Friday, December 5, 2008

What Lies Beneath?

Do you ever wonder "What's behind my siding?" Most people don't, but maybe they should! Most people only notice the condition of their exterior paint and only take action when they notice rot or other damage. Unfortunately, by the time they notice the problem the damage is done.

On most homes in our area, the only line of defense to water intrusion is caulk. Caulk is necessary to keep air and water out, but it's something that needs to be maintained. I can't tell you how many homes I have looked and worked on that have not been flashed properly or have inadequate or missing caulk. Water is a very tricky substance. It can get into places where you least expect it and causes all sorts of damage.

Here's a look at a "naked" house. Click on the picture for the full size view.

It had Masonite lap siding on it, but no water resistive barrier; not housewrap, tar paper, nothing! It's very east to see where the water was getting in. A good portion of the sheathing was damaged and had to be replaced. The flashing above the window caps was holding water and the caulk around the windows had shrunk. Both allowed water to get in. If water can get in, so can air! The insulation around the windows was inadequate as well.

Installing windows is really an art these days. In addition to being installed plumb, square and level, drainage must be factored into the equation. Installing the right size flashing and properly installing the housewrap can make or break a proper installation. When choosing a window or siding professional, make sure they know what they are doing!

On this particular project, had housewrap been installed, the water would have stopped there and drained out at the bottom of the siding. The sheathing would have been dry and not had the chance to rot.

Improperly installed housewrap can also be a problem! I've seen a project where siding was installed by one of my competitors where the top layer did not lap over the bottom layer, it was the opposite. When some of the caulk joints failed water ran down the housewrap but was directed inside the wall. Once the drywall was removed, the problem was apparent. The only option was to remove the siding and start from scratch. I'll explain WHY the caulk joints failed in another post.

I guess the moral of the story here is to make sure you check your caulking on a regular basis. Look at the metal flashing over your windows and doors. Does it actually go the entire length of the trim board? If not, you are probably getting water beneath your siding.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Question About Ceiling Painting

Q: I have drywalled ceilings that are panted white. There are two small areas where the tape has separated at the joints due to leaks. Is there any way to repair the ceiling without re-taping, mudding and painting the entire ceiling?

A: I hate to disappoint you, but to fix it right, you may have to do just that. It really depends on how bad the areas look now.

The first order of business is to make sure the leak had been repaired. If it isn't, the damage will likely recur. Some ceilings are harder than others to touch up. On well-lighted ceilings, touch ups will show up more readily than those with less light.

If you have water stains on the ceiling, you may be able to eliminate them with a bleach water solution. In a hand sprayer, mix 4 parts water and 1 part bleach. Spray it on the area and let it dry. It may take a few applications, but the color of the stain will either be reduced or eliminated. Just be sure to cover any carpet or furniture below the area you're spraying!

You don't mention if your ceiling is textured, this will affect your course of action. Call someone who specializes in drywall and texture repair, they will be your best resource. Texture can be very difficult to match, both in color and texture.

When you are ready to paint, make sure to prime any remaining water stains with Kilz Primer. Be sure to use the oil-base version, it just seems to work better. I use a good quality flat white latex paint on ceilings. Most ceiling paints are a "dry-hide" where the ceiling looks pretty bad while you are painting, but dries out nice and even.

Sometimes the best way to paint a ceiling is to use a paint sprayer. If you have acoustic (or popcorn) texture, this is pretty much the only way to do it. This should be left to the professional as there is a LOT of masking and covering involved.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Window Replacement in the Winter? Are You Nuts?

No, not nuts! Winter is actually a GREAT time to replace your drafty, leaky windows.

Your windows are the number 1 source of energy loss in your home. Do your windows feel as cold as the outside? Do they constantly fog up and freeze in the winter months? Can you feel a draft? Heck, will the windows even open at all? All of these are signs that you should consider replacing the windows in your home.

But in the winter???

Certainly! The average time your home is open to the elements is less than 10 minutes. When properly planned the new window is ready to go in just shortly after the old one is removed. In about an 1 hour, you can immensely improve the efficiency of an opening. You'll get a more efficient window with double or triple pane glass, new insulation and a window that ACTUALLY WORKS!

Think of a new window that is more efficient, easy to clean and nice to look at...all in an hour or so!

There are many options for replacing your windows. There is not one window or brand that can fill every need, look and price point. These options will be covered in other posts as there's too much to fit here.

One thing is for sure: Stay away from the cheap windows! Yes, you CAN buy a window for less than $200, but that doesn't mean you SHOULD! Installing a window is a precision operation and should be done with care. Those installers are paid by the window which means: the more they install in a day, the more money they make. It just doesn't make financial sense for them to take the time to do it right.

As always, please ask questions! I am here to help and will answer every relevant question. Comments are also appreciated! Let me know if this has helped you in some way. Click on the "View My Complete Profile" button and feel free to sent me an email. Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Don't Let This Happen to You!

Want to know what happens when people hire amateur painters? Check this out!

This is a picture I took several years ago, before I had my first digital camera. If you look closely, you can see the roof is oversprayed something terrible!

I'm not sure if the homeowner rented a sprayer or they hired someone to paint their home. Obviously no one took the time or effort to even TRY to mask or protecty anything. If I remember correctly, the porch was as yellow as the roof.

There is NO WAY to correct this problem. The paint will not just wear off, nor will it wash off. The roof had to be completely replaced. You have to wonder, who was stuck with the bill for that? I'm going to guess it was the homeowner.

How can you protect yourself from something like this? Simple, hire a well established painter who has been in business for several years, has a track record and most importantly HAS INSURANCE! Not all business insurance is built the same. If your painter uses subcontractors, you may not be covered! Most subcontractors don't have insurance and mostly work on a cash basis. Make sure your painter is using their own employees and you get a copy of their insurance certificate. That certificate is only valid when it comes directly from their agent! No company can give you an official copy any other way.

Make sure your painter masks and protects all surfaces that are not to be painted. Items like clad windows and doors, porches, driveways, and yes, the roof should be covered. Masking tape, plastic sheeting, dropcloths are all used to keep paint from these surfaces.

Do you have a horror story? I'd love to hear about it!