The Complete Exterior Home Maintenance Guide
It’s often easy to remember to clean the interior of your house. It is where you spend the most time. Naturally you aren’t going to want to live among filth. This is great, but often homeowners forget to maintain and care for the exterior of their homes. If left unchecked and not treated properly, paint can erode, foundations can crack, and windows can lose their transparency or insulation films. If you don’t have the proper know-how on how to deal with exteriors you might be reaching into your back pocket more than you need to. So without further adieu, and in an effort to help you save money, here is The Complete Exterior Home Maintenance Guide.
What Happens When You Don’t Clean Your Windows?
What a lot of people don’t know is that many windows have a thin insulation film applied to the outside of the window. What this film does, is it basically traps a razor thin layer of air that acts as insulation so heat does not enter or leave through your windows. If you leave chemicals, bird poop, or grime on windows, this film can actually be degraded and the insulation on your windows will decrease which will lead to increased heating bills. As if this wasn’t enough, when you don’t clean your windows, you can get a layer of dust and dirt that blocks light entering your home. This can throw off an aesthetic that your windows would have normally provided. To counter this problem, you should have your windows professionally cleaned twice a year. You should also grab a good old bottle of windex once a week and go to town.
Home Siding/Painting Maintenance To Consider
This section is going to be all about the siding of homes and won’t necessarily be narrowed down to wood siding. if you do some general maintenance/planning ahead there are multiple different problems you can avoid when it comes to exterior home maintenance. Things like paint peeling, blistering paint, sagging paint, mildew, efflorescence (paint dissolving on masonry structures etc.) are all possible to avoid if you know what to do. Essentially, taking care of these problems boils down to three things. Applying paint correctly, removing the artifact/reapplication, and general maintenance.
#1 Applying Paint Correctly
This section should be pretty self-explanatory but these details can be the difference between a big headache down the road or kicking off your shoes and enjoying the sunshine.
- If you apply paint to a moist surface: the paint will not adhere and you will get peeling. If the paint miraculously does adhere on a moist surface, then down the road you are going to get blistering on your paint (bubbling under the paint film).
- If you apply paint on an extremely hot day: the paint will dry too quickly and it will trap vapor and lead to blistering and peeling.
- If you use a cheap paint or interior paint on an exterior surface: you will get something called chalking. Chalking occurs when the pigments in the paint are broken down and released from the rest of the paint. It basically looks like a powder is running off the side of the paint and it will leak down the wall. This problem will also occur if you put a paint on a surface that isn’t very good with binding such as a cheap aluminum siding. The solution to this problem is to get the right type of paint for the right type of surface and to not go cheap when it comes to paint.
- If you thin out your paint too much or apply too much paint: You will get sagging paint that runs down the side of the wall. The solution to this, is to paint in layers and to redistribute paint evenly across a surface.
- If you apply paint to a siding that has no direct sunlight and no ventilation: you will get mildew. The solution to this is to get a paint that has mildewcide to kill the mildew. Another solution would be to improve the ventilation in your home.
#2 Removing the Problem/Reapplying Paint Correctly
With all of these problems that occur it can be hard to know what you need to do to remove the problem (blistering, peeling, mildew, etc.) and most importantly to prevent the problem from occurring again.
- The first step in addressing your siding problem is to remove the problem. You can sit there all day with a wire brush and a scraper to remove these problems but I would recommend hiring power washing professionals if the problem is pretty big. This will save you a lot of time as they will have high-powered water guns that will blast these problems away. If the problem is localized, a scraper should do fine.
- The second step in addressing your siding problem involves prepping your area for reapplication. This can mean water-proofing your exterior if you had problems with moisture. It can mean increasing the ventilation to a particular part of your house if your problem is mildew. It can mean sanding and priming for reapplication if you had blistering or peeling. It can mean cleaning the area with tri-sodium phosphate if your problem was efflorescence.
- The third step in dealing with your siding involves waiting for the conditions to be right. If you cleaned an area, you need to wait until the area is dry. If you primed the area, you need to wait until the primer is dry. You also need to make sure that the day you decide to reapply isn’t particularly hot/humid or rainy (obviously).
- The last step in getting the perfect siding paint job is to make sure you get the right paint/paint consistency. If you thinned out your paint too much last time, don’t do it again. If the paint didn’t adhere very well, even when you used a primer, then think about a different paint. Once you have the right paint, all you need to do is reapply and you should be good to go.
#3 General Maintenance
Just as with windows, if you leave nasty stickies on the side of your house, they will degrade paint and cause chipping. The “stickies” can also lead to some of the problems mentioned above. To solve this issue, I would recommend having some power washing done to your house once a year. This will get rid of all of these problems at the source and will ensure longevity for your paint. If you are stubborn and want to do it yourself, buy a powerful nozzle attachment and get to work with your hose.
Gutter Maintenance Will Protect Your Foundation
What most people don’t realize is that your gutters are meant to protect your foundation. If you don’t have the right runoff from your house, then water will seep into the space between your foundation and the soil outside of your foundation. This acts as an erosion agent, and can even interact with chemicals in the ground to degrade your foundation. I won’t go into how to put gutters up as that is a construction topic but I will go into gutter cleaning. Gutter cleaning is extremely underrated. Especially if you live in an area with a lot of trees. Leaf and debris buildup will clog your gutters and can overflow your gutters so that water doesn’t flow away from the house as it should. I recommend cleaning your gutters twice a year or once a year by a professional.
In conclusion, it is extremely easy to overlook your exterior. I see this happening too often with homeowners. Not cleaning windows can degrade the look as well as the function as an insulator and will lead to reduced aesthetic and increased energy usage. Not applying paint correctly will cause headaches down the road. In addition, not maintaining siding through cleaning can further degrade paint and lead to increased problems. These problems are addressed by proper removal, prepping, and reapplication techniques. Finally, by cleaning out gutters, you are ensuring a safe foundation so that when the floods come down, your structure will show no degradation and will serve its purpose to keep your house in good standing.