Wrapping exterior house trim
July 4, 2014 9:34 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone had any experiences with wrapping exterior wood trim and window frames instead of painting?

In 2011, I bought a house that was built in 1939. The exterior trim is now suddenly peeling and chipping, quite badly in some places (probably because the last paint job was half-assed). I contacted painters to get estimates, and the second one to show up explained the relatively recent regulations about removal of lead paint and how these affect the process and cost. The third only talked about lead paint regulations after I asked and still hasn't gotten their estimate to me, but the second one was $3k over the first and I expect the last to be similarly high. However, the guy doing work on the place next door told me that it's possible to wrap the trim and window frames in metal or vinyl and not have to worry about it. I poked around online and found out a little more about this (and it turns out I know someone who had it done at a much simpler house many years ago). Does anyone have any experience with this? If so, how well does it work? Does it avoid the safety issues? Does it end up looking okay? How did the cost work out? What kind of business is best to call for estimates on this? I have one general handyman/renovation guy coming soon for one, but I'm not sure if I should look for general renovation services or gutter places or what.

FWIW, the house itself is stone so it's only the trim and window frames and doors that are an issue, and there's probably no way to wrap the doors.
posted by dilettante to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Fifteen years ago my parents had it done on their very old farmhouse, and all the trim still looks great. I thought it was a terrible idea beforehand, believing that shingled New England houses should be treated with more respect and never clad in aluminum or vinyl. When I first saw the house after the job was done, I didn't even notice a change. If you examine all the trim, you can notice that it's not painted. You'd see a seam somewhere along a long roof line, and the pieces underneath the roof overhang don't quite look like wood.

I don't know about cost, but I can tell you that my father is a classic tightwad. He told me recently that the cladding has more than paid for itself. All the wood trim is completely hidden, though, so we don't really know what kind of shape it's in now. We assume water hasn't made its way behind the vinyl, but nobody has inspected for that.
posted by wryly at 10:09 AM on July 4, 2014

Aluminum cladding is pretty common around these parts (Canada). I think it looks good. Done well, it's no fuss, you can forget thinking about for the rest of your life. It's not cheap, but it's worth it.

A decent general contractor could maybe install some pieces in a pinch, but an aluminum specialist is better because he has those fancy tools like those long-assed clamps and custom crimpers. You should ask around the "gutter places" (I'd call 'em Eavestroughers) because they very often do the same work. Shop around.
posted by ovvl at 12:08 PM on July 4, 2014

When we had our windows replaced, the window company (for a fee) wrapped a lot of exterior trim around a couple bay windows and a few other windows with vinyl. I can't speak to the exact cost, only that the huge window job and the vinyl cladding on the wood trim ran about 14K all in - I will say that it's *beautiful* and it's such a relief to not have to paint/repair/replace wood trim.
posted by ersatzkat at 6:20 PM on July 4, 2014

It's called "encapsulating". This is also done with things like flat roofs containing asbestos.
You might want to pick up some of the cheapy lead tests at the big-box store and find out if leaded paint is actually present. Not all paints from that period contained lead. If you can show "no lead" is present, you might avoid all this. It would in all likelyhood take a follow up test done by a testing company to prove it to the authority having jurisdiction, there are issues of chain of custody among others, but if the cheapy test shows lead, you can skip hiring a testing company.

The exterior trim is now *suddenly* peeling and chipping, quite badly in some places (probably because the last paint job was half-assed).

It could also be *suddenly* peeling and chipping because water has gotten in behind it, roof leak - which can get down into walls, even a change in air conditioning can cause issues with moisture migration - esp. in older houses with no, or an improperly placed, vapor barrier. In 1939 it's unlikely any vapor barrier was installed, or if one was it could be deteriorated or not effective - i.e., roofing felt over the wood sheathing in a stone veneer wood framed house.

Did you add air conditioning, or start using air conditioning more intensely than the previous occupants?

It might do to figure out why this is happening before wrapping the wood with a water and moisture proof material that would effectively trap any moisture trying to escape.

Around here, on the older wooden houses, some painters think it is acceptable to use a pressure washer to blast loose paint off a building, then they come back and paint in a few days. Needless to say, the paint starts falling off pretty soon as the moisture in the wood finds its way out blocked by paint. Paint loses.

Also, you might find that removing and replacing the wood might be cheaper than dealing with trying to repaint. I'd suggest you actually find the regs and read them. If it's federal regs (we just got this a couple years ago as well) it concerns removing lead containing paint. If you don't remove it, then the reg does not apply.

Notably, our regulations only apply if you hire someone to do the work. A homeowner removing paint from their own house is not covered under the law.

I find it kind of screwey - the law is designed to keep lead from getting into the soil. In this neighborhood of 90 to 120 year old houses, I'd wager that the soil around each and every one is already contaminated from previous re-paints.

As an aside "I know a guy" who has been taking old wood to the city dump on and off for the past few years, and has never been questioned.
posted by rudd135 at 10:23 AM on July 5, 2014

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