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July 2014

So you found mould in your house…

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8645688Have you ever walked into your basement, wrinkled up your nose and wondered “What’s that smell?” If you’re lucky, you just left a load of laundry for too long and running the washing machine again will take care of your problem. If you’re not so lucky, you might have a mould problem on your hands. Keep reading to find out what to do about it.

Flat Surfaces

Mould thrives in moist environments. That’s why it’s most commonly seen in kitchens, bathrooms and in basements where dampness is a problem. If your mould is on the wall or on tiles, scrubbing it with a solution of one part bleach with four parts water should do the trick to remove it. As a safety precaution you should wear gloves while doing this, and it wouldn’t hurt to wear a mask too.

Cloth and Fabric

If you really did forget a load of laundry in the washing machine and another quick running of the washing machine again isn’t doing the trick, all is not lost. First, try taking the clothes outside and scrubbing away any mould you can see. Then, try washing again in hot water and a little bit of diluted bleach. Literally wash, rinse and repeat until no traces of mould are visible.

Serious Problems

Mould in the basement could be a sign of a much more serious problem. By all means take steps to clean it up, but if the mould is the result of a chronic leak, you’re going have to clean it again until the underlying issue is addressed.

Prevention

When it comes to mould, prevention is key. You know that fan in the bathroom? Run it every time you shower. Try opening the patio doors while cooking, unless it’s freezing out. Then you will have to settle for the fan over the range. The fans in the bathroom and the kitchen could probably use a good cleaning to make sure they’re working at top speed.

Know When to Call the Pros

Most of the time mould is just ugly, but sometimes it can pose a serious health risk. You can’t always tell which type of mould you’re dealing with just by looking at it. Trying to remove a large area of mould by yourself can cause those spores to become airborne. That’s not good! If the mould keeps coming back or the area of mould is larger than 1m by 1m, it’s time to enlist the services of an environmental remediation company.

Want more tips on maintaining your house? Make sure you follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook! While you’re there you can see before and after photos of our parging and stucco projects from all over Edmonton, Alberta.

Image courtesy of Photokanok / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4 Things You Need to Know About the Roof Over Your Head

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6151582When it comes to the roof over your head, a lot of us think out of sight, out of mind. Because you can’t really see the roof from the ground we forget all about it until there’s a big storm and it starts raining inside! Though we specialize in parging and stucco, we firmly believe that you should think of your home’s exterior as one big, protective unit. Exterior finishes and systems need to work together to shield your home from the harsh elements outside – especially in a place like Edmonton!

Repair or Replace?

In a lot of cases, unless it was due to a catastrophic event like a downed tree limb, if there is a problem with your roof it applies to the whole thing. It’s likely that to really fix a problem like a serious leak in your house you’re going to have to consider replacing the roof. However, roofs aren’t cheap. If you need a little time to make room for a new roof in the budget, as what your options are for temporary roof repairs. Just remember that the key word here is “temporary”, and if you leave it too long you could have a serious problem on your hands. A roof left unchecked can leave you handling the expense of repairing and replacing fixtures inside your house too!

Ask for Pictures

You might not have access to your roof or the necessary equipment to inspect it safely. When a roofing contractor is explaining what is wrong with your roof, it’s OK to ask for pictures while they’re up there to show you exactly what the problem areas are. After all, you need all of the facts to make an informed decision about how to proceed.

Looks are (a little) Important

Of course, when it comes to the roof over your head looks aren’t everything, but they’re not nothing either! The colour of your roof should at least coordinate with the rest of the exterior finishes on your house. However, if one colour option for shingles is way less expensive than another, go stand at street level and ask yourself how much of your roof is really visible.

What to Ask a Roofing Contractor

Typical questions to ask a roofing contractor, beyond “When can you start?” and “How much will it cost?” include questions about your particular roofing system and the contractor’s warranty for materials and labour. It’s also important to make sure they carry enough insurance coverage and follow the appropriate safety guidelines for your province. Actually, all of the questions in our series on the questions you should ask any contractor (Part One, Part Two) apply here.

Though nobody likes to spend money when it doesn’t seem like they have to, checking out your roof for signs of wear like missing or damaged shingles can save you a lot of trouble. After all, the middle of a huge rain storm is a really bad time to find out the roof is shot!

Get a Lush Green Lawn

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6653309As we’ve said before, the appearance of the outside of the home says a lot about how the home has been maintained. We can help improve the appearance of your home with a fresh coat of parging, but if that parge coat is up against a brown lawn it’s just not the same. We get it. Edmonton’s harsh winters are hard on the lawn. But it’s July now! There’s no time like the present to turn things around with a little lawn care, and to get a nice lush, sprawling lawn in the making for next year.

Keep it Simple

Cut yourself a little slack when it comes to lawn maintenance. If you never get around to weekly mowing of your lawn, don’t set yourself up for failure. Get yourself to the garden centre and get one of the many new varieties of “easy care” lawn seeds. These seeds are lazier than their faster-growing counterparts. They grow slower and therefore require less frequent care and mowing. An easy care lawn is the busy home owner’s very best friend.

Go Easy on the Water

More good news for the busy lawn maintainer! Over-watering is actually a bigger problem for lawns than under-watering. Your lawn only needs about 25 mm of rain a week to stay healthy, so lay off the hose unless it has been really dry. Lawns that get a lot of water only when needed grow deeper roots that make them hardier in dry spells, but lawns that are watered too much get soggy, rotten roots.

Air Out the Lawn

Seeding it, mowing it and watering it. That’s all there is to caring for the lawn, right? Not quite. Over time the soil under your lawn can get really compacted which makes it hard for the grass to draw nutrients from the soil. For the best results, you should try aerating your lawn at least once but preferable twice a year – once in the spring and once in the fall. Aerating is basically pulling little plugs of soil out of the lawn and depositing them on top to allow the grass to grow deeper roots and more water to get down to those roots.

Get Ready for Next Year

Before the snow starts to come down, take some time in the fall to get your lawn ready for next year. For your last mow of the year, leave your grass about 15 cm long and then apply a nice layer of fertilizer to help protect it from the cold. If your grass wasn’t up to snuff this year, take this opportunity to re-seed so you can hit the ground running with a lusher lawn next year.

Do you want more information on how to keep your home well maintained and looking great all year round? Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

What IS Parging Anyway?

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If you have been paying attention, you may have noticed that we talk about parging. A lot. That’s because it’s one of our specialties in our Edmonton, Alberta-based business. But you may find yourself wondering what parging is, and more importantly what it does. Let’s get that cleared up for you.

Parging uses a masonry-based mortar to cover interior and exterior masonry block and stone walls. When applying a fresh coat of parging it helps to protect masonry from the elements, like shielding the foundation from rain and snow. Because it looks better than the bare finished walls, parging also serves as “the icing on the cake” of a brand new house. See for yourself in one of our “Before and After” shots:
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Though it can technically be used on any vertical surface, parging is most commonly seen on above grade foundation walls on the exterior, and on basement walls inside.

Is Parging the Same as Waterproofing?

No. But it can still help keep water from getting into your house. Though it’s not technically meant for waterproofing, a parge coat does make a water-resistant barrier. When done right, it helps the rest of the exterior finish do its job to keep the house dry. However, when not applied correctly, water can become trapped between the parge coat and the wall which can make the very problem you were hoping to prevent even worse. Badly done parging contributes to moisture damage and a type of deterioration of concrete known as spalling.

Ensuring a Good Parge Coat

A good parge coat starts with a good parging mix. We can’t share our specific “recipe” here because that’s a trade secret. We can tell you that it took us a long time to come up with perfect “thin enough to spread nicely, but not *too* thin” mixture. It’s just the right consistency to provide a functional, attractive finish. You could spend a lot of time on coming up with the perfect parging mixture for your DIY repair job at home, but we strongly recommend hiring a professional for this one. Parging helps protect the foundation – the thing that is literally holding the house up. This is a job that shouldn’t be left to the instructions of some guy on YouTube.

Would you like to know more about exterior finishes for your home? General home maintenance tips? What you need to know before hiring a contractor? Learn the signs that a house has been well-maintained. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for all our latest news and before and after shots of the transformations we make possible every day.

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