Besides the basic structure, the roof and exterior siding are the most important parts of the home, because they protect the building from the elements. Since they are the first line of defence, both roofing and siding must be checked for signs of wear and maintained on a regular basis. This includes cleaning, as well as replacing pieces that may have fallen off or become worn. In the case of wood, it means repainting regularly. By following a few simple tips, the outside of your home will not only look beautiful for years but will also be protected from the elements and save you potentially expensive repairs and the premature replacement of materials.
If left to grow freely, moss will gradually break down the structure of an asphalt shingle. To clean shingles, use a deck cleaning product applied with a soft-bristle brush. Brush gently until the moss is gone. To keep the moss away, sprinkle the affected areas with a laundry detergent containing bleach granules. This needs to be done once a year. Another method is to buy a roll of 4" zinc. Measure the roof ridge and cut a strip to match. Insert the strip under the ridge shingles on both sides so that 3" is showing. The oxidizing process of the zinc will continually coat the roof below and prevent moss from growing.
A leaky gutter can cause water problems in the basement as well as soil erosion or lawn damage. Since most gutters are made of either vinyl or aluminum, even the smallest gaps are hard to bridge with silicone caulk or roofing tar. To make a strong seal, measure and cut a square of fiberglass mesh that will drape down and cover the crack inside the gutter. Spread wet/dry roofing cement on the inside of the gutter so that the mesh is embedded, with cement around its edges. Press the mesh down to seal the crack. Leave to cure for a day and then coat the mesh with roofing cement and smooth with a putty knife. Now you have a waterproof seal. When the cement is completely dry you can paint over it in the same colour as the guttering.
On average, a bundle of shingles weighs around 90 lb and will cover 33.3 sq. ft. This means that a standard-sized home will require more than 60 bundles of asphalt shingles; having to carry each one up to the roof on a ladder would be a backbreaking job. To save the roofing workers a great deal of time and effort, have the building company supply a boom truck in order to have the shingles delivered directly onto the roof.
Strong winds can sometimes rip out asphalt shingles. Replace the missing shingle with one of the same colour or very similar. With a thin pry bar, poke up under the remaining part of the damaged shingle until you feel the nail and pry this up about an inch. Trim the tab of the new shingle to match the space and fit underneath to check for size. Trim more if needed. Spread roofing cement over the space and push the new shingle piece up underneath. Gently tap the top shingle down.
If you can’t find a piece of left-over siding to make a repair, try a used building supply store. If you still can't find a perfect match there, buy a new piece of siding that’s as closely matched as possible and swap it with an existing piece in an inconspicuous place. This might mean having to crawl under the deck, but the piece you remove will be exactly matched to the exposed siding you need to repair.
One of the easiest ways to make an older home more energy efficient is to apply foil-faced, foam sheathing on the exterior walls before the siding is installed. The sheathing will provide excellent insulation as well as a waterproof and windproof barrier. Siding companies also use it to make a level wall surface with which to work.
With the right preparation before installation, pine or cedar clapboard siding can last a lifetime and more. Cedar does not have to be painted and can be left to weather to a silvery grey. However, pine should be treated, and painting it before installation will not only save hours of work afterward but provide better protection from “wicking” – when rainwater finds its way up between the boards. Make sure that the rough side is facing outward, as this side will hold the paint better (whereas the smooth side will require repainting every few years).
Gutter downspouts are designed to move large volumes of water from the roof. But if there is no drainage system at the bottom, this water may run straight into the foundations and find its way into the basement. Many home owners do not like fixed extensions on their gutters because these angled pieces make it hard to mow the lawn in that area. However, there are several other options. Some extension diverters are activated by the weight of the water, rolling out with the water flow and back up again automatically when the water pressure stops. Alternatively, you can dig a trench around 1 ft. deep and lay a 4" pipe running away from the house. The downspout can be extended down to this pipe and attached with a 90° elbow. The pipe can end in a larger hole filled with gravel or run out to the curb.
Scraping siding to repaint it is a time-consuming job, and just one slip of the scraper can cause unsightly damage. Using a pressure washer is a fast and easy way to remove loose pieces of paint. When the wood is dry, a scraper can be used to clean the remaining areas.
Many roof chimney designs impede the natural flow of water when it rains. By building a tent-like structure called a “cricket” on the upward side, the water is able to run around either side of the chimney instead of pooling behind it. This is the same principle used by bridge builders to allow water to flow past the bridge pylons in a river.