Category: Roofing & Siding

How To: Install Roof Flashing

Install roof flashing in a stepped fashion, with overlapping sheets of aluminum, for effective and long-lasting protection from the elements.

Flashing is a good way of preventing water from entering a dwelling at the point where the roof meets the walls. To begin the installation, fold a five-by-seven piece of aluminum flashing lengthwise. Start at the bottom and work up, nailing high on the side wall and interweaving the flashing with the roof shingles. Overlap the pieces of flashing and repeat this process all the way up.

For more on roofing, consider:

Bob Vila’s Guide to Roofing
Leaky Roof? Some Repair Tips
Roofing Roundup: 7 of Today’s Most Popular Choices

How To: Install Vinyl Siding

Using only a small number of basic tools, you can easily install vinyl siding the do-it-yourself way, cutting the project cost by almost half.

Here are some things to remember when you install vinyl siding on your home. First of all, you hang vinyl siding, so don’t hammer your nails all the way in. And leave a 3/4-inch overlap between interlocking panel (this will allow for expansion and contraction in hot and cold weather). Lay all of your seams so that they are only noticeable from one direction. Vinyl siding won’t dent, and since the color is uniform throughout, you can scrub it clean.

For more on siding, consider:

How To: Clean Vinyl Siding
Bob Vila’s Guide to Exterior Siding
10 Superb Reasons to Consider Vinyl Siding

How To: Remove Exterior Paint with a Pressure Washer

Use a pressure washer to make speedy work of an otherwise taxing, tedious, and time-consuming task.

Before you repaint your house, you have to remove all loose and peeling paint. A pressure washer makes the job go faster, and you can do it yourself. Use a minimum 15-degree spray nozzle, with even strokes, 18 to 24 inches from the surface to avoid damaging the wood. For especially difficult areas, you can use a zero-degree nozzle but to get the hang of it, practice first on an out-of-the-way place. Allow your siding to dry at least 24 hours before repainting.

For more on siding, consider:

Bob Vila’s Guide to Exterior Siding
Powering Washing the Home Exterior (VIDEO)
Siding Roundup: 8 Options to Beautify Your Home

Quick Tip: Engineered Wood Siding

Engineered wood siding convincingly mimics the genuine article, even as it offers installation and long-term performance advantages.

For exterior trim work and siding, pre-engineered lumber has several key features that make it a practical option. It’s pre-primed so that it cuts down on paint time. It’s treated with EPA-approved preservatives, giving it extra resistance to decay and insect damage. There are no knotholes or imperfections, and it’s easy to cut and drill.

For more on siding, consider:

Bob Vila’s Guide to Exterior Siding
Siding Roundup: 8 Options to Beautify Your Home
Everything You Need to Know About Engineered Wood Siding

Don’t Can Your Aluminum Siding!

Breathe new life into your aluminum siding by repairing, cleaning, and painting it. It's a big project, but a DIYer with a true "can"-do attitude can tackle it.

Painting Aluminum Siding


Aluminum siding first became popular in the wake of World War II, when this metal, which had been so crucial to the war effort, became more readily available. Homeowners valued the material for its weather protection and insulating properties. They also loved that, in comparison with wood siding, aluminum requires little maintenance. But when vinyl siding arrived in the late 1950s, aluminum rapidly fell out of favor, in part because it was prone to denting and its color faded relatively quickly.

Related: Bob Vila’s Guide to Exterior Siding

That’s not to say that if you live in an aluminum-clad home, you should replace your siding. On the contrary, those attributes that once made it a favorite are as appealing today as they were in the 1940s. Aluminum remains a low-maintenance, first-rate insulating barrier against the weather. So long as your aluminum siding is performing to your satisfaction, consider preserving it by cleaning, patching, and painting your siding.

Before painting aluminum siding, you may find it necessary—or merely desirable—to replace any sections that have been dented or otherwise damaged. After all, one virtue of this cladding material is that it lends itself so easily to repair work. Follow these simple steps:

1. Draw a square around the section of damaged aluminum siding that you would like to remove.

2. Cut away the section, using tin snips in combination with a utility knife, leaving a clean, square hole to patch.

3. Cut the replacement patch to size (three inches larger than the section you initially cut out).

4. Use tin snips to take the nailing strip off the replacement patch.

5. Spread clear silicone caulk on the back of the patch.

6. Press the patch firmly in place, tucking its top behind the row of siding running directly above the area you are repairing.

7. Wipe away the excess silicone, using your finger to smooth the joints where the patch meets the original siding.

There’s still more preparation to address before painting aluminum siding. You need to scrape off peeling and flaking paint, and then chisel out any old caulk lines and apply new ones. Scrub away any mildew with a solution of three parts water to one part household bleach. Remove dirt and grime by hand-washing the siding with soap and warm water. Alternatively, if you want to speed up the job of cleaning, rent a power washer. Just be sure to accessorize the tool with a low-pressure tip, being careful to direct the water stream directly at the siding. Never spray upward; by doing so, you may force water behind the aluminum. If you spot any aluminum oxidation or rust, remove that too before rinsing the exterior surface with a garden hose. Do not begin painting until the siding has been allowed to dry completely; it should take about three or four days.

Painting Aluminum Siding - Off White


With painter’s tape and lengths of plastic sheeting, protect items and areas adjacent to the siding. (Once you have completed the paint job, remember to remove the tape as soon as possible so that it doesn’t adhere permanently.)

For best results, begin with an application of galvanized metal etching primer. Coat on the product with a synthetic polyester paintbrush, covering the full surface area before allowing the primer to cure for a minimum of four hours.

Next, apply 100 percent acrylic exterior paint. Use a brush at first to paint the edges, then proceed to “load up” the roller. After pouring a few inches of paint into a tray, dip in the roller. Run the tool back and forth over the ribbed area to ensure that paint gets evenly distributed over the roller, with little or no excess to cause drips.

Wield your paint roller from left to right if the siding is horizontal, or up and down if the siding is vertically oriented. Start painting at the top and work your way down. As you go, smooth bumps in the wet paint with a clean paintbrush.

Continue until you have applied paint to the entire area you set out to cover. Allow at least two hours for the coat of paint to dry. It’s strongly recommended that you add a second coat to achieve a long-lasting and professional-looking finish.

Because they excel in hiding surface irregularities, low-luster (also called satin) finishes usually look better on aluminum siding than do other types of paint.

Bob Vila Radio: Metal Roofs

Metal roofs appeal to homeowners not only for their improved aesthetics, but also for their strength and longevity.

Thinking about putting a new roof over your head? Maybe a metal roof is right for you. Today’s metal roofing—whether made of steel, aluminum, or other metal—is more versatile than ever. It can be shaped to look like wood, stone, or clay to suit a range of styles. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON METAL ROOFS or read the text below:

Metal Roofs


Longevity is one benefit of metal roofing. Depending on the material, a metal roof can last for more than 50 years. This lifespan, however, needs to be weighed against its significantly higher cost. You’re unlikely to recoup this cost unless you plan to stay in your house for a long time.

Metal roofs are also durable. They won’t corrode or crack, they can withstand high winds, and some are even impact resistant. They’re particularly attractive in wooded, fire-prone regions, since they’re unlikely to ignite from stray embers. (In fact, some insurance companies offer discounts if you have a metal roof.)

Metal roofs are also eco-friendly. They can contain anywhere between 25 and 95 percent recycled materials, depending on the product. And at the end of their useful life, they’re fully recyclable.

Remember: A metal roof—or any roof—is a big-ticket investment. To ensure the greatest benefit and satisfaction, proper insulation and installation are crucial.

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

How To: Apply Stucco

Do as the contractors do in order to ensure quality results the next time that you apply stucco.

Here are the steps professionals follow to apply a stucco finish. After installing a 15-pound felt moisture barrier on the side wall, nail on wire-key lath, which looks like chicken wire. Next, apply a 3/8-inch-thick scratch coat. When cured, apply the textured brown coat. The 1/8-inch color coat goes on last.

For more on siding, consider:

Stucco 101
Applying Stucco (VIDEO)
Bob Vila’s Guide to Exterior Siding

Bob Vila Radio: Solar Shingles

It is now easier and more affordable than ever to purchase and install solar shingles on your roof, as a means of saving energy and reducing electricity costs in the long run.

When you think about solar power, do you picture bulky panels protruding from rooftops? If so, think again. With the advent of solar shingles—photovoltaic cells designed to look like asphalt roofing shingles—home-based solar power is becoming more appealing, both aesthetically and economically.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON SOLAR SHINGLES or read the text below:



Thanks to advancements in thin-film photovoltaics, these slim-profile shingles are lightweight and flexible. They integrate almost seamlessly with traditional asphalt shingles, although, because they tend to be dark in color, they blend in best with dark roofs.

Solar shingles are most commonly used in conjunction with the existing power grid. This ensures that your home has power even when the sun doesn’t shine. It also means that if you’re lucky enough to generate more power than you use, you may be able to sell the excess back to the power company.

Solar shingles must be installed by a qualified roofing contractor, and you’ll need an electrician to hook them up to your electrical system and install an “inverter,” which converts the direct current they generate to standard AC power.

These shingles make solar a more accessible and attractive option, but they’re still pricey. As with any big purchase, do a careful cost analysis, and don’t forget to look into solar tax credits.

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

Quick Tip: Installing Clapboard Siding

If you're installing clapboard siding, these tips on hanging the material can help you ensure that it looks right and remains watertight.

When installing clapboard siding, it’s important to overlap all joints. Here’s a way to get started that will ensure staggered joints every time. Create a pyramid effect by cutting different lengths every 16 inches. We’ve chosen 16 inches, because we nail directly into wall studs, which are spaced 16 inches on center. This method also makes use of more of your siding material, leaving less waste.

For more on siding, consider:

Wood Siding Options
Bob Vila’s Guide to Exterior Siding
Installing Clapboard Siding and Cedar Trim (VIDEO)

Bob Vila Radio: Gutter Cleaning

When all the leaves have fallen, but before it gets too wet out, clean your gutters— and remember these helpful tips.

Cleaning the gutters tends to be a relatively inexpensive task to hand off to a professional, who has the equipment and the experience to get this messy job done quickly and correctly. But if you want to save some money and you’re nimble enough to climb a ladder up to your highest gutter, you can do it yourself. The most important thing is to do it regularly—you don’t want to wait until your gutters are overflowing to start unclogging them.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON GUTTER CLEANING or read the text below:

Gutter Cleaning


What fills up gutters is a mix of leaves, twigs, dirt and other debris that runs off your roof during the rain or drops in from nearby trees. If you or your neighbors have trees that shed leaves in autumn, wait until the trees are bare before you clean your gutters, or they’ll just fill up again when the leaves start to fall.

You’ll need to scoop out all the gunk, so wear work gloves to protect your hands from the edges of the gutter and from any sharp objects inside. Use a large bucket to collect it all, then use what you’ve collected as mulch or dispose of it as you would grass clippings. When you’re finished scooping, use a hose to flush the last of the debris through the downspouts and make sure there are no clogs anywhere. Most importantly, be careful on that ladder!

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