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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

How to Paint Your Home’s Exterior the Right Way

When preparing to paint the exterior of your house, there are 2 basic things to remember before you start your project.

1.            Make sure to prepare the walls so that the paint adheres properly
2.            Buy the best paint available that you can afford.

Tips To Help You

·          Do a quick check to see if all you need to do is clean the surface. You can do this by cleaning a small spot (1 foot by 1 foot should do) and then let it dry. The next day paint that area and let it dry. The next day, take a piece of sticky tape and put it on the painted area and then tear it off immediately. If the paint comes away with the tape, you will need to take your exterior down to the bare wall.
·         If the old paint is cracking or peeling, get the old paint off. Don't even try to paint over it.
·         Be sure to select the right type of paint for your house. If its wood siding, buy wood paint. If its metal siding, buy metal paint. Be sure the paint is an exterior paint.
·        Mask everything that is not being painted with tape and heavy plastic drop clothes. This saves you a lot of time trying to clean spots of paint off windows and trim.

If you DID NOT have to strip the Exterior Paint
If you have spots where the wood or paint is uneven, fix them now. Feather any small uneven spots. Wait until you add primer to fix any spots with filler.  Sand all the paint so there are no shiny areas. Dig out all that old caulk and make sure there are no edges left from the caulk. Wash the house with water and a wire brush (not a steel or iron brush as these can leave residue).

Put a good quality primer on the exterior of your house. This is what bonds the paint to the house so be sure you spend the money and get the best. The first coat of primer will show all the flaws you missed, so be sure that you inspect your work carefully. Fill with exterior filler, every crack, hole or any other flaw. Let it dry and then sand it smooth. Wipe everything down with a damp rag to get rid of any dust. Caulk everything. Add a second primer coat and let it dry. Always use the manufacturer's recommendations on drying times.
If you DID have to strip the Exterior Paint
You have got your work cut out for you. Start by vigorously scraping with a putty knife. Get as much as you can possibly get off this way. Scrape out old caulk. Patch any spots you see at this point. Let it dry and sand until its smooth. Two cups of bleach and two cups of trisodium phosphate in four gallons of water should clean any mold and mildew that has lodged itself on your house. There are also house cleaning solutions available. Be sure to read the directions. Spray the house and scrub with a wire brush, again not steel or iron. Let the solution set for 1/2 hour and then rinse with water. DO NOT USE A POWER WASHER, it will damage wood and will blow water in where ever you have taken the caulk out.

If you are working with wood, paint with good paintable water repellant. This keeps moisture out of the wood. Again, buy quality water repellant. Make sure that it contains a mold and mildew preventative/killer. Let this dry for a couple of warm and sunny days before you do anything else.

Now add a quality alkyd primer which will help to preserve wood or a metal exterior primer if you are working with metal. Let this dry and then caulk everything with a good silicone (paintable) acrylic latex caulk. Let everything dry according to the manufacturer's directions. Paint second coat of primer (for wood) with a acrylic latex primer. Let it dry. Now you are ready to paint.

Painting Your House
Use the correct type of brush. If you are using a water-based paint, use a nylon or polyester brush. If you are using an oil-base paint, use a natural bristle brush. Spraying the paint on your house may seem like the easy way to go, but 1/2 the paint goes into the air and your lungs. It is very hard to make a paint sprayer paint evenly and you usually wind up with runs in the paint.

Don't paint when the temperature is below 50° or above 90° and a nice sunny day. Make sure the temperature is going to be that way for 24 hours. Start painting from the top of your house and go down, smooth out drips along the way down. Start painting on the side of the house in the early morning that the sun is going to touch in the late morning. Follow the sun around the house, giving yourself time to get the side painted before the sun touches it. Quit painting for the day 2 hours before sundown, otherwise you may have moisture issues.
Apply 2 coats of paint no more than 2 weeks apart. If it is more than 2 weeks you will need to scrub the paint with the wire brush and water again.

Preparation and time spent up front will save you in the long run. As the experts in providing kithomes and granny flats, good finishes in our designs is paramount. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Finishing a Wood Deck

Finishing or refinishing a deck is on a lot of to-do lists. While this seems like a large project to take on, with a mix of the right tools and a top quality wood stain you can complete the task with a great end result. Timber decks look great on granny flats and kit homesHere are five pointers that will help stain deck wood like a professional:

1. Prep the surface – This is the most important part of finishing a deck - good surface preparation. Consider that an improperly done or insufficiently prepped surface leads to coating failures and preparation is the key step in finishing your surface correctly.

Clean the surface – this is most the important, to remove dirt, debris and flaking from the original finish. You can do this with a power washer (the easiest) or by scrubbing the surface with a stiff brush and a wood cleaner such as trisodium phosphate (TSP) or use a commercial cleaner.

Redwood, cedar and mahogany wood requires cleaners that are specially formulated for those types of woods.

If you’re stripping a finish, follow manufacturer instructions carefully. Work in small areas so the wood cleaner won’t dry before you get a chance to clean it off.

When your deck is dry, sanding may be required to remove the remaining finish and ensure a smooth surface.

2. When choosing your deck finish, consider the following:

   How old is your deck?
   What kind of wood is your deck made of?
   What type of finish is currently on the deck?
   What kind of finish are you looking for?
   What size is the deck?

Translucent or Pigmented finishes add color to the deck, while still allowing the wood grain and texture to be visible. Deck color and porosity have a direct impact on the final color and appearance.

Semi-transparent finishes add a color to the wood. Products in this category still show wood grain and texture while hiding a little of its natural appearance. Deck color and porosity have a direct impact on the final color and appearance.

Solid finishes do not show any wood grain. The type of wood on your deck does not have an impact on the final colour, it depends entirely on the finish product used.

Coverage varies according to the type of wood and the type of deck stain you’re using. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for calculating how much deck stain you need.

3. Use the right tools – Make sure to choose the appropriate brush or roller or sprayer for your finish. Rollers and sprayers cover a larger area than brushes, but not all finishes are suitable for these methods. Be sure to check the product for best recommendations.

In general, oil based products require a premium bristle brush, and for water based products a high quality nylon polyester brush is best. Brushes should be used for narrow or tight spots such as railings and steps.

4. Read the instructions – Before beginning, read all the manufacturer’s directions. This can help find trouble areas ahead of time and make the application process go smoothly.

5. Take your time – Michael King, Building Designer for the Nova Design Group says the most important point is to take your time when applying your deck finish and do it right. Shortcuts will only lead to problems down the road.

Thursday, 9 August 2012


By Michael King 

It is amazing, if not mind boggling, that something as big and as heavy as a concrete slab can travel. One would think that something of this sort, when constructed would stay put. However, slabs do move. Sometimes just a little with only slightly noticeable effects, and other times by several inches or more, where they become a visual annoyance and perhaps a hazard. This is due to ground movement under the slab and by the time you notice, it’s too late because it should have been built properly in the beginning.

Expansion Joints have stopped this cracking! The reasons slabs move are varied, and all the reasons are built on the understanding that the concrete slab is not moving alone. If a slab moves, it is likely that the soil underneath has moved as well. The ground must be thought of as a slow moving fluid not solid. We have all noticed soil can appear to grow over concrete that is both adjacent and slightly lower in than the body of the soil.

If the soil under the slab is located on a level plane, the movement will be generally downward, thus the soil overtime will become more compacted. If the soil is on a slope, the soil will move with the force of gravity down the slope.

To complicate matters, much of the soil is made up of expansive clay which moves seasonally. The volume of this soil is constantly being changed as it takes on and gives off moisture. Basically the soil is going through constant cycles of growth and reduction. Some soil is considered unusable for structural purposes, without special engineering, as it will not support the weight of heavy objects. Normally the weight of objects is transmitted down and outward from its base, but some soil, those with a high plasticity index, acts like small ball bearings, and moves out from under the object causing it to shift and sink.

These factors can generally be overcome, if they are known in advance of the construction process. This is why I recommend that before any building be considered, particularly where it represents a substantial investment, that the soil be tested professionally to determine its makeup and weight bearing capacity. If the condition of the soil is known and problems exist, they usually can be remedied. Possible solutions include compacting loose soil, removing bad soil, and replacing with compactable soil, proper foundation/footing sizing and placement, and to reach down to stable soil, piers and pilings.

Slab is Falling Away from the pool - Where the slab has fallen away from the edge of a pool, the cause is likely the supporting soil was not compacted correctly. The picture on the right shows a concrete deck on reasonable level soil that over time settled away from the pool. The edge furthest from the pool had the most freedom and fell by several inches. The edge along the pool was likely tied structurally to the pool. The result created a hinging effect where the deck now leans. Note that on the accompanying raised deck section the deck movement is such that the brick and tile fascia have broken loose and and are no longer level with the pool structure.

Wire Mesh Reinforcement - In a recent renovation project we found the deck was moving away from the pool, sometimes horizontally. In some sections, the deck sections had separated from each other where one section was 2″ higher than the adjacent section. In this particular case there had been little or no attempt to tie the sections together structurally. In fact, the only reinforcement existing in the deck was a wire mesh, insufficient in this case.

If this was not actually the case and the supporting ground settled beneath the concrete, then the concrete would then have to span across the gap created by the settled earth, a condition it was not designed to withstand.

Lastly, I should point out there is movement of decks and other concrete work which is not related to the soil. It is expansion and contraction. In this case the slab is not so much moving, as in away from or towards something else, as much as it is getting ever so slightly larger when it warms and then smaller when it cools.
This type of movement is anticipated by the integration of isolation joints or expansion joints in the concrete. These joints are actually separations in the concrete works, usually filled with a flexible material. The concrete sections should not be structurally tied together unless designed by an engineer. Keeping them from from moving apart will be accomplished by properly addressing any soil concerns. Failure to install these isolation joints at appropriate locations can often cause their own problems, such as cracking where two sections, both expanding moved against each other.