Winter care for your woodwork

This is the time of year when you might start to notice any defects or problems with your external decorating.

Cold weather, high winds, frost and heavy rainfall are going to expose any frailties in the protection that external paintwork is supposed to give to wooden window and door frames, and the soffits beneath the bottom of your roof.

Water expands when it freezes, so if it has gotten into the woodwork it can do considerable damage. Later in the year as things warm up spores of mold and rot will get in there and really go to town.

It may not be practical to repair these areas during January and February, although it’s by no means impossible, depending on the materials. But it is a good time to start having a look and noting down any areas that might be at risk.

Hanging out of a window is one way to inspect, but a pair of binoculars from the back garden, and a mirror attached to a stick are good ways to see things you would otherwise miss. Even a selfie stick, if you’re that way inclined.

You’re looking for cracked paintwork, blistering, flaking and places where the gloss paint has gone dull. Edges are usually the first places to go, so look out for any gaps, even small ones, in the corners and joins. These are all areas where water is going to get in.

London external decorating is largely about the old wood frames that are still the norm. They are definitely worth preserving. Leaving aside the cost of replacement, in many cases they’ve already survived upwards of 50 or even 100 years and can keep going more or less indefinitely. But they do need good protection.

Modern materials

Lead-based paints were dangerous to have around, but after they were banned it took a while for manufacturers to come up with replacements that could go the same distance. Spirit-based paints have always done a good job, and although water-based alternatives are still improving they don’t yet have the same durability or finish. Whatever the paint, though, a good inspection of your external paintwork every year is wise.

External decorating

External gaps and any signs of rotten frames should be checked for and repaired at the earliest opportunity with proper frame repair and any gaps filled with mastic or filler, which are also available in anti-fungal/mold versions.

If there are any signs of rot, it all needs to go, making sure that all affected wood is removed. New wood inserts put in with good quality epoxy to fill in the gaps before painting. This is an area that really does need to be done properly and will save a lot more than you spend.

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