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.

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.

Freshening the Air You Breathe

air-filter_IYR3W_69As the weather is warming up your air conditioner will be working harder. Do you know how often you should change your air filters?

How often to change your air filters can depend on several factors:

*  the type of air filter you are using
*  the overall air quality of your home
*  pets, pets, pets..
*  occupancy of the home, and
*  the level of air pollution and construction around the home

For your standard 1″-3″ air filters, the manufacturers basically tell you to change them every 30-60 days, which is actually a great rule of thumb. But general rules aren’t always for everybody. If you suffer from light to moderate allergies, you could upgrade the air filter or change them even more often. Or, if you’re in a more remote area, less occupied home (like a vacation home) and there are fewer cars around, annually may be quite sufficient. Why do pets matter so much? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter quick and with great success. Of course the air filter is just doing its job by capturing pet hair and dander, but extremely dirty filters can cause extremely weak HVAC performance.  Here’s the points summarized:

  • Vacation home or single occupant w/o pets or allergies: 6-12 months
  • “Average” suburban home w/o pets: every 90 days
  • Add a dog or cat: every 60 days
  • Add more than one pet or have allergies: 30-45 days

Don’t forget to remind yourself to change the filters!  You can easily mark the date on your calendar or set a reminder on your phone calendar to ensure that this is not forgotten.  There are also air conditioning / heating companies in the local area that can send you an email reminder.

It is also important to have your system serviced by a licensed AC contractor at the beginning of each cooling and heating season.  It is a good idea to install an inline HEPA filter.  These filters remove 99.9% of air borne particles.  This means that they remove not just dust but also pollen,  VOCs and other harmful pollutants that exist in all homes.  Also, HEPA filters typically only need to be cleaned twice a year and should be a part of your regular service agreement.  A little bit of home maintenance will help you stay cool all summer long.

Realizing the Olympic Home of Your Dreams

Like millions around the world, we have been enjoying the summer 2012 Olympics in London and watching the amazing endurance and fortitude of all those that are competing.  It has brought to mind the Olympic motto of “Citius, Altius, Fortius” or Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger.”

At RPD, we think there is a strong correlation between that motto and what every homeowner wants: a home that can endure and stand steadFAST against time / elements, having HIGH marks for décor, and a STRONG appearance / structure that has the HIGHest quality of materials and fixtures.  We all want an Olympic home and we’d like to share some ideas with you on how to make that happen.   If you need a coach to help get your home in Olympic shape, give us (RPD) a call and we’ll put it on the right track.  210-403-3232

Update Your Painting

The Olympic Home has only the best most durable painting products applied for endurance and color-fastness.  One of the most “green” and cost-efficient ways to paint your home is not have to paint as often, so using superb products encourages this.  Using the higher-end paint products to get maximum thickness and protection is what we recommend (RPD Painting Suggestions).  Consider these paint resources:

There are some trends we have noticed homeowners leaning towards.  This information is especially important for those that are considering the sale-ability of their home.

  • Wall paper is out and painting is in.  Wall paper is “dating” a house in the real estate world.  It is a more “Americana” look than most homeowners currently want.  Most customers complain about wallpaper in the bathroom due to the seams opening up due to the high moisture.
  • Cabinet  is out and painting cabinets is in.  Milk-staining and darker stained cabinets have lost their appeal with homeowners.  Many have opted to paint their cabinets, bringing color and brightness into kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Crown molding is never out of style.  Installing crown molding—in areas such as family rooms, dining rooms, master bed and bath—adds a touch of class and elegance to a room.
  • Two avenues of thoughts when choosing wall colors.  About 80% of our customers want to move away from “builders white” to warmer, earthen tones.  The other 20% are choosing a crisper and brighter look with shades of gray, whites and sage-tones.

Countertops

Out with the old Formica and simulated marble and in with Corian (DuPont brand), Silestone and granite countertops (when choosing granite countertops there are several well-known granite/stone yards in San Antonio;  RPD would  be happy to set up a tour of a local yard). Customers prefer the custom-look of a well-designed kitchen or bath: The Parade of Homes feeling.  In addition, these styles of countertops are more durable and come in multiple colors and styles.  RPD Kitchen Suggestions

Bathrooms

Bathrooms are one of the first rooms in a home that most people consider updating.  Changing out fixtures, tile, increasing the size of shower, and removing tubs, are all considerations.  It is one of the few rooms that when receiving a total makeover creates a dynamic appeal while greatly increasing the value of a home.

Tile colors trend towards earthen tones and true stone that provides texture to flooring, shower walls and elegant .  RPD Bathroom Suggestions

Flooring

Slick ceramic tile is out (linoleum has been passé for many years).  Simulated stone or real stone is the preferred product in bathrooms and kitchens.  There’s a full range of colors and styles to accommodate any style theme in a home, such as southwest, Mediterranean, and the modern Art-Deco.

One of the most popular choices of homeowners is changing-out carpet for wood floors, especially in high traffic rooms: living room, study, dining room.  Be wary of putting wood flooring in areas where there is potential water leaks (i.e.: bathrooms and kitchen).  Wood flooring adds an overall richness and appeal to any home.  Wood floor choices range from moderately priced engineered wood and more refined “glued-down” real-wood floor.

Windows

Windows add more value to a home than any other exterior surface.  They enhance the exterior look but also are energy savers and noise reducers.  The overall cost depends on the style preferred by the customer as well as the style of the home.  For example, the tilt-window is conveniently cleaned which adds a convenience factor for the homeowner.  RPD Window Ideas

Trendiness

When updating the colors or areas of your home, be sure your selections are choices you can live with for a long time.  Unless you have money to burn, you want the investments your making in your home to be ones that will not need replacement or changes for several years.

Art deco, modern, southwest, traditional American, old-world, eclectic, Mediterranean-style, etc., all of these can look great in any home, but be sure your décor and furnishings match the changes you want to make.  Web-searches and home-style magazines are great resources for creating the perfect style you’re looking for to suit you.  At Renovate Paint and Design we believe in personalizing our services to meet your unique style and interests.

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.

Creativity Bound in Iron

Creativity is part of a great painter’s core – one has to love taking something damaged or “missing” and enjoy redefining it to either its former glory or new design.  We appreciate taking something mundane and making it into something of wonder.  With this in mind, we have enjoyed the art of Tom Hill, from the U.K.  For only three years he has been taking ordinary horseshoes and makes them into animal sculptures.  Check out his website:  http://www.tomhillsculpture.co.uk/horses.php to view his creations.

Tom Hill's Pegasus