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They chew, rather determinedly. Keeping them out when they want in is no small task, indeed. One approach with moderate success is to cover the opening with hardware cloth (heavy wire mesh) molded to fit and nailed carefully in place, and then spray foam. Board over the top if you like for appearances sake. The missing wood may well have been chewed away ...


You can apply a water-based finish over old alkyd paint as long as it is thoroughly de-glossed and clean. If it is steel, top quality grey or red-oxide metal primer (as Ben suggests) followed by top shelf exterior gloss paint. Contrary to what I often see/hear, using top quality paint and top quality applicators (brushes and rollers) makes a huge difference ...

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