Trim Tips

Attention to detail will yield tidy trim jobs

Old ways are the best ways, part 1.
"You want to hire a carpenter who knows how to use a hammer. For some jobs, nail guns are the tool to use, but not always for trim. Guns drive nails so fast and hard, you lose the ability to selectively snug a board up against a particular surface. Working methodically, close-up with a hammer, forces you to concentrate on nuances of the job you might miss otherwise.

Old ways are the best ways, part 2.
If you read my column last time, you know my preference for splines (gasket-like layers of metal or felt paper tucked behind trim). Before I nail corner boards in place, I run a spline of felt the entire vertical length of the corner, letting about 9 inches of felt overlap each side. That provides an extra water barrier beneath the corner board and siding joints.

Watch the angles. Ideally, corner boards and fascia boards would extend the length and height of a house. But that's not possible on buildings wider or taller than about 16 feet. So you have to join lengths of lumber together. You want to avoid butting sections blunt end to blunt end. The joining ends should be mitered?cut on 45-degree angles to increase the bonding surface. Besides nailing the mitered joints, use a silicon-based caulk to seal them. And use the same caulk to join the edges of corner boards previously assembled on the ground. An important point about mitered joints on vertical trim, such as corner boards: Assemble the trim so that the joint points downward to channel water to the outside surface and to the ground.

Pay attention to the breathing spaces. Ventilation systems in soffits help houses exchange inside and outside air. But because they're holes, they can also let in undesirables, from rain to nesting critters. So make sure vents are installed in a way that keeps water from draining from the outside to the inside and that screens out creatures. If you're checking out a house, look closely at the condition of the soffit screens. Are there gaps or tears? And look closely at the vents. Has some overeager painter clogged the breathing holes?

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