Wood Rot Repair in Boston & South Shore Areas

The Boston and South Shore areas are notorious for their Colonials and Cape style homes with exteriors made of wood. Not only are most South Shore clapboards and trim made of wood, some South Shore homes even sport cedar roofs and wooden gutters. While wood exteriors offer a classic look, our cold and wet winters combined with the salt air causes wood rot to be an issue on the South Shore.




Signs of Rotting Wood


White fence with rotted wood
Small cracks near seams and nails make this wood vulnerable to moisture and wood rot.

We see wood-rotting usually on areas of high moisture first: trim, sills, and areas that are close to the ground are target areas for rotting wood. Of course, if a tiny bit of rot is ignored, it grows to be a bigger problem. This is a classic case of “a stitch in time, saves nine.” We have carpenters on staff to replace the rotted wood prior to painting. In fact about 1/3 of the homes we paint need some wood replaced beforehand – something we’re used to handling.  The convenience of not having to hire a separate carpentry company to repair your exterior wood before we paint is something our Clients appreciate.


Trim board options for your home’s exterior

White house with black shutters and stone wall
Many of today’s PVC trim boards are historically accurate.

Lots of our South Shore area customers are choosing to replace their trim with PVC trim (such as Azek). While PVC trim is more expensive than wood trim, PVC does not rot or decay and it does not expand and contract as much as wood does. The good news is that while PVC material is more expensive than wood, the labor to install it is about the same.

If PVC is not in your budget for 100% of your trim, simply replace some of your rotted trim with PVC only in the moisture-prone areas (trim touching the ground, sills, etc.). And since PVC is 100% paintable and looks just like wood trim, splicing in a few PVC trim boards to replace some rotted wood on your exterior will blend right in.

We can even use PVC trim boards in historic profiles so you get the durability of PVC while keeping the look of your home historically authentic.

Preventing exterior wood rot on your home.

Especially in New England, the exterior wood on your home needs serious protection from wood rot. Houses may experience structural damage if wood rot is left unchecked. Fortunately, there are a few ways to prevent wood rot – let’s dig in:

Why does exterior wood rot?

Wood rot is a form of decay triggered by moisture. For example, in the Boston-area, water may puddle on your deck floorboards and take a day to dry after a rainstorm. Or your exterior trim that’s near the ground might soak up moisture and take a while to dry out. When this happens, microscopic organisms that can get inside the wood can cause it to rot. This, in turn, weakens the fibers of the wood and causes the integrity of the wood to be compromised.

If you already have wood rot on your home’s exterior, you need to replace the wood in those spots. Nonetheless, it cannot be stressed enough – if the wood on your home’s exterior is rotted, you cannot paint over it to “fix” the rot. If you paint over wood rot, the paint will peel, and more moisture will seep into the wood.

“What parts of my exterior are most vulnerable to wood rot?”

Most of the time, moisture gets into cracks in the wood and underneath cracked or peeling paint. The photo below gives you a sense of many vulnerable areas for wood rot on your home’s exterior:

Gray cape home with arrows showing areas of wood rot









wood and saw
When installing new wood you should prime all 6-sides of the new board to prevent wood rot and increase the longevity of the wood.

“How many sides of the wood should I paint when installing new wood?”

Prime all 6-sides of the board – even the cuts – the primer will help keep moisture out and prolong the longevity of the wood.






Is pressure-treated wood less prone to wood rot?

Yes. Pressure-treated wood undergoes a chemical process in a pressure chamber to make it more durable and less prone to decay. As a result, decks, fences, floating docks, and other structures are prime uses of pressure-treated wood in Massachusetts.

Yellow caulk gun with white caulk tubeApplying caulk to prevent wood rot

To prevent wood rot, seal all cracks in the wood and around exterior doors and windows with a latex exterior caulk. If you notice dry, old, hardened caulk in the gaps or seams, dig or scrape it out as best you can before applying a bead of new caulk.



5 gallon bucket of paint with rollerHow does paint and stain prevent wood rot?

The wooden exterior of your home is painted or stained to help protect the wood and keep the moisture out. Stains penetrate the wood while paints sit on the wood’s surface, and both paint and stain protect from wood rot.



You also might like to read:

Paint vs. stain – which one is better for my Boston exterior?

The care and maintenance of mahogany decks

More about our Boston-area carpentry services