We are an exterior finishing company specializing in installation
and maintenance of gutters and siding in the Vancouver Lower Mainland.

Simple Gutter System Maintenance Tips

Cleaning the gutters twice a year is only one element of a total gutter maintenance plan. Homeowners often overlook the other parts of a gutter system, particularly the downspouts. Make your gutters last longer and function better by using these simple gutter system maintenance tips throughout the year.

Gutters

The first part of a gutter system is the gutter, the horizontal section that is the initial point of contact for water coming off of the roof. Hangers are used to attach gutter section to a house. To ensure gutters are in good shape:

  • keep the gutter channel free of debris
  • wash the outside of the gutters to remove dirt, streaks, and organic growth such as algae or moss
  • check that the hangers are not worn or loose – for older gutter systems using spikes or nails, replace them if they’re loose or rusted
  • check the seams and joints for leaks
  • remove nests and other signs of pest/insect activity
  • trim back trees close to the house to reduce the amount of debris entering the gutter system and to prevent potential damage to aluminum gutters

Downpipes

The second major part of the gutter system is the downspout. If you have more than one, don’t forget to check all of them. Inspect the downspouts once every two months and look for:

  • dents – can restrict water flow
  • scratches – can promote corrosion
  • loose brackets – shifting causes misalignment
  • clogs – they typically form in one of three places; gutter outlet, middle, and elbow

Removing a clog from a downspout is sometimes more problematic than cleaning the gutters. If flushing water through the downpipe doesn’t dislodge the blockage, try using a plumber’s auger.

Drainage

Drainage is the third integral part of any gutter system. Once water enters the gutters and exits through the downpipes, it must be routed safely away from the house. Check for the following:

  • pooled water underneath the downspout – it might be a landscaping issue or a blockage inside the pipe
  • rust, flaking, and peeling paint are possible signs of leaks or other kinds of water damage
  • distance – water should be deposited a minimum of 7 feet from the foundation
  • if using a downspout extender or splash block, make sure it is positioned correctly and is in good condition

Tips for Cleaning Any Type of Siding

With summer heading toward fall, now is the time to do those seasonal home maintenance chores that will help your home survive the cooler, rainy weather ahead. When layers of dirt, sap, pollen, and dust accumulate, siding becomes dingy or stained, creating negative curb appeal. Take advantage of these tips for cleaning any type of siding to make the exterior of your home look new again.

Schedule a Time

Choose a day and time for cleaning the siding and let everyone know. This will help avoid the unexpected open window (after you made sure it was closed) or someone opening and closing the back door when you’re near by cleaning the siding.

Quick Inspection

The purpose of a quick inspection is to alert you to any potential problems you might need to fix or contact an exterior finishing contractor to fix them for you. Use binoculars if your house is more than one storey or if you don’t plan on using a ladder until you have to. Damaged siding – small holes, dents or missing panels – is vulnerable to water damage and moisture build-up. Before manually washing or spraying siding with a garden hose spray nozzle, look for: loose siding panels or cedar shingles; loose and/or missing nails; worn or damaged sections of siding; and missing siding panels.

Cleaning Siding Don’ts

Don’t skip prepping the area around the house. Cover sources of electricity; remove obstacles like toys and patio furniture; and protect landscaping, especially when using a bleach solution to clean mold/mildew/algae from siding.

Don’t use a pressure washer on “textured” siding or siding with a raised surface such cedar shingles, brick, and stucco.

Don’t use harsh cleaning products. It’s probably best to avoid anything with “industrial strength” on the label.

Don’t use abrasive cleaning tools such wire brushes, scrapers or steel wool. Avoid pressing down too hard.

Cleaning Siding Dos

Gather together all of your supplies before you begin. This includes giving the ladder you’ll be using a thorough safety check.

Start at the roofline and work your way down to the foundation. Clean one section at a time; this will help eliminate dried-on residue and streaking.

Most types of siding can be cleaned with a bucket of water and mild detergent. When cleaning mold, mildew or algae off siding use this popular homemade solution: 45 grams (1/3 cup) of powdered laundry detergent, 85 grams (2/3 cup) of powdered all-purpose household cleaner, 947 millilitres (1 quart) liquid bleach, 3.8 litres (1 gallon) of water.

Use a soft-bristle brush, especially on aluminum siding, vinyl siding, and stucco. Any cleaning tool used on siding panels and cedar shingles should be blunt-edged and non-abrasive.

How Neglected Gutters Harm Your Home

While it’s summer, the last thing you probably want to do is think about preparing your home’s exterior for fall, including cleaning the gutters. If they are still attached to your house, a little bit of dirt is obviously not bothering them. The reality is by the time they have fallen off the damage is most likely serious, affecting not just the gutters but other parts of your home as well.

Fascia and Soffit

The main reason for standing water inside a gutter is debris build-up. When inclement weather adds rain to a gutter system already filled with water, gutters can overflow. If water spills over the inner edge (side of the gutter closest to the house) and seeps into the fascia boards, damp fascia can slowly become rotting fascia. Overflowing gutters may also seep into soffit with a similar result.

Neglected gutters are heavy. Water combined with debris weighs down the gutters until they pull away from the fascia boards and/or put additional stress on soffit panels.

Algae, Moss, Mold, Mildew

Gutters not properly maintained are vulnerable to the formation of algae, moss, mold or mildew. When it can be seen on the gutter face, soffit or fascia, plant growth such as moss can be removed. When gutters overflow and rainwater seeps in behind the gutters or into soffit panels and fascia boards, algae, moss, mold or mildew are more difficult to deal with.

Mold, mildew, and moss can pose mild to serious health issues. Moss is very absorbent; once it takes hold inside the gutter channel, it retains water, adding extra weight to the gutter section. Most types of algae are not harmful to a person’s health like moss, mold, and mildew are. However, algae can stain and even ruin the protective finish of your gutters.

Effects of Standing Water

Neglected gutters filled with twigs, leaves, and dirt encourage standing water. The same goes for clogged downspouts; debris trapped inside downpipes stops rainwater from exiting the gutter system.

Pooled water beneath a downspout can cause flooding in a basement. Standing water inside the gutters creates an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes and other kinds of nagging insects. It can also cause rusting, pitting and leaks in aluminum gutters.

How does Fiber Cement Compare with Cedar Siding?

In some circles, it might start a war if you suggested that fiber cement siding is a good alternative for cedar siding. For homeowners living in a Craftsman style house, Cape Cod house, or another style of historic home, there’s no substitute for real wood. If you feel the same way (whether or not you live in a heritage home), then it might surprise you that fiber cement and cedar siding are relatively comparable.

Similarities between Fiber Cement and Cedar

When it comes to the main things to consider when purchasing siding – cost, aesthetics, and durability – both fiber cement and cedar meet all three criteria. While fiber cement is somewhat less expensive than cedar siding, both types of siding materials are priced mid-to-high end.

Like cedar, fiber cement siding can be used with traditional North American architectural styles such as lap, board-and batten, and half round shingles.

Fiber cement siding is just as durable as cedar. Depending on local climatic conditions cedar siding can last three to five decades.

Both cedar siding and fiber cement siding are equal when it comes to aesthetics. Some professionals, including siding experts and architects, admit they can’t tell the difference between the two siding materials from a distance; only up close can they see that the wood grains of the fiber cement are uniform.

Differences between Fiber Cement and Cedar

Cedar siding is a natural siding material; the two most common kinds used for siding are red cedar and white cedar. Fiber cement is man-made by pressing sand, wood fibres, and cement into a mold to form planks, shingles or shakes.

Fiber cement cannot be recycled. However, as an inert material, it doesn’t release toxins as it sits in the landfill.

Hands down, fiber cement siding wins the low maintenance contest over cedar. While cedar is less labour-intensive than other kinds of wood siding, cedar siding must be regularly maintained to prevent rot, mold and other moisture-related damage.

Some homeowners select untreated white cedar so that it will develop that special silvery patina over time. Or a clear sealant or semi-transparent stain is applied to white cedar siding to prevent weathering while revealing the wood’s natural colour. These options aren’t available for fiber cement siding, which can only duplicate the appearance of painted wood.

Summer Curb Appeal Tips

Curb appeal isn’t just about real estate value. Whether entering from the backyard or through the front door, returning to a home that’s visually appealing is deeply rewarding. Here are a few summer curb appeal tips that will increase your sense of well-being, while those driving by will appreciate the view.

Exterior Cleaning Services

You clean the gutters regularly, wash the windows when they’re really dusty, and remove stains from the siding on an as-needed basis. But you can’t remember the last time you cleaned the roof and the only time the driveway gets “power washed” is when you water the flower beds. Consider hiring a professional exterior cleaning company at least once every two years. Typical services include:

  • roof cleaning
  • roof moss removal
  • gutter cleaning
  • siding soft wash
  • window cleaning
  • driveway cleaning

When a home’s exterior shines, it invites and welcomes visitors.

Painting the Trim

Painting the exterior of your home will definitely improve curb appeal. But who wants to spend the summer repainting the house? A high impact, low-cost trick is to paint just the trim. Selecting a complementary bold shade or intense earth tone will give your home an updated appearance.

Painting Concrete

Perhaps it’s time to paint the concrete driveway, walkway, or stairs if scrubbing doesn’t make a difference anymore. Applying one or two coats of paint to the front steps can greatly improve curb appeal. You don’t have to stop at “plain.” Explore Pinterest for some really creative DIY projects – pinstriped stairs, checkered porch floor, faux tile patio – all accomplished with tape, stencils, paint, and a little imagination!

Landscaping Tweaks

Flowering trees and shrubs automatically increase curb appeal. However, you can have too much of a good thing. Limit the number in a particular area, a small front yard for example, to under five.

Seed bald spots to bring a patchy lawn back to life.

When flower beds contain perennials, landscaping can be given a seasonal look by adding containers of annuals on either side of the front door, in the corner of a porch or by the steps.

There is a variety of landscape lighting available. Consider what type of light you would like to install. Sidewalk from the front gate to the entry door a bit dark after the sun sets? Choose lights designed to boarder a pathway. The porch lights don’t reach as far as the stairs? Add a down light so visitors can see the stair treads.

When and Where to Install Gutter Accessories

Gutter accessories are used for a number of reasons such as increasing functionality and protecting a home’s exterior from water damage. Gutter guards, splash blocks and flexible downspouts are just a few accessories for the gutters that are popular with homeowners. But if you purchase a gutter accessory and use it incorrectly, it’s going to defeat the purpose of installing it. Here is a brief guide on when and where to install gutter accessories.

Directional

Gutter accessories for downspouts are designed to direct water away from one place or direction to another.

Downspout Extenders

Downspout extensions are used when downpipes deposit water too close to the foundation. Different types of downpipe extenders are intended for specific uses.

  • A standard extender resembles a downspout installed horizontally instead of vertically, then fastened into place.
  • A flexible downspout has an “accordion” section that allows the downspout extender to be positioned around obstructions and areas where water shouldn’t be deposited.
  • A hinged downpipe resembles a standard extender except for the hinge mechanism that allows the downspout to be folded up when not in use.

Rainwater Diverters

Diverters for downpipes are available in a variety of types and styles. Some types of diverters direct rainwater from a gutter system into a rain barrel. Other types of diverters, often resembling a “Y” direct water from one downspout into two different places, such as around a sidewalk in one direction and into a landscaped area in the opposite direction. Some manufacturers use the term “diverter” interchangeably with “downspout extender/extension.” Make sure that the diverter is intended for the function you’re purchasing it for.

Gutter/Leaf Protectors

Many homeowners find some type of leaf protection handy in cutting down the time and cost of gutter maintenance. There are several different types of gutter protectors including all-in-one systems and leaf screens for downspouts and gutters.

Gutter Guards

If you’re considering purchasing a gutter guard system for your home, keep the following in mind:

  • be able to handle the volume of annual rainfall in your area
  • be compatible with your home’s exterior and/or roof
  • openings of screens or covers should match the type of trees growing on the property (wider for deciduous, narrower for pines)

Leaf Screen

Made of vinyl or metal mesh, leaf screens are placed over the top of the gutter. When buying a leaf strainer for a downspout, ensure it fits properly over the gutter outlet.

Preventing Erosion

Since a splash block typically resembles a long narrow tray, it’s sometimes used as a directional downspout accessory. While it does move water away from a foundation where the downspout is too close to the wall, a splash block helps prevent soil erosion. This maintains the landscape design and prevents the foundation from shifting.

When to Install Oversized Downspouts

While downspouts are often overlooked by homeowners when they purchase or maintain a gutter system, downpipes play an important role in protecting a home’s exterior. Standard 5-inch gutters are typically paired with a 2 x 3-inch downspout. However, there are some instances where installing oversized downspouts as part of a standard gutter system is a better choice.

Cleaning the Gutters too Often

If you’re cleaning the gutters four times a year but everyone else in the community is only gutter cleaning once or twice annually, this might be an indicator larger downpipes are needed. When the gutters are generally in good shape, don’t exhibit signs of damage, and are not older than 7 years but seem to become clogged a lot, replacing 2 x 3-inch downpipes with 3 x 4-inch downspouts will improve the functionality of the gutters without the need for replacement.

Not the Right Fit

In Vancouver where a home’s exterior is subjected to a lot of rain, 6-inch gutters might seem more practical. But an oversized gutter system is quite noticeable and can detract from the aesthetics of the home exterior. When oversized gutters aren’t the right fit for the style, size or fascia of the house, oversized downspouts can provide a practical alternative.

Overflowing Gutters

Clogs in the gutter channel are not the only reason gutters overflow. Other reasons include improper slope, an insufficient number of downspouts and the size of either the gutters or downspout or both. When all other causes are ruled out, before upgrading to a 6” gutter system, try replacing just the downpipes first. The outlet of an oversized downspout is twice as wide as a 2 x 3-inch downpipe, allowing more water to exit the gutters and flow through the downspouts.

Blocked Downspouts

Standard downpipes for 5-inch gutters can easily become clogged around the elbows (top and bottom of the pipe) or in the middle due to debris building up around an object that hasn’t been washed out of the gutter system. The wider opening at the top of downspout where it connects with the gutters will handle larger volumes of water more efficiently.

Advice on Buying Gutter Guards

When gutter guards are selected to work with your home’s microclimate and climatic region, they do an excellent job of keeping debris from entering the gutter system. However, in order to get the most out of gutter covers that fully protect your home’s exterior, here are some things to consider.

Roof Warranty

While all types of gutter guards are designed to keep out leaves, twigs and other bits of debris, the installation process depends on what kind you’ve purchased. Some gutter covers are installed by placing the edge of the screen or protector under the row of shingles at the roofline. Before investing in this kind of gutter guard system check to see that it doesn’t void your current roof warranty.

Microclimate

You are most likely purchasing a leaf protection system because you have a lot of trees close to the house. Screens or other types of gutter covers with holes should match the kinds of trees growing on your property. For example, choose gutter guards with small holes if there are pine trees near the gutters; gutter covers with diamond-shaped holes are more effective in keeping out small to medium sized leaves, blossoms, pods, etc.

Maintenance

Yes, gutter guards do reduce the amount of debris that can clog up the gutters. But unfortunately, leaf protectors, whatever kind they might be, do not eliminate the need for cleaning the gutters at least once a year.

There are two categories of leaf protects – gutter covers and gutter screens. Gutter covers, as the name suggests, covers the top of the gutter. Gutter screens are typically attached to the sides or are placed inside the gutter channel. No matter what kind you select, the leaf protection system will have to be removed and then put back once you’ve finished cleaning the gutters.

If you are in the habit of cleaning the gutters yourself and your home is two or more storeys, you should consider hiring a professional gutter cleaning service after purchasing a gutter guard system. Since the gutter cleaning process will take longer, it increases the risk of falling off the ladder.

Home Improvements that Add Resale Value

The trick to selecting renovations that do increase the value of your home is to choose ones that fit in with the look and feel of the neighbourhood. Whether you plan to live in your home for many more years or you will be selling in the near future, here are some home improvements that add resale value whenever you decide to sell.

Redefining Space

Do the patio doors open onto just a grassy part of the backyard? Adding a deck or a flagstone patio will convert the area around the doors into usable space for relaxing and entertaining. Would enclosing the existing porch increase the house’s functionality? Is the attic filled with boxes of “treasures?” Turning an unused attic into a bedroom is a good investment. The same goes for the basement – if you’ve been meaning to refinish it for a while now, this is another home renovation that adds resale value.

Energy Efficient Upgrades

Any kitchen or laundry room renovations should include energy efficient appliances and insulated exterior walls.

Replacing single-pane windows will improve the energy efficiency of a home.

Home improvement projects involving the roof, the gutters, and HVAC systems should increase energy efficiency, be eco-friendly and be relatively easy to maintain.

Cosmetic Upgrades

Any part of a house, interior or exterior, that appears tired or worn will detract from a house’s market value. Painting a home’s exterior a new colour increases curb appeal. Replacing old wall-to-wall carpet with area rugs and laminate flooring will be more appealing to home buyers with small children. Swapping out an old front door for a new one can make the entrance to your home more welcoming.

Adding Storage

Increasing a home’s storage capacity is an excellent way to make your home attractive to prospective buyers. No closet by the front door? Build one. Adding shelves, bins and cabinets are good clutter-management solutions. But use built-ins judiciously: built-in shelving units in a laundry room will add more resale value than built-in bookcases in a living room.

Home Improvements that Don’t Add Value

It seems logical that anything a homeowner does to improve their home will increase its value. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Some renovations end up not paying for themselves. Here are some home improvements that don’t add value to your home.

Niche Amenities

You might think amenities like a wine cellar, hot tub, regulation-size basketball court or a life-size chess set will entice home buyers. But what’s appealing to you might not be appealing to someone else. It’s not only the actual price tag for materials and installation: don’t forget to factor in long-term increased energy expenses for amenities such as a wine cellar, sauna or hot tub.

Swimming Pool

In-ground swimming pools are expensive to install and maintain. While most of us like the idea of taking a dip in our own pool, the reality is that many homeowners and prospective buyers don’t want the hassle. Home buyers today are looking for a house that looks good but is low maintenance. The amount of money you invest in your pool most likely won’t be recouped when you sell.

Water Features

No argument, water features add curb appeal. A koi pond, reflection pool or small waterfall lends ambience and tranquility to the surrounding landscape. But when it comes time to sell, a water feature could scare off homebuyers with small children.

Bedroom into Home Office

Having a permanent home office might seem like a good investment, but not if it’s at the expense of one less bedroom. When turning a bedroom into an office, skip the built-ins like bookshelves, a computer station or cubbies. This will give you the option of turning it back into a bedroom when you put your home on the market.

Unusual or Elaborate Landscaping

Multi-level terraces complete with stone retaining walls create an inviting place to entertain. Topiary is beautiful to look at. The same goes for exotic flowering shrubs and trees. However, in addition to increased curb appeal, a home buyer might also see increased time and cost to maintain such elaborate beauty.

High-End Kitchen

Probably counterintuitive, but it is possible to over-improve when doing a kitchen renovation. When it comes to kitchens, home buyers generally look for clean, contemporary lines, functionality and open concept. My idea of a dream kitchen will most likely be different from yours. Unless your house is in a high-end neighbourhood, skip the granite countertops, marble tile, and stainless steel appliances.