Category: Roofing & Siding


How To: Choose the Right Gutters

There is so much to consider when choosing new gutters, including shape, material, and cost. But don't overlook performance and quality, which will over time reward you with reduced maintenance and lasting beauty.

LeafGuard

Photo: LeafGuard Brand Gutters

Gutters are a critical component of a home’s drainage system, and like many exterior features, they’re subject to wear and damage. An important item on your spring maintenance checklist should be to examine and clean out the gutters. Regular cleaning and maintenance will go a long way toward getting the maximum lifespan out of your gutters.

If, however, your gutters are showing signs of severe wear—cracks, holes, and leaks, for example—or if they’re sagging or pulling away from the house or have numerous missing, loose, or bent fasteners, it may be time to look into replacement gutters. Experts point out that water damage to the roof, fascia board, decking, or rafters is a sure sign that gutters are due for replacement. “Most ordinary gutters last about 10 to 15 years,” explains Robert Lowe, director of operations for Englert LeafGuard, originators and makers of the only one-piece, seamless gutter system with built-in hood. “Dangerous water leaks and overflows can cause tremendous damage to a home, sometimes before homeowners are even aware of the problem.”

There are many types and styles of gutters on the market today, with the primary materials being aluminum, copper, steel, galvanized steel, zinc, and vinyl. Aluminum is the most prevalent gutter material and offers several advantages over other types. Aluminum is lightweight, resistant to corrosion, and available in a wide range of colors—and it’s also often the least expensive option.

Copper Gutters

Copper gutters. Photo: shutterstock.com

Other choices among the metals include galvanized steel gutters, which are coated with a layer of zinc; these gutters are strong but may be prone to rusting. Steel gutters also are available with a coating of aluminum and zinc, which alleviates the rust problem but is more expensive. Zinc gutters, yet another option, are also strong and durable, and normally do not require painting or finishing. Copper gutters are an extremely upscale and attractive choice, but cost substantially more than other metals.

Another inexpensive option is vinyl, which is available in a wide range of colors to match many types of vinyl siding. Vinyl gutters are not as durable as metal, however; they break down over time with exposure to sunlight and will therefore need to be replaced much more frequently. Additionally, vinyl gutters typically come in 10-foot sections, and the rubber seals used to join the sections can become brittle and leak.

Most professionals note that aluminum gutters offer the best combination of style, durability, and price. “As far as replacement gutters go, you want seamless aluminum gutters with a minimum thickness of .025 inches,” asserts Lowe. “There also are numerous options for ‘toppers’ for those gutters; the most common are solid hoods and filters. The different toppers each have their good and bad points. The solid toppers are the best, because they use the reverse curve or liquid adhesion model, which works the best. The downside to these types of covers is the installation process, which is generally handled by a subcontractor. These products install under the shingles, which can cause problems with roof warranties.”

LeafGuard

Photo: LeafGuard Brand Gutters

Anyone in the market for new gutters not only has to choose a material, but also has to select among a range of shapes, or profiles. The most popular is the “K-style,” or ogee, gutter, which has a shape similar to decorative crown molding. Fascia gutters, another alternative, feature a smooth face that performs the same function as fascia boards, hiding the edges of the rafter tails from view. Half-round gutters have an open construction with the open side facing the roof. This style has fallen out of favor, because it easily clogs with debris and then overflows. European-style gutter systems are typically half-round gutters made from materials that weather naturally, such as copper.

All gutters come in either sectional or seamless constructions. Most do-it-yourself gutters are sold in 10-foot sections that must then be linked together with snap-in connectors. The drawback to sectional systems is that the joints eventually leak. Seamless gutters, on the other hand, have seams only at the corners. Seamless gutters are typically made of metal and are extruded to custom lengths by professional installers using a portable gutter machine.

 

LeafGuard Brand gutters combine many of the attributes recommended by professionals, according to Lowe. They also carry the Good Housekeeping Seal. “Patented LeafGuard Brand gutters allow homeowners to say goodbye forever to cleaning gutters clogged by leaves and debris, because the one-piece gutter system features a built-in hood that covers the gutter bottom and deflects leaves and other debris,” Lowe adds. “This unique, seamless design keeps debris from collecting in your gutters, which keeps rainwater running freely and safely away from your home—each and every time it rains.”

 

This post has been brought to you by Englert LeafGuard. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Spring Home Maintenance? Don’t Overlook Your Gutters

With all the home maintenance tasks that pile up in the spring, it's easy to forget about cleaning the gutters. Don't ignore this important chore! If you don't clear debris from your gutters, you could be heading for roofing, siding, and foundation issues in the months ahead.

Spring Gutter Cleaning

Photo: LeafGuard

Spring has officially arrived, and that means a whole host of outdoor chores for homeowners. One of the most important—but often overlooked—tasks is checking gutters for winter debris and damage.

A properly functioning gutter system protects your home from water damage by draining water from the roof and funneling it away from the house. When the gutters and downspouts are clogged, however, water can back up and damage the roof, fascia, soffits, and siding.

Experts agree that regular examination and maintenance will help reduce the need for gutter repairs and replacement. “One of the biggest problems we see with regular gutters is that the problems are hidden from view for most homeowners,” points out Robert Lowe, director of operations for Englert LeafGuard, a leading manufacturer of covered one-piece gutter systems. “From the ground it is very difficult to see inside of the gutter; therefore, most problems with built-up debris are noticed only when it is too late and damage is occurring.

Spring Gutter Cleaning - Damage

Photo: LeafGuard

“The most common problem is the obvious leaves and debris clogging the gutters, making the water back up over the top and damaging the fascia board, then the decking, the rafters, and in some cases the foundation of the home itself,” Lowe continues. “If you have ever experienced gutters that are pulling away from the house, or if you have to keep pushing the spikes back into the gutters to hold them to the house, these are tell-tale signs of fascia board damage. The problems need to be fixed as soon as possible because damage ramps up fast—as the gutter starts to sag, it can cause more water to run over, which in turn leads to more and faster damage.”

A simple way to check on a gutter’s performance is to wait for a rainy day and look to see if water is emptying from the downspouts. If water isn’t flowing freely from the bottom of a downspout, or if you notice water overflowing the edges of the gutter, there is debris clogging the gutters or downspouts or both.

According to Lowe, the easiest answer to most gutter problems is to clean your gutters on a regular basis. Most debris consists of small leaves and twigs that can either be scooped out by hand or removed with a handheld leaf blower or wet/dry vacuum. Flushing the gutters with a garden hose removes dirt and small particles. For denser debris, you may want to invest in a gutter cleaning tool. Most clogged downspouts can be flushed with a garden hose; use a plumber’s snake to break up those really stubborn clogs.  (Note: If you are climbing a ladder, be sure to follow safety measures.)

Gutter cleaning may be needed much more frequently than just once a season, especially if you live in an area where there are many trees. “The one problem we find, other than procrastination, is that you go out on a Saturday and spend all day cleaning the gutters and sealing up holes only for a windstorm to come the following week and blow more debris right back into the gutters,” Lowe says. “Most people don’t realize that more debris actually blows into the gutter system than gets washed in with rain.”

Spring Gutter Cleaning - After

Photo: LeafGuard

Other problems to look for when cleaning gutters include holes, corrosion, sagging sections, and loose, bent, or missing fasteners. Holes should be plugged or caulked immediately. Sagging is often the result of loose or missing spikes, which should be tightened or replaced.

In some cases, however, gutters may simply be too far gone and need to be replaced. “If you have problems with your gutters and you want to solve the problems once and for all, you have to ask the question, ‘What do I want my gutters not to do ever again?’ ” Lowe explains. “The top two answers should be, ‘I don’t want the water from my gutters to get to my house’ and ‘I don’t want to have to clean them again.’ ”

Lowe points out that LeafGuard Brand gutters solve both of these issues, due to the product’s patented one-piece design and seamless construction. “LeafGuard Brand by Englert is the original and only one-piece gutter system, with a built-in hood that covers the gutter bottom and deflects leaves and other debris,” Lowe says. “This unique, seamless design keeps debris from collecting in your gutters, which prevents clogs from forming; keeps water flowing freely; eliminates leaks and the threat of water damage; and makes climbing ladders to clean gutters unnecessary. LeafGuard Brand gutters eliminate the problems homeowners worry about, because these gutters will not let water go anywhere but out the front or down the downspout.”

Spring Gutter Cleaning - Guard

Photo: LeafGuard

This post has been brought to you by Englert LeafGuard. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


What Would Bob Do? Repairing Cracked Stucco

If you have a small crack in your exterior stucco, you can patch it pretty easily—and you definitely should, or you may be in for more extensive repairs down the line.

How to Repair Stucco

Photo: activerain.com

My house is 55 years old and still has the original stucco. On one exterior wall, there’s a fine crack with paint peeling away on either side. Is there a way to repair stucco quickly and easily before the rains come, and is it a job that I can do on my own?

A bit of good news: From your description, it sounds like your crack is not due to the foundation settling. If you had noticed larger cracks and such accompanying signs as sticking doors and windows, then I would have recommended that you call in a foundation specialist. As it is, yes, this is a job any do-it-yourselfer can handle. And it’s important work, so you’re right to have been vigilant. If rainwater were to penetrate behind the stucco, you might have a bigger problem on your hands.

How to Repair Stucco - Application

Photo: newhudsonvalley.com

To repair stucco, you can use any number of commercially sold products. While some are designed to remedy larger gouges and holes, others are meant specifically to fix cracks like the one you describe. Quikrete, for example, manufactures a sanded (textured) acrylic caulk that’s both easy to use and effective.

The first step may seem counterintuitive: Using a cold chisel and hammer, widen the crack to at least a quarter inch. The edges of the crack should be chiseled perpendicular to the wall. If possible, back cut the crack so that its base is slightly wider than its top. Then clear all loose debris from the crack with a wire brush.

Now use a standard caulk gun to apply the stucco repair compound along the crack. As you go along, trowel the patch so that it matches the surrounding stucco finish. Allow the repair to cure for 24 hours, then cover it with a water-based paint, preferably the same color as the home’s exterior.

You may notice that despite having cured, the finished job feels flexible to the touch. That elasticity actually attests to the strength of the repair. Should the wall move slightly in the future, the patch will adjust rather than come undone. With the crack now properly repaired, you can rest assured that precipitation will not be able to get behind the stucco.


How To: Make a Clapboard Sunburst

When you make a clapboard sunburst, something rare happens: House siding takes on a decorative role while continuing to perform its functional one.

Here’s an ornamental way to use clapboard. Create a sunburst on a gable end. Draw out your design on a template. Cut off the thick edge of the clapboards. Overlap each edge by half an inch and attach with galvanized nails. Work from each side toward the center, bottom to top, then cover the center seam with a trim strip.

For more on siding, consider:

Quick Tip: Installing Clapboard Siding
Wood Clapboard Siding Installation (VIDEO)
Siding Roundup: 8 Options to Beautify Your Home


Quick Tip: Rubber Slate Roofing

Rubber slate roofing offers a durable, budget-friendly alternative to the materials typically found on many old homes.

Rubber slate can be a good choice when re-roofing a Victorian. Made from the same material as car bumpers, rubber slate can last up to 100 years. The slates are flexible, pre-drilled, and calibrated. They can be cut with a knife and installed in any weather conditions. Rubber slate is an ideal product for a steep, complex roof with turrets, valleys, and crickets.

For more on roofing, consider:

Bob Vila’s Guide to Roofing
Installing Rubber Slate Roofing Shingles (VIDEO)
Roofing Roundup: 7 of Today’s Most Popular Choices


Bob Vila Radio: Painting Aluminum Siding

If the aluminum siding on your home has seen better days, but you don't want to replace it completely, consider repainting it instead. Here are a few tips to give your siding a new lease on life.

Aluminum siding started to become popular after World War II, when this metal, which had been so crucial to the war effort, became more readily available. Valued for its weather resistance, low maintenance requirements, and long-lasting finish, aluminum was a common siding choice until vinyl overtook it in the 1970s.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON PAINTING ALUMINUM SIDING or read the text below:

painting aluminum siding

Photo: inhis.com

Although it’s durable, aluminum siding is prone to denting, and its color chalks and fades over time. But if you live in an aluminum-clad home that has lost its luster, replacement isn’t your only option. If you’re otherwise happy with your siding’s performance, consider cleaning, patching, and repainting it instead.

First you’ll need to replace any dented or damaged sections. Then scrape off flaking paint, and chisel out and reapply caulk lines as necessary. Scrub away mildew with a bleach-water solution before hand-washing the siding with soap and warm water. To speed things up, you can power-wash instead, using a low-pressure tip. Let the siding dry for a few days before painting, beginning with an application of galvanized metal etching primer. Once the primer is dry, paint the house using 100 percent acrylic exterior paint. A low-luster finish will help hide surface irregularities, and I strongly recommend two coats.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Quick Tip: Shingling a Roof

If you are going to shingle a roof the do-it-yourself way, employ the technique described here for a high-performing, long-lasting installation.

Here is a tip you can use to shingle your own roof. Make a starter course at the edge of the eave, laying the shingles upside down. Trim one-third off your first shingle, so the joints will be staggered, then lay your first course over that, with tabs down. Form a pyramid of overlapping shingles, trimming each by six inches so that all rows will have overlapping joints. Then continue to lay rows from bottom to top, using whole shingles.

For more on roofing, consider:

Bob Vila’s Guide to Roofing
Installing Asphalt Roofing Shingles (VIDEO)
Roofing Roundup: 7 of Today’s Most Popular Choices


Quick Tip: Priming Clapboards

Priming clapboards before installing them helps to prevent the incursion of damage from the elements.

When applying clapboards as exterior siding to your home, it’s a good idea to prime both sides of the clapboards before installation. By treating the backside of the clapboards, the cut ends, and the exposed face, you’re adding a moisture barrier to all surfaces of the wood. Water damage is the chief cause of premature deterioration of your house exterior.

For more on siding, consider:

Wood Siding Options
Adding Clapboard Siding (VIDEO)
Quick Tip: Installing Clapboard Siding


Quick Tip: Metal Roofing Shingles

Longer-lasting and better-performing than many alternatives, metal roofing shingles no longer belong to rural barns and backyard sheds only.

Metal roofs have long been associated with agricultural and industrial use, but these days, new metal roofing systems designed for residential use are becoming enormously popular. The standing-seam steel shingles are coated to resist corrosion and can withstand high winds, rain, snow and ice. Installation’s easy, and there’s no welding involved; you just attach the shingles to the roof with metal clips and screws.

For more on roofing, consider:

Metal Roofs on the Rise
Bob Vila Radio: Metal Roofs
Debunking 5 Metal Roof Myths


Quick Tip: Installing Wood Shingle Siding

Homeowners love to install cedar siding—or pine, spruce, fir or redwood siding—not only for its looks and longevity, but also for its DIY-friendliness.

Wood shingle siding installation is a breeze, but keeping courses straight is tough. If you want to shingle the side of your house, here’s a good tip on how to keep each course perfectly straight. First, snap a leveled chalk line and then attach a length of strapping as your guide. Lay a course of shingles on the strapping, making sure the joints are staggered. Leave about five inches exposed to the weather and repeat this process from the bottom of your wall to the top.

For more on siding, consider:

Bob Vila’s Guide to Exterior Siding
How To: Stain Wood Shingle Siding
Siding Roundup: 8 Options to Beautify Your Home