Your siding has a primary purpose: to protect your home. When installed correctly, your siding will keep your home warm during the winter and stop mold and mildew from compromising your home's structure. Additionally, quality siding will keep out pests and absorb the everyday bumps, knocks, and bangs that would otherwise tear through your building.
But while your siding acts as your home's first defense against damage, siding also has a primary weakness: water. If rain, snow, or ice slip through the slats, the water could soften and warp the wood of your walls and ceilings. And since the siding covers your home's exterior, you might not notice the damage until it requires drastic repairs.
Fortunately, you can help your siding perform its role more effectively through a few small tasks. The following steps in particular reduce the likelihood of water damaging your siding.
1. Trim Plants and Trees
A few well-placed shrubs and flowers can significantly improve your home's overall appearance. With the right landscaping, you can boost your property's resale value and create a more relaxing and inviting environment for your family.
But plants also trap a lot of rainwater on their branches, and they release water vapor through the small pores on their leaves. If your bushes sit too close to your home, the branches may brush up against the siding and allow water to creep into the cracks.
To ensure proper air flow and allow for drying, trim any branches so they rest several inches away from your building.
2. Adjust Sprinkler Heads
Your sprinklers save you a lot of time and hassle. They ensure your lawn and garden receive adequate water without dragging around a heavy hose.
But sprinklers only work as installed. If the original installer pointed the heads in the wrong direction, you can bet that your sprinklers will spray water over your driveway, into the sidewalk, or against the foundation. And if your sprinklers hit your house every morning, you can bet that the constant spray will find its way past your siding.
If needed, adjust any wayward sprinkler heads that point toward your home. If you have any flowers or shrubs against your home that the sprinklers can't reach properly, consider watering them by hand or installing a drip system.
3. Clear Your Gutters
Your siding isn't the only thing protecting your home from the elements. Your gutters and downspout collect rainwater and redirect it away from your siding and foundation.
Yet if you neglect your gutters, you can increase the likelihood of water damage on your siding. When leaves, branches, and other debris clog your gutters, the water will overflow and spill onto your home's siding.
Ideally, you should clean your gutters at least twice a year, during the fall and spring seasons. If you have large trees that shed a lot of organic material, you may need to clear your gutters more frequently.
Don't feel comfortable cleaning the gutters so often? Invest in a gutter guard that will allow water to flow freely but will keep out leaves and pests.
4. Promptly Remove Snow and Ice
In Minnesota, the Twin Cities and the surrounding cities see some of the coldest average temperatures in the US. In fact, the Twin Cities have an average of 12 inches of snow per month in January and December and another 9 to 10 inches of snow per month in February, March, and November.
When winter storms hit, you may feel tempted to scrape away just enough snow to escape your driveway or to avoid slip-and-fall accidents on your sidewalk. However, if you leave snow piled next to your home, that snow will eventually melt against your siding and into your foundation.
While you don't have to obsessively clear your property of every last inch of snow, do your best during the colder months to keep snow away from your home. Remember to use gentle movements with the shovel, as scraping and pounding against ice may dent or crack your siding.
5. Insulate Your Attic
As you look for ways to protect your home's exterior, you might not initially think about what you can do to your home's interior. But your insulation can have a profound impact on how much snow collects on your roof, and in turn, that snowmelt affects your siding's lifespan.
Ice dams form when your shingles warm enough to melt the under layer of snow on your roof. The water then trickles down between the snow and the shingles until it reaches the eaves of your home, and then the water refreezes. As the snow repeatedly melts and refreezes, the water eventually backs up underneath your shingles and drips behind your eaves and your siding. If the ice becomes heavy enough, it can break away from your roof and pull gutters, shingles, and siding along with it.
Insulation, fortunately, keeps temperature fluctuations in check. It stops the heat in your attic from escaping through the roof. If you see frequent ice dams, ask a professional to assess whether your attic needs additional insulation.
Talk to a Contractor About Damaged Siding
These five steps can keep moisture buildup in check and stop water damage before it starts. However, if your siding already seems worse for wear, you may need to replace it to ensure your home stays dry throughout the year.
Talk to a contractor a D.S. Bahr Construction, Inc. about repairing or replacing your damaged or aging siding. We'll gladly install fiber cement, vinyl, wood, or steel siding at your request.
You recently installed a deck, and you look forward to the barbecues, parties, and lazy summer evenings you'll spend on it.
However, as you've added patio furniture and décor, you've noticed that your deck attracts more than just human occupants. Inse cts, rodents, and other pests seem to enjoy it too. And you worry that these pests may ruin your deck or make it dangerous or uncomf ortable to use.
Don't surrender your deck to these creatures. Instead, identify the animal invader, call a pest control company for removal, and the n fortify your deck against further infiltrations. We'll tell you more about this process below.
Identify the Pest
You'll often find these common pests living on, in, or under your deck.
These insects look like smaller, lighter ants, and they all have wings. When they eat through wood, they create tubes about a pencil's width across. They can cause significant structural damage because they will eat through all the materials in your deck. They can also tun nel through foam, plaster, and other materials to reach wood.
2. Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants look like smaller ants-but they grow much bigger. They come in red or black. Like termites, they also bore holes throu gh wood. They don't eat the wood, but they do like to live in it, and they'll soon make your deck look like Swiss cheese. You'll also see sm all piles of sawdust and dead insects around your deck.
3. Carpenter Bees
Carpenter bees don't cause as much damage as carpenter ants or termites, but they do bore holes in your wood or composite deck . The holes will appear about a half inch in diameter, and they'll look perfectly round. These bees bore into wood or wood-like materials to build their nests.
Even though carpenter bees don't cause as much damage as other pests, they do create a stinging hazard, so you should remove t hem.
4. Powderpost Beetles
You won't likely see these beetles until they fly around lights late at night. They appear reddish brown, with skinny, flat bodies that gr ow about a quarter inch long. They also leave sawdust behind, and they create pinhead-sized holes. These beetles will also undermine you r deck's structural integrity.
5. Mice and Rats
Rodents like to live in or under decks as well. You'll know you have mice or rats because you'll see their small, grayish bodies darting a nd scurrying. They also leave small, black, pointed droppings behind. And because they have dirty fur, they create grease trails when the y rub against your home's surfaces.
These rodents spell disaster for your deck because they chew on the materials and make them weaker. Mice and rats also carry disea ses that could endanger your family.
6. Raccoons, Opossums, and Skunks
These larger rodents cause even bigger problems because they tear through deck materials more quickly. They also carry some of t he same diseases that mice and rats do, and they will bite and scratch to defend themselves. So if you see cat-like creatures under your d eck, call a pest control expert for assistance.
Fortify Your Deck
Now that you know what kind of pest has invaded your deck, you can take steps to remove it and ensure it never returns. Just mak e sure you don't eradicate the rodent or insect on your own. Ants and bees will attack if you try to spray them, and you may face legal p enalties if you accidentally kill rodents like opossums. Leave the pest removal to a professional.
Once you've removed the pest, you can take the following steps to protect your deck:
- If you have a wood deck, seal it with a new protective coat, and add a new layer of paint. A well-maintained deck attracts fewer pests than a poorly maintained one.
- Trim all plants away from your deck so pests have nowhere to hide.
- Remove any standing water around your deck. Your pests need water to survive, and if they can't access it, then they won't want t o make a home under your deck.
- Cover the gap between the deck and the ground with a mesh screen. This screen deters rodent pests. You can also seal the gap wit h concrete or plywood if you want a more thorough deterrent.
- Put yellow bug lights around the deck to keep insect and spider pests away.
Your pest control or deck expert may also have some more tips for you. For example, if you have raccoons, you should use zip ties to seal your garbage cans. If raccoons can't get to the food inside your garbage cans, they'll leave your yard in favor of a location with b etter access to food sources.
If pests have damaged your deck, get a deck expert to repair and restore it. If you have further questions about keeping your deck comfortable, safe, and pristine, check out the rest of our blog.
You wake up, peek through your eyelids, and catch sight of a few rays of light. You quickly jump up, rush to the window, push it open, and are flooded with the fresh scent of summer. You hear birds chirping and your heart catches in your chest-your favorite season is finally here.
With summer right around the corner, now is the perfect time to plan for upcoming outdoor activities and events. Grab your bathing suit, some suntan lotion, and head to your deck so you can lounge away the day and plan three different ways you can use your outdoor space this summer season.
1. Host a Party
Summer provides the perfect opportunity to gather your friends, neighbors, and family together to celebrate the warmest season of the year. Follow these tips to host one of the most memorable outdoor parties on your deck.
Keep Stress Levels Low and Plan in Advance
Don't wait until the last minute to start planning your party. Make several lists (guest list, shopping list, and to-do list), invite friends to get involved, and split up responsibilities to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Wow Guests with Creative Décor
To some guests, décor is as important as what's on the dinner menu. Set the mood with the following backyard accessories:
Plants and flowers
You can also add a little personality with artwork. Buy a few canvases and some paint at the craft store and invite your kids to let their creative juices flow onto a blank canvas.
Satisfy Taste Buds with Delicious Grub
It's not a party without food. What's on the menu? Consider the following:
Plan the menu well in advance so you can stock up on all the right ingredients before it's time to party.
Quench Thirst with Unforgettable Drinks
If there's one thing to splurge on, it's drinks. Load your fridge with all sorts of beverages, including the following:
Keep your guests happy and the mood light with a Moscow Mule. This cocktail includes:
First, mix together two parts ginger beer with one part vodka. Add lime to taste.
Set the Mood with Music
Prevent awkward silences with music that will please the entire crowd. Create a playlist with the following songs:
"I Started a Joke" by the Bee Gees
"Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye" by Roberta Flack
"Born Too Late" by Dent May
"Paris 1919" by John Cale
"You Do Something to Me" by Leo Reisman & His Orchestra
If you want music to dance along to at your party, browse through dance playlists on iTunes or Spotify so you can keep your guests entertained at your outdoor deck party.
2. Get in Shape
Summer is bathing suit season. Use your deck as an outdoor gym and stay in shape with a combination of the following exercises:
If you don't want to do exercises on your deck surface, invest in a yoga mat to avoid splinters.
3. Camp Out
If the great outdoors are calling your name, you can heed its call in the comfort of your own backyard. Use these tips to transform your deck into the perfect outdoor campground.
Create a Campout Atmosphere
First, clean your deck so you don't have to worry about loose nails, loose floorboards, broken lights, or spider webs during your camping extravaganza. Once you've swept, mopped, and dusted, gather the following items:
Fire pit (small grill)
Set up the bedding away from the fire to ensure your family stays safe during your campout. Create a Campout Menu
Excite your kids with a menu full of campout essentials, including the following:
Hotdogs, buns, and condiments (mix it up with onions, barbeque sauce, jalapenos, and banana peppers) Corn on the cob (don't forget the butter, salt, or pepper)
Tin foil dinners (stay full on meat, potatoes, onions, peppers, and any other vegetables)
S'mores (it's not a campout without plenty of marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers)
You can always add an extra layer of sweet delight to s'mores with a dab of caramel or peanut butter.
Create a Campout Game Plan
When it comes time to campout on the deck with your kids, throw away any notion of bedtime. Instead, stay up late and stay entertained with one-or all-of the following activities:
Star gazing Charades
Take time to create a campout game plan so you can create fun and lasting memories for your entire family.
Whether you want to host a party, get in shape, or camp out, your deck offers the perfect outdoor space for you to stay entertained all summer long. Use these tips to amp up your summer entertainment. If you want to give your deck a makeover before summer arrives, contact your local deck contractors today.