Maintaining and repairing your fascia boards protects your roof and prevents water damage and wood rot
You’ve worked hard to become a homeowner, which comes with its own joys and responsibilities. Protecting your home involves paying particular attention to the care and condition of your roof, since leaky roofs pose significant hazards—not only to your home’s structure but also to your family’s health.
Fascia boards play a crucial role in extending the life of your roof. However, few homeowners know what they are or where to find them, let alone how to maintain or repair them. But not to worry. Once you know what to look for, you can usually visually inspect your fascia boards from the ground. And that means you can also fix them with relative ease at the first sign of trouble. We’ll show you how:
What Are Fascia Boards?
Fascia makes up the part of your home's exterior trim to which gutters usually attach. Roofing eaves consist of the fascia and its associated partner, the soffit, or the horizontal plane of your roof’s overhang. Often, soffits include holes and vents that help to ventilate the attic and prevent the accumulation of rain and moisture between the layers of the roof, which is why you should repair your fascia and soffits at the first sign of trouble.
Fascia boards, on the other hand, rest vertically on the roof eaves. The fascia provides structural support for many parts of the roof, including the soffits, gutters, rafters, and trusses. Homeowners and contractors generally turn to durable woods for fascia due to their functionality and aesthetic appeal.
We ask much of our fascia boards. Though their location makes them inherently vulnerable, they need to look good and last a long time. And that means taking care not only to maintain the boards, but also to repair and replace them at the first signs of breakage or decay. Otherwise, your guttering, your eaves, and the entire roof may be at risk.
So, what’s the best way to maintain and repair your fascia boards? We’ve got the answers.
1. Always Choose the Best Wood for the Job
Your fascia boards have an important job in protecting your home from leaks, drafts, and water damage. And that means they take a lot of injury from the elements. So you’re going to want to select the best wood materials for the job, those that are naturally decay-resistant and can withstand challenging conditions for years to come.
Choosing the best wood for your fascia will depend a lot on your climate, such as whether your home is exposed to significant snowfall, rain, or high humidity. On the other hand, if you live in an arid, high-temperature environment, your wood will need to be resistant to drying out and splintering.
In general, though, the heartwood of cedar or cypress are good options for most environments. You’re also going to want to choose fascia boards with grain structures that aren’t likely to split, twist, warp or bow. This will ensure your wood can stand up to weather extremes, from pounding rain to baking sun to weighty snow piling on your roof.
2. Nail With Care
You should always secure the end of the board to a rafter or truss. But that can get tricky when you have side-to-side boards that need to share the same rafter or truss, especially if you’re joining the fascia on rafters that are just 1 ½-inch wide. This can force you to nail too close to the board edge, putting the board at risk of splitting.
In a scenario like this, the carpenter usually angles the nail from about a half-inch away from the edge of the fascia board into the end of the rafter or truss and hopes the board will not split. If they’re lucky, it won't—not that day, anyway.
When your boards do split, not only do you lose the curb appeal of your home, but you’re also allowing water to penetrate your boards. Eventually, that will cause your boards to decay, which can eventually spread, leading to roof failure. You’ll also be setting up ideal conditions for unhealthy mold and mildew.
Instead of nailing at the edge of the end grain, aim for the end of trusses or rafter tail. This lets you back the nails away from the edge of the board when you nail the fascia to the ends of the rafters or roof trusses.
It’s also a good idea to pre-drill holes for the nails to ensure you’re getting the best angle and positioning. It may sound like a lot of effort, but it can save you lots of time and money in the long run because your boards—and your gutters, soffits, drip edges, and roof—will last longer.
3. Use the Right Nails
You might think that all nails are created equal, but that’s far from the case. In fact, it doesn’t just matter where you nail your boards; it also matters what kind of nails you’re using. Your best bet will be either stainless steel or old-fashioned, hot-dipped galvanized nails. These will substantially extend the life of your fascia boards.
4. Paint the Tips of Your Boards
Another great way to extend the life of your fascia boards is to dip the end in a good primer paint. This paint is going to protect the edges of fascia boards from water damage, decay, and splintering.
These edges are the end grain of the wood. If you look at the end grain under a microscope, it looks like the end of a tight grouping of straws. If you’ve ever used a paper straw, you’ve probably noticed that the straw ends up wicking the water higher than the water level in the glass. That’s just what happens to your fascia board. Moisture that accumulates at the end grain gets sucked up and throughout the entire board.
To protect your boards from moisture and rot, dip the edges into the highest quality primer paint you can afford. Leave the board in the primer for a few minutes so that it can wick up as much paint as it wants. This goes a long way toward protecting the most vulnerable portion of the whole board.
5. Regularly Clean Your Roof and Exterior Walls
Your roof and exterior walls, including your fascia boards, have to endure some pretty tough conditions. And those conditions can lead to the growth of moss, lichens, algae, and other parasitic fungi that, eventually, will eat through your boards and penetrate the layers of your roof and exterior walls.
So routinely cleaning your roof and exterior walls with agents designed to kill and prevent the regrowth of parasitic organic material. You’ll not only rid your roof and walls of unsightly stains, but you’ll also protect your fascia.