Tag: siding installation

  • A Guide to Choosing Paint for Exterior Siding

    Courtesy of HouseLogic.com

    Courtesy of HouseLogic.com

    Choosing the right type of siding for your home can be difficult on its own, but then there comes the time when you have to choose the paint for your siding.  In order to choose the best one for your home, you need to consider the coating of your home, the climate in which you live, and what type of aesthetic you want.

    According to HouseLogic, "Done right, an exterior paint job can last 10 years; stain needs to be reapplied more often, anywhere from two to 10 years, depending on the type of stain."

    An important part to the longevity of an exterior paint job is how the surface is prepped before painting. However, what paint or stain you choose is almost equally important, according to the site.

    As far as pricing: "Expect to pay $35 to $45 per gallon for conventional premium paint or stain. “Green,” or zero-VOC, products run $45 to $55 per gallon. A gallon covers 350 to 400 square feet, so figure on about 8 gallons to cover an average two-story, 30-by-40-foot house. Most paint jobs require a primer and two topcoats."

    Here is an overview of the types of paints and stains you can choose from, courtesy of HouseLogic:

    Acrylic latex paints

    Acrylic latex is the favored choice, both of pros and do-it-yourselfers. These water-based paints come in an endless range of colors and three popular finishes. Flat paint, commonly used indoors, offers the least protection against the elements. Satin, with its slightly higher sheen, is a good choice for wood siding. Semi-gloss or gloss offers the most protection and works well on high-use areas like window and door trim.

    Pros: Latex paints are easy to work with and clean up with water. The paint film remains flexible even after drying, so it breathes and moves slightly to accommodate changes in temperature, or even house settling, without cracking. In addition to wood, latex can also cover siding made of vinyl, aluminum, fiber cement, stucco, brick, and metal.

    Cons: Unless you’re using “green” products, expect to smell paint fumes from the moment you open the can until the paint dries completely. These odors, produced by volatile organic compounds, are toxic in high quantities and contribute to air pollution.

    In general, latex paint doesn’t bond well to previous coats of oil paint unless you prepare the surface very well. That means stripping nearly all the old paint off the wood first, a time-consuming and expensive job. It’s often smarter to stick with oil if you’ve got oil, and latex if you’ve got latex.

    Costs: $35 to $45 a gallon for premium latex paint; $45 to $55 a gallon for premium low- or zero-VOC paints.

    Oil-based paints

    Oil paint, long prized for its durability, used to be the gold standard for exteriors and some high-traffic house trim such as handrails, doors, and floors. But these days it plays second fiddle to latex.

    Pros: Oil paints dry hard and get harder with time. That makes them perfect for high-traffic uses: porch floors, steps, metal handrails, even your front door.

    Cons: Over time, oil paint can become brittle and crack, producing an “alligator” look. (Some people actually like the effect.) Oil paint can never be applied on top of old latex paint; the two won’t bond properly.

    Toxic solvents are required to clean brushes and other equipment that come in contact with oil paint. The average can of oil paint has more VOCs than a can of conventional latex paint. Low-VOC oil paint is available, but even these products contain more VOCs than low-VOC latex paint.

    Costs: $35 to $45 a gallon for premium oil-based paint; $45 to $55 a gallon for premium low-VOC paints.

    Exterior stain

    Stain is the choice when you want to let some of the natural features of the wood shine through but still shield your investment from the elements. Cedar, redwood, and other beautiful varieties cry out for stain. As a rule, stain isn’t as protective as paint; sunlight and weather can still penetrate the stain, causing the wood to age and discolor.

    Like paints, stains come in latex and oil-based versions. You don’t want to cover an oil with a latex stain, or vice versa, unless the old coat of stain has aged and weathered to the point where the new coat can adhere.

    Stains come in three finishes:

    • Clear stains are extremely translucent. You’ll see more of the wood, but you’ll need to reapply as often as every two to three years. Clear stains can still vary greatly in appearance, so you will want to experiment on a scrap piece of shingle to choose your favorite product. Over time, the wood under clear stain will continue to discolor, forcing you to eventually move to the next category.
    • Semi-transparent stains are bulkier and offer more protection than clear stains, because they contain a hint of pigment. Color choices are not nearly as numerous as those for latex paint, but there’s still a broad range of options. Reapply in five to seven years.
    • Opaque stains behave more like paint; they offer maximum protection and hide much of the wood’s look. But they still allow the texture to show through. These come in many colors, but choose carefully—if you want to change colors next time around, you’ll need to sand the surface completely. Opaques last 10 years or more.

    Pros: Stains don’t require extensive surface prep the way paint does. Just wash, dry, scrape any raised or cracked stain, and re-stain with a brush. You don’t need a primer and may be able to squeak by with one coat.

    Cons: Depending on type of stain, requires frequent reapplication.

    Costs: $35 to $45 a gallon.

     

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

  • Siding Tips: Fiber Cement Siding

    Courtesy of BobVila.com

    Courtesy of BobVila.com

    Fiber cement siding has become popular for multiple reasons: it can be sustainable, it's low maintenance, inexpensive and long-lasting.

    Here is some more information on fiber-cement siding, courtesy of BobVila.com, to see if it is a good fit for  you.

    Maintenance and Longevity
    Each of the major manufacturers offers a line of fiber cement siding that meets or exceeds standards set forth by the American Society for Testing and Materials. The siding stands up, not only to the elements, but also to hazards like insects and noise pollution. After 15 years, refinishing becomes necessary, but maintenance duties are light otherwise. Indeed, manufacturers’ warranties attest to the product’s durability. 30- to 50-year warranties are the norm.

    Sustainability
    CertainTeed, one of the leading manufacturers of fiber cement siding, says it only sources wood fiber harvested from managed forests. Another maker of fiber cement siding, Nichiha, joins CertainTeed in using fly ash—a waste residue of coal combustion—rather than silica. Nichiha also boasts of observing a host of best practices in their production process, sourcing material locally, recapturing 95% of the water used in its facilities, and recycling 100% of the scrap material it creates.

    James Hardie, the founder of fiber cement in the 1970s and world leader in the category, is equally committed to sustainability—sourcing 90% of their materials from regional suppliers, and employing waste minimization and solid waste recycling technologies to support Zero to Landfill initiatives.  While cement, water, sand and cellulose fibers are used for Hardie siding products, fly ash is not: the company believes that it adversely impacts the durability of fiber cement.

    Architectural Appeal
    Fiber cement siding comes in a variety of designs: Lap, plank, vertical, shake, curved-shake and geometric patterns are all available. A host of textures can be found as well, and the siding may be colored to virtually any hue the homeowner desires. Some fiber cement siding products are made to resemble wood, while others imitate the look of natural fieldstone, stacked flagstone, or brick.

    Affordability
    The upfront expenses associated with fiber cement siding are not inconsiderable, being that professional installation is a must. However, the ongoing maintenance costs are minimal. You can expect to pay out for refinishing work about every 15 years or so, but the lion’s share of the overall cost will come at the beginning of the product’s 50-plus-year lifespan.

    Versus Wood or Vinyl Siding
    Wood siding boasts a timeless beauty, and many homeowners value the way its appearance gradually changes in subtle ways. You can save on installation by doing the work yourself, but wood siding products are often expensive to buy, and over time, the material demands a high level of maintenance.

    Though colorfast and resistant to insects and rot, vinyl siding is not maintenance free: It’s vulnerability to weather damage makes occasional repairs necessary. The price tag is low enough to have enticed many, and another big selling point is its relative ease of installation.

    If your priority is good looks, then you can’t go wrong with wood. If budget is your main concern, look no further than vinyl. Consider fiber cement siding if you are looking for a long-lasting, low-maintenance material that performs well and doesn’t look half bad, either.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of you fiber cement siding, siding repair, and siding installation needs.  Call us today at 215.453.9180 for your FREE estimate!

  • How to Clean Vinyl Siding

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    Though vinyl siding can weather a lot, it is a good idea to routinely clean it to make sure it lasts.

    According to BobVila.com, "Because it is an exterior product, vinyl siding can accumulate a host of dirt, grime, and stains on account of things like pollen, bird and insect droppings, spider webs and rust."

    You're in luck because it is quite simple to clean vinyl siding.  According to the Vinyl Siding Institute via BobVila.com, "the best way is to use a soft cloth or an ordinary long-handled, soft-bristle brush."  To prevent streaks, wirk from the bottom to the top and thoroughly rinse any cleaning solution as you work.

    Here are some effective cleaning solution options you can use, courtesy of BobVila.com:

    • 70% water, 30% white vinegar makes a great all-purpose cleanser that removes light mold and mildew stains.
    • For a stronger solution, mix together one-third cup powdered laundry detergent, two-thirds cup powdered household cleaner, one quart liquid laundry bleach and one gallon of water.
    • If you are concerned about landscaping, use a solution comprised of one gallon of water mixed with one cup oxygen bleach in a bucket. The oxygen bleach will clean the vinyl without damaging your landscaping.
    • Simple Green offers an environmentally friendly cleaner that is specially formulated for use on vinyl and aluminum siding, stucco, terra cotta roof tiles and painted wood. The non-toxic biodegradable concentrate can be used manually or with pressure washers.
    • General household cleansers (e.g., Fantastik, Murphy’s Oil Soap, Windex and Lysol) can be used on tough dirt and stains, including those created by top soil, grass, grease, oil, rust, crayon, ink and bubble gum. Rust stains may be removed using products designed for this purpose (e.g., Super Iron Out and Instant Rust Out).
    • Another effective way to clean vinyl siding is by using a pressure washer, although some manufacturers advise against it, and other manufacturers recommend a limited amount of pressure. If using a pressure washer, be sure to keep the stream at eye level and pointed straight at the siding, not at an angle. That way, you won’t drive water in behind the siding. Use caution when using a pressure washer around openings like windows, doors, and plumbing connections.

    Don't use products that contain organic cleaning solvents, undiluted chlorine bleach, nail polish remover, liquid grease remover, or furniture polishes or cleaners, as they might damage the siding's surface.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your vinyl siding, exterior siding, siding repair, and siding installation needs. Call us today at 215.453.9180 for your FREE estimate.

  • Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

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    Courtesy of House Logic

    It's March! You know what that means, right? It's almost spring and with the spring comes the dreaded spring maintenance and cleaning.  But, just because these chores aren't exciting doesn't mean they have to be miserable.

    To make your spring list easier to handle, here is a spring home maintenance checklist, courtesy of House Logic, to help you figure out when plan your maintenance and keep you from leaving it all until the last minute.  That way, you can keep your home in tip-top shape and enjoy the nice weather.

    Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

    Inspect your roof and chimney for winter damage. Shingles may need repair after a rough winter. Look for loose chimney bricks and mortar, rotting boards if you have a wooden chimney box, or rust if you have a chimney with metal parts and flashing. Inside the house, check your skylights to make sure there are no stains that indicate water leakage. If you suspect a problem, call a roofing contractor or a chimney sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America for an estimate for repairs. Minor roof repairs run from $100 to $350.

    Examine siding for signs of winter damage. Check for loose or rotting boards and replace; inspect the areas where siding meets windows and doors and caulk any gaps. Give your siding an annual cleaning using soap and water, a brush, and a garden hose. Also, make sure your house number hasn’t been damaged or obscured by dirt and is easily visible to emergency personnel.

    Schedule your spring air conditioning service. Get ready for the air conditioning season with your spring tune-up. If your system wasn’t running well last season, be sure to tell your contractor, and make sure he performs actual repairs if necessary rather than simply adding refrigerant. Follow your contractor as he works to get an idea of the maintenance checklist he uses and ask questions about what he’s doing. Your contractor’s checklist should include inspecting thermostats and controls, checking the refrigerant level, tightening connections, lubricating moving parts, checking the condensate drain, and cleaning the coils and blower. Expect to pay $50–$100 for a tune-up. Meanwhile, make sure your air filters are changed and vacuum out your floor registers.

    If duct cleaning is part of your scheduled service, make sure you aren’t charged extra for it. Some contractors may try to convince you to let them apply antifungal/antibacterial chemicals to the interior surfaces of the ducts; this isn’t usually necessary and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says research has not yet confirmed its effectiveness or potential to be harmful. Any chemicals you add to your ducts will likely become airborne, so exercise caution.

    Check kids’ outdoor play areas. “Swingsets tend to get funky over the winter,” Gladstone says. “Tighten bolts and make sure things are still properly put together and safe to use.” Make sure no sharp edges or splinters are sticking up, and clean off any mold growth with a household-strength 1:9 solution of bleach and water.

    Check your GFCIs. A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protects you from deadly electrical shocks by shutting off the power anytime even a minimal disturbance in current is detected. They’re the electrical outlets with two buttons in the middle (“test” and “reset”) that should be present anywhere water and electricity can mix: kitchens, bathrooms, basements, garages, and the exterior of the house. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissionrecommends monthly testing, which you’re likely to remember if you incorporate it into your spring routine.

    To test a GFCI, plug a small appliance (a radio, for example) into each of your GFCIs. Press the test button, which should click and shut off the radio. The reset button should pop out; when you press reset, the radio should come back on.

    If the radio doesn’t go off when you press the test button, either the GFCI itself has failed and should be replaced, or the outlet is wired incorrectly and should be repaired. If the reset button doesn’t pop out, or if pressing it doesn’t restore power to the radio, the GFCI has failed and should be replaced. These distinctions can help you tell an electrician what the problem is—neither job is one you should attempt yourself if you don’t have ample experience with electrical repair.

    Pay a visit to the attic. During a spring rain, check for visible leaks, water stains, discolored insulation, and rotting or moldy joists and roof decking. If detected, call a handyman or roofing contractor for an estimate for repairs. If you have areas of rot or mold exceeding 10 sq. ft., call an indoor air quality inspector or mold remediation company for advice. If you have an attic fan, make sure it’s running properly and that the protective screen hasn’t been blocked by bird nests or debris.

    Clean dirty windows. This is a good task for the end of summer, when it’s still nice outside. Clean windows allow more solar energy into the house in the cooler months to come, which will help you save on your heating bill. For streak-free glass, use an eco-friendly solution of one part vinegar to eight parts water, with a few squirts of dish soap; apply to window with a sponge or soft mitt, scrubbing any tough spots. Rinse with clean water and then squeegee the surface dry.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your spring maintenance checklist tasks.  Whether it's gutter repair, siding installation, or roofing repair, we've got you covered.  Call us today at (215) 453-9180 for your FREE estimate!