I was reminded again how critical it is to do a walk around and over a home every year. In the case of this roof termites had been eating the roof for a decade before the homeowners saw the problem. A professional eye could’ve spotted the problem much sooner.
Painters use the term “painting break to break” in other words paint from joint to the next joint so that the painted surface is even and consistent. That is nice if the rest of the painted surface is of the same sheen and tint that was just painted. When making repairs on a home and the effort is to blend in a repair area or paint care should be taken to match an actual chip of paint to be tinted. In other words, just because you have the original paint in the garage doesn’t mean that paint will match. Why? The painted surface has aged with the sun, rain, and wind while the paint in the can has been preserved under optimum circumstances. So when I have a chip matched, usually the color is matched but the sheen isn’t. Again, if semi-gloss was used originally, it has probably lost it’s sheen and now is an eggshell or even a flat. Most times you can’t go wrong using an exterior flat on an old surface.
There you have it, a blended repair. Now would you prefer to broadcast to the world that a certain area you touched up is sorely obvious? Or would you prefer that no one can figure out where the touch up was done? It’s always better if it all blends in.
I find the concept of curb appeal rather fascinating. Just think, if you wanted to dress up your house, you could save 75% of your time, energy and $$$ by understanding what curb appeal really means (that is unless you live on a corner). Curb appeal is (are you ready?) what you see from the street or what you would see walking up to the house. Incidentally, when I say prioritize making the front of house look good doesn’t mean you can’t work on the other sides of your house at another time. Most wear and tear on a house (viewed from the curb) are: the mailbox, curb numbers, discoloration of the sidewalk or driveway, shutters, front door rail, front steps, front porch, lights, door bell, front door & side lites. Now, a lot of what your eye is drawn too is natural. If your trim color is neutral it might blend in, while on the other hand the shutters are an accent color and they are meant to stand out. If the sidewalk is noticed, well, naturally, you are looking to see where you are going. So, put your mind in the eye of a visitor and decide what your priorities are. Most of the items suggested above involve painting or pressure washing–all doable projects. Creating curb appeal for 25% or less effort.
Screws vs. Nails hardly sounds like a boxing match–but these two ways of doing repairs around the home need some attention. On a recent bathroom remodel I decided to use drywall nails instead of drywall screws to hang the new drywall in the bathroom. Two nails later I stopped. Why? the force needed to drive the nails was forcing old drywall nails out of the existing walls in the next room! Great, now I get to patch and paint a room not even part of the existing job. There is a better way, using screws. When you go to the hardware store, they have screws for every situation and every job. With the exception of working with metal or working outside I use one type of screw for every job I have; be it wood, drywall or other. The secret tool in my tool box? Lots of different sized drywall screws. Why drywall screws? They have a #2 Phillips slotted head–meaning the driver bit isn’t going to slip out, they come in coarse and fine threads–my preference is coarse, and they come in all kinds of different sizes–1, 1 1/4, 1 1/2, 1 5/8, 2, 2 1/2, 3, 4, and 6 inches screws. Exterior screws of similiar make come in fewer sizes. You can get more information at: http://www.grip-rite.com. Although the interior screw is not protected for outside use, it can be used outside. Drywall screws are part of a great solution when combined with brackets even if the head of the screw doesn’t sit flush with the bracket. The screws can be easily reversed at a future date but have sufficient holding power–especially the coarse thread–to keep any home project connected for years to come. I think the Screws have delivered a knock out blow to the Nails!
Although the concept of “bracketing” is I suppose a now archaic term in photography–anybody remember slide film or horror of hours black and white pictures? Bracketing is the concept of going the extra mile for each photo you shoot. You would adjust your camera to take in more light then normal and less light then normal. Bracketing as it applies to home repairs is the use of metal angles and connectors to support your project. Typically the brackets I use in the course of my work are meant for bigger projects like deck building or reinforcing the trusses on a house. But they also work just as well in giving additional support to hold a drawer together, tie a fence panel to a post, act as a temporary brace when pouring concrete, and dozens of other projects around your house. They are reasonably cheap averaging between 50 cents and a dollar. They are reusable if fastened with screws instead of nails. They can be painted, folded, manipulated–oops, I think I got carried away there. Brackets are one of the best tools in my tool box, they should be yours as well. Go to http://www.strongtie.com for more info and look for angles & gusset angles. When in doubt, bracket!
Even though Spring changed its mind again, here in Virginia Beach, VA eventually we will be having that nice balmy weather we are appreciate so much. Now, before too much time goes by is the perfect chance to survey your house inside and out and make those small repairs before they get too expensive.
Flying bugs. When the weather warms up, all the world starts beating its wings in anticipation of new life. Locally, termites will take flight to start new colonies as well as the ant population. What freaks people out is to come into a room one morning and find thousands of insects on the window sills. “Where did they all come from?” Termites will cut a hole about the size of the tip of a pencil in a wall and stream out flying blindly towards a light source–most often the windows. It is a good idea to capture some of these winged creatures and put them in a sandwich baggie for further examination by a professional–are they termites or ants? Obviously, if they are termites the potential damage in the wall is a concern.
Conditioned Air. A good air conditioning check-up prior to the hot summer months is a good idea. Who knows if freon leaked from the unit over the winter or what kind of vegetation wormed its way into the heat pump. The homeowner can pull back and cut any vines, clean up any leaves and debris around any of the air conditioning / heating units. Go inside and change out the filters in the returns throughout the house. Make sure that any of the units are fully accessible for the technican. Check the vents to make sure that they are open and unblocked.
Painted Surfaces. Normal wear and tear on a painted surface–if properly painted is normal. Sadly, unless you paid the original builder and extra premium for painting a new house, more then likely the paint job was for the appeal rather then a serious effort at protecting the wood. It is common to see new homes being built with pre-primed wood. In many cases the primed wood might only be meant to protect the wood while it is being installed. Most times the finish coat goes directly over this basic primed wood. Over time, sometimes as little as a year, the paint begins to peel or fade. If the homeowner decides to forestall a full repaint of the house, then there are ways to spot prime and finish and makes sure that the new paint blends in with the old. First find a good solvent based primer for exterior surfaces–it will dry dead flat–then take a paint chip to the paint store and get a color match. If the existing paint has lost it sheen then either use a flat paint or most an eggshell. Now that you have a match on the sheen brush the finish coat from break to break, i.e. from one cut in the wood to another. This way the newly painted surfaces will reflect light different from its surrounding older neighbors and the “touch up” will not be noticeable.
I’ve heard too many stories of the painter that pours the inferior paint into an old Benjamin Moore paint can to give the illusion of quality. Is there really a difference between a knock off brand and a good as gold paint product? Cheaper paints lack the binders that help the paint cover the surface. In my experience, cheaper paints may be translucent and require more coats for coverage while more expensive paints might be self-priming and able to get the job done in one coat. Typically the big issue is not cost of materials but cost of labor. Do you want a labor charge once or twice or even three times?
Even though more expensive paints can do a better job–Aura, Pro Classic, Duration–it depends alot on the application and the purpose of the paint. If I was doing exterior painting and I had finished my prep–washing the painted surface, patching, caulking, then I would probably plan on priming all the painted surfaces with a latex or oil-based primer even if I planned on using a “self-priming” finish paint. In my experience the self priming paints go on thicker–they are essentially a primer and finish paint rolled into one. The tendency is for the paint to be harder to apply, but the end result is 2 coats of finish paint which is always considered better then one.
If your hiring a painter, question the contractor on the paint being used. If it takes 80 hours to paint the exterior of a house and 4 gallons of paint, will it really make that much difference in the total price if the paint costs $50 per gallon rather then $25 per gallon? If the paint job lasts longer, isn’t that really what you are paying for? Know your paints and keep your house looking like a home.
Gutters are best seen and not heard, if your hearing a drip, drip, drip that may not be the sound you want to hear. Go out in the rain and observe how your gutters and downspouts are handling the water runoff. Consider the water flowing off an average roof of 2000 square feet. For every inch of rainfall, 1200 gallons of water flow off that roof. During the course of a year, 54,000 gallons of water will flow through your gutters & downspouts onto the ground. 54,000 gallons of water or 432,000 lbs. of liquid bouncing through your gutters and downspouts. Your unseen gutters take alot of abuse and deserved to be checked out on a periodic basis. For more, read, “Down In The Gutter” at http://www.carlsonhomeimprovements.net.