Home Inspection Insights

Lawrence M. Watkins, Specsure Property Inspections

Tips to Keep Your Home’s Exterior Wood Trim in Top Shape

exterior-wood-replacementEven if exterior woodwork is not a huge part of your Western New York home, it can have a huge impact on the overall curb appeal of your property. Woodwork that is faded, cracked, damaged or in shoddy shape can make an otherwise attractive home appear rather shoddy itself.


The best way to keep exterior woodwork in tip-top shape is to do a twice-yearly check as part of a maintenance plan. Every spring and fall, make a point of examining the woodwork around your Buffalo area home, including elements such as:


  • Front door
  • Windows
  • Trim
  • Decks
  • Railings
  • Fences and gates
  • Trellises, gazebos and other outdoor structures




Inspecting your exterior woodwork is crucial to catching small issues before they turn into big problems. Things to look for include:


  • Moisture damage, softness or rotting
  • Separation or cracks in the wood
  • Discoloration, peeling or cracks in the finish
  • Mildew or mold buildup, typically evident as a greenish-grey or black film




Correcting any damage or problems you spot is the next step. Replace any wood that is soft, rotting or damaged beyond repair. Fix other issues as needed, securing loose boards, caulking to fill joints or gaps, sanding off chipping paint, replacing missing nails or screws.


While surface mold is unsightly, it’s not known for damaging the wood. You can usually just clean it off with a mold removal cleaner and soft brush. Wood rot, however, requires wood replacement.




Revitalizing your Buffalo area home’s exterior woodwork involves cleaning, and then adding a fresh coat of paint or stain to elements that need it. The cleaning method you use depends on the structure you’re intending to clean.


Power washing works well for decks, gazebos and other large wooden structures that can handle the pressure. Front doors, window frames and more delicate structures do better when cleaned by hand. Dish soap can work, as can a wood soap or other gentle cleanser designed for exterior woodwork.




Exterior paint and stain often have a protectant built into the formula, although you can always top it off with an additional layer of protection. Preservatives and sealants protect against everything from UV rays to moisture and water damage, from insects to mold and mildew. Resealing your exterior woodwork every year or two can extend the beauty and lifespan of the wood.


If you’re not sure if your wooden deck or other wood surface needs a fresh coat of preservative, spray it with water from your hose or a water bottle. If water beads appear, your preservative is in good shape. If wet or dark patches appear on the wood, it’s time for a new coat.


As a leading home inspection company in the Buffalo area, we’ve seen a big difference between homes with properly maintained exterior woodwork and those that could use some help. You definitely want your home to fall into the former category, and it can with these woodwork maintenance tips.