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

Tag Archive for home improvement

Things You Should Know About Siding

Siding doesn’t just protect your home’s exterior; it also adds personality and creates curb appeal. It is one of the first things visitors and passersby notice. Whether you’re purchasing for the first time or you’re considering replacing existing cladding, here are some things you should know about siding.

The Purpose of Siding

Siding serves a number of purposes both aesthetic and functional. These include:

  • protection from the elements, anything from the sun beating down to driving rain to punishing winds
  • enhances the design of the structure
  • brings together all the aspects of the home’s exterior – visual harmony
  • expresses the character of your home while blending in with the community

Siding Material Variety

Vinyl siding is the number one siding choice in North America. Other popular siding materials are aluminum, wood, and fiber cement. But, according to sources, there are over 15 different types of siding available to the consumer. While aluminum is a typical siding material other metals such as steel are being used.

If you love the idea of cedar shingles but don’t want to commit to a high-maintenance material, there are fiber cement siding and vinyl siding finishes that imitate the look of real wood siding without the cost and upkeep. The same goes for real stone or brick – for almost every natural siding material there is a faux alternative. In today’s market, there are more options than ever, including an impressive range of colours to complement any residential style and design.

Siding and the Environment

Excluding wood siding, siding is generally low maintenance, being durable and requiring fewer resources to maintain.

Aluminum siding and steel siding are 100% recyclable.

Some manufacturers are environmentally conscious when manufacturing siding products, employing processes that do not consume too much energy and reduce the number of toxins released into the environment.

In the past, asbestos was commonly used in the construction industry because of its low cost and fireproofing properties. The manufacture of materials made of or containing asbestos such as siding, roofing, and insulation was banned in Canada in 1979. However, non-friable (cannot be reduced to powder) products containing asbestos continued to be used in the construction of homes well into the 1990s. If an older home with asbestos siding becomes damaged, it must be inspected, repaired, and/or removed according to strict guidelines by a licensed asbestos contractor. Canada is set to implement a complete asbestos ban by 2018.

While it is true that different types of siding better insulate your home than others, siding, in general, helps regulate heating and cooling cycles, reducing energy costs.

How to Compare Gutter Installation Estimates

If new gutters are on your home improvements list for 2017, you will probably hire a gutter professional. After you’ve received free estimates from at least three contractors, you’ll be deciding on which exterior finishing company to hire. Knowing how to compare gutter installation estimates will help you make the best decision for you and your home.

Your Budget

Assigning a monetary limit to your home improvement project will be instrumental in deciding where you want to spend your money: for example, seamless gutters vs. sectional or decorative brackets vs. functional fasteners. An estimate is the contractor’s educated guess on what your gutter installation will cost from start to finish. Remember to budget for over costs; at least 15% over the total cost outlined in the estimate. If a gutter installation estimate exceeds your budget bottom line, you could probably skip this particular contractor.

Apples with Apples

Break down each estimate into general sections such as the contractor, materials, labour, and warranties. A gutter installation company that’s been in business for 25 years might be able to offer grade-A materials over a contractor new to the area because the more established person receives better pricing from their long-term vendors.

If you’re not sure what kind of gutters you want, you might ask one contractor for an estimate for an aluminum gutter system and another gutter professional for a free estimate for copper gutters. Since copper is the more expensive material of the two, get at least two other copper guttering estimates in order to decide which contractor can give you the best deal.

What’s Being Offered

Don’t assume that three estimates for aluminum gutters are equal in terms of gauge of metal, warranty or labour costs. Ask questions if something is not clear to you

Also, examine differences in services. Contractor A offers warranties for both materials and workmanship while Contractor B’s warranty only cover the installation and not the materials; Contractor B will remove and dispose of the old gutter system, while another company doesn’t. Prioritize what’s important to you before deciding on who will be hired.

Questions to Ask Your Gutter Installer

Now that you’ve decided to get new gutters, what’s next? A list of gutter contractors, whether from the yellow pages or friends’ recommendations, might look good but how do you know if the one you selected is the best choice. Here are some standard questions you should ask a gutter installer before you hire one.

Is the gutter contractor licensed and insured?

The contractor should be licensed and carry the proper insurance to compensate workers if they are injured when they’re on your property.

Will they give you references or testimonials?

Ask the gutter installation company for references; then check them. Website testimonials are great, but if the contractor isn’t able to give you contact information, insist on a reference you can actually speak to.

Can the contractor put that in writing?

Ensure that anything you previously discussed with the contractor is included in the contract. If the total price for the gutter installation is based on a quote, the contractor cannot charge you more than the stated cost. However, if the contract is based on an estimate, you might have to pay more than the estimated contract price to cover over-costs – the amount should be within the 15% to 17% range.

How long will it take?

Typically, standard gutter installations take a day or less. Depending on the size of the house and its roof configuration, it could take longer. The gutter contractor will let you know when and how long the crew will be on your property. You should also be informed of any rescheduling due to weather conditions.

Company employee or subcontractor?

Find out who will be supervising. Before the work is to begin, meet with the person if possible. A company employee (a person hired by the gutter installation company) responsible for installing your gutter system is a better option than a subcontractor – someone contracted by the gutter contractor (you hired) to do the work for him or her.

What is under warranty?

Ask the gutter contractor if the materials, labor or materials and labor are under warranty. If yes, ask what kind of warranty it is and for how long.

What about the roof warranty?

It’s important to know that whatever the gutter installer plans to do, it won’t affect your roof’s warranty. Some roofing manufacturers don’t pay out if the roofline has been altered.

How to Work with a Gutter Contractor

When you need to replace the gutters, it can seem a bit overwhelming. But there are steps you can take to ensure that your home improvement project turns out the way it should. Successfully working with a gutters contractor starts with finding someone you can trust, communicate with and depend on.

Right Contractor for You

A homeowner typically hires a gutter contractor for one of three reasons: to install new gutters, to have the existing gutter system repaired or to have the gutters cleaned. Look for a gutters contractor that will offer quality materials, provide excellent service, and complete the work quickly.

Most gutter installation companies provide free estimates. Get an estimate from at least three contractors so that you can compare:

  • the total cost of materials and labour
  • if they have the proper licenses, certifications and liability insurance
  • what is guaranteed and/or under warranty
  • what is included

Getting Ready

While the contractor will apply for any applicable building permits, as the homeowner, you might be required to apply for a general permit according to local bylaws or regulations before the work on your gutters can begin.

Depending on specific conditions, the gutter contractor might need you to prepare your property before the crew arrives. Your prep work duties could include:

  • removing items like the grill or patio furniture away from exterior walls
  • closing windows and doors
  • covering any shrubs or plants
  • moving anything that might be an obstacle to a crew setting up ladders or scaffolding

Other Things to Keep in Mind

Be clear and as detailed as possible about your expectations.

Keep the lines of communication open. If the work needs to be rescheduled or you have questions and concerns, let the gutter contractor know.

While it’s understandable you might feel a bit anxious about the whole project and think they need some direction or supervision, let them do the work you hired them to do.

After the installation, inspect the gutters to make sure the work was completed to your satisfaction. If it isn’t, discuss with the gutter contractor what will be done to fix the situation.

Common Gutter Cleaning Mistakes

Cleaning the gutters is a necessary evil when it comes to maintaining your home’s exterior and protecting it from water damage. While there are many methods to getting the gutters shipshape, it’s important to clean them correctly. Here are some common gutter cleaning mistakes to avoid this spring or fall.

Damaging the Gutters

Resting the ladder against the gutters might seem like the most expedient thing to do. But the weight of the ladder directly against a gutter section can do a lot of harm. Instead, use a ladder standoff or lean the ladder against the wall.

Blasters and Robots

The main problem with leaf blowers is that they typically blow the leaves up rather than out. When they end up on the roof, on a windy day they land back in the gutters.

If you use a power washer to clean the gutters, water can be forced behind fascia boards or siding panels, providing places for mold and rot to take hold.

Some gutter cleaning robots are better than others, but again, as with leaf blowers or shop vacuum attachments, the gunk has to be shifted somewhere else, usually the roof and other places you don’t want it to be.

Getting Rid of Debris Twice

Avoid using a pail. Dump the gutter gunk into straight into a bag. Use a bucket first, you’re actually getting rid of the debris twice. Even when using gloves, the more times you handle the debris, you’re increasing the possibility of contamination and/or germ transference from clothing into the home.

Expecting Gutter Cleaning Tools to do all the Work

The truth is climbing a ladder and scooping out the gunk by hand is still the most thorough way to clean the gutters. Cleaning tools that allow you access to the gutters from the ground might sound like a good idea, but they mostly leave you blind. While some of these tools, such as extension poles, come with camera or mirror attachments, you still might not be able to see the whole picture.

Skipping Inspections

If you clean your gutters annually, you might think you’re covered. But a lot of things can happen to a gutter system in a year. Periodically inspecting the roof, the outside of the gutters and the downspouts will alert you to any potential problems like a clogged downspout, loose gutter hangers or debris buildup.

Spring Gutter Cleaning Tips

It’s time to think about spring cleaning the gutters. While it’s survived the winter, your gutter system is most likely filled with decayed leaf sediment, pine needles, twigs and other miscellaneous bits and pieces. But before tackling the real work of cleaning the gutters, use these tips to make better use of your time and energy.

Start on the Roof

Clean the roof first, up to three days before cleaning the gutters. This will help prevent materials from entering back into your newly cleaned gutter system.

Use a rake or a broom to sweep away any dirt, leaves, twigs, etc. Pay special attention to places where debris can build up like around a chimney, vents or a skylight.

Be safe walking on the roof. Wear rubber soled shoes with good treads. Plan on cleaning the roof later in the morning; roofs are typically damp at the beginning of the day.

Ladder Inventory and Inspection

Take an inventory of the ladder you will be using. It should be sturdy and in good shape, preferably made of metal rather than wood. It is recommended that a step ladder (has four legs when opened) be used for a one-storey home, and an extension ladder for houses that are taller.

A ladder that has a shelf or hooks will allow you to have the immediate tools necessary for your gutter cleaning chore close at hand, reducing the number of times you need to climb up or down the rungs.

If your home has aluminum gutters, use a ladder standoff (for extension ladders) to avoid denting the gutter system.

Garden Hose Savvy

Once the heavier clumps of debris have been removed from the gutters, the best tool for rinsing out the gutter channel is a garden hose. Select a pistol-grip trigger spray nozzle. It can be easily hung from the gutter or a ladder. Spray “downward;” the water should flow toward the downspout.

While it’s logical to think that you will get a more thorough clean with a pressure washer, it’s not recommended. Particularly if the gutters are five years old or more, water from a pressurized sprayer can dent aluminum gutters or crack vinyl gutters. Even on a low setting, water can be pushed in behind loose gutter sections, fascia boards or siding panels.

How to Choose the Right Gutters for Your Home

While gutters play a critical role in protecting your home from water damage, they also have a significant impact on the overall appearance of a home’s exterior. What will they be made of? Which gutter profile? What color? With so many options, how do you know if you’re making the right choice? To choose the right gutters for your home, take these factors into consideration.

Gutter Material

Gutter materials include vinyl, aluminum, steel and copper. Vinyl gutters are the least expensive; European gutters look beautiful and will last a lifetime; continuous aluminum gutters are cost-effective and low maintenance. Although cost is certainly a deciding factor, when choosing the right gutters for your home, select a gutter material that is:

  • suited to the climate conditions of the local region
  • complements the architectural style of your home
  • durable and long-lasting but easy to maintain

Gutter Styles

Gutter style, also referred to as a gutter profile, is the shape of the outside surface of the gutter section. It is one of the elements that defines the personality of your home. The two most popular gutter profiles are K-style and half-round gutters. Other gutter styles include crown mold, two-step and colonial. In order for the gutter style to effectively contribute to the character of a home’s exterior, it should match or complement its architectural style.

Gutter Color

Select a colour for the gutters that will bring together all of the elements of your home’s exterior. If it’s too different from the tone of the roof, entry door and window trim, the gutters might clash, negatively affecting the aesthetics of the house’s exterior.

Gutter Size

When the gutters are too small, there is the risk of constant overflowing. If gutters are too large for a particular structure, they can ruin the smooth, continuous line of the eavestrough. For the gutter system to work efficiently, gutter size should be based on several considerations such as:

  • annual rainfall for the area in which you live
  • square footage of the roof
  • steepness of the roof

Holiday Home Exterior Decorating Ideas

It’s December and it seems that everywhere you look, you see Christmas. There are sparkly lights, Santa, reindeer and elves. The whole neighbourhood is in on the fun. What if it’s not a holiday you celebrate? At this time of year adults and children alike can feel left out. But if you want to decorate your home’s exterior, there are ways to celebrate the season without focusing on aspects that pertain to specific beliefs.

Lights

Today, strings of decorative outdoor lights come in a variety of shapes and sizes that aren’t red and green or related to a Christmas theme. LED light strands are ideal for a home’s exterior – icicle lights for the winter season or if you want to leave them up, fairy lights for year-round. Hanging lights from the gutters or the roof can shed a little extra light for visitors making their way to your front door. The same can be said for wrapping strings of lights around porch columns, fence posts or trees.

Wreaths

Hang wreaths on shutters, siding and porches. A wreath on a front door instantly says “Welcome.” They don’t have to have traditional Christmas decorations. Select a wreath with more greenery, pine cones and seed pods. For an entry door with visual interest, create an innovative wreath using a number of different natural elements.

Garlands

Like wreaths, you can buy or create garlands that incorporate natural elements like acorns, shells and dried grasses. Frame windows with the garlands; wrap around porch columns; drape from deck railings.

Planters

Add seasonal greenery to your outdoor planters. Incorporate some colour with silver or gold sprayed pine cones, berries, evergreen sprigs and winter flowering plants. They don’t have to be real!

Ornamental Displays

Containers such as oversized clay planters, galvanized tubs or even hanging planters make great canvases for ornamental displays. For on the spot curb appeal, place a collection of twigs and dried grasses in an urn-shaped planter by the front door; pair grapevine balls with a re-purposed wash tub; or add a bird or two to hanging planters waiting for spring plants.

Custom Gutter Profiles

Gutters play a crucial role in protecting your home from water damage. Common gutter styles include K-style, crown mold and half-round. But do they have to be so plain vanilla? Custom gutter profiles give your home’s exterior a distinctive appearance, adding curb appeal, resale value and visual interest.

The shape of the gutter (gutter profile) defines the gutter system, including how it looks and how it functions. For example, K-style gutters have indentations inside the gutter channel that might trap debris leading to buildup, while half-round gutters are smooth. A custom gutter profile can be a modified version of standard profiles. It can also be designed to match certain architectural specifications. The custom profile is fabricated to the design criteria and then the gutter system is installed.

If the roofing configuration is complicated, multi-level or unique, installing a gutter system with a custom gutter profile could be the solution you’re looking for. Custom profile gutters offer a viable alternative to a standard profile gutter system, while providing an efficient way of channeling rainwater from the roof to the downspouts. Frequently gutter installation companies offer signature gutter profiles to give consumers more options. If you decide to go the signature or custom gutter profile route, keep in mind that should system break down several years from now, it might be difficult to repair or to find parts.

While a custom gutter system might have its downsides, custom gutter profiles have some very positive advantages as well. You can combine the function of standard gutters with esthetics. They allow for greater selection and freedom of choice. Custom profile gutter systems are a cost effective way of giving your home a one-of-a-kind appearance.

Do You Need New Windows or Doors?

With seasonal changes that include dropping temperatures and more rainy days, you might notice an annoying draft that bothers the back of your neck while watching television, or the front door keeps sticking whenever you come and go. Signs that you need new windows or doors can be subtle, but if you ignore them, they could lead to higher energy costs or even to the damage of your home’s exterior.

Signs You Need New Windows

Compromised functionality is the key reason you need new windows. Signs they need replacing include:

  • air coming in or air escaping out when windows are closed
  • water stains on exterior walls around windows
  • water or ice condensation forms on the inside of the glass
  • damage to exterior wall or siding around windows, including peeling paint
  • warping, splintering or cracking of wood frames
  • windows that are difficult to open and close
  • they are still single-pane
  • they are double-pane, but condensation appears between the two
  • so old they can’t be repaired (no replacement parts)

Signs You Need New Doors

Do you need new entry doors? You might if they any one or more of the following is true:

  • very drafty hallway or immediate area around entry door
  • physically damaged, including warping, cracking or rotting
  • damage to exterior wall or siding around door frame, including peeling paint
  • doesn’t easily close and open
  • defective, misaligned or damaged parts – an entry door is part of a system that includes, casing, jamb, sill, frame, drip cap, etc.
  • potential security risk – older doors, particularly if they include glass, are attractive to burglars because they can be more easily broken into