Home inspection findings by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck, Professional Real Estate Inspector TREC# 9073

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How to Repair Your Fascia

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Home Inspection ArchivesThe board along your roof line is called the fascia, and I find moisture damage in many when performing my home inspections.

I have been taking on several different home maintenance projects this week.As a home inspector, I try to examine my own home every so often. My son and I crawled through the attic to install more insulation and a radiant barrier. I am prepping the house for a paint job. I am organizing the garage. Replacing door handles. Besides some home and roof inspections, a couple of people I know hired me to do a bit of work around their home. Not my typical line, but earning a little money helps. I posted about a window repair steps on the forum earlier this week, since that was one task that I was asked to do. Part of preparing for the paint job is fixing damaged trim or other parts of the wall before painting.

The fascia on many homes is susceptible to water damage (moisture penetration). If you take an awl or a screwdriver to the wood trim or the fascia, you can check for areas in need of repair by pushing into the wood. If you have little resistance, the wood has a problem. I have seen where wood that should have been replaced was just painted over to cover it up on my inspections. Another favorite tactic is to cover these pieces with a thin board. The issue with this method is that the damage portions are left behind this covering. Repairing an existing fascia makes more sense, and it is not out of the capabilities of most homeowners. Here are the steps:

Step 1- Find the extent of the damage with the awl method mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Step 2- Remove all damaged wood from the home. I take a hammer to knock out most of the wood. I then cut out the wood to a section that is solid, so no damaged portion is left. Here is a trick: check to see where your rafter

Fascia damaged by moisture.

Fascia damaged by moisture.

end is located. This is the nailing surface for the fascia. Rafters are spaced anywhere from sixteen to twenty four inches apart. Cutting the fascia in such a way to allow you to nail into rafter creates the most secure attachment for the wood. Another tip: the fascia is covered by a drip edge for the roof. This is a metal strip that wraps around the sheathing of the roof to the face of the fascia. You can lift this piece up to cut out the wood for the fascia underneath it. Do not harm this edging, because it will cause future moisture penetration.

Step 3- Finding your nailing surfaces. As mentioned in step 2, rafters are the norm; however, you may not have this option. There are two solutions to making nailing surfaces for small patches. First, you

For nailing, you can use the end of a rafter or a nailing block as pictued.

For nailing, you can use the end of a rafter or a nailing block as pictued.

could attach a 2 by 4 to the soffit (the part that is perpendicular to your exterior wall, under the eave). It is easier to screw these nailing blocks in. You can also extend this block from the rafter, so it could be nailed into the rafter. Depending on how far it extends, you may need to attach this piece to the soffit too. Another method is to screw a block into the end of the last good fascia portion. You should then screw the new fascia into the block. Hammering will not work in this situation. Tip: mark the rafter/nailer positions with a pencil on the drip edge. Once your new fascia board goes up, you will not see where those nailers are; this gives you a reference point.

Step 4- Prepare the new fascia, before securing it to the home. There are many new products on the market which are great replacements for your home. Hardie plank is a cement board product that is a favorite among home inspectors for exteriors. There are also wood/plastic boards, like Trex, and PVC boards. These are great, but you may not want to use them if you are making a patch. I bought a standard 8 foot board (1X 8 ) for $7. I primed both the front and back of the board with Kilz. This is a primer product that helps prevent moisture damage- there are other brands, I have been using Kilz for twenty years, so I am loyal to it. When picking a board, carefully check it out. Knots are alright as long as there are not too many, too large, or already looking as if they are coming out. It is hard to find many boards in this class without knots entirely. Look for cracks. Why are all the cracked strips on top? Maybe everyone else is throwing them back too. Look down the edge of the board to check if it is warped. Yes, you will be nailing it in, but the warp will fight against the nails.

Step 5- measure the opening once, then measure it again. Once you have cut the board, that is it. I will go over filling in possible open spaces later, but trying to obtain a tight fit is the best.

Step 6- Placing your new fascia board in place. Third hands can be a help for longer boards. Slip the new piece under that drip edge for the roof. Try not to bend it too much; we want a tight fit to keep the water out. I keep the nails in an easy to reach pocket. I lay the hammer on

Primed board nailed into place on the fascia.

Primed board nailed into place on the fascia.

top of the ladder, before going up with the board. You may need a screwdriver for lifting the drip edge. I have found that I never have needed the screwdriver, but there may always be a first time. Once the piece is fitted, I have those pencil marks for locating where to nail. Tip: remember that the fascia extends beyond the soffit, so you will want to nail towards the roof line, rather than down towards the bottom of the fascia. Nails: exterior grade nails are a must. For a cleaner look, go with a finishing nail (these have small heads that can be hammered into the wood with a punch). You could use a nail with a head. This is a bit more secure, but you may want to hammer it in further than the surface, then cover this with a dab of caulk or wood epoxy. Remember to paint the primer over these nail heads.

Step 7- Correcting the flaws of the installation. I have seen enough professionals make mistakes that I know that I will not have everything perfect when I do the job. Joints do not perfectly butt up to one another, or there may be an added dent in the wood’s surface from an errant hammer blow. Maybe the board slightly cracked because of too much force when positioning it into place. Wood epoxy is one solution for filling in these areas. I use a wood patch more often. A wood patch meant for exterior or interior applications can work wonders. The material has a play dough consistency (it is made from glue and wood dust in its most basic form), so I knead it in my hands, and I push it into cracks or dents. (Wood patch may irritate the skin, so you could wear gloves, or wash your hands directly after handling it). If the crack is more a space, cut a small piece of wood to fit into that gap. It may be hard to nail this. You could use some fast acting glue to hold it. Put the wood patch into the joint area. Again, prime areas where the wood patch or wood epoxy was used.

Step 8- Going the extra mile. Alright, this is an overkill procedure, but before I paint, I want this board to last. If the drip edge is not flush, and I cannot bend it to be flush, I run a bead of exterior grade silicone caulk along the edge. I have also found that most damage from moisture on a fascia occurs where two pieces of drip edging overlap. I caulk this overlap. I also prune any tree limbs or bushes coming along the fascia or roof.

To show you what is under the roof, behind the fascia. Top right is the rafter; back left is a ceiling joist, and below is the top of the soffit is on the bottom.

To show you what is under the roof, behind the fascia. Top right is the rafter; back left is a ceiling joist, and below is the top of the soffit is on the bottom.

Step 9- Paint the board to match the rest of the house. You are done. I have never heard of anyone doing this, but I was thinking of experimenting with a protective seal coat just on the fascia. This may be to expensive when painting the entire house, but a sealer over the paint may help prevent further water damage. I might try it out to see how it looks one one section of fascia.

I prime my boards a day in advance before making my patch. I use only hand tools. The sawing may go faster with a powered saw, but I feel that it is easy to go to far with the cut. Making the patch took me an hour on a one story house. For a two story house, it should not take much longer, but you do need a little more time for set up. Do you have any tips to share?

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35 Responses to “How to Repair Your Fascia”

  1. Lucy Pierce Says:

    Youza !!! Are you ever good !!

    Fantastic job of explaining and having a good attitude about ones own mistakes and that of the previous person.

    Thanks ..May you live long.

    Lucy (almost a do-it-yourself fascia fixer)


  2. Hello Lucy, you are most kind. Hopefully, you will have someone to help you . It is so much easier as a two person job, but most things in life are. :)


  3. robin Says:

    Thank you for this article! We need to fix a portion of our fascia on the front of our house. Thanks for the detailed post, and extra tips for less-than-perfect do-it-yourselfers. You’re a blessing!


  4. Thank you. I am glad to be of help; a pleasure to serve.


  5. John D Says:

    Excellent article! Exactly what I need to replace a portion of rotted fascia on the front of my house. Hoping it’s not too long of a patch so I can do it myself without a helper. Thanks so much!


  6. Here is hoping that it is not too long. Eight foot boards are a bit hard to handle. I replaced a six foot section this past weekend, and that was a little rough alone.


  7. WAlbaugh Says:

    I am glad to see you are doing what you like. As you say, life is short, so we should do what makes us happiest! Good luck. Take care, Mr. Schulte. Miss you, sir!


  8. William, I hope that everything is going well for you. It is great to hear from you! Good luck to you too.


  9. baterya Says:

    wow… this is great DIY.. sure will help a lot of people who wants to fix their homes by themselves.. I agree now I prefer Fiber cement boards like the Hardi Planks. Here in the Philippines we have Hardi-Senepa which is use for fascia boards I do not know what it is called there in your place. We use Hardi-planks for exterior cladding of your facade.

    I would suggest using fiber cement boards on the eaves as well.

    But I still prefer hardwoods for fascia boards but with the environment’s situation, i would like to save the trees for now.

    thanks again for this wonderful article.


  10. Hey thanks for dropping by. For other readers, you should go to the Baterya.com blog for some wonderful posts about architecture, especially in the Phillipines. I see Hardi planks being used here as well. I imagine that you may have some more moisture issues there, but we do have quite a bit in Houston.


  11. Jon Says:

    Thanks for a detailed article. I am attempting top replace my fascia next week. Would it be best to use pressure treated wood for the 1 X 6 boards?


  12. The best may be a material that does not deteriorate, such as the plastic boards, or a wood/plastic composite; however, these are more expensive. A properly primed and painted board does hold up quite well. Pressure treated lumber is good, but you may wish to consider one factor: the chemicals pumped into pressure treated wood can be harmful, and they do leach out when weathered. These chemicals can hurt plants and others. Again, depending how much pressure treated lumber is used and if the lumber is painted, it may not be a factor for you. (Pressure treated lumber is used in homes, but they are in the interior, where they may not leach out much). In the end, regular lumber painted is fine.


  13. Great article Frank,

    My fascia is cover with tin. The hose is 10 years old and the fascia is holding up well on the outside. Altough I have found the wood boring bees have got access in from behind. This spring I ripped down some vinial siding and slid them in the back of the fascia and that stoped them. Hope this helps someone.


  14. PVC board can have the same effect. I have not had that problem, or seen it, but that may be a solution for some. Thanks for commenting.


  15. Nigel @ Tesco Wines Says:

    interesting and very good suggestions. my brother owns his own fascia and soffit busines and you would be surprised at how busy he is. many people in the uk just dont know how to do this and just pay him.


  16. John Says:

    You didn’t mention how to do the hardest part…how to cut the existing fascia board on the house. How do you make a straight cut so that your new piece will butt up even?


  17. The only way to have it even is to take the entire piece of fascia down to work with it on the ground. My method for working with the fascia on the house, which does not entirely even, is to take a builder’s square to create a straight line perpendicular to the base. I then use a smaller handsaw to cut along the line. I have used a wood rasp to help even out this line. I will complete the job by butting the new piece against this cut piece, and sealing the joint with a painter’s caulk.


  18. Kishen Says:

    Hi Frank
    Need your advice how to go about my roof facia. Paint is peeling off, but the wood seems to be in a good condition except for superficial moisture damage. Is it OK if I sand it and then prime and repaint? Thanks in advance for your advice.


  19. Hello Kishen,
    yes. As with any piece of wood on the exterior, sanding, priming, and repainting is always acceptable. The fascia does not have to be a particular thickness, since it does not serve as a weight bearing element on your home. The only issue that I would consider is sanding to such a degree that there is a noticeable valley in the wood surface. For the home, this is not an issue, but it might cause an odd appearance ( you have to sand quite a bit for that to happen).


  20. Connie Says:

    Hi there!

    Thanks for really great article.


  21. You are welcome.


  22. Richard Says:

    Frank,

    I appreciate the article on facia. My end gable facia has two pieces that have deteriorated, each 18 – 24 inches long. They look like extentions or plugs to get the vacia complete when building the house in 1979. The wood on the facia is good on the rest of the runs. I want to remove and patch these two pieces with fir, would that be the correct wood to use?


  23. Fir would seem a good choice. The goal is to have a material which is best resistant to moisture penetration. The pvc/wood or straight pvc is probably the best in that regard. I have seen some people use a cement board, but I feel that this can chip easily during the installation. I have also seen people use a thin cement board as a cover for the wood underneath. Fir would seem a good choice when using a wood species. As I describe in the article, priming on each side helps with the moisture penetration.


  24. Albert Says:

    Great information. I try an make sure that any that is selling their home goes through and does an in depth inspection of their home so that they can find all the do it yourself projects that will hold back any selling of the home. The little things that you can fix on your own go a long way in making sure that you stop some of the little problems before the home inspector finds them.


  25. True; however, I do try to warn people that sometimes what the inspector is finding has to do with new views of safety, new understanding of energy efficiency, or new building methods and materials. My 1960s home does not have tamper resistant outlets in every room, and most homes built in this time period will not have them at all, or GFCI outlets would be uncommon. Buyers have to understand that a home inspector is trying to educate them on what would make the home better, and that this does not mean the home is bad.


  26. This was a great post. I will refer my clients to this post often. As a gutter installer, all too often I see customers who put off what might be a minor repair thinking it will go away only to have to do a complete facia removal and new gutter system install later down the road. A simple once a year check up can prevent thousands of dollars in repairs later. Gutter guards or leaf blockers are another great way to preserve the gutter system.


  27. Thank you for those tips Josh.


  28. Judith Turner Says:

    Frank,
    We’ve just purchased a prairie house in San Jose CA in the Naglee Park area. There’s currently a hip/mansard roof installed on top of the original one which we are going to have removed. As part of the restoration project I would love to find some tin fascia — I’ve noticed some of the other prairie homes have this installed. Any info would be much appreciated. Thanks.


  29. Hello Judith,
    I know different manufacturers are starting to replicate various past building features, such as the embossed tin panels for the ceiling can be found in a modern form at building supply centers. I have not encountered the tin fascia though. Your best bet may be a salvage yard. There is one in San Francisco that is quite large (if memory serves me well; I know that there is one in New Orleans). Habitat for Humanity also runs salvage yard/stores that they call the ReStore. I often find great material there. Sorry that I cannot be of more help. Frank


  30. Betsey Says:

    Fantastic blog – very detailed. I will pass on to friends and homeowners looking to do their own repairs.

    Betsey


  31. Thank you Betsey.


  32. anita Says:

    what is purpose of facia and what happens when facia has rotted in spots?


  33. sydney Says:

    IIs it a good idea to COVER the existing 40 yrs old fascia boards with HARDIE PLANKS???

    or just pressure wash, sand and paint the existing fascia board and let go.
    I appreciate ur advice


  34. The fascia, as with all exterior wall coverings, has the purpose of protecting the framing of the home. Rafters which support the sheathing or battens on which your roof covering sit need to be protected from the weather to prevent damage to the home. The fascia is simply a board at the end of the rafters to create this protective barrier. If you have rot, then you have a moisture issue. Somehow moisture is causing the fascia to deteriorate. There is a good chance that rot in the fascia may be effecting the rafters. The solution is to first determine why is there rot. Remedy the cause, then repair the fascia.


  35. I have seen this done successfully, but I have to admit that there is a chance of this being a problem. In the answer to Anita, I mention the fact that rafters might be already effected by the moisture problems. Just covering the fascia with another material may not actually repair anything. I suggest that first rotted material should be removed. A patch can then be made to fill in the space that is left. Before the patch goes into place, you should check the rafters for damage. If the rafter ends are good, proceed with the patch. If they are not good, check on the extent of the damage to make the appropriate repairs. Covering the existing fascia with a thin material like Hardie planks that is 1/8″ thick can offer extra protection. First, a material like Hardie plank may be less prone to moisture problems, especially if placed under the kickout flashing of the roof covering. Next it is pretty good at avoiding some damage. If your fascia has no damage, the cleaning, sanding, and painting option would be the way to go in my opinion. Adding material may help, but there is also the chance of causing problems. What I have seen is repair work on the fascia has caused damage to the kickout flashing, so moisture collects on the fascia, causing further rot.


© Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Home Inspector Houston, Texas
Frank Theodor Schulte-Ladbeck
home inspector, TREC# 9073
Houston , Texas , 77063 United States
713.781.6090

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