• Roofing 101: Composite Shakes and Slates

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    People don't like imitators.  They often lack the quality of the real thing.  This is not the case with composite slate and shake shingles.  They may, arguably, improve upon their real counterparts.

    Creating alternatives to the real stuff can often be a difficult and arduous one.  But, according to BobVila.com, "in recent years, several companies have developed composite shingles that successfully mimic the look of real slate and wood shake roofing."

    Here is an overview of some new composites out on the market, courtesy of BobVila.com:

    Fancy Shakes

    DaVinci Roofscapes, LLC, offers a comprehensive line of composite shake- and slate-type products. It is a polymer-based product with top impact and fire ratings, plus a strong warranty. Shown here: DaVinci's Fancy Shake Polymer Cedar Tile.

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    New Cedar

    Durable composite shingles are available in multiple widths and multiple colors, allowing homeowners to create blends with realistic textures and shade variations. Shown here: DaVinci's New Cedar Polymer Shake.

    DaVinci-Multi-width-newcedar-polymer-shake

    Symphony Slate

    CertainTeed’s luxury line of slate-like shingles is a dead ringer for slate, from its surface texture to its rough-chiseled edges. Shown here: CertainTeed's Symphony Evergreen Blend Slate.

    Certaineed-Symphony-Slate-Luxury-Evergreen-Blend

    Authentic Coloring

    CertainTeed's lightweight, fade-resistant Symphony shingles arguably improve upon the genuine article. Aside from being cheaper to buy and less costly to install, they are backed by a 50-year warranty and boast Energy Star certification. Shown: Certainteed's Symphony Capital Blend Slate.

    Certainteed-Symphony-Slate-Roofing

    Majestic Slate

    Unlike many of its competitors' products, EcoStar composite shingles have a 20-year track record. They’re green, too, being made of up to 80-percent recycled rubber and plastics. Shown here: EcoStar's Red Gray Majestic Slate.

    RedGray-EcoStar-MajesticSlate

    Seneca Shake

    EcoStar shingles and shakes are virtually indistinguishable from real slate and wood, earning them approval for use in historic preservation projects. Shown here: EcoStar's Chestnut Brown Aspen Blend Seneca Shake.

    ChestnutBrown-AspenBlend-EcoStar-SenecaShake

    Synthetic Slate

    Composite shake or slate roof installations will cost at least four times as much as asphalt shingles. And "although composite roofs are not as difficult to install as slate and cedar," says Rick Damato, editorial director of Roofing Contractor, "the contractor will have to know what he’s doing for them to come out right." Shown: DaVinci's Single Width Valore Slate in Black.

    Single-Width-Synthetic-Slate-Roof-Tiles-DaVinci

     

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your roofing, composite roofing and roofing repair needs.  Call us today at 215-453-9180 for your FREE estimate!

     

     

     

  • Spring Maintenance Musts

    Courtesy of BobVila.com

    Courtesy of BobVila.com

    It's finally spring! And the better weather can also reveal some home maintenance work that needs to be done. However, spring chores don't have to be miserable.

    Follow this simple routine, courtesy of BobVila.com to check everything off your home maintenance list:

    Roof

    With binoculars and a keen eye, you can generally spot roof problems. Cracked or missing shingles should be replaced, and if you see any shingle-shift, it may mean you need to install new fasteners. Look also for buildup of pine needles and other debris in those valleys between roof peaks.

    Exterior Walls

    Whether you have wood siding, stucco or brick, look for damaged areas, especially under eaves and near gutter downspouts. Water stains normally indicate that your gutters are not adequately containing roof runoff. With wood, check for any damaged areas or openings that clear the way for carpenter ants, woodpeckers and other critters.

    Chimney

    If you have a masonry chimney, check the joints between bricks or stones. Have any fallen out, or is vegetation growing? Both can be evidence of water infiltration. Efflorescence, a white calcium-like deposit, is another sign of trouble.

    Foundation

    When inspecting poured-concrete foundations, keep your eyes peeled for cracks. If cracks in the foundation exist, routine caulking won’t do the job. You'll want to hire a foundation specialist, who can employ a two-part epoxy injection system that will bond those cracks chemically.

    Windows

    Leakage around windows will admit warm summer air and let cooled indoor air escape, so be sure to check that any caulking and weather stripping you have in place has remained intact. If you experienced condensation inside the glass on double- or triple-glazed windows during the winter months, that could mean the weather seal has been compromised, in which case either the glass or the window will need to be replaced.

    Spring-clean your windows—inside and out—with a store-bought or homemade window cleaner (one cup rubbing alcohol, one cup water and a tablespoon of white wine vinegar will work just fine). Apply cleaner with either a squeegee or a soft cloth. If screens were on all winter, remove and clean them with mild detergent. Lay them on a dry surface (e.g., a driveway) to air-dry before putting them back on.

    Attend to Leaks

    Spring is a good time to check for leaky faucets, clogged drains and sweaty pipes. Check under kitchen and bathroom sinks to make sure connections on pipes and hoses are secure and sealed. Look for water stains around the dishwasher and check washer machine hoses for cracks, bulges or dampness.

    Air Conditioning

    Just as you readied your furnace for fall, now is the time to make sure that air conditioning units are in good working order for the warmer months ahead. Change the filter, check hose connections for leaks, and make sure the drain pans are draining freely.

    Attic

    Search for signs that insects and critters have colonized. Also, search aggressively for mold, which often takes the form of gray or black blotches. Proper insulation and good ventilation will deter mold growth in the attic, so take action now to prevent the problem from developing in the warmer months ahead.

    Basement

    Dampness in a basement suggests higher-than-normal relative humidity, inadequate ventilation and the need for a dehumidifier. Check the base of poured-concrete walls for cracks and evidence of water penetration. And use a flashlight to examine exposed framing. If you see what looks like tunneling on the wood, call a pest control company.

    Decks and Patios

    Look for warped, loose or splintered boards, and do a good sweep to remove any leaves and debris that might have accumulated between boards. If the finish on your wood deck is faded or worn, now is the time to clean, stain, and reseal it. If you have composite decking, follow manufacturer's recommendations on seasonal care.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of you exterior wall maintenance, roof maintenance, roof repair, window repair and window maintenance needs. Call us today at 215-453-9180 for your FREE estimate!

     

  • How to Care For Pennsylvania Brick Siding

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    Brick has been, and still is a popular building material.  The fact that it's energy efficient and it looks nice doesn't hurt either.

    It is important to know how to care for your pennsylvania brick siding because how you maintain it will greatly affect its longevity.  Here are some tips from Bob Vila on how to keep your brick looking nice:

    The least aggressive approach should be your first plan of action when it comes to cleaning brick. Just like soiled clothing, different types of dirt on your home's exterior will require a different cleaning agent. Once a year use a garden hose, with a spray nozzle, or a spray bottle to remove any loose dirt.

    If a particular side of your home receives little to no sunlight and the nearby vegetation is damp, be on the lookout for moss, mold, or mildew growth. A solution of one cup of bleach mixed with a gallon of water can be applied with a scrub brush can be used to clean most problem areas. Use a natural or synthetic bristle brush — wire brushes leave traces of steel behind that will rust and discolor the bricks. Before applying a bleach solution to brick, give the area a thorough soaking. This will help prevent the brick from absorbing the bleach.

    Avoiding Water Damage 
    Water damage is caused by one of two conditions: splash back or rising damp. In splash back, the continually of rain beating against the brick soaks into the mortar, causing the mortar joints or the bricks to crack. Rising damp results when ground water seeps up from below, leaving behind what is called a tide line. The moisture above the tide line will eventually evaporate, but the salt crystals that remain will, over time, cause the bricks and mortar to break down. Freezing and thawing cycles can accelerate damage to water-soaked brick, so repairing problems early will prevent more extensive repairs in the future. Look for water damage on an annual basis, and budget for some possible repointing every five to ten years.

    Repointing 
    Repointing is necessary in places where the mortar joints have become soft or the mortar itself is cracked or damaged. The damaged mortar is removed carefully so as not to disturb the surrounding brickwork. Fresh mortar is applied in layers. When repointing, the depth of the new mortar should be twice the width of the mortar joint. Mortar applied directly to the damaged surface will not hold up.

    Owners of historic or older homes will want to make sure that the fresh mortar matches the original. Acontractor will take a sample of the mortar, crush it, and dissolve it in acid. This process removes the binder and leaves behind the sand aggregate, making it easier to identify the proper shade.

    Paint Removal
    Painting a brick facade was first in vogue in the early 1800's. Removing that paint can be a painstaking process. Chemical treatments work best for paint removal, and are best left to professionals. Sandblasting should never be the remedy for paint removal, as it causes lasting damage to the beauty and integrity of brick. The remaining brick will be rough in texture, and since sandblasting removes the kiln-hardened outer fire-skin of the brick, it will become more susceptible to dirt build-up and moisture penetration. This is especially true of bricks made before the turn of the century.

    Aggressive treatments, like chemical applications used to remove chalk, calcium carbonate, and rust, are best left to a professional. Chemicals must be spot tested in various concentrations. Too high of a concentration can etch the surface of the brick, damage window glass, or cause discoloration.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your Pennsylvania Brick Siding, exterior siding, and siding repair needs.  Call us today at (215) 453-9180 for your FREE estimate!