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To avoid damage to any exterior wood elements of your building, it's important to repaint exterior wood every five years. Paint serves as a protective coating, and letting that coating deteriorate can be detrimental to the wood underneath.
At least once a year, inspect all exterior wood, especially areas that receive constant sun, constant shade or areas that may pool water. If you find any areas of discoloration, blistering, bubbling, peeling or cracking, it's past time to repaint. Staying on a 5-year painting schedule keeps not only the appearance of your building fresh, but also keeps the wood in good condition.