Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fall is almost here!

The kids are back in school, the weather has turned really nice at least here in the Northeast and fall is around the corner.

We know we have to feed the lawn, start putting summer clothes away, pull out some sweaters for the cool nights....BUT what do we do for our house for fall?

Well now is a good time to get your HVAC cleaned and serviced. You know your heating system only fails when it is freezing cold same way as your AC only fails when it is 95 degrees out.

Check the caulking around all windows and doors and repair or replace with a good quality sealant. Quad and Dap are 2 good ones.

Stick your head in the attic and check for wet spots or a smell of dampness. If moisture is detected or suspected, get a Roofing Specialist to check out your attic and roof. Sometimes it is a simple thing like the collars around the vent pipes. They degrade over time and that is when they leak. If you are brave, go up on your roof and check for loose or lifted shingles. Or try looking out of your neighbors 2nd story at your roof with binoculars. Look at the very peak of your roof. If you have a ridge vent, does it look secure or is some of it lifted?

The simplest of repairs can prevent thousands of dollars of damage. Most of us don't check out our roof until we notice water coming in through the ceiling. We tend to take our roof for granted until it fails. A yearly inspection, by you if you know what you are doing, or a professional can save you a lot of grief later on. Don't count on the local handyman for this, use a recommended professional roofer.

Check out the tracks on your sliding glass door. If the track has dirt or debris in it, this will prevent the sliding glass door from closing and sealing properly when the weather turns cold, rainy or snowy.

Here in the Northeast we get some pretty good rain in the fall and snow in the winter. Are your gutters working properly? Are they clogged with leaves and debris? Are your gutters and downspouts moving the rain water away from the house. A lot of times water in your basement can be fixed by keeping the water coming off your roof far away from your foundation. Prevention is always better than an expensive cure. If rainwater is coming over your gutters and causing a little trench around the house, this will lead to water in the basement. Better to fill it in now and slope the ground away from the foundation.

Check also that your gutters are firmly affixed to the fascia. That is the board they are attached to. In a big snowstorm, gutters that are not firmly attached can come crashing down and causing a lot of damage.

Okay, so you have checked that everything is in good working order.  Mother Nature can knock herself out. Time to kick back, break out the pumpkin spice candles, put the football game on, invite friends over and put out the munchies.

You are as snug as a bug in a rug!

Director of Operations
Maryland Complete Home Improvements
For more info check out

Saturday, August 3, 2013

I need a new roof………I buy shingles and get some guy to put them on right?                     Wrong?

Uh, well  sorta of…actually NO!

Your roof is your first protection against the elements. Protecting you and what you hold dear.

Not all roofs are created equal and the quality of the shingle and the quality of the installation make all the difference in the world.

Very important here.. the quality and experience of the roofer can greatly impact your warranties.

Let’s start at the beginning…….the process.  The right way is to tear off everything on your roof; all shingles and underlayment and get down to the decking. Once the decking is cleaned off it should be thoroughly inspected for rotted wood, unevenness or any soft spots. These issues should be corrected before anything else. If it is necessary to remove and replace some of the decking ¾’ CDX  is what you want. CDX is not pressed wood but 3 layers of veneer glued together. Each layer is glued opposite to the grain of the layer below it.  This is what will hold the nails used to install your shingles. A soft decking will result in nail pops and loss of shingles and can be a source of future leaks.

Once the decking is sound, drip edge should be installed around the entire perimeter of the roof. 

The next is ice and water shield. These 2 items are code in much of the country. The ice and water shield especially where the winters produce snow and ice. This product prevents ice damming under your shingle.

Next is the underlayment. 15 or 30 lb felt. My thoughts are the heavier the shingle, the heavier the underlayment. Not everyone agrees with this thought.  If you are using a 3 tab shingle 15 lb felt is fine and it can be fine for most architectural shingles as well. If you are going to a faux slate or faux shake, I would recommend a heavier underlayment.

Once you have selected the shingles and the underlayment the next thing is to think about how your roof will breathe. Yes, breathe… otherwise heat builds up in your attic and shortens the life of your roof.

There needs to be an intake in the form of vented soffits gable vents or attic vent fans. Attic vent fans can come solar powered or hard wired. They can also come with a thermostat and humidistat. If the upstairs of your home is hot in the summer, this is a good option

Vented soffits and ridge vents (a protected vent along the ridge of the roof) allow for air in and hot air rises up and out through the ridge vent.

So now we have selected materials, know how the roof will breathe so what about installation?

The best manufacturers of roofing systems (all the components) are CertainTeed, Owens Corning and GAF. Tamko come in a distant 3rd.

These manufacturers offer better warranties through more experienced installers. For instance CertainTeed Architectural shingle can come with a regular warranty, but with a 4 Star Certified Installer the warranty is much better for the same materials. Owens Corning does the same through its preferred contractors. They can offer a lifetime warranty with the first 50 years NON-Prorated.

Why is NON-Prorated important. With a regular warranty if your shingles or a portion thereof goes bad, the manufacturers will drop off the new shingles at the end of your driveway and it is up to you to remove the bad shingles, dispose of them and correctly install the new shingles on your roof.

Shingles generally come in strips 36’ wide by 12 ‘ high. On this strip is an area where the nails should go. Not above…not below, but directly on the nailing strip and there should be 4 nails into each strip of shingle. Any less than that can void the warranty and some installers will skimp on this to save time. If that is the case, I suggest you write your name on the back of each strip before it is installed so when the shingle blows off your neighbor will know where to return it.

Can I put new shingles over the old? Sure, but you will pay for it later. My personal opinion is that you would be crazy to do it. Now the roofing nails have to go through the new shingle, the old shingle, the underlayment and then into the decking. If you live in an area that can experience high winds (don’t we all) you have a greater chance of your roof coming off. The new roof will have a much shorter life span with 2 layers. As a contractor, I personally won’t install new over old. I cannot give a proper warranty with this installation. Let’s also mention here that if your roof fails and you have to re-roof, more than likely you will have to re-deck the whole roof. With that many nails in the decking it will look like a sieve. Now we have to find good wood to put the new nails into.

So check it all out. The right materials,  the right roofers.

Done right a new roof will last a lifetime. Not only will it look good, it will do good!

Director of Operations

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Capping it necessary?

Here at Maryland Complete Home Improvements when we install a window we cap the wood trim around the outside of the window. This is referred to as brick mold for those into "window speak".

Wood is one of the most common exterior door and window trim options, especially for homes that have wood, stone, brick or stucco as their primary siding materials. Many people feel that wood moldings are "second-to-none" when it comes to ornamental value. The grain and texture  of wood molding contribute to a natural style. However, painted wood molding can also blend well with more contemporary exteriors. The main disadvantage of wood door and window molding are their poor resistance. Wood is susceptible to moisture-induced swelling, shrinking, cracking and rotting and can also be the target of insects. Maintaining the molding requires regular sealing and painting.

 We typically use an exterior aluminum that is fused with PVC vinyl as a capping or wrap that fits around the outside of existing wood molding. It comes in a roll and we use a tool referred to as a brake to form the product tightly to the trim. As a nonporous, waterproof material, this is not susceptible to the same moisture-related problems as wood, nor is it susceptible to insects. In addition, aluminum moldings are fire-resistant and the vinyl outer strata provides an appearance of painted wood.
       As an alternative you can use a G8 product that is smooth and suitable for a more contemporary look. This product is also more scratch resistant.

Aluminum exterior molding is also low maintenance.  It does not require paint and you can order them with colored finishes, which manufacturers bake on. The main disadvantage of aluminum is that it is soft and thin, which makes it highly susceptible to scratches and dents.
Another product we use especially if we are replacing a lot of rotted wood trim is PVC board.·         PVC exterior moldings consist of polyvinyl chloride, which is an extremely durable synthetic resin. Like aluminum, the material is low maintenance and is more resistant than wood when it comes to water, fire and invading organisms. In addition, you never have to worry about painting PVC molding as manufacturers mix pigments into the material during processing. In comparison to aluminum molding, PVC molding is stronger and will not as readily succumb to scratching and denting.

 For window sills and other structural areas we use Azak.  This is a wood replacement product and is made from cellular pvc with sustainable advantages related to life cycle and long-term sustainability. By using AZEK products, fewer trees are harvested and the lasting durability of its trim products makes the need for replacement far less frequent. And, because the products do not require staining or painting for protection or performance, the release of VOCs into the environment is greatly reduced. . This trim can be painted and the paint lasts considerably longer than paint on wood.

So unless you have HOA or historical requirements that prohibit capping or you are madly in love with climbing ladders to paint and seal, capping, in our opinion,is the way to go.

Director of Operations
Maryland Complete Home Improvements