Your Chimney may be Rotting

Chimneys

Get the Binoculars and Check It Out

“Out of sight out of mind” is a true statement for areas of the exterior of your home that are seldom seen or noticed.  Once a year I suggest that you visibly walk around with a pair of binoculars or telephoto lens and examine the upper levels of your home; especially where the wood touches the roof.

If you drive down the block you may notice about 20% of all homes have some type of damage to their chimneys.  On 70% of homes we paint, the carpenter first has to replace rotten wood trim or siding on chimneys.  The chimney is one of the most exposed surfaces on your home.  Wind damage, driving rain, occasional lightening, squirrels, raccoons, and sun cause substantial damage.

You might say, “Charles, we have no problem; my home is not that old or it has been painted in the last couple of years.”  Believe me when I say, do a visual check once a year of your home’s exterior.  You will save yourself a lot of money by being aware and catching the maintenance items on your home before they become major problems.

Remember this: wood rot usually begins with water penetrating cracks which affects the interior of the wood surfaces.  Look and see if the painted surface looks like it may be waffling or collapsing on itself.  This is a sure sign of internal wood rot.  You usually cannot see this from the ground without binoculars.

Don’t worry about getting up on a ladder to do your repairs, contact us, we do it all the time in and around San Antonio, TX: Renovate Paint and Design, 210-403-3232, info@renovatepaint.com.

Bathroom Remodels Make a Big Splash This Spring

Bathroom Remodels Make a Big Splash This Spring.

Renovate Paint and Design brings a fresh new look to bathrooms in San Antonio, TX.  Take a look at some of our projects for ideas and to understand the some of the process.

All DECKED Out: Staining and Caring for Your Outdoor Platform

Deck Transformation: Before (above) and After (below)

The harsh weather conditions of Texas cause Deck refinishing and staining to be a very popular service. Oftentimes, however, it is not done properly.  The KEY to getting outstanding results is in surface preparation.  When prepped correctly the deck will turn out great. Rush through prep, skip a step (or two) and the deck will not look right or last very long.

Over-application of the wood finish coating is a major source of problems and complaints.  There are many do-it-your-selfers or non-professionals that believe that when it comes to coating, more is better. This is simply not the case and is particularly a problem for decks. Most deck finishes are designed to penetrate the surface of the wood. Putting too much of these coatings on the wood leads to a buildup of material, forming a film which can ultimately peel or crack. For water-repellent products, over-application can result in a surface which is overly waxy, sticky, or slick. Over-applied stains will often result in sticky surfaces, since the coating buildup interferes with their ability to dry properly.

It is a face that all exterior wood needs protection from the elements.  This is due to the damaging effects of the weather on exposed surfaces.  The day that you finish installing a deck or other exterior wood structure is the day trouble can start.   Consider these points:

  • Morning dew, rainwater, and sprinkler’s water, are quickly absorbed by unprotected wood, causing it to soften and swell.
  • Direct exposure to the sun’s heat causes drying, causing the wood to shrink.  Continuous cycles of wet and dry, swelling and shrinking cause wood to warp, split, crack and check-all of which leads to premature wood degradation.
  • Surface graying is caused by exposure to the sun’s UV rays on unprotected wood.
  • Consistent moisture creates conditions for the growth of mildew, algae, mold, and other fungal organisms that feed on wood. spreading across and staining the surface.
  • Termites and other wood-boring insects also use wood for a food source, causing rot and decay.

Weathered Wood

If the wood on your deck is uncoated, it needs to be cleaned thoroughly with a product specifically formulated to remove the aged top layer, which will rid the surface of its graying appearance, ground in dirt, stains from food, fungus growth, including mildew, mold, and algae.  After cleaning the surface we use a pressure washer to aid with the cleaning, but use low pressure 500-800psi.  Too much pressure will cause the wood to deteriorate.

A stain stripper will need to be used first, if you have a previous failed coating on your deck.

New Wood

Just as in restoration of old wood, it is necessary to prepare the surface of the new wood before coating. Preparing the surface involves cleaning the new wood, in order to remove invisible surface barriers, such as excess wax, or mill glaze, a burnished surface often found on new cedar lumber.

Preserve your woods beauty and structural integrity by following through with a regular maintenance program.  Once your deck is installed and protected it should be cleaned once a year, inspected, and re-stained as needed.  Daily exposure to UV-rays will wear away the coatings surface layer, thus making it necessary to re-apply periodically.

Splash water on your deck and notice if it is absorbed or beads up. If it is absorbed rapidly your deck is ready to stain. If it beads up you still have stain or contaminants on the surface.

Types of Deck Stain

Transparent Deck Stains are the lightest pigmented. These are also called wood-toners and will enhance the woods natural beauty. They typically offer the least amount of UV protection from graying as the trans-oxides are usually low. They offer the most natural look.

Semi-Transparent Deck Stains are higher in pigment and trans-oxides. They still penetrate into the wood but have a higher ability to stop UV discoloration. Typically are “richer” in color then the Transparent Stains and accent the wood grain.

Solid “Opaque” Wood and Deck Stains are not transparent at all. They will mask or cover the wood similar to a paint but are thinner in consistency so they will penetrate into the wood cells. They offer the best UV protection from graying.

Painting is not only cosmetic

Charles Loveless, Manager of Sales and DesignAs I travel around the communities I work in, I notice a lot of homeowners neglecting wood repairs and painting issues for their homes, sometimes the neglect spans 2 – 3 years or longer.  I would love to do a full exterior paint job with carpentry repairs, however, sometimes we have to fit inside our customers’ budget.  Therefore, about 15 jobs per month are smaller than $1,000 and only address carpentry repairs and touch up painting because the homeowner can’t afford more than that.  Unfortunately by not addressing the whole house, but only a portion, the homeowner will end up needing additional painting services sooner, and in the long run, end up spending more.

Some of the areas I see that need the most attention are the chimney, door casings, siding issues, and the face board around the roof line.   One reason neglecting regular painting maintenance and repairs leads to wood-rot is a caulk failure due to it aging and becoming brittle.  This allows water and moisture to seep in behind the wood.  I encourage all home owners to address the carpentry needs on their home immediately otherwise a few more serious issues may occur, such as:  termite or carpenter ant infestation, and internal damage to home’s ceilings and walls.

When you decide to have work done on the exterior of your home, ensure that the individuals doing the work prepare your house properly.  This includes mildew bath and pressure wash, sanding all peeling surfaces, priming exposed wood and then using a 60-year rated caulk to seal cracks and joints.  Some of the leading paint manufacturers include Sherwin Williams (Duration paint), Behr (Premium Plus Ultra), and Pittsburgh (Timeless).  Most paint jobs will look good even with a builders-grade paint on the house, however, will not last as long or protect your biggest investment: your home.  I encourage homeowners to spend a little more upfront for a quality paint job and paint materials, rather than spending more later due to poor workmanship and lower-grade paint products.

Wood-Rot on the Exterior of Your Home

“How could I have so much wood-rot on my home?”  It’s always surprising for a homeowner to discover their extent of wood damage.  The obvious damage stands out to most people with wood that is visually deteriorating.  Wood-rot only occurs when the wood absorbs moisture multiple times (Formula: WOOD + WATER = WOOD-ROT).  This can be prevented by visually inspecting your home twice a year for cracks and/or caulk-lines that have opened up.  Be aware of damage to the edge of the roofing shingles as this may lead to fascia wood-rot. Since most rotting occurs from moister damage inside the wood, it is seldom noticed during a casual inspection.  Many homes have both exposed and hidden damage.

This obvious wood-rot was caused by the roof shingles not extending far enough to prevent water back-flowing onto the fascia.

To locate wood-rot the best tools for inspecting are a good pair of binoculars and some type of pointed tool (pen or screwdriver) to poke suspected areas.  The areas of most concern are at the base of door casings, trim around windows, joints on the fascia (board at roof line), and occasionally joints on the siding.  Begin your inspection by looking for wood that appears cracked or discolored.  The tool will penetrate any rotten area even if it appears good on the surface. 

Most wood decay is less obvious and only can be detected once you have a trained eye.  With your binoculars examine the upper fascia, trim, and siding.  You will be looking for a “waffled” surface.  The latex paint may still look good, but you will notice indenting on the surface that runs 2 or 3 inches along the grain of the wood.  Usually this occurs at wood joints where the caulk lines have opened, thus allowing moister to enter.

When replacing the wood it should first be primed, and the joints sealed with a 60-year rated paintable caulk.  High-quality caulk tend not to shrink or crack and are more pliable over time.  The most important suggestion I wood make is to use premium paint with a color-fast formula.   When you have a lot of wood damage and cracking it is best to apply two-coats to all painted surfaces.  Following these steps should ensure long-lasting protection for your home.

If you would like to have our “trained-eye” take a look at your home and give you a free estimate for repairs and painting give us a call.  Our estimates our always free:  210-403-3232.

White Trim and Doors are Yellowing – Why?

A Clean color of white around Trim and Baseboards, accentuates your home's walls and flooring.

Homeowners will find that most of the trim and doors in their house are painted with an oil-based product.   Trim is found around the edges of the house (baseboards, windows, doors) and can accentuate and add style when installing crown molding or decorative trim molding.  The problem is oil-based paint on interior trim and doors is notorious for changing from white to an antique cream 7 to 10 years after painting.  Over the years, I have been asked “Why does this happen?” by many customers. 

First of all, you may wonder why oil-based paint is used so often; especially considering that it has strong fumes and isn’t  very environmentally friendly (due to high Volatile Organic Compounds- VOCs, strong solvents needed for clean-up and difficulty to dispose of properly)?  Using oil-based paints has its advantages:

  • It goes on smoothly
  • Is resistant to abrasion
  • Is moisture resistant
  • Dries to a hard / glossy finish and is more durable in areas with lots of traffic, which is why it’s used so often for baseboards. 
  • Using it on the decorative trim and doors helps to add continuity and color/sheen match with the baseboards.

The yellowing effect of oil-based paint occurs over time due to several causes. 

  • The alkyd chemicals in the oil begin to age/break down due to their curing mechanism. 
  • Exposure to sunlight and gas heat increases the yellowing. 
  • Oil-based paints are more susceptible to mildew.
  • Tobacco staining from smoking leads to a premature aging-effect.

There is really only one option for regaining the original trim/door color:  They must be repainted. The process to do this is:

  1. First, lightly sand the trim/doors with a 220 sand paper. 
  2. Wipe the surfaces to remove any dust from your sanding
  3. Finally, using a quality brush, apply the top coat with even strokes using high-quality oil-based paints.

If your trim/doors have oil-based paint you have to go back with the same type of paint.  Use this painter’s “trick” if you are uncertain what type of paint you have:  using an alcohol swab or cotton swab with alcohol, try rubbing off the paint.  If the paint comes off fairly easily, it latex, if not, then it is oil-based. 

Keep in mind that water/latex-based paints will not stick to oil-based paints resulting in peeling and being easily scratched.  You can use an oil-based primer prior to applying a latex top-coat, however there are problems:

  • you’ll still have to deal with the high VOCs of the oil-based paint
  • more paint is used
  • brush strokes will be more evident
  • Latex paint is generally not as durable as the oil-based.

If you have an option, try to use a quality interior latex paint, especially on decorative trim (crown molding).   Keep in mind that if any alcohol-based products touch the latex paint it will cause the paint to deteriorate and eventually come off.  FYI – some household cleaning products contain alcohol.  The advantages to using Latex paint are:

  • Low odor (lower VOCs)
  • Faster dry time
  • Water clean up
  • Long-term flexibility
  • Non-yellowing
  • Not combustible

Whichever option you choose, whether oil-based or latex, be sure that you use high-end top-quality line of paint.  Examples of paint brands that all have great oil-based (Alkyd) paint product selections are:  Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, and Pittsburgh Paint.

NOTE:  A few paint manufactures have been testing out and/or have on the market new oil-based and latex trim paints that can be applied to trim/doors. These should release less VOCs into the home environment and be able to be cleaned with only water.  We will report on these products in the near future.

PRESERVING YOUR HOME INVESTMENT

Your home is an investment that needs to be protected

Protecting your homes’ exterior surfaces can be costly, so often the question is when it is necessary to spend the money for preserving this important investment.  This all depends on how well your home has been protected by the products used and how they were applied at the time it was painted.

 If you have an older home (10+ years) the expected lifetime of the painted surface depends on the last painter’s discretion and integrity.  Preparation, application, and quality of materials all play into the longevity of the painted surface in protecting your home.  This holds true for newer homes, as well.  It is not uncommon for new homes to need the exteriors repainted within the first 5 years due to poor application and inferior materials.

The most important indicators as to when to paint your home are:

  • open caulk joints,
  • peeling surfaces,
  • chalking or dullness on the painted surfaces,
  • mildew growth, and
  • wood damage. 

 A timely paint job can save you money by preventing deterioration of exterior surfaces thus requiring minimal or no repairs.  Secondly, a professional paint job can save you money over time by having to paint less often:  approximately every 10 years instead of every 5 years. 

 When choosing paint, select a premium grade from a local paint supplier such as: Sherwin Williams(Duration Paint); Coronado (Crylicote); Pittsburg(Manor Hall) just to name a few.  The top-of-the-line paints tend to have advanced latex formulas that last longer, are resistant to fading and help prevent mildew growth.

 When choosing a company to paint your home, follow these guidelines:

  • require many references,
  • drive by a home that was completed by the paint company,
  • check the Better Business Bureau,
  • have everything in writing,
  • pay no money up front,
  • meet the individual in person to determine character and comfort level in a working relationship.