Remember our spring maintenance tips (Part One, Part Two)? Doesn’t it seem like we just gave you a list of stuff to do? Welcome to the joys of home ownership and regularly scheduled maintenance! Now that the kids are back in school, it’s time to think about fall upkeep for your home. One day, when the winter wind is howling and you DON’T have to bundle up for an emergency repair, you’ll thank us.
Every great building starts with a great foundation. The thing with those great foundations, those solid, formidable structures, is that they tend to favour function over form. Think of the most solid building you can imagine. You’re probably envisioning a fortress made of cinder blocks. Solid, impenetrable and… ugly. So when it comes to your home or office, where do you draw the line between solid and attractive? Read More
Usually we spend so much time INSIDE our homes, making sure it’s a clean and comfortable space, that we forget all about what’s going on outside. That’s a shame, because the outside of our house is all most people will ever see. A well maintained exterior says a lot about the overall care and attention an owner has given to the house. Have you let things slip outside? Here are a few quick tips to help you fix it up quickly.
Whether it’s brick, stucco, siding or wood, visible chips or flakes on your home’s exterior aren’t pretty. What’s worse, they could be exposing you to the elements. If the mortar around your brick finish is loose, find a contractor that specializes in tuck pointing. If your stucco is in need of repair, contact parging and stucco experts. If your siding is cracked, replace the damaged pieces. If your house has a wood finish, protect it with fresh paint or stain regularly. The exterior finish of your home can only do its job when it’s properly maintained.
This last one probably goes without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway. A fresh coat of parging not only looks great, it helps protect the foundation of your house. Taking care of the parging literally helps hold your house up!
Doors and Windows
Something relatively simple like a new front door can make a huge difference to the appearance of your house. New windows are a big investment, but they can help pull their own weight in the form of lower energy costs. The age and quality of the existing windows is something you can be sure any prospective new owner will want to know about when it comes time to sell your house.
Keep Looking Up
The poor, lonely roof is often forgotten about until it springs a leak. Replace any loose or damaged shingles right away, and help keep things inside dry by regularly cleaning out the gutters. If you’d rather not shimmy up a ladder to do it yourself, eaves trough cleaning is something that’s pretty inexpensive to have someone come do for you.
We know exterior finishes! J and J Coatings has been offering expert parging and stucco services in Edmonton, Alberta for nearly a decade. Call us for a consult any time to help choose the right exterior finish for your house. For general maintenance tips and our latest news, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
Image courtesy of sattva at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The days of vinyl siding as the exterior finish of last resort may be numbered, and those with an eye for design are rejoicing! Don’t get us wrong, siding is very practical but it’s a bit of a triumph of function over form. One of our favourites, stucco, is making a comeback on the exterior finish scene. While our bias may be showing (because, you know, we provide expert parging and stucco applications) we happen to think this versatile material is an excellent choice because of how good it looks while it keeps you safe from the elements.
The Benefits of Stucco
Stucco can provide a very simple solution to a very difficult problem. If your house is older and drafts are a problem, an Exterior Insulating and Finishing System (EIFS) can actually increase the R-Value of your existing insulation. Typical applications of stucco other than EIFS are traditional stucco, acrylic stucco and stucco patching. The uses for stucco are as unique as your home, and there is an option for just about every house.
Stucco adds character to every building it is applied to, and it is available in any colour you can imagine. Stucco can be made to look like other, more expensive exterior finishes like stone masonry or brick. When done right, stucco is practically maintenance-free and it will look as good in 10 years as it does the day the job was finished. This stuff really stands the test of time – Roman sculptures made of stucco are still being found today!
The Drawbacks of Stucco
A while ago, stucco got a really bad rap because of some shoddy manufacturing and even shoddier application techniques. It’s important to make sure the stucco company you choose is one that specializes in this finish. Any negative reports you have heard about stucco are probably because of poor application rather than a problem with the product itself. Stucco that has been improperly installed has been known to cause problems like moisture damage because of poor drainage. That’s why you need to work with experts! Yes, we know we already said that, but it’s such an important point we’re saying it twice. Be sure to ask every one of the 10 questions you should ask any contractor before signing on the dotted line! (Part One, Part Two)
The most difficult thing about applying stucco in a place like Edmonton is the temperature. Stucco is a multi-layer process and it needs to stay warm enough between the applications of each layer, so the stucco season is a pretty short one around here. In fact, if the company is a reputable, busy one, you might not be able to make it onto their job schedule this year. That’s OK, it gives you a lot of time to choose the right colour for your house in time for your fresh application of stucco next year!
We have already told you what projects you should never try to do yourself, and we stand by our claims. We also think that you should hire a professional for any project around your house that you’re not comfortable doing on your own, and that band-aid solutions are never a good idea long term. But we’re realistic too. Last time we checked, there aren’t a lot of money trees growing in Edmonton, so sometimes you need a quick patch around your house until you are able to take care of a problem the right way. Here are a few quick fix home repairs that are the home maintenance equivalent of patching a tire.
Home Repairs that Do the Trick
- Old windows are a huge drain on energy. Every year you don’t get around to replacing an old window, it costs you money! But if it’s not happening this year either, you can actually insulate windows with bubble wrap. It’s not pretty so it won’t work in your living room, but it’s a remarkably effective solution for a window in the basement.
- Frozen pipes are a pain, and if they break when they thaw it’s a serious mess to clean up on top of a hefty plumbing bill. A hair dryer on low can work to thaw a frozen area on a pipe, but using electrical appliances around water is not always a safe choice. Another alternative? Try soaking a towel in hot water and wrapping it around the frozen area.
- Exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom help keep moisture in your house at bay but they need to be clear to do their job effectively. If replacement isn’t an option, try giving the screens on the outside of them a really good cleaning. The brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner works well for the bathroom fan, but the one in the kitchen is often covered in cooking grease and may require a long soak in hot, soapy water.
- Clogged drains can be cleared up like magic with a couple of Alka Seltzer tablets with a vinegar chaser. We have it on good authority that the same trick also works as a scrub-free way to clean the toilet.
- Cracks in the wall are ugly to look at, but drywall repairs are a pain. For a really quick temporary fix, try mixing good old crazy glue with some baking soda to fill small cracks. When dry it’s as easy to sand and paint over as the more expensive, less readily available spackle.
Want more information on how to maintain your home? Make sure you like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter! We share pictures and updates on our parging and stucco projects in Edmonton, Alberta and the surrounding area.
Image courtesy of akeeris / FreeDigitalPhotos.net