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I have done a lot of online research over the years about some of the details and instructions for interior house painting. I'm putting it out there that a lot of the information that one would find on the Internet is just plain wrong.

This Painting Blog tries to help provide better painting information so hopefully it will be useful for both homeowners and other painting contractors alike.

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Bay Window Carpentry Restoration

Throughout the fall months, we stayed busy completing several exterior carpentry projects. One of our Clients in Falls Church Virginia had a bay window with a very unique look that was designed with many architectural elements from the 1800’s.  This bay window had some extensive wood deterioration that fortunately did not extend into the house framing. Additionally, the old double-hung windows that were part of the bay window were very drafty and not insulated, which contributed to a lot of cold air coming into the house.

The side of the house where this bay window is located is right next to the watershed of the entire townhouse development. The area has a lot of trees with little sun, animals and critters, water, and tons of mud everywhere. Unfortunately for the homeowner, what had happened was that nature and the elements had started to re-claim his house.  Although we could see many issues from the ground, a complete Power wash cleaning and thorough carpentry inspection was required before we could provide him with an estimate.

There were several places within the bay window cornice work that were so completely deteriorated that there were holes exposing the house framing.  All three window sills were entirely shot, and it felt like a sponge when you pressed down on it. The panels were also constructed with MDF which is sort-of a cardboard composite.  All of these panels were warped.  And on top of all of that, carpenter bees had bored-out several holes within the trim and had been hibernating inside when we found them.

We carefully removed all of the cornice trim and rotted wood and unsalvageable parts of the bay window. After dismantling everything, we were left with about 15% of the original trim.  The windows themselves were replaced with Marvin double-pane tempered glass. The remaining 85% of the trim was replaced with complete sections of PVC up to 12” in width. Even the corbels and some detail soffit sections that had been protected from the elements, needed to be replaced with custom-milled sections.

The type of PVC that was used is called Azek and it is basically plastic that will never deteriorate. This product is not inexpensive and they only sell 18 foot sections. These particular horizontal replacements were slightly more than 9 feet, which basically means that we had to purchase an entire 18 foot section for each horizontal. The PVC caulk to seal the expensive PVC cost about $11.00 a tube. Needless to say, the caulk and paint will deteriorate and crack, however the PVC will literally last forever!

I'm very happy with the finished bay window and I enjoyed helping to recreate a bit of 19th Century craftsmanship. We used the most advanced materials for the job to bring back the character of the home’s exterior. When spring comes around and everything warms-up, we will return to apply the paint! In addition to museum quality painting, we also specialize in wood trim replacement and structural repairs. Please call or click Davinci’s Painting for more information and a free carpentry consultation.

Home Carpentry Issues- Carpenter Ants

Most Homeowners don’t think about carpenter ants until they discover wood deterioration on their home.  Several times a year we receive inquiries from Customers in Northern Virginia, who want to resolve peeling paint issues on their exterior trim.  Many times the peeling paint is just what is visible on the surface.  Once this peeling paint is blasted off, we often find wood deterioration that is commonly caused by carpenter ants.

Carpenter ants usually establish their nests within the wood itself that is located in a moist and humid environment.  They also seem to favor wood that is hollowed out, so that they can establish their nests.  Our most recent project for the month of December was built 20 years ago in Vienna, Virginia.  This Client had extensive carpentry requirements, and we surprised to learn that almost all of the lower window sills needed to be replaced.

This home had the original wooden windows that are not made anymore.  All of the window sills, frames, and other parts were basically hollow.  Also, the rear façade of the home faced several acres of woods, as well as, a running creek that was less than 100 yards away.  That being said, the back of the house was constantly wet and muddy.  This was the perfect breeding ground for carpenter ants, and we discovered an entire window sill that had been completely devoured by carpenter ants.

Carpenter ants are different than termites because they don’t actually eat the wood.  They excavate the wood by carving out intricate hollowed-out canals which can extend several feet.  One way to know the difference is to examine the destruction that is left behind.  We found about four inches of what appeared to be sawdust underneath the deteriorated window sill.  This sawdust pile was actually made from the shredded fragments of wood that were ejected during the ant’s excavation process.

In more serious situations, these carpenter ants can hollow-out the house framing or even structural beams, which would eventually weaken them and cause a structural failure.   Even though these pests can cause considerable damage to a house, they are actually considered to be beneficial insects.  In the forest these insects are essential for their excavation work because they help accelerate the decomposition of dead trees.

One thing that you should do if carpenter ants are eating your house is to locate the nest.  In most cases the carpenter ant nest will be located outside of the house structure, in a place where there is abundant moisture.   They almost always prefer to set-up their nests in rotted wood that is easy to excavate, but eventually they will expand out into wood that is not decayed.  Usually a pest control service operator will be able to develop a strategy that would eradicate these pests in an effective and safe manner.

Another important step to ensure that carpenter ants stay away is to eliminate the conditions that allowed them to invade your wood trim in the first place!  Our Carpenter at Davinci’s Painting stays very busy throughout the year replacing deteriorated wood trim.  In fact, one sure-fire way to eliminate wood deterioration in the future would be to replace that worn-out trim with PVC Composite trim.  You should also check your downspouts and gutters for water leaks that could cause wood damage.

In addition to painting, we also specialize in wood trim replacement, structural repairs, insect damage repair, and home restorations.  Please call or click Davinci’s Painting for more information and a free carpentry consultation.

Wood Deterioration and Replacement

Many Homes that were built within the last 2 decades in Northern Virginia were mass produced and, as a result, there is usually a need to replace wood trim that was of low grade, or which was installed poorly. Moreover, a sub-par roofing job provided by the original Builder will almost always lead to problems with the Wood Trim and paint that was designed to protect it.

We recently just replace parts of a Fascia Board that had deterioration because the drip edge of the shingles were installed flush with the fascia boards. To add to the deterioration problem our Carpenter discovered additional deterioration within the actual framing. There was evidence of leaking within the attic and obvious rotted Facia Board Trim that all needed to be replaced on the Exterior.

The Homeowner wanted to preserve the original features of Home, specifically, the Porch. My take preference would be to replace the rotted wood with wood. However, everyone was concerned about the long-term maintenance. We ended up installing installing new Gutters under the drip edge, so that should fix the problem with water flowing over the fascia. We then thoroughly examined the remaining Wood Trim of the Exterior and I am very confident that this Homeowner will not have additional carpentry issues in the future.