Category: Roofing & Siding

Exterior Motive: 3 Ways to Put a New Face on Your Home

You have plenty of options for improving the look of your home's exterior, from a simple paint job to new siding. Fortunately, whichever route you choose, one company can help you get the results you want.

Home Exterior Updates


As a well-known quip notes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” The saying applies first and foremost to our relationships with others, but sure enough, it also applies to home exteriors. In the eyes of first-time visitors and anyone driving or walking by, the outward appearance of your home can communicate a great deal about who you are, including your personal style and your priorities in life.

Are you dissatisfied with how your house looks from the curb? Don’t fret: You have a big range of options for giving your home the facelift it may sorely need. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, however. The right choice depends on several factors, including the condition of your home and its geographical location. But ultimately, it all comes down to you and your specific goals for the project.

For instance, if you’re concerned only with aesthetics, a fresh paint job may be the most satisfying approach, not to mention the most cost-effective. You may, however, wish not only to refresh your home’s appearance but also to improve its longevity and structural integrity. In this situation, installing new exterior siding could be the best way to go. A third option—particularly appealing if you’re tired of sky-high utility bills—would be to expand your efforts to include maximizing energy efficiency. Today, you can do so by selecting an advanced exterior coating that dramatically reduces solar heat gain. These coatings help you remain comfortable indoors, even while using (and paying for) less air conditioning. Best of all, these exterior coatings come in many colors, allowing you to upgrade both the curb appeal of your home and its performance.

A highly ambitious homeowner-handyman might try doing it all on his own, but for the rest of us, there’s Sears Home Services. Managing the entire process from start to finish, Sears ensures professionalism throughout the project and, in the end, quality results. A nationwide service provider with a decades-long history, Sears backs its work with a Satisfaction Guarantee. So, regardless of which exterior update you choose for your home, getting it done with Sears means getting it done by experts, from a generations-old brand that you trust. Unsure of how best to achieve your goals? Sears can help with that too. To learn more about three common exterior improvements that homeowners like you undertake, we spoke to a product manager with the company, Jim Eldredge. Continue reading to benefit from his expert advice.



Home Exterior Updates - Trim Painting Shot


“Painting the exterior gives your home an all-new look, and it’s a great option for those on a tighter budget,” explains Jim Eldredge of Sears. As a low-cost, high-impact project, exterior painting holds appeal for anyone, from a new homeowner to a decades-long resident. That said, Eldredge points out that painting may be a particularly smart choice for a homeowner who’s planning to sell. The added curb appeal grabs the attention of prospective buyers, and in Eldredge’s view, “helps your home stand out from all the others on the block.”

Of course, painting a house entails much more than just brushes and rollers. Beautiful, enduring results come only as the result of a thorough, comprehensive process. According to Eldredge, “the most important steps in painting don’t even involve paint.” On the contrary, a successful paint job hinges on careful preparation of the exterior surfaces. To that end, Sears Home Services “follows a rigorous 10-step method” exclusive to the company and its pros. The only downside? Paint doesn’t last forever. Even the best paint job requires upkeep. Plus, though a coat of paint may be powerful, it cannot repair the sort of deficiencies that leave a home vulnerable to moisture, pests, and the extensive, expensive problems such issues often create.



Home Exterior Updates - Vinyl Siding Replacement


Like paint, new siding transforms the look of a home’s exterior. Unlike paint, however, new siding can do much, much more. On top of superficial improvement, Jim Eldredge of Sears says that “new siding delivers a battery of performance benefits, from enhanced energy efficiency to protection against nature.” Wind and rain, carpenter ants and termites—these are just some of the threats from the outdoors that will remain where they belong—outside your house—only so long as your siding remains effective. As Eldredge puts it, “the habitability of your home depends on the ability of your siding to perform its role.”

Is your siding falling down on the job? Sears Home Services can help you assess its condition and offer guidance on how to proceed. Should it be necessary to install new siding, there are many replacement materials to consider, but for the average homeowner, “it’s tough to beat vinyl,” Eldredge says. “If you want the look of wood, without all the maintenance, go with vinyl,” he concludes. Exclusive to Sears, the Weatherbeater line of vinyl siding includes three levels, each rated by Energy Star for efficiency. With certified pros carrying out the installation, you get the company’s trademark Satisfaction Guarantee as well as a limited lifetime product warranty.



Home Exterior Updates - Energy Efficient Coating


If it’s hot outside, it’s hot inside. That’s why air conditioning exists—to make indoor spaces comfortable, even in extreme heat. Comfort comes at a cost, though. If you’re sick of paying through the nose for summertime climate control, Sears Home Services offers a solution that can help. Known as the CoolWall system, it’s a heat-reflective coating for home exteriors, one that leverages a technology used by the military to lessen the heat signature of its vehicles. How does it work? CoolWall reduces the solar heat gain that would otherwise force your air conditioner to work harder to reach the target temperature. With CoolWall, your home remains, well, cool, so you don’t need to rely so heavily (and spend so much on) air conditioning. In appearance, CoolWall coatings “look a lot like paint,” says Jim Eldredge of Sears. “They come in a variety of colors,” he continues, “from Cape Cod Blue to Whisper Gray.” That means, in addition to helping lower your bills, CoolWall can give your house a new look.

There’s no doubt more than one way to update your home exterior. But although numerous variables come into play, there’s one certainty: No matter what you think your home needs or how you wish to alter or improve it, one company can help you determine the best course and get the job done right: Sears Home Services.

Home Exterior Updates - Rear View


This post has been brought to you by Sears Home Services. Its facts and opinions are those of

Bob Vila Radio: Is a Mossy Roof Cause for Concern?

It doesn't matter whether you live in coastal Oregon or landlocked Illinois. If yours is a shady lot, moss may grow on your roof. Be wary. Though it may not seem like a threat, moss can shorten lifespan of shingles and leave your roof vulnerable to damaging leaks. Fortunately, it's easy to remove. Here's how.

You might like the look of moss on your roof, thinking the soft, green fuzz adds a bit of rustic charm to your curb appeal. But the fact is that invasive moss tends to wheedle its way under the shingles, eventually prying them up and creating a perfect opening for rot- and mold-causing moisture. In other words, no matter how you feel about its looks, there’s nothing to like about the consequences of a mossy roof. Act sooner than later to manage this all-but-benign threat to your home.

Removing Moss from Roof


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To remove moss from your roof, grab a ladder, a spray-nozzled garden hose, and a long-handled scrub brush. Plus, for your safety and comfort, be sure to wear slip-resistant shoes as well as rubber gloves. On a steeply pitched roof especially, you may also want to secure yourself via rope to a fixed object like the chimney.

Now, starting from the peak and working your way downward, wet small sections of the roof before using the scrub brush to loosen the grip of the moss. Once it becomes detached from the shingles, hose the moss down and off the roof, taking care not to let it settle in—and clog up—your gutters.

Don’t be tempted to use a pressure washer for the task, as its high-powered spray can do about as much damage as the moss you’re removing. Additionally, note that if water alone doesn’t do the trick, you can repeat the process, this time with a store-bought cleanser. If using a chemical treatment, however, remember to protect the plantings around your foundation with a thin layer of plastic sheeting.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!

Bob Vila Radio: Be a Pro at Patching Stucco

Stucco's a lot of things, but it's not invincible. If and when it becomes damaged due to moisture, use the following procedure to patch the area in need of repair.

Stucco is a wonderfully versatile wall treatment—durable, weather-resistant, and attractive. It’s been used in countless different applications, both indoors and out. Today, however, it mostly appears on home exteriors, where, like any material exposed to the weather, it requires periodic maintenance.

Repairing Stucco


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If you see cracks developing, use a chisel and hammer to chip away the loose stucco. Once you’ve done so, check the wire mesh beneath the stucco. If it’s damaged, cut a new piece and use galvanized nails to fasten it in place. Now, mix a batch of stucco patching compound and use a small trowel to work it into the hole you’ve chiseled. Next, run a flat board across the patch and surrounding area to ensure that they’re level with one another. With the patch still moist, use a finishing tool to make the texture match the rest of the wall. For smooth finishes, a trowel works best. For stippled textures, a sponge. Copying a swirled effect? Try a whisk!

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!

5 Questions to Ask Before Replacing Your Roof

Replacing your roof? The contractor you hire sets the trajectory of the project, determining whether it becomes a success story or a cautionary tale. To arrive at the right choice, be sure you ask the right questions.

Installing a New Roof


Replacing the roof: Many people do it only once, if at all, in their tenure as the owner of a home. For that reason alone—simply because it’s unfamiliar—re-roofing can be a daunting prospect. Aside from the stress of hiring a contractor, there are new terms to learn and tough decisions to make. Then, of course, there’s the financial dimension: A major home improvement job, roof replacement typically costs thousands of dollars, enough to make any budget-conscious homeowner hesitate. When you dig a little deeper, though, you begin to understand that replacing the roof doesn’t just take money out of your pocket; the upgrade often adds considerable value to the home. Upon resale, owners typically recoup more than half of the amount they invest in a new roof, according to Jim Eldredge, a manager with Sears Home Services. Still, anxiety comes with the territory whenever you undertake a high-price-tag project, even if the component at issue serves a vital purpose in safeguarding the integrity of your home.

Certainly, more glamorous home improvement projects exist, but there may be none more essential than securing a sturdy, impervious roof. Besides keeping out the weather and preventing water damage, a sound roof offers a suite of less obvious benefits, including but not limited to improved energy efficiency and curb appeal. It’s a “functional upgrade,” says Eldredge. Simply put, a newly roofed house performs better, generally speaking. The variable here is that hiring and working with a reliable contractor are key to success. Everyone has heard horror stories of amateurish crews doing a slapdash job (or not even completing the work). You can avoid such terrors by asking a series of simple questions at the outset of your relationship with a given pro. Unless you are an ambitious do-it-yourselfer handling it all on your own, the quality of your new roof largely depends on the people you entrust with the task at hand. So, before spending a penny, make it your business to find out the details of how contractors conduct their business. In your interviews, be sure to hit the following topics.



Installing a New Roof - Budgeting


Is the estimate comprehensive? It’s one thing to invest thousands in a new roof. It’s another to shell out much more than you were prepared to spend. Do yourself the favor of reviewing estimates in full, rather than skipping to the section that specifies the project total. Keep an eye out for anomalies, but just as important is to walk away if you encounter an estimate that doesn’t seem complete. Give seriously consideration only to written estimates that factor in all costs, from the permits and inspections on down to the fasteners and flashings. In addition, look for allowances made to cover miscellaneous unexpected expenses, such as the repair of the plywood sheathing beneath the shingles. Everyone knows the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” That wisdom certainly applies to estimates, but equally suspicious is any contractor who isn’t willing to explain an estimate in depth. Bear in mind that the project consultants with Sears Home Services take the homeowner through every line of a work proposal. The reason? When client and crew are on the same page, unpleasant surprises are rare.



Installing a New Roof - Asphalt Detail


What materials are going to be used? You get what you pay for. While that’s true in virtually every home improvement project, it’s never truer than in roofing. Often, when a roof fails prematurely, sub-standard shingles are to blame. Cutting corners simply doesn’t work. In fact, you’re likely to spend more over the long term if you try to scrimp at first. Explain your quality concerns to the contractors on your radar, and in turn, expect each to offer insight into your options. Before work begins, get a materials specification in writing. Then later, once the materials have arrived, double-check that they match what was agreed. In general, be wary of any contractor who does not recommend the best. In its commitment to lasting results, Sears Home Services works exclusively with Owens Corning, a leading shingles manufacturer since the 1930s. In addition, Sears consults with the client to select shingles that complement the house style, boosting its outward appearance. Re-roofing can be as much about aesthetics as it is about performance, if you have the help you need to make the right choices.



Installing a New Roof - Cutting Shingles


What methods does the installer plan to employ? To save you money in the short term, some contractors may suggest applying new shingles directly over the existing layer. Cutting a step out of the process may be enticing, but there are compelling, legitimate reasons to pursue the correct order of operations. Basically, shingles are more secure when fastened directly to the roof deck. In addition, removing the existing roof materials brings about the valuable opportunity to inspect the roof deck. Ignore the opportunity, and it may only be a matter of time before currently concealed issues make themselves known in the form of extensive, expensive water damage. That’s why, in every re-roofing job it undertakes, Sears Home Services strips away the old shingles to reveal the underlying sheathing and, if necessary, repair it. Before applying the new shingles, installers add an ice-and-water shield to protect against ice dam damage. Along the way, important accommodations are made for adequate attic ventilation. The wise course is to hire a contractor eager to do not the easiest thing, but what’s best for your home.



Installing a New Roof - Liability


What happens if something goes wrong? When the average homeowner hires out a roof replacement job, he or she does so on the assumption that final responsibility for the project now falls to the professional. The harsh reality is that, while most states and municipalities place reasonably strict requirements on contractors, not everyone in the industry follows the letter of the law. That means it’s in your best interest to confirm that your contractor has bonding and insurance certification, in addition to the relevant licenses. One virtue of choosing a larger, firmly established company like Sears Home Services is that in addition to foremen and workers, there are team members focused not on the construction work, but on the paperwork. That way, you can enter into the project with peace of mind, fully confident that you’d be protected in a worst-case scenario. Most small, local contractors are licensed, insured, and bonded, but before hiring one, triple-check that you wouldn’t be liable for any accidents.



Installing a New Roof - Warranties


How long can the new roof be expected to last? Typically, asphalt shingle roofs last for decades, but whereas some must be replaced after about 20 years, others remain viable for a lifetime. For instance, the Owens Corning shingles installed by Sears Home Services come with a guarantee of problem-free performance for a full 50 years (view details). Of course, if the shingles were improperly installed, even a generous product guarantee would be of little help to the homeowner. Sears Home Services sets itself apart here. Very few local contractors offer warranties on their workmanship. But Sears knows that, when it comes to such a large-scale investment, the customer service received post-installation often matters most of all. For that reason, the company provides a written limited warranty on labor, not to mention a Satisfaction Guarantee. Hire well, and you can expect your chosen roofer to get the job done on time and on budget. With Sears Home Services, you can expect that and more—namely, a commitment to your satisfaction that extends long after the installers have packed up their things and left.

Other home improvements are purely elective, but roof replacement is something different. It’s not so much a choice as it is an essential step forward in defending the structural integrity of your home, while giving a tremendous boost to its resale value. Don’t just flip open the yellow pages and settle on the first company listed. Instead, do your due diligence, ask good questions, and devote thought, care, and attention to your selection of whom you trust to put a roof over your head.


This post has been brought to you by Sears Home Services. Its facts and opinions are those of 

When the Clothes on Your Back Are a Tool for the Task

Setting out to make a repair on his roof, our blogger expected to use a handful of familiar, basic tools. By the end of the day, though, what had proved the most useful wasn't a tool at all!

Drip Edge Repair

Photo: MFranco

Look at any flat roof and, along the edges, you’re likely to see a special type of flashing—the drip edge. Though nothing more sophisticated than a profiled length of aluminum or galvanized steel, the drip edge performs a critical set of functions. For one, it closes up the space between the roof deck and fascia board, protecting the two components from the weather (and from each other). Second, the drip edge guards the roof deck from exposure to wind-driven rain. But most important, the drip edge, true to its name, encourages rain to shed outwards and away from the building, not down the side. Finally, although it’s primarily intended to prevent water damage, the drip edge provides a decorative bonus—it lends an attractive, finished appearance to the roof.

How do you know if your drip edge has been doing its job? Check the fascia board, or in some cases, the underside of the roof overhang. Here, if you notice water stains, you can probably blame the drip edge. But stains are not the only sign of a drip-edge failure. As I discovered on a recent visit to my summer house, some signs are much more dramatic. As I pulled into the driveway, I didn’t see any water stains. No, what I saw was the drip-edge flashing hanging down the side of the garage, having become almost fully detached! My best guess was that high winds caused an outdoor cable to snag the flashing and wrench it out of position. I’m just glad I stopped by the house at the right time. Had I not been there to put the drip edge back into place, a leaking roof or a flooded basement—or both—may have been waiting for me on my next visit.

Of course, I was on vacation and not eager to work on anything (other than my suntan, that is). But knowing that, without the drip edge in place, the house would be vulnerable to damage from heavy summer rains, I had no choice but to move forward with the repair. Within minutes, I’d rounded up the basic tools I’d need. But as it was such an exceedingly hot day—and because I would be working with sharp-edged metal—I had to put extra thought into my choice of clothing. In my experience, when you’re tackling a tough task or working under difficult conditions, your gear can make or break your ability to perform. For that reason, I was happy to test a couple of pieces from the Wrangler® RIGGS Workwear® line—a collection designed specifically to provide durability and comfort on the job site.

Photo: MFranco

The Wrangler® RIGGS Workwear® collection includes everything from jeans and overalls to long-sleeve shirts and button-downs. Because I was facing an outdoor job—in summer, no less—I chose the Short Sleeve Pocket T-Shirt. Though I had read the label and understood the shirt is made entirely from seven-ounce cotton jersey, I was still surprised by the balance struck between its rugged construction and loose-but-not-too-loose fit. Aside from the vented taped side seams and taped neck seam, I also loved the tagless label, because when I’m on a ladder, the last thing I want to worry about is a scratchy collar. Along with the T-shirt, I wore the Ripstop Ranger Pant, named for the durable ripstop fabric that makes the garment not only extraordinarily tough, but also quite comfortable and, in my experience, miraculously breathable.

Back to the job at hand: The initial step was to remove the damaged drip edge and closely inspect its condition. While the wind had done most of the work for me, taking down all but one portion of the flashing, there were still a few nails left to remove. Using pliers, I pulled out the nails, then carefully carried the drip edge down to the ground, where I had set up a rudimentary workbench. If the flashing had been irretrievably damaged, I could easily have gone out and purchased a replacement. After all, home centers typically stock drip-edge flashing in 10-foot sections, in multiple colors and in multiple profiles. But lucky for me, the damage was minimal. In relatively short order, I was able to smooth out the few dents simply by running a block of wood over the metal on both sides. In other words—so far, so good!

Up to this point, what I loved most about Wrangler® RIGGS Workwear® wasn’t that it had resisted tears or allowed freedom of movement. It did do both of those things, but I was most impressed with the breast pocket of the T-shirt. Unlike most breast pockets, this one isn’t merely for show. On the contrary, the pocket was strong enough to hold the pair of pliers that I used on the roof. Plus, inside the pocket there’s a hidden utility loop—the perfect spot to stash a carpenter’s pencil. Those are the kinds of little details that mark the Short Sleeve Pocket T-Shirt as having been pragmatically designed with real working people in mind. Something else I liked: Despite the intense heat, I was managing to stay cool thanks to the vents that are let into the pant just below the reinforced knees. Certainly, the ripstop material is breathable on its own—more breathable than I expected—but the extra airflow goes a long way toward ensuring comfort.

In the final phase of the flashing repair, I had to reinstall the drip edge. To keep it in place over the long haul, I ran a bead of roofing cement along the side that would sit against the roof deck. The cement would help the flashing withstand the next gust of wind or tug from a cable. Once I’d done that, there was only one step remaining—climbing the ladder and repositioning the drip edge. Under normal circumstances, I would have expected to make a few trips up and down the ladder, but here’s where the many thoughtful, practical details in the design of the Ripstop Ranger Pant really surprised me. In the end, I had to make only one trip, because everything I needed to complete the project fit handily on the garment. On the right side, a loop provided a place to hang my hammer. A smaller pocket proved to be the exact right size for a tape measure. With my caulking gun secured in one of the belt loops, I jammed a handful of nails into the cargo pocket, confident that their sharp points would not poke through.

Atop the ladder, I completed the rest of the work pretty quickly, securing the flashing with roofing nails at intervals of about three inches. Then, to finish the job, I ran a second line of roofing cement, this time along the seam where the flashing came into contact with the roof. At any point in the process, the clothes I was wearing could have slowed me down—or simply made the project more of a pain. It’s happened before. But if anything, wearing Wrangler® RIGGS Workwear® helped me take the job from to-do to done faster than I anticipated, with plenty of time left over in the afternoon to enjoy the nearby beach. Best of all, I know that if I’d encountered any problem at all with my clothing, it wouldn’t have been a problem for very long. That’s because the full line of Wrangler® RIGGS Workwear® comes protected by a lifetime warranty. OK, seriously, how many T-shirts or pairs of pants do you own that are covered by a warranty? That’s what I thought.

Photo: MFranco

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Wrangler. The opinions and text are all mine.


Never Clean Gutters Again After This One Improvement

If you're one of the many homeowners who dreads the hassle and the hazards of maintaining your gutters, consider the alternative—a storm drainage system that never clogs and requires zero maintenance.

Never Clean Gutters Again


Experts recommend cleaning your gutters at least twice per year—at the tail end of fall and at the very beginning of spring. If you live in a home surrounded by trees, then it’s wise to clean your gutters more often, perhaps with each change of season. That may seem like a lot of effort for a system that you rarely see, but think of it this way: gutters perform a critical function. By collecting rain and directing it away from the home, gutters prevent a slew of insidious problems, from mold and pests to leaks and flooding. Water is the natural enemy of any home, and gutters are your first line of defense against its potentially devastating threats.

For gutters do to their job, you’ve got to do yours—that is, keeping the gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and debris. If you fall behind on your maintenance, then you may as well not have installed gutters in the first place. It’s really that simple. Still, a surprising number of homeowners don’t clean the gutters nearly as often as necessary. Why? Well, there’s a simple explanation: People hate doing it. Besides being a hassle, the work can be downright dangerous, as it often involves climbing a ladder up to the roofline. Sure, you can hire a pro to handle the job, but doing so multiple times per year quickly becomes an expensive proposition.

Rather than force yourself to do such a dangerous chore, and instead of neglecting your gutters to the detriment of your home, why not simply install gutters that don’t need to be cleaned? In fact, if you choose LeafGuard Brand Gutters, you never need to clean or even think about gutters again. Thanks to its patented hooded design, the Leafguard system never clogs. Though other products imitate its functionality, only LeafGuard offers a seamless one-piece solution. So let the leaves fall where they may: So long as your home is protected by the LeafGuard system, you can rest assured that your gutters are running clear and operating as intended.

Never Clean Gutters Again - No Clogs


LeafGuard leverages the principle of liquid adhesion. That means when rain lands on the hood, the water effectively grabs on to the cover, flowing around its lip and right into the gutter itself. From there, the system channels the rain to the downspouts and then to a safe distance from the home. When things that would normally create clogs hit the hood, they are easily deflected to the ground. So whereas conventional gutters are completely vulnerable to the buildup of leaves and debris, LeafGuard gutters always remain free of obstructions. Only water enters the gutters. That’s why you never need to clean them; they don’t get dirty in the first place!

Though famous for being maintenance-free, LeafGuard Brand Gutters stand out for plenty of other reasons, too. For instance, thanks to their wide bottoms and generously proportioned downspouts, LeafGuard gutters can manage up to 32 inches of rain per hour. That’s more rain than has ever actually fallen in the United States—three times more, in fact, according to the U.S. Weather Bureau. In addition to top performance, LeafGuard also boasts uncommon durability. Not only are Leafguard gutters made of extra thick aluminum, but they’re also coated with ScratchGuard®, a proprietary paint finish guaranteed not to chip, peel, or crack.

First-class installation further separates LeafGuard from the rest. With conventional gutters, slip-prone nails are used to attach gutter hangers at intervals of four feet. LeafGuard, meanwhile, secures its hangers with non-corrosive screws, and it positions those hangers every two feet—double the industry standard. Those quality-oriented considerations ensure that LeafGuard gutters remain attached to the fascia board, never separating from the home. In a unique, patented process, trained and certified dealers custom-fabricate your gutters on-site, working from a continuous sheet of metal. In most cases, installation takes just a single day.

If you’re not satisfied with your gutters, it’s likely because they continually clog. Prevent the water damage those clogger gutters can cause—and, importantly, save yourself the hassle and danger of gutter maintenance—with the get-it-and-forget-it solution offered by LeafGuard, the original one-piece seamless gutter system!

Never Clean Gutters Again - LeafGuard Cutaway


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

How To: Clean Wood Siding

Your home's exterior really takes a beating. Give it an occasional cleaning to brighten up its appearance, get rid of mildew, and prevent discoloration. Sounds like a good idea, right? Well, have we got a tool for you!

How to Clean Wood Siding


Think your wood siding needs a fresh coat of paint? Maybe. Or it could be that your wood clapboard, lap, or shingle siding simply needs a thorough cleaning. Homeowners have always prized wood for its unparalleled appearance, but like any siding material, it requires periodic maintenance. With wood in particular, the challenge is to avoid doing more harm than good. For instance, you might be tempted to clean wood siding with a pressure washer, thinking it would make quick work of things. Do so at your own risk. Using such a high-powered tool can actually cause several types of damage, including stripped paint, gouged boards, and loosened caulk. Plus, if the pressure washer manages to send water through the joints and behind the boards, the errant moisture could end up fostering mold growth or triggering wood rot. In short, unless you’re deeply familiar with the operation of a pressure washer, don’t point one at the most visible part of your home. Besides, if you really want to give new life to your wood siding, it’s likely that water alone won’t do the trick—you’ll need to scrub too. A full-featured garden hose attachment like the HYDE PivotPro Outdoor Cleaning Wand includes everything you need to achieve a satisfying, beautiful result. Read on to learn how to clean wood siding safely and effectively with a single tool.

How to Clean Wood Siding - PivotPro Product Isolated


- HYDE PivotPro Outdoor Cleaning Wand
- Garden hose
- Wood siding cleaner
- Plastic sheeting

Though far gentler than a pressure washer, PivotPro is broadly similar, in the sense that it releases a steady, directed stream of water. So, before you begin cleaning the siding in earnest, take steps to protect anything that would be vulnerable to a spray of water. If your landscaping includes delicate foundation plantings, it may be wise to cover them all with plastic sheeting. Do the same for any electrical components mounted on the siding (for example, power outlets and light fixtures). Also, do the obvious thing: Shut all the windows. As you go about your preparations, keep an eye out for mold. Dirt can be unsightly, but mold can be truly problematic. Left unchecked, it often causes wood rot, particularly in wet, humid climates. Note any location where you discover mold, so you return to and concentrate on those spots later in the cleaning process.

Point your PivotPro, hit the trigger, and start spraying cleansing water against your dirty wood siding. Work down from the roofline, taking on one 10-foot-square section at a time. At 46 inches in length, the PivotPro greatly extends your reach, even allowing you to spray second-floor siding without the hassles and hazards of using a ladder. In fact, PivotPro never forces you out of your comfort zone. Its pivoting nozzle allows you to spray at virtually any angle, so you can attack grit and grime in corners and crevices, all while remaining on your own two feet—no bending, stretching, or stooping required.

If you encountered any mold during the initial spraying, you’ll need to take action. Whether homegrown or store-bought, there are a number of methods of eliminating mold. Many people swear by the mold- and mildew-fighting capabilities of white vinegar, while others recommend oxygen bleach (not to be confused with chlorine bleach). Another option is to shop your local home center for a specially formulated mildewcide. Whichever cleanser you choose, it can be added to the 16-ounce mixing reservoir built into the PivotPro. Just pour in your cleanser of choice, set your desired cleanser-to-water ratio, then spray the mildew treatment wherever you need it. Finished? Deactivate the cleanser infusion with the push of button. Note: In order to be effective, most mildew treatments must sit for a period of time before being rinsed away.

How to Clean Wood Siding - Scrub Spray


If you encounter stubborn dirt or mold, don’t fret: PivotPro comes with precisely what you need to get rid of stuff that simply won’t budge. For flat surfaces, opt for the adjustable stiff-bristle nylon brush preloaded onto the tool. When you need it, simply swing the brush into place and scrub the siding as you spray it down. Do you need to scrub a narrow area, perhaps around the edges of a trim detail? Switch out the regular scrub brush for the spindle brush, also included. This attachment lets you clean cramped crevices where even hands can’t easily fit. When you’re done with the PivotPro brush, swing it back up and out of the way again.

Finish up by rinsing off any section to which you applied mildew treatment. If you used only water throughout the process, then you can consider the task complete once you have sprayed down the entire home exterior. Depending on the condition of the house when you started, you may notice the difference immediately. As you bask in the glow of a job well done, promise yourself to perform a similarly thorough cleaning on an annual basis to ensure that your siding always presents an appearance you can be proud of. Even more important, continued maintenance goes a long way toward ensuring your siding continues to serve you for many years.

How to Clean Wood Siding - Mixing Reservoir Detail


This post has been brought to you by Hyde Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of

Is Your Home Ready for Rain?

Rainfall isn't just a number. Find out how much your neighborhood is expected to get—and how you can prevent that stormwater from damaging your home this season.

LeafGuard Free Estimate


Can rain really damage your home? Well, that depends on the storm and on whether or not you’re ready for it. One inch of rain might not sound like much, but when spread over a 1,000-square-foot roof, it all adds up to a volume of 600 gallons! With so much rain, some of it’s going to find its way indoors eventually—unless your home is protected.


Gutters are your first line of defense against stormwater damage. But typical gutters only work right when regularly maintained. That’s why you need maintenance-free LeafGuard gutters. Designed with a unique curved hood, the seamless one-piece LeafGuard system never clogs. You never have to clean, let alone think about, your gutters. And your home remains protected, no matter what the weather brings.

Leafguard Free Estimate - Rain Map


Click here to see your state’s average rainfall, then get info on how LeafGuard can help protect your home from whatever Mother Nature throws at you.


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

3 Wacky Tricks for Cleaning Gutters—Plus 1 Good Idea

All in an effort to avoid climbing that ladder and cleaning those gutters, homeowners have come up with some pretty unorthodox techniques. In the end, though, none rivals the get-it-and-forget convenience of a gutter system that never clogs in the first place.


Of the many maintenance tasks that homeowners dread, cleaning the gutters may be the least favorite of all. But like it or not, regular gutter cleaning is a must. When properly functioning, gutters perform a largely unseen but absolutely critical function: they direct rain water—the natural enemy of any home—away from the foundation, siding, and trim. If not sufficiently maintained, gutters eventually clog and overflow, allowing moisture to go where it doesn’t belong. Often, inadequate storm drainage leads to extensive, expensive damage in the form of leaks and flooding or such related issues as mold growth and pest infestations. No matter where you live, it’s recommended that you clean the gutters twice per year—once at the end of fall and again in the early spring. If your house sits on a lot with lots of trees, it may be wise to do so even more frequently. So, how do you go about it? Well, there are plenty of ways to complete the job. Perhaps the most common method involves nothing more than an extension ladder, a thick pair of work gloves, and a bucket. But over the years, some creative do-it-yourselfers have developed their own unique approaches. Here are a few of our favorite among the unconventional tactics that people are using to wage the never-ending war against leaves.

1. Blown Away
You’re probably familiar with the leaf blower as a tool that makes quick work of collecting leaves on the ground. What you may not have considered: A leaf blower can also clear leaves out of your gutters. The trick is to extend the reach of the blower well beyond its usual length. Attachment kits for the purpose may be found at your local home center, or, if you’d rather not spend the money, you can always hack something together with basic plumbing supplies. Don’t have a leaf blower? Try a shop vacuum! It turns out that, simply by swapping hose locations, you can reverse the operation of a shop vacuum, turning the suction tool into a blower. The downside of either approach is that, while blown air can be effective with dry leaves and twigs, it cannot budge lodged-in dirt or decomposing organic material. Also, bear in mind that, in multi-story homes, accessing the gutters typically requires the use of a ladder. For anyone, under any circumstances, scaling an extension ladder can be quite dangerous. But scaling a ladder even while holding a leaf blower? That’s a recipe for disaster and definitely something not to do!

2. Manual Labor
With a long wooden handle and sturdy steel tines, cultivators belong in the arsenal of any serious gardener or landscaper. Often extending lengths up to five or six feet, such tools are most often used to break up weeds and till soil. And due to their size, they enable you to work across a broad expanse without bending or stretching to an uncomfortable degree. What makes the cultivator so handy in the yard also makes it viable for gutter cleaning, at least in a single-story home. Unfortunately, when knocking debris out of your gutter with a cultivator, the gunk has nowhere to land but around your house. So, depending on your aesthetic sensitivities, you might wind up having to clean up all the gutter debris not once, but twice. Another drawback: The cultivator does nothing to eradicate clogs inside the downspouts. In the end, although it’s messy and achieves only partial results, a cultivator can be used in a pinch—but only for single-story homes.

3. Water Wise
Ironically, water—concentrated, carefully controlled streams—can be effective in gutter cleaning, especially when it comes to heavy decaying debris. If you have a garden hose connected to an outdoor spigot, you’re halfway there. The other piece of equipment you need is a long, ideally telescoping hose wand with an angled, down-pointing spray nozzle. If your hose attachment isn’t quite long enough or doesn’t have the right sort of nozzle, you can buy or make a suitable extender. Be warned: Though the method can be effective—for clearing out downspouts, in particular—you’re almost undoubtedly going to get soaked in the process, so put on rain gear before getting started. Also, expect to rinse or scrub away mud, not only from the roof and exterior walls, but also from sections of your lawn, hardscape (e.g., walkways and driveway), and planting areas. If you’re thinking, “Well, that sounds like a whole lot of trouble to go through,” you’re absolutely right!

None of the above are perfect techniques, but people put up with their disadvantages. Perhaps that’s because they allow people with single-story homes to sidestep the need for a ladder. Every year, homeowners go up on ladders to clean the gutters, and every year, people fall. This can be dangerous work. Yes, there’s the option of paying a professional to handle the job, but for a twice-yearly task, the associated costs can add up to a considerable sum. Homeowners are caught between ignoring the gutters, putting their property at risk, and climbing a ladder that puts life and limb at risk. So what’s the solution here?


Install LeafGuard Brand Gutters, and you never have to think about your gutters again. Thanks to its unique, patented design, the LeafGuard one-piece seamless gutter system prevents clogging, so you can rest assured your home is safe, while never again having to do seasonal cleaning. That’s right: Say goodbye to gutter cleaning—forever.

Here’s how it works: Water flows over the curved hood of LeafGuard, then falls into the gutter, where it gets carried to the downspouts and then finally deposited at a safe distance from the home. Leaves and twigs, meanwhile, hit the hood and are deflected. Unlike added-on gutter helmets or screens, LeafGuard offers a one-piece product with no seams and no flimsy connections. Stronger and more durable than any other, LeafGuard gutters are made from aluminum that’s 20% thicker than standard gutters. Plus, the system features three-by-four downspouts that are 30% larger than average. That means LeafGuard sheds more water, more quickly.

Custom-fabricated on-site by trained and certified dealers, LeafGuard usually installs within one day, and its sleek design, available in a wide variety of colors, perfectly matches any house style. All the while, its clog-free functionality eliminate all the many moisture-related problems that homeowners so often worry about.

Don’t let a bunch of wet leaves compromise your largest investment. If you want a safe, hassle-free solution to clogged gutters, choose LeafGuard Brand Gutters.


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

Bob Vila Radio: Replace Rot-Damaged Trim ASAP

Rotted trim on the outside of your home is a small detail that can become a big problem, and water damage is the prime culprit. Follow these steps to replace your rotted trim—and keep it from happening again.

Exterior trim performs a couple of roles. Besides adding a decorative touch, it seals up corners and edges to keep out moisture. Given the exposure it gets from the weather, there’s no wonder that over time, it’s prone to damage from rot.

Replace Rotted Exterior Trim


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Listen to BOB VILA ON REPLACING ROTTED TRIM or read the text below:

To protect your home from further, non-cosmetic damage, check the condition of house trim regularly. Pay special attention to the top and bottom ends, as that’s where water seep in most. If you see rot in one spot, it’s best to replace the entire board. You can always save the undamaged sections for future repair jobs.

Once you’ve cut the new trim to size, apply a coat of primer to all sides, including the back and the ends. Use galvanized nails to fasten the new board into place, then finish off with at least two coats of a high-quality exterior paint.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.