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Eaves and Fascia Board Repair: How (Not) To Fix Them

Updated on December 21, 2015
The obligatory "before" picture.  The corner of the fascia board has rotted away.
The obligatory "before" picture. The corner of the fascia board has rotted away.

Eaves are a vulnerable part of your house, exposed to weather and damage by falling limbs. Luckily, they aren't too hard to repair when the inevitable happens and repair is needed. So, if your eaves are wooden, and you have some damage to your fascia board to deal with--and if not, why are you reading this?--then let's look at the process.

"Fascia?" That's the name for the vertical board or panel on the front of your eaves. Its complement is the "soffitt"--the board that forms the bottom of the structure--and technically, that's the only part that's really supposed to be called the "eave."

The first thing is getting to the eaves, which means using a ladder. That's the dangerous part, especially if the ground where you need to work is uneven or sloping. It's important to find or create an even, level surface for the ladder; the photos below show what I had to do to achieve that goal.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ladder--WRONG!Ladder--RIGHT!Ladder--fix.
Ladder--WRONG!
Ladder--WRONG!
Ladder--RIGHT!
Ladder--RIGHT!
Ladder--fix.
Ladder--fix.

Once you are up there, you need to remove the damaged part of the board. In this case it was easy because the damaged section of board was already short. But if you have damage to a long section of fascia board, you may choose to replace just the damaged portion. That's not easy, because the need to protect the roof decking itself makes it hard to make a complete cut across the fascia board. A reciprocating saw--sometimes referred to as a "Sawzall"--is probably your best option.

Here, all I had to do was to pry the damaged board away. This task is much easier if you have a good pry bar, such as the one shown below. I was duly grateful.

Pry bar, slightly romanticized.
Pry bar, slightly romanticized.

Once the damaged board is removed, you are ready to begin fabricating the replacement pieces. Often that will just mean the main fascia board itself. The common board in use for this purpose in North America is a "1 x 6"--a board whose pre-milling dimensions are one inch thick by six inches wide. (The actual dimensions are smaller.)

In this case, though, there was also a thinner triangular piece capping the end of the eave structure. I refer to this--correctly or not!--as a "fillet." It's made of quarter-inch thick plywood.

Repair area cleared of bad wood and ready to go.
Repair area cleared of bad wood and ready to go.

If you're replacing a corner piece, the easiest way to measure the angle you need is to use the old board as a template. You can do this even if, as was the case in the repair shown, the old board doesn't have a clean, complete edge due to the damage suffered. Just use a straightedge to create the straight line you need, as shown below.

This raises an interesting question. If you look at the closeup of the original board below you can see that it was cut with a 45-degree angle edge at the corner. That is the norm for professional work. That way, there is no exposed end-grain, and the appearance of the corner is as neat as it can possibly be. However, for an amateur, achieving a good 45-degree join at the corner can be challenging, as it involves cutting angles accurately in two dimensions. If you have the tools and technique, by all means go for it!

But I chose to avoid this challenge by using butt joints at the corners, allowing me to use square (90-degree) cuts. That leaves a board with an exposed edge, of course, but by making a clean cut and finishing it thoroughly, I hope that vulnerability to weathering won't increase too much. This is perhaps an instance of how NOT to do it--but I don't care if a pro twenty years hence snickers at me.

(By the way, you can see the 90-degree edge of the previously-replaced fascia board on the adjoining wall in the picture above.  That was actually the point at which I decided to go with butt joints.)

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Measuring the angle, using old board as template.Detail, showing original bevelled edge of board.
Measuring the angle, using old board as template.
Measuring the angle, using old board as template.
Detail, showing original bevelled edge of board.
Detail, showing original bevelled edge of board.

Once the board is cut to fit, paint it. I believe in painting both faces of the board to better protect it from moisture and insects, though contractors will usually just paint the outside. I use a primer/sealer, such as "Kilz," covering the outside face only with a top coat of trim paint.

One area where my work is arguably superior:  I paint both surfaces of the replacement board, not just the exposed face.  Here the paint dries, supported on a stepladder.
One area where my work is arguably superior: I paint both surfaces of the replacement board, not just the exposed face. Here the paint dries, supported on a stepladder.

Here's the fascia board nailed in place, waiting for its finish coat.  The scars on the primer coat are minor enough not to be a real problem, and are almost inevitable from the nailing process.

Replacement fascia board nailed in place.  Damage to paint will be covered with a finish coat applied in place.
Replacement fascia board nailed in place. Damage to paint will be covered with a finish coat applied in place.

The next step is to replace the fillet. You can use a piece of cardboard to create a template or pattern to fill the space. I actually drew directly on the scrap piece of plywood used for the repair, but that is harder in some ways, as it's easy to confuse the orientation of the piece. I ended up with a couple of minor inaccuracies in fit, but decided they weren't enough to justify a second effort.

Paint the piece, as you did for the fascia board, and then install it. Looking at the structure I had led me to two conclusions about the installation. First, I didn't want to pound nails and possibly damage the soffitt; and second, I wanted to reinforce the structure of the eave so I wouldn't have to do another repair later. Reinforcement would also make installation of the fillet much easier.

That reinforcement takes the form of what I call a "batten block." It's just a piece of 1" x 2", cut to length. It's attached to the soffitt board and the backing board with a couple of screws, and gives a solid piece to which the fillet will be attached in turn. The photos below show the process.

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Batten block checked for fit.Securing batten block with a screw.Block secured; the screw head is visible against the soffit board.  A second screw, unseen in this perspective, secures the right end as well.
Batten block checked for fit.
Batten block checked for fit.
Securing batten block with a screw.
Securing batten block with a screw.
Block secured; the screw head is visible against the soffit board.  A second screw, unseen in this perspective, secures the right end as well.
Block secured; the screw head is visible against the soffit board. A second screw, unseen in this perspective, secures the right end as well.

The fillet board is secured in place with a couple of finish screws, as shown below. The inaccuracies in fit are visible in this closeup, but won't be noticeable from the ground when sealed and painted.

Fillet secured with finish screws into the underlying batten block.  Slight errors in fitting and cutting are visible in this closeup.  (Blush.)
Fillet secured with finish screws into the underlying batten block. Slight errors in fitting and cutting are visible in this closeup. (Blush.)

Seal joints with a paintable sealant, both for a smooth finish appearance and to keep moisture out. I used a good-quality latex product.

The close-up below shows the joint with the next section of fascia, but of course all joints should be sealed--that with the fillet, with the soffitt and at the corner of the eave too. Once it has dried, you are ready to paint!

Use a good-quality sealant--in this instance I used a latex formulation--to seal the joints and cover small imperfections.  Make sure the sealant is paintable!
Use a good-quality sealant--in this instance I used a latex formulation--to seal the joints and cover small imperfections. Make sure the sealant is paintable!

The sealed project is finished with a trim paint--in my case, a gloss white latex enamel. You and I know that there were imperfections along the way. But as you can see, the project looks good--and should last a good many years.

Of course, if I don't want to have to do more fascia repair, I need to get cracking on repainting the "good" fascia and soffitt, so that they don't deteriorate, too! And while I'm at it, I'd better remove that disused downpipe you can see, still strapped to the wall at the corner.

Hmm, can that be a Hub, too--?

The obligatory "after" picture.  Sweet satisfaction!
The obligatory "after" picture. Sweet satisfaction!

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    • Doc Snow profile image
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      Doc Snow 6 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      So what do you think? Should I have sucked it up and gone for bevelled edges at the corner? Was my ladder technique totally foolhardy? Or--against all odds--did you actually learn something useful here?

      And how about your adventures in home repair? Let us know. . . we have inquiring minds!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      I can't answer your questions because I am not a handyman but I enjoyed reading you hub which was very comprehensive.

    • Doc Snow profile image
      Author

      Doc Snow 6 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      Well, once again, thanks for stopping by!

    • profile image

      nick 4 years ago

      thanks helpful article

    • Doc Snow profile image
      Author

      Doc Snow 4 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      You're very welcome, nick--I appreciate your comment.

    • profile image

      ml 3 years ago

      The instructions and pictures were very helpful....I was hoping for instruction of the whole board...up to the triangle point, the original 1x6" is not real wood, it has deteriorated (1974 house) and the eave center triangle piece has pulled away from the 1x6" and is hanging on the center shelf board, which was pieced together instead of one long shelf board(probably another reason this problem happened.) Mainly I'm needing to know if the triangle piece sits behind/in front/or flush up against the existing wood triangle frame. I've removed all the (not)wood 1x6 and am ready to replace with real wood, but unsure how to match it up and fasten it to the triangle piece that the 2 1x6"'s meet together. thank you if you canhelp.

    • Doc Snow profile image
      Author

      Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      I'm not sure whether or not I understand your situation correctly. Is your "triangle point" similar to what I'm calling the "fillet?"

      If so, I installed the fillet butted to the front of the plywood soffit boards, using a batten block to provide good nailing surfaces in each direction. That's shown in the fourth-last set of photos.

      But perhaps your question isn't about that? I'll help if I can; maybe you would like to email me a photo of the pieces you're concerned about? You can do that via my Hubpages profile page, if so. Of course you're also welcome to elaborate here, if you like.

      Either way, thanks for your comment, and good luck with your project!

    • profile image

      TIM 3 years ago

      I am replacing a 25 foot run of fascia board is it ok to use shorter boards to make it easier to handle?

    • Doc Snow profile image
      Author

      Doc Snow 3 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      Sure. In fact, you'd have difficulty (I suspect *great* difficulty) sourcing such long boards. Just join them neatly and they'll look fine.

    • eugbug profile image

      Eugene Brennan 2 years ago from Ireland

      Good advice, and voted up!

      I've had to do this several times, in our climate timber doesn't last long unless it's hardwood or pressure treated softwood which has been primed, and carefully painted.

      I usually saturate the cut end of the existing fascia board and all the new section with wood preservative. Because its so watery, it keeps soaking in and probably prevents any further rot.

    • Doc Snow profile image
      Author

      Doc Snow 2 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      Sounds like a good trick. There's also a Hardie plank composite board now available for soffit. I'm not sure if they also have something that would be suitable for fascia. If so, it would be 'bombproof' as far as rot goes, albeit it's a bit of a pain to work with in some ways.

      Coincidentally, this afternoon should see me using a couple of Hardie soffit planks to replace some deteriorated lap siding. It's a pretty good match for what's on there--a little thinner than the original, but with a plain finish that seems fairly hard to find in a 12" board.

    • profile image

      Timthetoolman 21 months ago

      Did a soffit repair for the first time. FYI - soffit is just 1/8" plywood with a veneer rolled on. Oh, you can actually buy real soffit but it is made of some weird material that you must use a carbon tipped sawblade to cut. So, to keep things simple -- go with the 1/8" plywood and purchase a roll of the wood veneer. It actually words pretty well.

    • Doc Snow profile image
      Author

      Doc Snow 21 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      Thanks for the tip, Tim. I know a lot of readers will appreciate it!

    • profile image

      Neil 8 months ago

      Liquid epoxy is a good solution to the exposed end grain. I use it even when I have proper miters.

    • Doc Snow profile image
      Author

      Doc Snow 8 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      Thanks for that. I've observed a similar solution in use by some local pros--to fix damaged siding without replacing a board, they applied good old Bondo, straight from the auto store, sanded and painted. Completely invisible--and probably a lot more durable than the board it's patching.

    • profile image

      Glaze 6 months ago

      Problem with bondo and other body fillers is that they dont expand and contract with the wood during the changing seasons. And once it starts cracking, there is the entry point for water and the damage starts all over again. I also use a liquid epoxy mixed with a filler agent such as what West Systems offers for all the joints and areas that need filler to close the gap. Easily sandable and very strong secure joints that looks seamless for years to come.

    • Doc Snow profile image
      Author

      Doc Snow 6 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      Sounds like a great tip, thanks! I'm presuming that the West systems filler does expand and contract more like real wood, then?

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