5 Summer-time in Texas Reminders

 

Some of these suggestions have been based on personal unfortunate experiences others from reminders from professionals and what we’ve seen at homes around the San Antonio area:

air-filter_IYR3W_691)      Change out the A/C filter at least every two months so that units are not stressed and will last longer.

 

acdrainline2)      Put bleach down the A/C overflow lines in the attic to prevent clogging and water damage.  (If you’re not doing this you may be calling us for ceiling and other water damage repairs.)

 

soakerhose3)      Keep soil around foundations moist with a soaker hose to help prevent movement and cracks.

 

 

waterpenetrate4)      If you water longer and deeper once a week your grass will fare better.  But remember to keep track of watering guidelines through your local water company.  Make sure you know the day(s) and timeframe that you’re allowed to water.

 

 

bugathome5)      Fire ants and other bugs will be more tempted to enter your home during a dry time.  Monitor the exterior of your home especially around brick weep holes.  A long-lasting spray will be necessary at points of entry to your home to minimize an insect invasion.

Advertisements

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.

Saving Your Siding

Siding covers a large percentage of our exterior homes’ surfaces.  When you begin to notice damage or discoloration, understanding the type of siding you have can help you determine what to do.  Here are some suggestions.

 

Press Board/Composite Siding– This is like compact cardboard.  When it becomes wet it will expand and eventually rot.  This is especially noticeable at the vertical joints once the caulk lines fail.  Also, along the horizontal edges you may find these expanding and cracking open which indicates that moister is entering the siding.

Solution: If moister damage is noticed, replace these areas as necessary and then apply a coat of primer and then a top coat of high quality latex paint.  * Point sprinkler heads away from siding.

 

Hardy Siding is actually a masonry composite product.  Hardy-type siding needs to be painted just like any other painted surface.  Hardy siding will fade, become stained, and possibly “chalk” (painted surfaces fail and develop a chalky substance that will literally rub off on your hands.). 

Solution: If siding is chalky or faded, then I would suggest cleaning it first with Tri-Sodium Phosphate Substitute.  Following this; apply a full coat of primer, and then top-coat with a high quality latex paint.

 

Stucco is a masonry surface that is either applied by a machine or hand floated on the exterior surfaces at the end of the home’s construction.  Stucco surfaces, in many instances, may not be sealed properly.  You will begin to notice hair-line or larger cracks on the surfaces.  Also, if your stucco has a patchy wet/dry look after a rain storm then you can expect that moister may be absorbing through the thin masonry layer.

Solution: Apply one or two coats of a high build elastomeric paint on the stucco surfaces. 

**Suggested Paints: (Sherwin Williams- Duration; Pittsburg- Timeless; Home Depot- Behr Premium Plus Ultra)

Whether your home's siding needs repair or replacement, proper preparation (including caulking) before painting is key to protecting your home.