Category: Roofing & Siding

How To: Forget About Your Gutters for Good

Cleaning gutters is a seasonal hassle that protects against other, much worse headaches later on. But what if this year—and plenty more years to come—you could skip the task altogether? Read on to learn how you can retire this tiresome task forever.

How to Forget About Gutters - No Clogs


As the days grow shorter and the heat of summer eases into autumn, it’s tempting to just kick back, relax, and enjoy this season of invigorating weather, game-day tailgating, and must-see television. Experienced homeowners, however, know all too well that the shift indoors doesn’t signal an end to outdoor maintenance. Fall is the time to winterize the lawn, replace weatherstripping, and make necessary house repairs before temperatures really take a dive. But topping the list of must-do tasks: the unpleasant duty of cleaning out your home’s gutters before precipitation starts to freeze.

Gutters and downspouts perform the crucial function of channeling rainwater away from the house, preventing it from collecting at the base and seeping down between the soil and foundation. Particularly in areas that are high in clay soil, over-saturation at the foundation can cause the soil to swell and exert lateral pressure on the foundation walls, creating structural problems and increasing the risk of leaks. To keep this from happening, water must be able to flow freely through the gutters. Unfortunately, left unattended for just a few months, typical gutters can become clogged with windblown seeds, leaves, twigs, and other debris that can obstruct drainage, cause rainwater to overflow, and prevent the system from doing its job.

Even if you’re lucky enough to get through autumn without clogged gutters and their attendant foundation problems, stopped-up gutters in winter can bring even worse consequences. Moisture and standing water trapped by debris can freeze and expand, breaking the gutter and pulling it loose from its mounting brackets—and leaving you with an expensive repair bill. And as spring arrives and the debris decomposes, windblown tree seeds that settled in the gutters can sprout, growing into unsightly saplings that weigh down an already stressed gutter system. Within a very short time, the extra burden can damage the gutter. The sad fact is, if your home has traditional gutters, you can’t skip even one seasonal cleaning. The traditionally high-maintenance drainage system demands attention every spring and every fall, and possibly even more frequently if your backyard boasts an above-average number of trees.


Regular gutter cleanup often comes down to two options: DIY versus professional. Handy homeowners who choose to tackle the chore themselves save money, but the labor is tedious and often unsafe. To minimize risk, gutter cleaning should be a two-person job, with one person on the ladder cleaning the gutter, and another down below holding the ladder steady and handing up tools as needed for scraping out or disposing of debris. To reduce the risk of falls, it’s imperative that the person tasked with the climb never stand on the ladder’s top rung or stretch past his or her natural reach. Ultimately, the safer route is to call in the pros. A reputable gutter cleaning company relieves you of the risk and responsibility and, equipped with the right tools and experience, can speed through the work quickly and effectively. But in the long term, spending a few hundred dollars on a professional service two or more times each year can really add up.

Fortunately, homeowners aren’t limited to those two options. There’s a third way, a design solution that can eliminate the need for cleaning gutters altogether, no matter the season. The innovative LeafGuard Brand Gutters combine a hood and gutter into a single, uninterrupted fixture that does all the dirty work. The unique roll-formed design directs runoff from the roof into the gutter trough while simultaneously keeping leaves and other airborne organic matter out. This ingenious arrangement doesn’t allow anything into the gutter that would need to be manually cleaned, making maintenance a thing of the past.

The rest of the system is built to work just as hard: The gutter trough and downspouts are substantial enough to handle even the heaviest rains, up to 32 inches per hour. Plus, built from a continuous sheet of aluminum, LeafGuard is immune to those leaks that commonly develop where parts join together in traditional gutters.

And, because they’re professionally extruded on-site from heavy-gauge aluminum prior to installation, you can be confident that the custom gutters will flawlessly fit your house. No guessing or piecing gutter sections together. No sagging or breaking. And LeafGuard gutters look as good as they perform, offering 12 scratch-resistant colors to choose from—including classic white, tan, gray, and even Musket Brown—so homeowners can find a style that truly complements their house’s design.

Go ahead! Rake up the leaves on your lawn, caulk that drafty window, and change your furnace filters. But this fall, make a new plan. Instead of scaling a rickety ladder to clean your gutters, simply climb into your hammock for one last nap. When you choose LeafGuard, your gutters will flow freely, protected from clogs without your having to lift a single finger, and you’ll be able to cross gutter maintenance off your to-do list—forever.

Attractive Leafguard Gutters Match Any Home Design


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

5 Things to Know Before You Invest in New Siding

Siding can make or break the appearance of a home. But remember, beauty is more than skin deep: If a siding replacement project looms in your future, make sure you choose a material that will offer durability, ease of maintenance, and insulation as well as looks.



The blistering heat of the Southwest. The bitter cold of the Northeast. Every region faces a set of unique climate challenges that—no matter where you live—slowly but surely work to erode the integrity of your home. As a first line of defense, exterior siding goes a long way toward keeping the elements at bay, and it may do so unfailingly for decades. But no siding lasts forever. Indeed, it’s only a matter of time before yours will succumb to driving rain, whipping wind, and the other threats it once protected against. When the time finally comes for siding replacement, many homeowners proceed with the project intending merely to restore the status quo. But according to Jim Eldredge, a product manager with Sears Home Services, re-siding actually presents a rare opportunity. “In one fell swoop,” he says, you can “boost not only the outward look of your home, but its performance as well.” Of course, as in any home improvement project, only careful consideration and planning can ensure satisfying, if not jaw-dropping, results. At the outset, therefore—before you make any final decisions or spend any money—the wise course is to learn more about the role siding plays in the home and the clear-cut advantages replacement offers. For a detailed discussion of the main considerations to weigh in your decision making, continue reading now!




Cladding the entire home from the foundation to the roofline, siding easily ranks as the single most conspicuous element of the exterior. That being the case, its condition has a huge impact on curb appeal, largely determining the impression your home makes on first-time visitors and passersby. If your siding has begun to rot or crumble—or if it’s developed a great many cracks, holes, and gouges—then it’s compromising not only the appearance of your home, but also—and much more importantly—its structure. “Don’t rule out the possibility of repair,” Eldredge of Sears Home Services says, pointing out that modest fixes can be made to modest-sized problem areas. In cases where the extent of damage makes repair prohibitively expensive, Eldredge says, “replacement often offers a cost-effective alternative.” The key is not to delay. After all, unsound siding leaves your home in a precarious position. For one thing, even small breaks in the material allow moisture to reach and potentially rot wood components of the interior, including the framing. And openings that let in water can also invite potentially damaging pests and other unwanted critters. True, many of these invaders are more nuisance than threat, but some are capable of causing extensive, expensive-to-resolve headaches. That’s why Eldredge summarizes, “If you want to keep living in your home, you need siding that can keep it protected.”




It’s not cheap keeping a home at a comfortable temperature year-round. In fact, heating and cooling equipment consumes more energy than most other appliances combined, accounting for more than half of the monthly utility bill in average homes. That said, if your current siding isn’t performing up to par—if it’s allowing air to exit and enter the home freely—you may be paying even more than strictly necessary. Why? To counter the heat lost or gained by air leaks, your HVAC system must work harder—and consume more energy—to maintain the target temperature set on the thermostat. Although “it’s rarely something that homeowners expect from the project,” Eldredge points out, re-siding can help make your home more tightly sealed, not only eliminating the discomfort of drafts, but creating the ideal conditions for climate-control technology to operate with peak efficiency. Of course, on its own, siding of any material can offer only so much insulation. If you insist on better thermal performance, limit your search to siding products like the Weatherbeater line, routinely and exclusively installed by Sears Home Services. Thanks to a special foam underlayment, Weatherbeater siding boasts an enhanced insulating capacity, or R-value. In fact, all three levels of Weatherbeater siding are certified by Energy Star for their efficiency advantages.




How long does siding last? “It’s tough to generalize,” Eldredge says. Much depends on the siding you install, and whether you’re prepared to maintain it. While some siding materials deliver first-rate performance without asking much in return, others require regular care to remain viable. For instance, wood siding appeals to many for its traditional beauty, but according to Eldredge, “it’s probably the most demanding of all.” In addition to seasonal inspection, wood requires periodic refinishing to look and perform its best. In the past, if you were hesitant about such a high-maintenance siding material, “you’d probably have chosen to go with aluminum instead,” Eldredge says. But over the years, “aluminum proved to be a lot more hands-on than expected.” The metal itself would last for decades, sure, but once its enamel coating faded, the material would require repainting. As well, its tendency to become scratched, pitted, or dented often necessitated the hassle and expense of repair. Fortunately, the market now includes a broader, better range of options. Today, Eldredge says, vinyl siding trumps others in popularity, because it provides the “best of both worlds”—that is, the look of traditional wood siding without all the hassle. In fact, low-maintenance Weatherbeater vinyl siding from Sears Home Services rarely needs anything more than a rinse with a garden hose.




As they say, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Of course, while the phrase is typically used to emphasize the importance of eye contact and a firm handshake, it also applies to our homes—especially their exteriors. To approaching guests, or simply to people walking or driving by, the outward appearance of your home can express a great deal about your personality, your style, and your priorities as a homeowner. If you suspect that your current siding isn’t sending the right messages about you, there’s no easier, less expensive, or more effective option than painting. The catch is that although a fresh coat of paint may be able to usher in a dramatic new look, it cannot solve deeper, performance-related problems with your siding. But don’t forget: Although you may be choosing to install new siding for expressly practical reasons, you can leverage the project to resolve your aesthetic concerns at the same time. The sheer number of options makes it easy to find a combination of color and texture that reflects your preferences, highlights the architectural style of your home, and suits the surrounding neighborhood. Eldredge concludes, “There are dozens and dozens of possibilities, even if you look only at the Weatherbeater line,” the siding installed by Sears Home Services. In other words, he says, “homeowners are spoiled for choice!”




When homeowners undertake a home improvement project, they often do it begrudgingly. “Nobody likes to spend money,” Eldredge points out. Put off by the price tag? Think of it this way—you’re not the only one who knows that re-siding involves considerable costs. Prospective buyers are also aware of this fact, and often act on that awareness by walking away from homes that have siding that needs work. You may not have any immediate plans to move, but whenever you do decide to sell, having chosen to re-side your home could work to your ultimate advantage. Plus, Eldredge says, “don’t forget that you’re making an investment, not simply throwing money away.” When it comes time to sell, the purchase and installation of new siding often gives a boost to home value. In fact, Eldredge estimates that upon resale, homeowners typically recoup more than half of the project cost. Certainly, not every home improvement offers a favorable return on investment, but siding replacement definitely does—especially when you add in the amount Energy Star-rated options like Weatherbeater siding can save you on climate control. To gain even more confidence in your re-siding project, make it a point to find a solution that’s backed by a solid guarantee. For instance, Sears Home Services provides peace of mind with a one-, two-, or three-year limited warranty (view details).


Typically, homeowners undertake an improvement project on their own timetable, to enhance their enjoyment of their house. Sprucing up the kitchen, adding a deck in the backyard—these are purely elective projects. Re-siding, in comparison, may not be quite as fun, but in terms of consequence it edges out most others by a mile. Indeed, siding replacement can help ensure the continued health and happiness of your home. Under the circumstances, and recognizing that the eventual success or failure of new siding hinges largely on proper installation, it’s only prudent to work with professionals whose skill and experience are commensurate with the importance of the job. Don’t simply flip open the phone book and settle on the first name you find. Do your due diligence. Hire well, and you can look forward to getting the job done on time, on budget. But if you opt for a well-established, nationwide company like Sears Home Services, you get something else too—peace of mind. To begin, schedule a free in-home consultation right now. Expert project consultants can help you assess the condition of your current siding, and if replacement proves necessary, they can guide you each step of the way through the entire process. Perhaps best of all, in a demonstration of its commitment to the quality of your customer experience, Sears Home Services supports all its work with a Satisfaction Guarantee.


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

3 Reasons to Build with Metal Roofing

These three hidden benefits build a strong case for an equally strong roofing material.

Installing Metal Roofing


A homeowner doesn’t usually give much thought to the roof on his or her home until the worst happens and it’s time for repairs. So, under normal circumstances, “upgrade the roof” doesn’t sit toward the top of most homeowners’ to-do lists, which are usually crowded with curb appeal projects or energy-saving fixes—but maybe it should. Modern metal roofing boasts numerous benefits, from its long, low-maintenance lifespan to the year-round energy savings it generates, that have made its use more attractive. Read on for just a few of the reasons why customers of American Building Components—one of the leading manufacturers of residential and agricultural steel products—select, install, and love their metal roofs.

Gone are the days of “tin roofs” on barns, sheds, and shacks. Modern metal roofs are better engineered than ever before, promising even stronger shelter and a wider selection of colors, styles, and profiles. Roofing manufacturers like American Building Components offer panels in “Radiant Red,” “Hawaiian Blue,” “Desert Sand,” and more than two dozen other color options—a rainbow array to complement any style of building.

Now that there’s no need to compromise curb appeal for durability, a metal roof can stay stylish for as many decades as it remains functional—and this is a significant span of time, as a properly installed, warranty-backed metal roof has the potential to outlast your lifetime. In fact, a recent study conducted by the Metal Construction Association determined that metal roofs last at least 60 years, a strong selling point for those homeowners who want their next roof to be the last one they’ll ever need, as well as those concerned about their home’s resale value later on.

Installing Metal Roofing - Dormer Detail


While a premium metal roof may incur a higher initial cost than other roofing materials on the market, the minimal maintenance it requires over its long lifespan saves homeowners a bundle. And then there’s the money this investment puts back into your pocket: From energy savings to tax credits, even potential insurance savings, this home upgrade starts to pay off immediately.

Metal roofing can have a significant impact on a home’s energy consumption, especially in the summer. Specially formulated paint pigments applied to the metal create “cool roofs,” or surfaces that reflect and emit the sun’s energy rather than soaking in the heat and trapping it in the attic. With cool roof technology available from suppliers like American Building Components, a homeowner could see energy savings of up to 40 percent, depending on the climate in his region. Additionally, because the cooling units in these homes don’t have to work as hard to keep interiors at a comfortable temperature, there is the potential to actually extend the lifespan of your air conditioner—ultimately saving you from shelling out extra money for a replacement. If that isn’t enough incentive, add to those yearly savings a one-time tax credit of up to $500 on Energy Star roofing materials purchased before the end of 2016.

Then there’s the insurance-savings potential that comes from the roofing’s impressive durability during many types of natural disasters, including fires and hurricanes. After a 1991 firestorm in Oakland, California, wiped out more than 3,200 homes, one famous image depicted a lone house standing unscathed amidst a fire-razed neighborhood. What saved it? Its metal roof. Meanwhile, other roofs of asphalt and wood were lost to the tiniest of sparks in those arid conditions. Today, fire safety isn’t the only reason insurers love metal roofs. Engineered metal roofing, like that offered by American Building Components, stands up well to most inclement weather: snow, hail, even hurricane-force winds of up to 140 miles per hour. Ask your insurance broker about discounts for weather-rated, impact-resistant, and fire-resistant metal roofing. In some places, homeowners see a savings of up to 35 percent on their policy.

A roof that fails midwinter under the weight of snow is every homeowner’s nightmare—except, that is, for a homeowner who sleeps underneath a metal roof. The winter months are when metal roofs work hardest. First, the sleek roofing material is designed with grooves that shed snow and sleet, thereby reducing the burden that a couple of feet of snowfall might otherwise put on a rooftop overnight. Additionally, snow guards can be used to break larger mounds of compacted snow into smaller piles to safely offload the icy precipitation. Then indoors, the metal structure and its insulating underlayment prevent heat loss, so the heating system doesn’t have to work as hard to keep the house toasty.

Homeowners ready to make the switch and reap these benefits this winter, as well as those who—as a result of snow damage—end up needing to repair their existing roofs midseason, will be happy to know that this particular installation is not off-limits in winter. In fact, there may even be savings to be gained by installing in December or January. Because most homeowners rush to get their roofing needs met before the first snowfall, doing the work in midwinter might mean that local roofing contractors will have less work lined up, so you may be able to negotiate a better rate on labor. (Let’s not forget the tax benefit you could get if you squeeze the project in before December 31, 2016.)

If you’re looking into repairing or replacing your existing roof, consider saving yourself some long-term hassle—as well as a fair chunk of money every year—by investing in metal roofing panels. There’s no reason to delay. Make this the last time you ever worry about your home’s roof.

Installing Metal Roofing - Top View


This article has been brought to you by American Building Components. Its facts and opinions are those of

Material Matters: Expert Advice on 3 Top Options in Roofing

Is it time to put a new roof over your head? There's much more to the project than its cost. First things first, you must decide what type of shingles to install. Read on for one expert's take on a trio of the most enduringly popular options.



It’s hard to overstate the importance of a sound roof. Besides keeping out the weather, the roof also contributes to curb appeal, making it one of the few components consequential enough to impact the home both in terms of performance and aesthetics. When the time comes to replace something so pivotal, the usual rules of home improvement cease to apply. Most projects are purely elective, after all, but re-roofing isn’t a choice—it’s an essential step toward protecting the structural integrity, outward condition, and long-term health of your biggest investment. Given the high stakes, not to mention the costs, re-roofing tends to intimidate. Only adding to the stress are all the unfamiliar terms that planning a re-roofing project brings into play. There are tough choices to make, too. Perhaps trickiest of all is selecting a new roofing material. Unfamiliar with the relative merits of the many different options, the average homeowner often doesn’t know where to begin. For guidance, we spoke to Jim Eldredge, a product manager with Sears Home Services—a nationwide company with a decades-long history of helping customers navigate the re-roofing process from beginning to end.




Before modern manufacturing delivered a host of new options to the market, wood shakes and shingles served for decades, if not centuries, as one of the few materials commonly used in roofing. Though by no means as ubiquitous as in the past, it remains a popular choice today, particularly among those seeking to enhance the period authenticity of a historic home. You can’t beat the look: Whether cedar, redwood, or pine—machine-sawed or hand-split—wood shakes and shingles offer an undeniable appeal. Their charm comes at a cost, though. With a price point at least twice as high as other roofing types, “wood simply isn’t in the budget for many remodelers,” according to Eldredge. “There’s also the issue of maintenance,” he says. Wood and water don’t mix. It’s that simple. So in order to remain free of rot and mold, wood roofing must be treated periodically with preservative, fungicide, or both. For those willing to meet their demands, wood shakes and shingles offer the reward of a 25-year average lifespan. But as Eldredge puts it, “not every homeowner feels comfortable committing to such a high-cost, high-maintenance material,” regardless of its aesthetic virtues.




The terra cotta color and half-cylinder shape of clay roofing tiles are the perfect complement to the stucco finish found on the many Mediterranean-style homes in such warm-weather states as Florida and Arizona. “It’s expensive,” Eldredge says—sometimes even quadruple the cost of a budget-friendly material—but since tile roofs commonly last more than 100 years, “you get bang for your buck.” Some homeowners cut costs by opting for concrete, not clay, tiles. But compared to the genuine article, concrete tile roofing—though it fares better in colder climates—lasts only half as long. Still, “if there’s one major downside to tile,” Eldredge says, “it’s how much the stuff weighs.” Whereas a typical roof weighs about 230 pounds per ten-foot-square area, a tile roof covering the same area can weigh over 1,000 pounds. If you’ve never had a tile roof before, don’t commit to one without first consulting a structural engineer. “It might not be possible for your roof to support the anticipated weight,” Eldredge concludes. Of course, you can always add structural reinforcement to bolster the strength of your roof, but to do so would add even more to the cost of an already expensive job.




If you were to close your eyes and picture the roof of a typical home, chances are that you would imagine a roof with asphalt shingles. “They have emerged as the industry standard,” Eldredge says. In fact, among the three lines of shingles routinely installed by Sears Home Services, all are asphalt, and for good reason. For one thing, asphalt shingles are often the most cost-effective option, not least because their ease of installation helps keep labor fees low. For another, “Asphalt shingles need little maintenance,” Eldredge says. The one knock against them—that they are unremarkable looking—no longer applies. “A lot has changed over the last 20 or so years,” Eldredge says. “Gray isn’t your only option anymore.” Today, companies like Sears offer asphalt shingles in a range of designs and colors. “But don’t pick your shingles based on aesthetics alone,” Eldredge advises. Instead, once you have found a look that you like, take the time to check the warranties of any roofing products on your radar. Whereas some guarantee 20 or 25 years of problem-free performance, others—including the Owens Corning shingles installed by Sears—carry a full 50-year warranty (view details).


Make no mistake: Roofing product warranties are key, but if the shingles aren’t installed correctly, even a best-in-class guarantee can’t do you much good. Also note that, as Eldredge says, “Roofs develop leaks and other issues more often because of poor installation than because of faulty shingles.” That being the case, the long-term viability of your new roof depends most of all on the skills and qualifications of the pros you trust to handle the job. Sears Home Services sets itself apart here, because unlike most small, local contractors, the nationwide company provides a limited warranty on labor (view details). Normally, if you hire a reputable contractor, you hope the work gets done on time and on budget. With Sears Home Services, you can expect more, thanks to the company’s trademark Satisfaction Guarantee, which promises a commitment to the success of your project that continues even after its completion. Still don’t know what type of shingles are best for your budget and needs? Schedule a free in-home consultation with Sears Home Services. Experts are ready and waiting to lead you through the entire process. Selecting a new roof material is just the beginning!


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

How To: Maintain Stucco

Stucco isn't delicate. Whether applied as exterior siding or as a finish for interior walls, the age-old material requires little in the way of ongoing maintenance. Occasional cleaning or patching may be necessary, but with the right combination of products and tools, any homeowner can get the job done. Here's how.


Over the course of millennia, builders have used everything from animal horns to whiskey in the making of stucco—an attractive, durable plaster finish suitable for both interior walls and exterior siding. Today, the material typically consists of more familiar ingredients like cement and sand, but it remains as tough as ever, often lasting as long as 50 or 80 years. However, in order to live out its expected lifespan successfully, stucco tends to require a modest amount of care and attention. How much largely depends on the nature of the application. Indoor stucco may call for nothing more than a new paint job now and again. But with exposure to the beating summer sun, the howling winds of winter, and simply the dirt and dust kicked up by passing traffic, it’s only a matter of time before stucco siding needs minor repair or, at the very least, a simple cleaning. For many homeowners, stucco maintenance starts and ends with a close look at the surface or surfaces in question. If your inspection reveals a reason to go a step further, read on for advice on ensuring your stucco looks and performs its best.



How to Maintain Stucco - Cleaning


A porous material, stucco collects dirt and absorbs stains, even indoors. The good news is that cleaning indoor stucco usually takes nothing more than water and a bit of elbow grease. Simply scrub the dingy stucco with a dampened nylon brush to saturate the surface, then rub away the buildup with a moistened microfiber cloth (or clean cotton rag). In extreme cases—for instance, with deeply set stains—you may find that you need more firepower. Experts recommend, not a conventional household cleaner, but a chemical solution known as trisodium phosphate, or TSP. Though it’s commonly available at home centers and hardware stores, be advised that in order to use TSP safely, homeowners must take the proper precautions. Ventilate the area by opening windows and running a fan, and when working, wear the right gear (rubber gloves, protective eyewear, and long-sleeve clothing). Once it’s safe to proceed, combine the TSP with water in a bucket, diluting to water-to-TSP ratio of 15 to 1. Finally, apply the TSP to the affected area by means of a nylon brush and allow the stucco an hour or two to dry.

In outdoor applications, when used as a siding material or even a garden wall finish, stucco tends to get a lot dirtier and for that reason, requires more frequent cleaning. The process doesn’t take long, though, so long as you use either a garden hose (equipped with a spray nozzle) or a power washer (on its lowest setting). First, with your chosen tool set to spray in a mist formation, saturate the stucco from bottom to top. Next, switch to a more concentrated spray and proceeded to clean, not from bottom to top, but from top to bottom (that way, dirt higher up on the wall doesn’t simply settle at the base). After spraying, check the stucco for any lingering buildup and, if you encounter any buildup, dislodge it with a stiff-bristle brush. Just be careful not to scrub so vigorously that you grind down the stucco. Now, if blemishes still remain on the siding, there’s one more step. With a pump sprayer or a hose wand with a built-in soap reservoir, apply diluted TSP (described above) directly to the affected areas. Then, having allowed sufficient time for the stucco to dry, finish up by rinsing the stucco surface one last time.



How to Maintain Stucco - Repair Area


Why does stucco last so long? In part, its durability owes to the fact that unlike other, more flexible materials, stucco boasts the gift of rigidity. That said, the rigidity of the material can also be a curse, causing it to develop cracks, chips, and gouges over time. Inside the home, surface stucco imperfections are merely an eyesore. But on the exterior, gaps in stucco siding can lead not only to further degradation of the stucco, but also to a host of nasty issues— mold growth, for example, or pest infestations. Don’t give a minor crack the chance to become a major headache. Take swift action. On your own, without having to hire a contractor, you can restore both the outward appearance of your stucco and, in the case of siding, its ability to defend your home against the elements. Modest stucco repairs are easily within reach for do-it-yourselfers because of products like Rapid Set Stucco Patch. On the one hand, Stucco Patch simplifies the crack-filling process, and on the other, speeds it up. In fact, due to its unique formulation, you get the job done in remarkably little time.

To begin, clear any loose or crumbling material away from and out of the crack, whether simply by using your hands or by employing a wire brush. At the same time, remember to eliminate any chalk, dirt, or oil that would inhibit the ability of the repair compound to adhere properly. Next, if the crack you’re addressing isn’t already at least a quarter of an inch thick, use a cold chisel and a hammer to widen it that much (and if possible, chisel the crack so that its edges are perpendicular to the wall). At this point, it’s worth taking a moment to assess the ambient conditions where you’re working. If it’s especially hot (or if you’re outdoors, especially windy), take the time to pre-moisten the stucco surrounding the crack. Otherwise, assuming you’ve prepared the stucco surface, you can proceed directly to preparing the Rapid Set Stucco Patch. In a wheelbarrow, mixing tub, or bucket, combine Stucco Patch with water in a 4-to-1 ratio and, with a drill-mounted paddle, mix the material for a few minutes until you have achieved a smooth, uniform, lump-free consistency like peanut butter.

Now you’re ready to apply the Rapid Set Stucco Patch. Working with a putty knife or small trowel, press the material firmly into the crack. Then, after completely filling the crack, run a flat board over the area. Doing so ensures that the patch doesn’t protrude beyond the plane of the existing stucco. What happens next depends on the texture of the existing stucco—and, depending on the size and location of the patch, if you deem it necessary for the patch to feature the same texture. Of course, if the existing surface features a smooth finish, then no problem—you can smooth the patch to an equally smooth finish with a traditional plastering tool. If, however, you need to match a decorative effect like stippling, then you may wish to take a cue from the pros who often employ ad hoc tools like sponges and kitchen whisks to create the desired effect. Once you have finished the patch to your satisfaction, you can more or less call it a day. There’s no complicated curing process involved with Rapid Set Stucco Patch.

Rapid Set Stucco Patch sets on its own, and a lot more quickly than other similar products. But that’s not the best part. When you repair stucco with other materials, you have to wait as long as 28 days before being able to paint over the patch. That’s 28 days before you can cross the project off your to-do list. Meanwhile, true to its name, Rapid Set Stucco Patch is ready to receive paint only 90 minutes after application. That’s why both pros and homeowners favor rapid-setting repair materials that give them the ability to move quickly through the process, from the beginning all the way to the end. The emphasis on speed only makes sense given that, after all, many stucco failures are time-sensitive, with prudence favoring a sooner-rather-than-later repair.

Overall, though stucco doesn’t require a great deal of care, you can’t forget all about it. Inspect it periodically—once per season, in the case of stucco siding—and clean or repair the material as necessary. Give stucco the modest amount of attention it demands, and it’s likely to reward you with decades of beauty and weather-tight performance.

How to Maintain Stucco - Rapid Set Stucco Patch


This article has been brought to you by CTS | Rapid Set. Its facts and opinions are those of

Solved! What to Do About a Leaky Roof

When it's raining inside your house, there's never time to spare. You may not always be able to fix a leaky roof yourself, but you can take steps to mitigate the damage—and the cost of repair.

Leaky Roof


Q: Help! I woke up after last night’s storm to find a discoloration on the kitchen ceiling and a puddle underneath. What do I do about this new leak?

A: There’s nothing quite like an indoor puddle to put a damper on your rise-and-shine routine, is there? The first thing to do is mitigate any moisture damage. That can get complicated, since a leaky roof doesn’t always appear as a puddle on the floor (or at least not immediately). Occasionally, the only sign of a leak is a subtle discolored patch on your ceiling or wall, caused by water pooling behind it. When you’re lucky enough to spot it early on, intervene as soon as possible using the following steps.

Secure the scene. If water’s just dripping onto the floor, consider yourself lucky and move a bucket to catch the falling drops. (While you’re at it, save your sanity by propping up some scrap wood inside the container to mute the annoying drip-drip-drip sound.) If you’re dealing with more than mere drips, move as much as possible out of the water’s path and use thick plastic sheeting to cover items that are too heavy to relocate.



Drain the water. Get up on a ladder or sturdy chair and puncture the water-damaged patch with a screwdriver. You may think that you’re making things worse by punching a hole, but if you skip this step more moisture will seep in. In fact, the weight of the water could even cause your ceiling to sag or collapse, adding one more repair to your growing list. Ultimately, patching up a small, 1/2-inch drainage hole is a lot easier and cheaper than dealing with structural damage.

Start sleuthing. So, where’s the source of that pesky leak? Water travels down trusses or flashing until it finds a weak point, so the spot where the water’s entering the room isn’t necessarily underneath—or even near—the portion of the roof you’ll have to fix. If you have attic access, start by heading up there during daylight hours. Turn off the lights and look up to see if there’s any small opening that lets sunshine stream through—an obvious source for your leaky roof.

Fight water with water. Can’t spot any signs of damage from the attic? Then your next step is the water-test method: Have someone stand outside on the roof and, using a lengthy hose, shower the roof in small sections until water starts dripping into the room again, giving you a second chance to pinpoint the source.

Phone a professional. Sometimes, finding the source of a leak is more complicated than simply spotting a hole in your attic’s ceiling. From failing flashing to clogged gutters to crumbling shingles, the list of potential causes is very long. If you’ve conducted a thorough inspection and you’re still not certain what’s causing your roof to leak, it’s time to call in a pro to both locate the problem and recommend a fix. The actual repair will depend on many factors, including roof pitch and type of shingle.

Meanwhile, lay out a tarp. If you’ve found the roof leak but can’t get a same-day repair, you’ll have to take temporary measures to protect your roof and home from snow, rain, and more water damage. If the roof is dry enough for you to climb safely, try covering the affected area with heavy plastic sheeting or a tarp (at least six millimeters thick) and some 2×4′s. Start at least four feet out from the problem area and slowly roll the plastic over it, past the the ridge of the roof, and four feet down the opposite side to cover the leaky portion completely. Place one 2×4 at the “top” of the tarp (on the opposite side of the roof) and one at the bottom (below the leaky spot) to weigh the tarp down. Fold the tarp back over each plank and fasten it to the wood with a staple gun. The bottom 2×4 should rest on an eave or against a fascia board. Lay a third 2×4 on the top board, which you’ve already wrapped in plastic sheeting, and secure it to the wrapped board with nails to help anchor the covering. Place more 2×4′s along the perimeter of the plastic if you’re worried about wind.

While you’re working outside, remember: Proceed carefully and—unless you want to compound the problem with a few more leaks—do not puncture your roof by nailing or screwing boards directly to it.

Bob Vila Radio: Replace Your Roof Without Getting Ripped Off

Every homeowner is grateful to have a roof over their head—unless you're dealing with leaks and shedding shingles. Here's how to find a reliable roofer that will get it right the first time.

Worried your roof won’t make it through another season? If you spot sagging, raised shingles, and ceiling leaks, you might be right. Before you sign that contract, make sure you’re dealing with a reputable contractor.

Roof Replacement


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Listen to BOB VILA ON REPLACING YOUR ROOF or read the text below:

First, take a closer look at the estimates you’ve already received. How comprehensive are they? Steer clear of roofers that give you a list of bullet points with important details missing. A careful review takes time, but it can save you thousands of dollars—and loads of grief. Make sure you know exactly what materials the contractor plans to use, too. Second-rate supplies may seem more budget-friendly, but you’ll pay for it later with additional repairs or early replacement.

Don’t let your roofer talk you into nailing new shingles over the old ones. You’re better off inspecting the sheathing below and correcting any issues before moving forward. Finally, before you sign the contract, read it over so you understand any liabilities and warranties. If anything goes wrong on the job—or after the crew leaves—you’ll know exactly where you stand.

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!

The Truth About Clog-Free Gutters

As the first line of defense against stormwater damage, gutters play a vital role in the infrastructure of just about any home. The catch is that, in order to function as designed, gutters require regular care. In fact, to ensure that rain can run freely through the gutters and downspouts—without encountering clogs or other impediments—prudent homeowners perform maintenance as often as twice per year, in fall and then again in spring.

No doubt, there are plenty of ways to rid gutters of leaves and twigs, pine needles and other yard debris. Some prefer to do the work manually, while others rely on gizmos like scoops, tongs, or even shop vac attachments. No matter the method you choose, however, chances are good that, if you live in a multi-story house, you’re not going to be able to get the job done unless you risk life and limb scaling a full-size extension ladder.

When you consider the nature of gutter cleaning, and when you think about the very real physical dangers associated with working high up on a ladder, it’s easy to see why so many dread the task. Fortunately, a suite of products known as gutter guards can reduce or nearly eliminate the need for it. Perhaps the best-known are LeafGuard Brand Gutters—a seamless, one-piece system that has inspired many imitators over the years.

LeafGuard features an ingenious design that leverages the principle of surface tension. As water meets the hood of the system, it flows around the curved lip and into the trough of the gutter. Leaves and debris, meanwhile, meet the hood and bounce right off, leaving the gutters clog-free. Properly installed, an effective gutter guard option like LeafGuard eliminates the need for gutter cleaning by preventing clogs from ever forming in the first place.

Learn more about the dangers of clogged gutters, and explore the benefits of gutter guards by reading the graphic below.

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

All You Need to Know About Attic Ventilation

Understand the pieces and parts that contribute to quality attic ventilation so that you can better cool down the space and prevent roof damage all year long.

All You Need to Know About Attic Ventilation


At first glance, it can seem counter-intuitive: You insulate your home to reduce temperature fluctuations and save on utility bills, but then you allow fresh air to flow through the attic no matter the time of year. The science behind attic ventilation, however, is sound. Sealed attics trap excessive heat and moisture, which can lead to reduced shingle life. And the extra heat is not just a summer concern—come winter, hot attic air can melt snow on the roof during the day only to refreeze when temperatures drop overnight, creating ice dams that lead to interior leaking and roof damage. Ensuring your home has the proper attic ventilation according to these guidelines, however, can save yourself the stress and hassle of an emergency roof repair.

Attic ventilation works on the principle that heated air naturally rises, primarily utilizing two types of vents:
• Intake vents, located at the lowest part of the roof under the eaves, allow cool air to enter the attic.
• Hot air exhaust vents, located at the peak of the roof, allow hot air to escape.

Taking advantage of this natural process, referred to as passive ventilation, is the most common way to vent an attic. In order to facilitate this exchange of warm and cool air, the general rule of thumb suggests installing at least 1 sq. ft. of vent for every 300 sq. ft. of attic floor. Building codes vary, though, so do check with your local building authority for the specifics that pertain to your community.


All You Need to Know About Attic Ventilation


An attic’s intake vents are most commonly installed directly in the soffit, either as individual vents spaced every few feet or as one continuous perforated soffit running the entire length of the eave. While effective at pulling in cooler air, the biggest problem posed by this type of soffit vents is their positioning: Homeowners can too easily inadvertently block them when insulating the attic. Unfortunately, blocked soffit vents are as just bad as no soffit vents, because they prevent fresh air from freely flowing into the attic.

Houses with gable roofs may also have vents located on the side of the house as high as possible within the peak of the gable. Whether round, triangular, or rectangular, these gable vents can be painted to match either the siding or the trim work so that they add to rather than detract from the home’s exterior. What’s more, they’re particularly valuable for their ability to function as both intake and exhaust vents, depending on the wind direction. Most of the time, their position near the peak of the roof allows heat to dissipate out through its cover. When there is wind flowing perpendicular to the roof and of sufficient speed, it can enter through the opening; however, winds that are too light or not flowing directly at the vent’s entrance will do little work to cool down the space.


Releasing all of the heat that rises and gets trapped in the attic can be achieved with one or a combination of the three following vent models in addition to the multipurpose gable vents mentioned above.

Ridge vents—openings that run the entire length of your roof along the ridge—are often visible only to a trained eye. Hidden in plain sight and often camoflauged by specialty ridge shingles, these are a particularly popular means of ventilation because they create no disruption to the roofline. Installation of this type of attic ventilation involves leaving a gap in the sheathing along the ridge, and covering it with a perforated vent.

Static vents often protrude from roofline thanks to special covers intended to keep all precipitation—rain, sleet, hail, and snow—from entering the attic. Homeowners can choose from a variety of shapes and colors that closely match their shingles so that the vents won’t appear too out of place on the roof. One static vent style is the turbine vent, which uses wind to power its enclosed fan—all it takes is a light breeze to rotate the blades and suck heat out of the attic. Again, whatever the type of static vent, it must be located as close to the ridge as possible; homeowners worried about how the addition might affect curb appeal can place them only along the roof’s backside in order to minimize visibility from the street.

Finally, unlike the rest of these models that utilize passive ventilation, powered exhaust vents feature an electric- or solar-powered fan to create an effect similar to that of a turbine. A standard powered exhaust vent turns on when the temperature inside the attic reaches a pre-set limit and runs until the temperature drops. While these powered vents do effectively draw out the heat, they will pull more cool air from any air leaks in the ceiling of the house (read: your home’s central air conditioning) than soffit vents simply because it’s easier. Considering that they already require some amount of electricity to power, additional energy spent on air conditioner cooling the whole house may make this type of vent a less desirable option—especially if your attic is not well-sealed.

All You Need to Know About Attic Ventilation


With square-foot living space at a premium, many homeowners turn to their attics for a little extra room. When the attic becomes part of the home to be heated and cooled, open-wall gable vents and roof vents are no longer feasible, but the underside of the roof (the sheathing and rafters) can still get blazing hot without airflow.

The answer is rafter venting. Rafter vents, or insulation baffles, install in any rafter space to create narrow gaps that direct fresh air from the soffit vents to the peak of the roof. These specialty vents do not affect the finished look inside the remodeled attic. Instead, fresh air still flows in through the soffit vents and travels along the underside of the sheathing until it reaches a ridge vent or can be vented with another type of exhaust vent—allowing homeowners to keep cool without cutting  into their aesthetics.

3 Hidden Benefits of Installing a New Roof

Sure, a new roof will protect your home from the elements, but what other benefits can you expect from this major home improvement project? A new roof can do much more for your home than keep out the rain—as long as the job is done right.

New Roof Benefits


Do you dread the prospect of replacing your roof? You’re not alone. It’s an intimidating project for almost any homeowner, in part because it’s tackled so rarely in the life of a house. Indeed, the average roof can last for decades, so homeowners typically reroof no more than once during their tenure. Plus, the cost is daunting: Roof replacement calls for a substantial investment, enough to make any budget-conscious homeowner hesitate. As well, if another, perhaps more exciting home improvement project looms on your horizon—say, a kitchen remodel—you may not be keen to put dollars toward something as utilitarian as a new roof. That said, while the project certainly lacks flash, roof replacement stands out as one of the most critical steps you can take toward safeguarding the structural integrity of your home. Don’t be mistaken, though: A sturdy, sound roof does much more than simply keep out the weather. In fact, it delivers a suite of less obvious, all-too-often overlooked benefits, both immediate and long-term. “A newly roofed house simply performs better,” says Dave Lincon, a product manager with Sears Home Services. So, what are the benefits of a new roof beyond protection from the elements? Find out now.

Enhanced Energy Efficiency
Shingles are shingles, right? Though it may seem that way, scores of new options have arrived on the market, thanks to major advances in design and manufacturing. Today, according to Lincon of Sears Home Services, “The most innovative shingles deliver on the promise of limiting solar heat gain.” In other words, by reflecting sunlight rather than absorbing it, the latest, most energy-wise shingles help keep your HVAC system from having to work so hard. If the air-conditioning system doesn’t need to run as much, then it doesn’t have to cost as much either—simple. To that end, Lincon advises, “Focus your search on shingles that carry an Energy Star rating.” Sears offers a number of shingles that have earned the Energy Star designation for their ability to reduce cooling demand and help homeowners save. But as you think about energy efficiency and indoor comfort, “don’t forget about ventilation!” Lincoln warns. As part of any roof replacement, competent installers like those of Sears Home Services assess the attic to confirm that rising warm air can easily escape. In addition, Sears offers attic insulation and radiant barrier installation to help ensure that your energy costs don’t go through the roof.

New Roof Benefits - Asphalt Shingles Detail


Killer Curb Appeal
According to Lincon, relatively few homeowners appreciate that a sturdy, weathertight roof can not only prevent extensive, expensive water damage, but also lend a boost to the appearance of your home. Different homes feature different rooflines, of course, but as Lincon points out, “there aren’t many properties whose roofs cannot be seen at all from the street.” In fact, the roof often ranks among the most visible components of a home’s exterior. “Those cracked, curled, or missing shingles aren’t doing you any favors,” Lincon says. For a roof that looks the worse for wear, reroofing can actually present a valuable opportunity. “If you have the help you need to make the right choices,” Lincon continues, “a new roof can work wonders to promote curb appeal.” An advantage of working with Sears Home Services: The company guides you through the entire roof replacement process, all the way from deciding on materials through to the final day of installation. Sears experts can even help you decide which style and color of shingle will best complement your house. In the end, you get a new roof that not only performs exceptionally well, but looks great.

Higher Resale Value
Homeowners aren’t the only ones who know that roof replacement comes at a premium. House hunters know too. That’s why many prospective buyers walk away from homes that would soon be in need of an expensive new roof. If you’re a home seller, however, the same equation can work to your advantage, particularly if you recognize that, as Lincon puts it, “reroofing isn’t a sunk cost.” That is, the upgrade doesn’t simply take a bite out of your bottom line. On the contrary, it often adds a considerable amount to the resale value of your home. Lincon estimates that upon resale, homeowners typically recoup more than half the amount invested in a new roof. Despite that, Lincon says, “anxiety always enters into the picture when there are thousands of dollars in play.” Making the situation even more stressful are the horror stories that everyone has heard of fly-by-night crews that botched an installation, or perhaps failed to finish the job they were contracted to complete. A new roof is a big investment: Don’t make the mistake of settling for the first roofing company you run across. The quality of your roof replacement depends largely on the contractors you choose for the job. So, which company will you trust to put a roof over your head?

Sears Home Services demonstrates its commitment to your roofing project in many ways. For starters, the company installs only best-in-class shingles from Owens Corning, a manufacturer whose products carry a 50-year guarantee of problem-free performance (view details). To be sure, that means a great deal for a homeowner’s peace of mind, Lincon says, but he quickly points out that if a new roof ends up experiencing problems, faulty shingles are rarely the cause. “Much more often, the installers are to blame,” he says. Here, Sears stands out from most local roofers, because as a national provider with a firmly established, decades-old reputation, the company provides a limited warranty on labor (view details) in addition to a Satisfaction Guarantee. Wth Sears in your corner, you can expect more than the usual. You can, of course, expect the job to get done on time and on budget, but equally important, you can also expect the company to continue providing customer service long after the completed installation. Don’t know where to begin? To learn more about your roofing options, call or go online to schedule a free in-home consultation with Sears Home Services right away!

New Roof Benefits - Contractor Silhouette


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