are these posts OK?
Danny Lipford: Yeah, yeah. Well, I’ve got a little bit. We might have to use the old epoxy trick and fill that in, because the rest of this—in good shape.
Hays Holmes: Great. What are we doing over here?
Allen Lyle: Going to build a screen for that. It’s really a lot simpler than it was in the past where you had to do miter cuts to do this right—45 degree angles—because you got these little clips like here.
Hays Holmes: Goes in the corners?
Allen Lyle: Just corners, yeah. So, we’re just doing straight cuts—so easy to cut now. So I’ve got my measurement, and then I’m going to subtract an inch and a half. That will account for the width of the corners. And we’ll be ready to go. All right?
Danny Lipford: These frame pieces come with screen spline already in them, so they remove the spline before cutting the lightweight vinyl coated aluminum frames. Allen is using the miter saw, but a simple hacksaw will work as well.
I had this idea of building a little fire, kind of burn up all the excess wood.
Allen Lyle: Yeah, you had that idea?
Danny Lipford: Warm up a little bit.
Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Oh, stand back.
Allen Lyle: I’m glad you had that idea, Smokey.
Danny Lipford: Putting the screen frame together is pretty easy. You simply line up the spline channel on the frame pieces with the channel on the plastic corners as you insert them.
When all four corners are connected, the frame is complete and ready for the window screen, which is cut a few inches larger than the frame itself.
Allen Lyle: All right, what we always do is you cut just a little more than what you need…
Hays Holmes: OK.
Allen Lyle: …so it’s a little bit larger. And then we put the spline back in—that’s those little rubber pieces you pulled out. If you, like, have a long roll of spline, you start at one corner and go around. We are going to do one end at a time, then the opposite end.
Danny Lipford: This method makes it easier to keep wrinkles out of the screen because you tension it in one direction at a time. The spline roller Allen’s using is a specialty tool that’s a must for this type of job. The good news is, they’re pretty inexpensive.
Allen Lyle: Want to try it?
Hays Holmes: I will try it.
Allen Lyle: Let’s go to the opposite corner then.
Danny Lipford: Getting the hang of how hard to press that spline is the only tricky part of this job, but Hays seems to pick it up pretty quickly. When the screen is secure on all sides, they simply trim off the excess with a utility knife.
Allen Lyle: All righty. What you think, Hays?
Hays Holmes: Looks great. This is perfect.
Danny Lipford: Meanwhile, Chelsea and I have cut eight pieces of treated one-by-six to create the new wrap for our newel posts.
Here’s what we want to do. Put that one there—hold that— and then put this one right on top.
Chelsea Lipford Wolf: OK.
Danny Lipford: And then make sure you get it good and even down there. All right, you good?
Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Yeah.
Danny Lipford: OK.
Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Ow! Just kidding.
Danny Lipford: Don’t worry about it.
That process continues around all four sides until we’ve created a sleeve for the post.
There you go.
Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Pretty.
Danny Lipford: Slip right down over it.
Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Dad, those nails.
Danny Lipford: See, I did those nails so that—for texture. So that it holds onto the four-by-four. Yeah. All right, it should slip right over there.
Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Let’s see what kind of handyman you are.
Danny Lipford: Here we go.
Once the sleeve is positioned properly on the post, we can secure it. After that, the handrails can be re-attached so that they’re sturdy again. Next, we cut more one-by-six to create a base like the one we repaired on the front porch. We also use the same cap molding to finish it all off.
Allen and Hays have finished up our fourth repair by reinstalling their screen, so they can jump in to help us finish number five. They’re filling the voids in the top of the post and the bad spot on the handrail with more auto body filler.
Then we’re finally ready to install a flat cap on the newel post and screw in a decorative finial to dress it all up.
Allen Lyle: What do you think, looks good?
Hays Holmes: Looks great.
Danny Lipford: When a house has just been painted, people want to keep that new finished look, so they often ask how to keep the mold and mildew away. It really starts before you paint.
The mold and mildew have to be cleared away before new paint is applied. Then the paint itself should contain a mildewcide. Many brands make it part of their formula, or it can be mixed in as an additive at the paint counter.
Even with these precautions, the mold and mildew will eventually return. At the first sign of new growth, apply a mold remover, like the one from Wet & Forget. It’s non-caustic, non-acidic, and contains no bleach, so it won’t damage your new paint.
You simply apply it to a dry surface and let it go to work. No scrubbing, rinsing, or pressure washing necessary. It works with the rain and the wind to gently remove mold, mildew, and algae over time.
And while the cleaning is gentle, it’s also thorough, so it lasts up to a year or more. Then simply reapply it to keep your house looking like you just painted it.
Danny Lipford: In just two days, we’ve completed five common exterior repairs with our friend Hays Holmes. His historic home is clad entirely in wood, so there’s plenty of options to choose from.
We started by replacing a section of fascia board that the neighborhood squirrels had gnawed their way through to get to his warm attic. Then we tackled some damaged siding, completely replacing several pieces, tightening up several loose ones, and repairing the less severely damaged ones.
The decayed wood on the front porch column turned out to be only the decorative trim. And the damaged and missing window screens, well, they’re an issue on almost every home, new or old.
Finally, we got rid of some of the rotten wood on the newel post at the bottom of his back porch stairs.
Now, Hays, isn’t it cool to be able to just take all of that rotten wood off in just a few minutes, replace it, and it looks this good? Much simpler than you thought, isn’t it?
Hays Holmes: I’m very impressed. I would not have thought it could be done.
Danny Lipford: And the siding, it seemed like you figured out that siding pretty well.
Hays Holmes: I’m not going to say I figured it out, but I think I’ve learned and I’m excited about trying to do it.
Danny Lipford: Now, are you thinking of painting the house yourself—I know you’re trying to decide—or maybe hire some professionals?
Hays Holmes: I want to take what I’ve learned, I want to try it. I’ll probably get a price, a couple prices. But, you know, trying one side and just see how it goes, I mean I do want to try that.
Danny Lipford: That’s great. And if you’re planning on painting your house yourself or hiring a professional, we’ve got some great information on our website, TodaysHomeowner.com. I’m Danny Lipford. We’ll see you next week.
If that squirrel jumps out and jumps on me, that’s going to be some great video.