I have "muddled through" many home renovation projects and enjoy sharing my discoveries of how NOT to do it yourself.
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 "soffit"—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.
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 the 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.
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.
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 of 20 years 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.)
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.
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 they are almost inevitable from the nailing process.
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 soffit; 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 soffit 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.
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.
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 soffit and at the corner of the eave too. Once it has dried, you are ready to paint!
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 article, too?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on September 19, 2019:
As I recall, it was semi. I have read the same as you--and I'd add that there's a reason people like to use gloss in kitchens!
Ronny on September 19, 2019:
What kind of paint did you use? Flat, matte, or semi gloss? I know it can be a personal choice for many, but I've also read that flat paint is harder to clean.
AJOY ADHIKARI on June 25, 2017:
I don't think detailing too much to the customer really helps you. Keep it short & sweet. You will get better.
Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on November 06, 2016:
Sounds like a great tip, thanks! I'm presuming that the West systems filler does expand and contract more like real wood, then?
Glaze on November 06, 2016:
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 (author) from Camden, South Carolina on September 22, 2016:
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.
Neil on September 16, 2016:
Liquid epoxy is a good solution to the exposed end grain. I use it even when I have proper miters.
Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on August 25, 2015:
Thanks for the tip, Tim. I know a lot of readers will appreciate it!
Timthetoolman on August 24, 2015:
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 (author) from Camden, South Carolina on January 21, 2015:
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.
Eugene Brennan from Ireland on January 21, 2015:
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 (author) from Camden, South Carolina on September 27, 2013:
Sure. In fact, you'd have difficulty (I suspect *great* difficulty) sourcing such long boards. Just join them neatly and they'll look fine.
TIM on September 26, 2013:
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 (author) from Camden, South Carolina on September 17, 2013:
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!
ml on September 17, 2013:
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 (author) from Camden, South Carolina on November 03, 2012:
You're very welcome, nick--I appreciate your comment.
nick on November 03, 2012:
thanks helpful article
Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on October 14, 2010:
Well, once again, thanks for stopping by!
Hello, hello, from London, UK on October 14, 2010:
I can't answer your questions because I am not a handyman but I enjoyed reading you hub which was very comprehensive.
Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on October 14, 2010:
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!