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Important Factors for Window Replacement

Assessing Existing Windows

One area of concern to many homeowners is the overall window condition and efficiency of windows in their home. Often overlooked is a criterion for evaluating existing windows before engaging in window installation or a do it yourself window replacement project for the entire home.

Basic questions to answer before planning a window project include:

  • Is the goal to increase energy efficiency?
  • Is the window installation project to replace windows with faulty or malfunctioning mechanisms?
  • Is the window replacement project for aesthetic appearance?
  • Is home window installation for purposes of more sufficient ventilation and light?
Important Factors for Window Replacement

Sometimes window installation to increase energy efficiency is un-necessary with little or no change. Homes with the average window to wall ratio of 12 – 14% may see little or no change with window replacement. Unless, of course, present windows have a very high U-factor rating or are not well insulated.

Homes with a much higher window to wall ratio and those in locations with very hot or very cold temperatures can experience significant energy improvement with a window replacement upgrade.

Windows with good efficiency that are malfunctioning can usually be corrected with timely window repair, done at a fraction of the cost of replacement. Furthermore, window covering treatments such as certain types of curtains or window shades can also significantly improve energy efficiency.

Using Efficiency Ratings for Evaluation

There are three window efficiency ratings to consider when evaluating existing windows, or shopping for replacements. Whether planning casement window replacement, double hung window replacement, or just a picture window replacement, the following factors should be taken into consideration.

  • Air leakage – this is the amount of air allowed to filter in or out of the dwelling from around the window frame or the window itself. It is measured in cubic feet per minute, per square foot of window area (including frame). The lower the rating, the tighter the window, consequently – the higher the efficiency.
  • U-Factor is the rating of how much heat or cold is transmitted through the window panes or glazing. A variation of this rating is the National Fenestration Rating Council U-Factor, which includes the framing and spacer material for an overall rating. The lower the rating, the higher the efficiency of the window.
  • Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) – is the amount of heat that is radiated into a room by direct sunlight entering the window, allowing heat to radiate from surfaces in the room. The lower the rating, the lower the amount of solar heating effect. Windows are available with intentional higher or lower SHGC ratings for different uses. Windows with a higher SHGC rating are good for winter solar heat on sides of a home with solar exposure, whereas windows with a low SHGC rating help keep the exposed sides of the home cooler in summer. One way to change this rating on any window is with window tinting. The addition of window film on the glass panes acts as a shade which reduces solar radiation.

Cost Factor Considerations

Window replacement cost is a very important factor for many homeowners. Vinyl window selection, efficiency, and cost make them a popular choice for old wood window replacement on older homes.

Older trailer houses commonly suffer window problems. Vinyl window replacement cost makes mobile home window replacement a very attractive option to spruce up and increase the value of these type homes.

When seeking to improve aesthetic appearance and money is no object, many homeowners turn to custom high-end wood cased windows. Custom wood cased windows can transform even the most mundane living room into a stunning showcase of craftsmanship and beauty. These hand-crafted windows come with a price tag that is not for the faint hearted, and the sky is the limit for extravagant custom designs.

When purchasing replacement windows, make sure to measure for the proper size to fit the rough openings once old windows are removed.

Basic Window Demolition and Installation

  • Start by removing the old window. Use a utility knife to score paint around casing inside and out. Carefully pry off casing.
  • For single hung windows, remove lower sash. For double hung, remove lower, then upper sash.
  • Remove caulking and cut nails holding jamb with a reciprocating saw or special hack saw.
  • Remove any remaining debris or protruding nails, so that the rough opening is clean and flush.
  • Place new window in opening; adjust so it is centered. Check to make sure window is level, plumb, and square. Windows that are out of square will not operate properly. Use cedar shims to center and level the window. Most new windows have a pre-drilled nailing strip; use 1 ½ inch to 2-inch galvanized roofing nails to secure the window to the nailing flanges in the opening. Space nails 6 to 8-inches, or about every other pre-drilled hole in the strip.
  • Use a hammer and chisel to trim shims flush with jamb.
  • Carefully stuff insulation in gaps around window.
  • Caulk around interior and exterior of window.
  • Install exterior and interior trim casing around window.

Hiring a Professional

Properly completing a window installation or window replacement project requires a medium to advanced level of DIY skill. For that reason some homeowners may want to enlist the services of a professional. A general contractor, window installer, or window replacement contractor will have the necessary skills to quickly and correctly complete the project.

To locate reliable local contractors for either a Minnesota window replacement project, or a Massachusetts window replacement project, homeowners all across America are turning to HandyAmerican.com

At HandyAmerican.com locating reliable contractors in your community is easier than ever before. Homeowners sign up FREE, with no obligation whatsoever, and then post their window project online. Local contractor members view project details and provide competitive bids in days, even hours after project posting.

Homeowners can view each contractor member’s company profile, licensing, certification, and insurance credentials, customer references and feedback, and view photo galleries of recently completed projects. Then make an informed hiring decision, or hire no contractor at all. Remember – there is no obligation.

101 Ways to Increase the Real Estate Market Value of Your Home Continued

Landscape Improvements

Curb appeal – that is what it’s all about! Wowing visitors and potential buyers with a clean, polished, uncluttered appearance the minute they drive up to the curb.

When it comes to increasing the market value of your home and attracting potential buyers, the landscape around the house is the icing on the cake; every bit as important as location. An irresistible welcome mat that makes people want to jump out of the car, to see the rest of the house.

Landscaping efforts often represent the second best return on investment (ROI) – with an average recoup of 100% or better. Not only can the landscape increase the real estate value of your home, but putting focus on curb appeal can help your home sell faster.

Follow the tips below to help get the exterior surrounding your home in tip-top shape and really stand out:

101 Ways to Increase the Real Estate Market Value of Your Home

  1. Remove any foliage and cut back shrubbery that hides the house – this includes trees, hedges, and anything else that blocks the front entrance view of the house from the road. Not only does such overgrowth hint of neglect and take away from the aesthetic appeal of the home. It represents a security problem – providing cover for intruders.
  2. Edge your lawn – the positive visual impact and landscaping curb appeal of a green, lush well-groomed lawn that is properly edged cannot be over emphasized. If you haven’t the time for upkeep required, invest in landscape services.
  3. Add Color – a pop of color helps create a beautiful landscape appealing to the eye; making the house look more inviting. Plant colorful annuals along the walkway and near the front entrance; plant ground cover around the base of trees. Helpful hint: research shows that the color yellow evokes a buying mood.
  4. Spread grass seed – if grass is sparse and unhealthy, spread lawn seed. Traffic areas especially may need attention.
  5. Lay turf – whether replacing the whole lawn with turf grass, or just as spot treatment for bald spots.
  6. Get rid of unsightly weeds– pull them out (make sure you get the whole root), or use a weed-remover product.
  7. Use liquid grass fertilizer – for the greenest lawn possible. Using a dispenser that fits onto the hose will help ensure even distribution; keep lawn well watered.
  8. Install a lawn sprinkler system – this not only helps keep the lawn looking great while reducing time spent on landscape maintenance. An automatic sprinkler system is a great selling point. If you’ve a garden space, consider installing a garden sprinkler system.
  9. Keep lawn well mowed – a height of 2-inches gives a well manicured, uniform appearance. If summers are particularly hot, up to 3-inches is acceptable. The added height will help roots grow deeper into the soil where moisture is more abundant.
  10. Dress-up your driveway – planting trees and bushes along your driveway dresses it up and creates an attractive border sure to attract attention.
  11. Add interest and color to your backyard landscape – add a trellis. Pick an area off to the side of one corner of the house, and create the illusion that the house is larger than it really is. Select fast-growing flowering vines for fragrance and visual appeal.
  12. Create a rock garden – an especially innovative option for a scant lawn that doesn’t quite meet the curb or driveway. A 2-foot wide strip along both sides of the driveway and/or where the property meets the curb can be filled with multicolored rocks. Mix large rocks with small for variety; strategically placed pots of plants add color and interest.
  13. Add an arbor garden or potted shrubs – a great way to hide unsightly spots and draw attention away from less attractive areas of the yard.
  14. Weed garden landscape – and turn soil over with fresh mulch for optimum appeal.
  15. Landscaping idea – paint a layer of diluted yogurt on a terra cotta pot, urn, birdbath, or statue to age it with an attractive mossy finish for enhanced landscape décor.
  16. Create a rock garden pond – the perfect solution for a lawn with large bald spots; more cost effective than a garden pond surrounded by flora, with less upkeep.
  17. Light up the landscape – and make your home look more inviting. Landscape light – whether solar, outdoor track lighting, or designer Malibu landscape lighting – provides a hospitable ambiance that enhances home exterior.
  18. Add security lighting – such as flood lights or motion-sensitive lights. Select traditional or decorative styles – such as sconces. Security lights enhance safety; both from intruders and by lighting up pathways and reducing the risk of accidents. They also make property look more appealing.
  19. Clear debris from yard – that includes sticks, litter, toys, leaves, and even bird droppings; only a fresh, well manicured lawn should greet the eyes of potential buyers.
  20. Keep trees and shrubs neatly pruned – critical for curb appeal. Cut back overgrown trees and overhanging plants. “Tame” your yard so that it looks well manicured.
  21. Remove any badly damaged, dead or dying plants and trees – grass over holes, or plant healthy new specimens.
  22. Enhance landscape using a theme – one that will compliment your home design. Consider a desert landscape, natural landscape, or tropical landscape – depending upon your locality.
  23. Add an outdoor water feature – such as a fountain, garden pond waterfall, or even just a birdbath. Water features attract butterflies, birds, and other specimens of wildlife – adding enchantment to your yard. Such elements also add aesthetic appeal, and the sounds made by water are relaxing and therapeutic.
  24. Hire a landscape designer or landscape architect – if your property needs extensive TLC. They can create a landscape plan complete with detailed diagrams and plant lists; you can save money by doing the work yourself. Having an expert draw up the plans will ensure a professional-looking outcome, and your real estate home value will go up.

Installing Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl sheet flooring comes in both 6 and 12-foot widths. Because it can be installed in kitchens and bathrooms without seams, it remains a favored choice floor covering for those type rooms. If seams are inevitable, installation can be planned so seams occur in inconspicuous, low-traffic areas. This reduces the risk of water seeping through the seams and causing damage.

About Sheet Vinyl

Sheet vinyl resists water; it is practical, durable, and cushions the feet. Like any other type floor coving, it is available in different grades and qualities. Rule of thumb, the higher the concentration of vinyl in the sheet floor covering, the more resilient and long-lasting it will be. Thickness is another indication the floor will wear well. Solid vinyl is best, as well as the most expensive.

It is available in both full-spread and perimeter-bond types; full-spread has a felt-paper backing. It is secured using an adhesive that bonds it tightly to the floor. Perimeter-bond has a smooth, white PVC backing; it is laid directly over under layment and secured in place using a special adhesive around the perimeters.

vinyl flooring

Under layment and Installation Success

There are several factors that contribute to whether or not sheet vinyl installation is a success or a failure. At the top of the list for installation success is under layment surface. It must be smooth, even, and clean. Made from a material approved for that purpose; free from any ink, factory stamps, or paint. Otherwise stains or discolorations could bleed through.

Lauan plywood is construction grade plywood, made from a tropical hardwood. Type 1 exterior grade lauan plywood is the only type accepted by most sheet vinyl manufacturers as an appropriate sheet vinyl sub floor. Other types of plywood that may be more suitable as sheet vinyl sub floor include poplar or birch.

Using lesser grade plywood as sheet vinyl under layment is not recommended, as hollow spots in between the veneer face layers can cause “spongy areas” on the floor. Other poor quality under layment choices contain water soluble extractive chemicals that can cause staining.

A good thing to remember is that just because one type under layment is recommended as the best choice by one vinyl sheet manufacture, that same under layment may not be the best choice for another. It is important, therefore, to carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the product you are going to install.

Other secrets for installation success include:

  • Clean, accurate cuts – the vinyl must fit perfectly along the contours of the room, matching the outline of the floor.
  • Using a paper template will help insure cuts will be accurate. (See directions for making a template below.)
  • Full-spread vinyl can be installed over any flat, level surface recommended for underlayment material as long as it is clean and free from ink, factory stamps, and paint – as noted above. Perimeter bond vinyl that will be stapled around the perimeter will require a wood substrate.
  • Before applying new adhesive to the floor, remove any old. Old adhesives can react with chemicals in new adhesive and create stains.
  • Always use the recommended adhesive for whatever type sheet vinyl you are installing. Note: Some manufacturers require you use their name brand glue and will void their warranty if another type of glue is used.
  • Apply adhesive sparingly; use a 1/8-inch or 1/4-inch notched trowel for application.

Reduce the risk of failure

To reduce the risk of failure when installing sheet vinyl, remember the following:

  • Avoid using an adhesive not specifically recommended by the sheet vinyl manufacture. Not only can this void any warranty, but some type glues contain chemicals not compatible with the components used in sheet vinyl. This can cause discolorations to leach through the vinyl, creating unsightly stains.
  • Sheet vinyl seams require extra attention. Cracking and separation can result from using an “off the shelf” products unapproved by the sheet vinyl manufacturer.
  • Avoid using poor quality plywood as underlayment, as well as any material not recommended by the sheet vinyl manufacturer.
  • Avoid using poor quality floor mates on sheet vinyl after it has been installed, as discolorations can develop.

How to Make a Paper Template

Place paper that is 12 to18-inches wide along the walls of the room you plan to install sheet vinyl; butchers or brown wrapping paper works best. Be sure and leave a 1/8-inch gap between the wall and paper. Cut out triangular holes in the paper at about 18-inch intervals using a utility knife. Fasten the template to the floor using masking tape over the holes.

Work with one piece of paper at a time in making your template. As you work your way around the perimeter of the room, overlap pattern seams about 2-inches and tape together. Slide paper under door casings. Fit around pipes the following way:

  • Tape sheets of paper on either side of the pipe.
  • Measure the distance from the wall to the center of the pipe; subtract 1/8-inch (to account for the 1/8-inch wall to paper gap).
  • Transfer the measurement to a separate piece of paper; use a compass to draw the pipe diameter onto the paper.
  • Cut the pipe hole with scissors or a utility knife; cut a slit from the center of the cutout to the edge of the paper.
  • Fit the cutout around the pipe; tape the pipe-hole template to the adjoining template sheets.

Once the paper template is complete, identify the top side with a mark. Carefully roll or loosely fold the template for carrying.

Cutting Sheet Vinyl for Installation

Unroll the vinyl flooring, pattern side up, on any large, clean, flat surface; dry and free from debris. If installation requires more than one piece of vinyl, plan seams carefully.

Position pieces so the seam will be located in an inconspicuous, low traffic area of the floor. Cut the seam to fall along patterned lines or simulated grout joints so it will be less noticeable. Overlap edges of vinyl sheets by at least 2-inches and tape together. If possible, avoid standing or kneeling on the vinyl while working.

Situate the paper template over the sheet vinyl carefully; tape it securely in place. Trace the outline of the template onto the vinyl using a non-permanent fine tip felt marking pen, and then remove the template. Cut along the tracing lines using a sharp utility or linoleum knife. Use a straightedge as a guide when making long cuts.

Cut holes for pipes and other permanent obstructions; cut a slit from the pipe-hole to the nearest edge of the flooring. Whenever possible, make slits along decorative pattern lines. When complete, roll – do not fold – the flooring, and then transfer it to the installation area.

Preparing for Installation

Once the sheet vinyl has been cut, and rolled loosely for transportation to the installation site, you are ready to install it.

Make sure the floor surface is clean; completely free of dirt and debris. Unroll the flooring and carefully position it; slide the edges beneath undercut door casings. For two-piece installations, trim the excess (2-inch overlap).

Use a framing square as a guide to cut the seam along patterned lines; be sure and cut through both pieces of vinyl. Remove the scrap pieces; the two sheets of vinyl should be pattern-matched. Make sure flooring is perfectly in place before applying adhesive.

Perimeter-bond Vinyl Installation

If installing perimeter bond vinyl, begin to attach the vinyl to the subfloor / underlayment at the seams. Gently fold back the seams about 1-foot. Use a notched trowel or wallboard knife to apply a 4-inch wide swath of flooring adhesive to the subfloor.

Place the seam edges on the adhesive, one at a time; press gaps together with your fingers, making sure each seam is tight. If needed, use a hard rubber roller (also known as a J-roller), wallpaper seam roller, or rolling pin; press firmly and roll evenly.

Apply flooring adhesive underneath flooring cuts at pipes or posts, and around the entire perimeter of the room. Use the roller to ensure proper contact with adhesive. If flooring is being applied over wood underlayment, use 3/8-inch staples driven every 4-inches around the perimeter of the vinyl to further secure it to the subfloor. Make sure, however, staples will be hidden by base molding once it is in place.

Full-spread Vinyl Installation

Once the flooring is perfectly in place, pull back half of the flooring and apply a layer of flooring adhesive over the underlayment. Use the adhesive sparingly, but cover the area completely. Lay the flooring back onto the adhesive.

Use a heavy flooring roller to roll the vinyl in even rolls, moving toward the edges of the sheet. The roller helps to create a stronger bond and eliminate air bubbles. When finished, fold over the un-bonded section of flooring and repeat the process. Using a clean damp rage, wipe away any adhesive residue from around the edges of the vinyl.

Arrange metal threshold bars cut to fit across doorways; position over the edge of the vinyl flooring, and nail in place.

Countertops – Installing Ceramic Tile

Installing a ceramic tile countertop is one type do-it-yourself project especially rewarding when careful planning yields the expected results and project success. Ceramic that has been properly installed provides a durable, attractive, easy to clean surface that will compliment your kitchen décor.

Ceramic tile is one of the more popular choices for countertops and backsplashes for a variety of reasons. It is available in a wide variety of sizes, colors, and styles; it can also be easily repaired. Another reason tile counters are so popular is because many types of tile are very reasonably priced.

Before you purchase tile or begin your project however, take the following into consideration:

  • Because of the varying sizes of tiles from which to select, tiles combined with the width of grout lines between each rarely works out to an exact match for the size countertop planned. Therefore, it is often necessary to cut tiles for proper fit.
  • The best tile for most countertops is glazed ceramic floor tile; for two reasons. Glazed tile is stain resistant, and floor tile is usually more durable than tile made for counters. Porcelain tile is also hard and durable, and another good choice as countertop tile.
  • Select tile with at least a Class 3 hardness rating.
  • Use grout containing latex to minimize staining in between tiles.
  • An equal row of partial tiles on both sides of the counter will look better than a full row on one side, with a narrow sliver on the other.
  • When planning your tile counter layout, consider the size and shape of edge tiles. Bullnose tiles are flat with rounded edges; V-cap tiles are formed to completely cover edges.
  • Also take into consideration the vertical measurement of the finished edge; the edge tile combined with the thickness of core materials. Measure to ensure edge tiles won’t interfere with base cabinet doors or draws. If so, you’ll need to shim up the countertop using pieces of plywood that have been nailed along the cabinet rims.
  • Adding new tile slightly raises sinks and other fixtures, so plumbing will have to be adjusted. Even if you install the tile countertop yourself, you may want to hire an experienced plumber for this purpose.
  • Recessed sinks should be set in place prior to tiling; surface-mounted sinks should be installed after tiling is complete.
  • If you have to remove an old tile counter in order to install a new one, you will have to use a masonry chisel to break the old tile up; be sure and wear protective goggles. If the counter has a masonry bed, cut it apart using a circular saw with a masonry-cutting blade; be careful not to damage the base cabinets.
  • New tile can often be installed directly over old laminate surfaces as long as the laminates are in good condition and still firmly attached to their substrate.
  • When installing a whole new counter, ceramic tile can be installed on a 3/4-inch plywood core topped by a 1/2-inch thick cementboard; a material made specifically as backing for tile. Cementboard is also known as “glass mesh mortar unit” (GMMU). As an added moisture barrier, a layer of plastic can be inserted in-between the plywood and cementboard.

Countertops - Installing Ceramic Tile

Note: if you decide to install the tile directly to a plywood core, select 3/4-inch exterior grade plywood; free from holes or crevices of any kind. This will help protect against moisture.

If you still feel comfortable installing a ceramic tile countertop yourself, let’s get started! In addition to the tile and possibly a plywood core toped by cementboard, you will need the following materials:

  • Tile, including edge tiles
  • 3/4-inch exterior grade plywood; for frame supports, the core, and base strips for along the edge, unless using pine
  • 1X2 pine (for base strips along the edge, unless using plywood)
  • 1/2-inch cementboard – to fit over the core
  • 4-ml polyethylene sheeting (to place in-between the plywood core and cementboard as an extra moisture barrier – if desired)
  • Tile adhesive
  • Carpenter’s glue
  • Grout
  • Latex additive (for the grout)
  • plastic grout spacers
  • Silicone caulk
  • Liquid silicone sealer, one that is food safe
  • Latex underlayment

You will also need the following tools:

  • Measuring tape
  • Putty knife
  • Framing square
  • Safety goggles
  • Tile cutter
  • Tile nippers
  • Hammer
  • Notched trowel
  • Grout float
  • Grout sponge
  • Caulking gun
  • Electric drill with appropriate screw bits
  • Circular saw with a carbide-tipped blade
  • Screwdriver
  • Galvanized 2-inch wallboard screws
  • Galvanized 4d common nails

Make a Plywood Frame and Core

When constructing a whole new tile countertop, begin by making a 3-inch frame support made from plywood to go around the top perimeter of the base cabinet. Fasten the supports every 24-inches using galvanized 4d common nails. Install frame supports across the cabinets about 3-inches from the sides of the sink and cook top locations; secure in place.

Make the core the same size as the base cabinet using ¾-inch exterior grade plywood. Top with ½-inch cementboard cut to fit; lay over the core. Be sure all edges are flush; fasten the core and cementboard to the frame supports using galvanized 2-inch wallboard screws. Use the underlayment to fill the cracks and screw holes. Allow to dry before sanding flush with the surrounding surfaces

Measure the locations and sizes of sinks and cook tops; cut according to the rough-in dimensions provided by the manufacturer. Wear goggles when cutting the cementboard; use a circular saw with a carbide-tipped blade. The safest cutting procedure is to make several passes along each line, setting the blade a little deeper with each pass. While cutting, it is important to provide support under the waste material to prevent tear-out.

Make a base for edge tiles and overhang. Install 1X2 build-up strips of pine along all countertop core exposed edges. Attach the strips using carpenter’s glue and galvanized 6d finish nails; the strips should be flush with the top of the core. If you prefer, use 1X2 strips of exterior grade plywood in place of pine. Note: instead of using pine strips or plywood, you can cap the edges of the plywood and cementboard topper with strips of cementboard; finish with fiberglass mesh tape and thin-set mortar.

Prepare to Install Tiles

Before installing the tile, makes sure the surface area is dry and free of debris. Begin by measuring and marking the middle of the countertop core. Your first full tile will be placed along this center line; be sure it is flush with the edge of the build-up strip.

Use a framing square to establish perpendicular lines that extend to all edges of the core. If you are using V-cap edge tiles, begin with an edge tile; allow for grout spacing, and then place a full tile against the layout lines. Dry fit the first row of tiles along the perpendicular lines; if tiles don’t have spacing lugs on their edges, use plastic grout spacers to set gout-joint gaps between the tiles. Make adjustments as necessary.

Cutting Tile

To make work easier, precut all partial tiles before you begin actual installation. For straight cuts, place the tile face-up in the tile cutter. After making adjustments for the proper width, score the tile with the cutter wheel. Apply pressure to snap the tile, according to tile cutter directions.

For curved cuts, use a tile scoring tool to etch the outline of the curve on the tile. Cover the unwanted portion of the tile with crisscrossed lines; use tile nippers to break off small pieces of the section of tile to be discarded until the cutout is complete

As you work, remember:

  • Take into account the grout lines when measuring for partial tiles.
  • Where tiles meet the wall surface, allow 1/8-inch of space; or the thickness of one tile.

Installing Tiles

When installing a tile countertop, begin with edge tiles. Apply a layer of thin-set mortar to the back of the tile and the edges of the countertop using a notched trowel. Use a slight twisting motion to press tiles into place. Add (temporary) plastic gout spaces between tiles, if needed. The rounded tops of bullnose tiles should be flush with the surface of field tiles, so keep a loose tile along the build-up strips for easy reference.

Once the edge tiles are in place, begin laying top tiles working one small area at a time.

Spread adhesive along the front of the counter top core; install a row of full tiles. When finished, begin a perpendicular row of tiles along the layout lines. Insert gout spacers as needed.

After each small section is complete, lay a carpeted 2X4 block of wood over the tile and tap gently with a hammer, and then run your hand over the tiles to insure they are even. Remove any spacers with a toothpick; scrape any excess adhesive from the gout joints. Use denatured alcohol to remove any adhesive from the face of tiles before it has time to dry.

Continue installing tiles, alternating perpendicular rows as you work. Once you are finished installing field tiles, you are ready to start installing the backsplash tiles. You will want to leave between 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch between the bottom of the backsplash tiles and the field tiles; this will be filled-in with silicone caulk once tile installation is complete.

Applying Grout and Caulk

Once tiles are all in place, mix grout according to package directions; use a latex additive if desired. After making sure all plastic grout spacers have been removed, use a rubber float to apply the grout in sweeping motions, forcing the gout into the joints between the tiles. After all spaces between tiles are completely filled-in, use a damp sponge with rounded edges to wipe away excess grout. Do not use a sponge with squared corners, which could wipe away grout from the joints.

Allow grout to cure for one hour before wiping away the powdery residue left on tiles; follow the manufacturer’s directions, and allow the grout to dry completely. Once grout is dry, caulk along the backsplash using a fine, unbroken bead of silicone caulk; smooth with the tip of a wet finger and wipe away excess.

Once the caulk has had time to cure, apply a penetrating liquid silicone sealer to the grout; one that is food safe. Use a foam brush for application. Allow the sealer dry, and apply a second coat. Once the second coat is completely dry, buff the tiles using a clean, soft cloth. For proper maintenance purposes, reapply a sealer once a year.

What a Licensed Journeyman Plumber Does

A licensed journeyman plumber is a highly skilled professional who installs, repairs, and maintains plumbing systems.  Certified plumbing professionals perform a vast number of plumbing industry related jobs, including:

  • Business and home plumbing help.
  • Plumbing emergency services.
  • Installing plumbing fixtures, pumps, and appliances (including hot water heaters and boilers).
  • New gas, septic, and water plumbing system installation and maintenance.
  • Repairing common plumbing problems, including bathroom plumbing problems, clogged drains, pipe leaks, boiler and hot water heater plumbing repair.
  • Waterline installation, replacement, and repair; above or below ground.
  • Installation of new plumbing systems and related items.
  • Updating, maintaining, and repairing existing plumbing systems; leaky or corroded pipes, broken pipes attributed to freezing or other damage, sewer or septic blockage caused by tree roots, silt, or other debris.

Certified plumbing professionals like a licensed journeyman plumber (or any type plumber) may provide other plumbing services; industrial, commercial, and residential.  Including fuel gas piping and venting system and water treatment equipment services.  Plumbing emergency services are provided for issues such as bathroom plumbing problems; sewage removal, water supply contamination, and flooding or drainage catastrophes from rain or surface/subsurface water.

How To Find And Hire Good Plumbers

American Plumber Titles

Licensed plumbing professionals have different titles.  Not all are a “licensed journeyman plumber”.  And some licensed plumbing professionals specialize in specific plumbing industry areas.

Eco-friendly Plumber
An eco-friendly plumber addresses the needs of an environmentally-conscious society.  An eco-friendly plumber will exploit specialized plumbing fixtures to resolve home plumbing problems in ways that save water, energy, and money.

Certified plumbing professionals like an eco-friendly plumber are environmentally minded; endorsing low-flow water-saving plumbing fixtures and appliances over traditional.  (I.e. an eco-friendly plumber may recommend tankless water heaters, low-flow toilets, faucet aerators, and front-loading washing machines.)  Note: toilets represent the main source of residential water use, and a primary source of water waste (i.e. bathroom plumbing problems, leaks, inefficiency).  Ask an eco-friendly plumber or other environmentally-conscious residential plumber about high-performance, water-efficient toilet choices.

Apprentice Journeyman Plumbers
Apprentice journeyman plumbers are on their way to becoming a licensed journeyman plumber.  Apprentice journeyman plumbers work under the close supervision of certified plumbing professionals; usually, a licensed master plumber.  Hands-on training is acquired through an apprentice plumber program.  Licensed plumber trainees often receive pay; they cultivate skills within the apprentice plumber program installing plumbing systems, and fixing complex to common plumbing problems.

Apprentice journeyman plumbers must meet licensed journeyman plumber requirements before becoming certified.  After completing a set number of hours in an apprentice plumber program and taking required courses, a licensed plumber test must be passed.  After passing the licensed journeyman plumbers test, apprentice journeyman plumbers can become licensed plumbing professionals.  Newly licensed plumbing professionals usually work as an employee, or under the supervision of a licensed master plumber or restricted licensed master plumber.

Licensed journeyman plumbers
Once apprentice journeyman plumbers meet all journeyman plumber requirements they become a licensed plumbing professional.  They have gained experience as apprentice journeyman plumbers, obtained skills through a combination of instruction, apprentice plumber program participation, and hands-on training.  And have taken and passed the journeyman plumber test

A licensed journeyman plumber will have a good working knowledge of plumbing systems.  As a skilled plumber, they can work independently on a wide range of plumbing industry related jobs.  Including setting up, maintaining, and repairing various plumbing systems.  Journeyman plumbers also provide plumbing emergency services (i.e. bathroom plumbing problems, hot water heater plumbing repair).

As certified plumbing professionals, journeyman plumbers provide plumbing industry related services statewide This includes interior and exterior plumbing applications; water plumbing systems, sanitary and storm sewer systems inside property lines.

Restricted Journeyman Plumber
A restricted journeyman plumber is an plumber who has worked a certain minimum number of years as a licensed journeyman plumber.  Either employed by a company, or working under the direction of a licensed master plumber.  A restricted journeyman plumber can service plumbing systems and fix business and home plumbing problems, interior or exterior within property lines, in municipalities with less than 5,000 inhabitants.

Experienced Jobbing Plumber
Some certified plumbing professionals carry the title “experienced jobbing plumber”.  An experienced jobbing plumber can work on various types of pipe and plumbing systems for commercial, industrial, and residential applications. Whether water, gas, air, or steam.

An experienced jobbing plumber tests newly installed plumbing systems for leaks and flow needs, and maintains existing plumbing system units.  Experienced jobbing plumber skills may include installing and maintaining utility system pipes and fixtures; not only for buildings, but for ships and aircraft.

Licensed Master Plumber
A licensed master plumber is a fully qualified professional who has worked as a licensed journeyman plumber for a set number of years; usually four to five.  After working as a journeyman plumber or experienced jobbing plumber, certified master plumber candidates must take a written exam and apply for a certified master plumber license.  Note: each state has specific requirements to become a licensed master plumber.  Even after becoming a certified master plumber, renewal requirements exist.

Like licensed journeyman plumbers, a certified master plumber handles various plumbing industry related tasks.  Everything from installing high-tech plumbing systems to providing home plumbing help for hot water heater plumbing repair and everyday bathroom plumbing problems.  Due to their high level of experience and resulting expertise, a licensed master plumber is inline for leadership positions.  With a higher licensed master plumber pay scale; usually accompanied by superior benefits.

Master plumbers are not your typical “Joe the plumber.”  They are certified plumbing professionals who have paid their dues as a licensed journeyman plumber and/or experienced jobbing plumber.  They can tackle nearly any plumbing emergency, and are knowledgeable about plumbing industry standards.  A certified master plumber can design and install entire plumbing systems, including sewer, water treatment, gas, and sprinkler systems.  Note: a certified master plumber license is required to install water and sewer lines from the main line to a structure.

Master plumbing professionals can supervise a work team and train apprentice journeyman plumbers.  They can contract for plumbing jobs independently, and conduct their own business.  Note: a certified master plumber license is required to oversee both restricted and licensed journeyman plumber workers.

Restricted Master Plumber
A restricted master plumber can perform all the indoor/outdoor duties of a certified master plumber; in municipalities populated by fewer than 5,000 persons.

There exist other titles for licensed, insured plumbing professionals.  Including landscape, air conditioning, and water conditioning installers and contractors. A certified pipelayer handles outside plumbing industry work on water pipes and drain, storm, and sanitary sewer pipes within property lines.

The Importance of the Modern-Day Plumber

The services of a licensed journeyman plumber and other certified plumbing professionals will grow in demand.  How can one know with certainty that the future of the plumber is secure?  Because the plumbing industry is an important, integrated part of the USA and every developed country.  Daily requirements for H20 consumption, clean water, and proper collection and transport of wastes dictate that.

The plumbing industry directly impacts the public’s health, safety, and welfare.  For that reason, new plumbing system installation and business and home plumbing problems must be handled a certain way.  Licensed plumbing professionals are trained to uphold strict plumbing industry standards, codes, and guidelines.

There are valid reasons why a licensed journeyman plumber and other licensed plumbing professionals must adhere to rigid standards and guidelines to maintain licensing.  First, to ensure that skilled plumber services are rendered by certified plumbing professionals with specialized training.  Licensed and insured plumbing professionals, familiar with plumbing industry laws and codes.

Plumbing industry standards help safeguard building occupants, the property, and the environment from unhealthy and unsanitary conditions that could result from even common plumbing problems.  Journeyman plumber requirements demand adherence to national and state codes and guidelines.

Second, licensed and insured plumbing professionals must use particular plumbing materials, listed and approved for a specific purpose.  With special techniques like “brazing”, “compression fitting”, and “solvent welding”; utilizing special tools.

Third, licensed journeyman plumbers must fulfill permit requirements for certain types of work on plumbing systems.  (Including water heater replacement, plumbing system relocation, and installation of sewage and septic plumbing systems.)  Utilizing procedures and workmanship that will pass the local plumbing official’s inspection.

Plumbers in a Nutshell…

Licensed journeyman plumbers are certified plumbing professionals who provide business and home plumbing help and installation.  They install, sustain, and repair various business and residential gas, water, and waste systems.  Including entire plumbing systems and various plumbing lines within property grounds; plumbing fixtures, faucets, pumps, etc.  A licensed journeyman plumber can handle a myriad of plumbing emergency needs – large or small.

plumbers acquire specialized skills through a state-run apprentice plumber program.  They have passed a journeyman plumber test and met all journeyman plumber requirements before acquiring a license.  Note: licensing for certified plumbing professionals ensures they have received proper training and skilled plumber testing.  It does not guarantee the holder is trustworthy, or conducts him/herself professionally. 

When it comes to trouble-shooting your business or home plumbing problems, don’t take risks.  Avoid hiring any “Joe the plumber” you run across in the yellow pages.  Trust only reputable licensed plumbing professionals with your home plumbing problems.

For an informative article with detailed requirements for certified plumbing professionals, and information on how to become one, read – “How To Become a Licensed Plumbing Professional; Journeyman Plumber Requirements”.

The Importance of the Conservation Efforts of an Eco-Friendly Plumber

Considering new plumbing system installation, or any type business or home remodeling in the near future?  Then consider the services of a licensed journeyman plumber who is an eco-friendly plumber.  The information below offers compelling evidence that the plumber trend is destined toward green.

According to a 2003 report by the United States General Accounting Office (GAO), water managers in 36 states anticipate fresh water shortages by the year 2013; whether in certain regions of the state or state-wide.  Even if conditions are non-drought.

Such shortages would negatively affect numerous households on a personal level.  And have a negative impact on our nation economically (agriculture), as well as environmentally (wildlife, natural resources).

Eco-minded citizens can help to preserve our water supply, guard our environment, and extend our natural resources.  How?  By choosing plumbing systems with a slant toward green.  And hiring certified plumbing professionals like an eco-friendly plumber, whenever business and home plumbing help is required.

Consider the following.  According to information on one Department of Health and Environmental Control website, water-efficient plumbing systems combined with low-flow plumbing fixtures could save around 3-trillion gallons of water annually, nationwide.  And more than $18 billion.

A licensed journeyman plumber who is an eco-friendly plumber will opt for water-efficient plumbing fixtures every time!  For an innovative plumbing system with features requiring less water from nature.  To conserve our natural fresh water resources, reduce energy consumption, and save you money!

Note: for more information on water resource concerns and ways to help conserve water and energy, read “An Eco-Friendly Plumber; a Good Conservation Solution for Home Plumbing Problems”. 

Why Research for Good Certified Plumbing Professionals?

It is surprising that many people research items like cell phones and food processors before making a purchasing decision.  But then trust any Joe the plumber to attend to their plumbing system, as long as the price is right.  Or will hire the first Plumber Joe they find in the yellow pages for costly home plumbing problems.  A huge mistake for several reasons:

1.) Price does not reflect the trustworthiness or performance of plumbing professionals.

2.)  The services of licensed journeyman plumbers for plumbing system work and plumbing emergency repairs represent an investment that needs protecting.

3.) Your plumbing systems reliability and performance is important to the health, comfort, and safety of you, your family and your community.

4.) The low rates quoted by Plumber Joe could cost more in the long run than the services of more reputable certified plumbing professionals.

5.)  Researching licensed journeyman plumber qualifications and credentials is the only way to insure license and insurance requirements will be met.  And national and state plumbing industry standards and codes adhered to.

Few things in life are free.  You generally get what you pay for.  Hiring any Joe the plumber to save money could hamper a speedy resolve to a plumbing emergency.  Or compromise on the success and efficiency of a new plumbing system.  For instance:

  • Shoddy installation of plumbing fixtures.
  • Leaky plumbing systems.
  • Remedies to home plumbing problems not meeting plumbing industry standards.
  • Improper/ineffective use of materials for even common plumbing problems.
  • Inefficient maintenance efforts (i.e. hot water heater plumbing repair).
  • Escalated kitchen or bathroom plumbing problems
  • Or worse!

The result?  Having to back-paddle by hiring more reputable certified plumbing professionals to correct the poor workmanship or inadequate repairs made by a budget-priced Plumber Joe.  Plus additional time and money to redo home plumbing problems not effectively dealt with the first time.  Or to offset new home plumbing problems resulting from poor workmanship.  Additional reasons why hiring any plumber Joe or licensed journeyman plumber based upon price alone is not prudent.

While plumber rates are a consideration, don’t hire any Joe the plumber just because they offer lower plumber rates.  Licensed plumber credentials, expertise, skill, reliability, track record, and accessibility are more important than saving a few dollars.  Qualities established only through researching area certified plumbing professionals.

For an informative article on researching for the best plumber possible, read – “The Perfect Licensed Journeyman Plumber for the Job; Screening and Hiring Tips”.

Why Screen American Plumber Candidates?

Finding qualified certified American plumbing professionals is like finding the best person for any job.  A process of researching journeyman plumber requirements, interviewing, screening, and eliminating residential plumber candidates who don’t fit the bill before making final licensed journeyman plumber selection.

Why is screening plumbing professionals important?  First, hiring licensed, insured plumbing professionals for plumbing system work is mandatory in many situations.  And the majority of the time, it is the most prudent decision.  Except for simple DIY plumbing problems like fixing a leak, replacing basic plumbing fixtures, or similar common plumbing problems.

For many other plumbing tasks, and especially for complicated jobs such as water heater plumbing repair, mending sewer lines, and updating plumbing systems, the services of certified plumbing professionals is essential.  And since home plumbing help represents an investment that should be protected, it is wise to screen licensed journeyman plumbers before hiring anyone.

Reasons to screen plumber candidates:

  • Plumbing industry competition is fierce.  Plumbing professionals could exaggerate or misrepresent credentials, services, or skills.
  • Any determined Joe the plumber can make enticing promises, luring persons with home plumbing problems into making a hasty hiring decision.
  • Any Plumber Joe can pledge the moon for little or no cost, without ever intending to deliver on verbal promises.

Many homeowners discover after it is too late that inadequate insurance, hidden plumber rates, incomplete plumbing system work, substandard workmanship, and empty promises can end up costing considerably more than anticipated.

The above is true even in regards to persons represented as certified plumbing professionals.  It is always in the best interest of project owners to screen licensed journeyman plumbers before hiring anyone.  And without exception, it is the project owner’s responsibility to screen contractors themselves.  Bottom line, it is the only way to ensure:

  • All journeyman plumber requirements are met, including licensing and insurance.
  • Licensed plumbing professional credentials have not expired.
  • The person is who they say they are; a licensed, skilled plumber who can legally work on complex plumbing systems.
  • The plumber will abide by national plumbing industry standards and plumbing codes.
  • Certified plumbing professionals workmanship, material choices, and procedures will pass local plumbing inspector scrutiny.
  • No valid complaints exist against the licensed journeyman plumber.
  • The screening process is thorough.
  • The licensed plumber assessment is up-to-date.

Calling the first plumber Joe you find in the phone book can turn even common plumbing problems into financial nightmares.  A catastrophe easily avoided by hiring only newly-screened, reputable, certified plumbing professionals.

For information on licensed plumber work orders and contracts and how to formulate one, read – “A Residential Plumber Contract Agreement; Why and How to Develop Plumber Work Orders and Contracts”.

Locate a skilled plumber for home plumbing help, now.  To update plumbing fixtures, construct a new plumbing system, work on external plumbing; for hot water heater plumbing repair or bathroom plumbing problems, large or small.  Seek reliable licensed journeyman plumbers, an eco-friendly plumber, or certified plumbing professionals like a licensed master plumber.  Or find an experienced jobbing plumber, anywhere in the USA.

Obtain free estimates to resolve home plumbing problems or for installation of new plumbing fixtures.  Whatever your needs, whatever your budget – HandyAmerican.com is your best bet for finding licensed and insured plumbing professionals with reasonable plumber rates; best suited for your project!

Search Our Directory to Find Affordable Certified Plumbing Professionals in Your Area

Our free online plumber directory is user-friendly, convenient, and includes quick-to-access portfolio pages.  Featuring plumber credentials, experience, special skills, references w/contact information, and previous project details; even pictures!  And best of all, you will be under no obligation to hire anyone or share contact information, if you opt not to.

Avoid hiring any Joe the plumber!  Utilize our free, easy-to-use search tools to find certified and insured plumbing professionals in your area.  Connecting with licensed journeyman plumbers is quick and easy at HandyAmerican.com.  Certified plumbing professionals are on standby, waiting to bid competitively on your new upscale bathroom plumbing fixture or plumbing system update project, right NOW.


When Landscaping, Start By Doing a Thorough Survey of the Land Available

Landscape DesignsBefore starting to create your own landscape design or calling in a landscaping company you should first take a careful look at the land that you have available and what the land already contains. You should decide whether you want to keep the features that are already there or get rid of them to put something new in their place. You should also note things like slopes, the height of the land, climate, etc.

Think About What Style of Landscape You Want

The next step is to decide what type of landscape you want to implement. Are you going to go for a few plants and features? Do you want plenty of plants in a more natural environment? Do you want a manicured garden with carefully designed features?

Are You Going to Get In a Local Landscaping Contractor or Do It Yourself?

Once you have a basic idea of what you want and what you have available you will need to decide whether to go with a landscaper or do the landscaping yourself. A professional landscaper will be able to give you advice on what works best with your garden, how you can implement your designs and help to give you the look you want to achieve while saving you time and perhaps some mistakes if you are not used to landscaping yourself. If you do decide to do it yourself then you need to set aside plenty of time to work on this project.

Landscaping is important when creating your ideal garden or plot. You can hire a professional landscaper by looking in the HandyAmerican.com directory for a contractor in your area or posting a project on our website. Before doing so you should have made notes of what you have available in terms of land and what type of landscape you want to create.

How Concrete Is Used

Concrete is a building material consisting of aggregate, cement (usually Portland cement) and water. This concrete can then be formed into any shape while wet and when it dries becomes a very strong, load bearing structure with a number of different applications for your floors, landscaping projects and driveways.

Concrete is formed by mixing the Portland cement with water and aggregate. Concrete may either be mixed on the building site or come in ready-mixed bags so that all that is required is to add the water. The most commonly used cement today is Portland cement. Portland cement is a mixture of 90% Portland cement clinker, a little calcium sulfate and up to 5% other materials. In the past asbestos was also often used in cement until the dangers became commonly known and restrictions were placed on its use.

Concrete has many different uses but in your home a contractor may use concrete in your gate or fence, the foundations of your home, floors, landscaping, and in brick or block walls. Other uses for concrete include roadways, driveways, pavements, dams and other architectural structures.

How Concrete Is Used

Finding a Concrete Company on HandyAmerican.com

A number of the contractors on HandyAmerican.com work with concrete and if you are needing to build walls, build a new home and foundations or put in a gate or fence you can find a contractor on HandyAmerican.com who can do it for you. You can find a company in your area using our database of contractors, or post a project and you will get bids from different contractors on our database that do the work you are looking for.

Concrete is widely used in the building industry in foundations, walls, gates and many other applications. It is made from a combination of Portland cement, aggregate and water and can come in ready-mixed bags or be mixed by the contractor on site. You can find a contractor using the HandyAmerican.com database or post your project on our website and have contractors contact you.

Selecting Just the Right Wood Fence or Garden Screen to Compliment Your Landscape

wood fenceDesigns for privacy screens and wood fence type vary. What style will best suit your needs and compliment your home’s exterior and landscaping design? Consider the possibilities listed below:

  • Vertical board fences – popular and easy to build. They can be constructed with boards nailed vertically to one side, or alternated to allow more air current.
  • Louver-style fences and screens – offer great ventilation, and are an especially attractive choice. They usually consist of 1×6 or 1×8 boards; angled and slightly overlapped. The higher the degree of the angle, the more privacy allowed.
  • Open slate design – upright1x3s spaced their own width apart gives an open-slat design. The boards are secured top, bottom, and middle using larger dimension lumber. Or, space boards close together for a privacy slat fence.
  • Lattice fence panel – used to create a variety of decorative effects. As a lattice fence or screen body itself, or along the top 1/3rd portion only of vertical planks.
  • Notched lattice – an interesting design. Buy either lattice panels pre-made, purchase notched strips to make the lattice design, or notch the strips yourself.
  • Garden type 1×2-lattice – a great, inexpensive choice when vines are grown along it, to enhance privacy. Combining lattice work and brick can also create a striking fence.
  • Grid pattern – vertical and horizontal strips that make a strong grid pattern. This can be an inexpensive option when “fall-down” lath is used; making a rough-textured lattice that varies in thickness.
  • Basket weave panels – available ready made. Many lumber centers also sell vertically grooved posts for the panels to fit into.

Some fences and screens with a horizontal board design can use the same type pre-grooved posts as for a basket weave fence. And of course, there are also picket fence, split rail fence, and other wood fence style options from which to select.

A good wood screen or fence idea is to fit plywood panels into pre-grooved posts; vertically or horizontally. Stain and seal the panels; stagger plant hangers along the length, with baskets of flowers cascading over the sides for a striking yet relatively inexpensive fence or screen design.

Wood Fence and Screen Tips for that “Just Right Touch”

If the fence line is going to be long, make variations to add interest and prevent it from looking monotonous.

Lattice work inserts, hanging plants, patio decorations and hangings made for fences, strings of patio lights, or a contrasting-style gate all work well. And help to turn an otherwise ordinary looking fence into one with designer appeal.

The use of flowers and shrubs will make the fence look warm and inviting, instead of imprisoning. And situating a cast iron park bench or an outdoor park bench made from concrete, stone, or wood near a garden screen with the sedating scent of herbs nearby creates a cozy spot enhanced with aroma therapy; to read or meditate.

Know Exactly What you Want Before Beginning your Project

Before beginning your yard fence or garden screen project, look through landscaping magazines, and drive around your neighborhood to get ideas. Select a style within your budget that will compliment your house and landscape design.

Also consider the main purpose of the fence/screen. Will it be for privacy, to bring balance to the yard or tie elements together? Will it be to section off an area of the yard for a specific purpose – such as for walk-through garden landscaping or wildlife garden area? For a landscape nature garden pond or pool; to compliment a backyard patio landscaping design, or to hide aspects of the yard – such as trash bins or a compost pile?

Leave the wood natural for a weathered effect; stain it, or paint it the same color as your house or in a contrasting color that is complimentary. If building a fence, use leftover materials to make a matching screen to enhance a nook of the yard; beside a garden pond, or alongside a rose garden with a park bench, for instance.

You’ll be surprised just how much the right type fence or screen can enhance your landscape; and increase the privacy of your yard. A well-constructed fence can also enhance the real estate value of your home.

Getting the Right Fence or Screen at the Right Price

Of course, you might want to build your own privacy screen or yard fence as a do it yourself landscaping project. But, for help constructing a custom fence or screen to add interest and compliment your landscape, connect with a fence and landscaping focused professional contractor. One great resource available is HandyAmerican.com.

Becoming a member and posting your wood fence or garden screen project requirements online is quick, easy, and free – with no obligation. Reliable, experienced contractors in your area will contact you with competitive bids to “win” your project. Helping to ensure landscape contractor quality workmanship at a great price!

Roof Maintenance

No homeowner looks forward to the day they have to replace their roof and considering the cost of hiring roofing contractors to replace a shingle roof, it’s no surprise why. Unfortunately many homeowners are not aware that routine roof maintenance could go a long way in extending the life of their roof and that regular roof maintenance is actually a necessary component of maintaining your roof and home. It’s actually as necessary as mowing your lawn or maintaining any other part of your home but as the old saying goes… “Out of sight; Out of mind…”

When it comes to the roofs over their heads most homeowners only have a few requirements. They want the roof on their home to work right, they want it to last long and they want it to look good. All of this can be accomplished by a homeowner who regularly inspects and maintains his roof.

As a homeowner, if you want to extend the life of your roof one of the easiest and most important things you can do is regularly inspect your roof. Regularly inspecting your roof is even more important when you have trees over your home and roof.

Inspecting your roof is probably nowhere near as difficult as you think but if you don’t feel comfortable climbing on top of your roof you can always contract a roofer to do it for you. The good news is that there are a lot of good roofing companies out there that do free roof inspections. The most important points here are to inspect your roof as soon as possible if you haven’t done so in a while so you can see what the present condition of your roof is and to inspect your roof regularly. When it comes to roof maintenance, preventing problems from occurring and keeping small repairs from turning into huge repair bills should be your main priority.

Roof Maintenance

Before you climb on your roof, it’s important to note that the roofing industry routinely ranks in the top ten for most dangerous occupations in the US. Climbing onto your roof and inspecting it is not something you should take lightly as every year several professional roofers are injured while working on roof tops. Make sure to take all safety precautions when working on your roof and that you are physically capable of doing so without risking injury.

Inspecting Your Roof

As mentioned earlier, roofs with trees overhead pose a particular threat to asphalt roof shingles and may require more regular roof maintenance than those without. This is because the leaves that fall from the trees have a tendency to gather and “bunch up” on various areas of your roof and that can lead to some problems if not taken care of regularly.

Clear Roof of Debris

When inspecting your roof you want to pay particular attention to any leaves or other debris found on your roof. The problem with leaves and debris collecting on your roof is they tend to collect and gather in areas and this collection of debris will eventually start to gather water or moisture which will begin to break down the shingles on your roof. Debris on your roof can also collect in valleys which will eventually prevent the proper flow of water away from your roof and into your roof gutters.

When you get down to it the main problem with debris on your roof is that it doesn’t allow for water to flow away from your roof and into your gutters the way it’s supposed to. Most roofers will tell you that most leaks emanate from openings in the roof like chimneys, joints and vents (parts of your roof that are protected with roof flashing) and those are common areas for debris to collect. Obviously this is all easily taken care of with some routine roof maintenance. Most homeowners can avoid roof leaks and repair bills with some routine roof maintenance and most are shocked to find out that sometimes it’s as simple as clearing your roof of leaves and debris.

Check Your Roof Flashing

Ok if you really want to get serious about your roof inspections and your roof maintenance than you’ll take the time to learn a little about roof flashing and how it works. The sheets of metal that are used by roofers to cover the joints and openings on your roof are referred to as roof flashing and, as mentioned earlier, this is where most leaks occur. If you want to read a good article on roof flashing and how it works check out this article: Extreme How To Roof Flashing. It will give you a basic understanding of how roof flashing works, where you might find it on your roof and give you a better sense of how to inspect the existing flashing on your roof.

For more detailed information on how roofs work and on roof flashing you may want to visit your local library or the local home improvement store. The more you know about roofs and how they work the better off you’ll be at inspecting your own roof. Knowing how to spot problems in your roofs flashing in particular will go a long way in preventing leaks as this is the most common place for leaks to occur.

Check the Condition of Your Roof Shingles

The shingles on your roof are actually what protect your wood roof from rain and extreme weather. Underneath your shingles lies a thick layer of roofing felt which is basically tar paper that is designed to keep your wood roof dry. Essentially these are the only two layers of material protecting your wood roof from the elements. Roofing felt is even more important in areas where there is a lot of wind. High winds can blow off roof shingles and expose your roof and that can pose a huge problem if roofing felt hasn’t been applied.

To inspect your roof shingles you’ll want to examine your entire roof for any roof shingles that may have come loose or that may be missing. You’ll want t to secure the loose shingles with some roofing cement. This is simply done by applying some roofing cement to the underside of the lose shingle. Missing or damaged shingles will have to be replaced as they leave your roof vulnerable to the weather and rain in particular.

For a quick demonstration on how to replace asphalt roofing shingles check out this video on YouTube: How To Repair Roof Shingles. That video should give you a pretty good idea if replacing a roof shingle is something that you can competently do on your own or if you’re better off hiring a professional roofing contractor to do the job for you. In any event, when you have missing or loose shingles, it’s best to replace them as soon as possible or at the very least before the beginning of the bad weather season.

And check the overall condition of the roof shingles on your home as a whole. You can generally tell when roof shingles are starting to go bad because the granules start to fall off easily and the shingle itself may begin to crack and become brittle. If you notice a bunch of granules on your driveway after a heavy rain, it may be time to take a look at the overall condition of the shingles on your roof. If they look dry and brittle and they’re missing a lot of granules, it may be time to replace your existing roof.

Check the Gutters

You may have to routinely clean your gutters out if you have big trees over your roof. It is necessary for your gutters to remain obstruction-free so that water can freely flow off your roof and through your gutters the ways it’s supposed to. Checking the gutters is pretty simple. Just inspect the gutters and the downspouts for any obstructions like debris or leaves that will stop the free flow of water. Remove any debris that you find in your gutters and downspouts.

Clear Overhanging Tree Limbs

Tree limbs that hover close to your roof may seem harmless and for the most part they are but with a stiff wind blowing, there’ no telling how much damage they could cause to your roof. Make sure to trim back any over-hanging tree limbs when you inspect your roof as it will help prevent damage.

Check for Dark or Discolored Streaks

If you see signs of discoloration or dark streaks on your roof, particularly if they’re in a location where they get a lot of shade, you may have a problem with some type of mold or algae. Your best bet here is to hire a professional roofer to investigate how bad your mold problem is. Mold and algae usually grow during periods of high humidity and if you know your area is prone to this type of problem, you can prevent it by installing zinc strips on your roof to prevent mold and algae growth. Remember roof maintenance is basically preventative maintenance.

Check for Existing Leaks

If you want to check for existing leaks you can usually do so by going into your attic with a flashlight and looking for dark spots on the ceiling. This is the part of roof maintenance where you’re trying to prevent a small leak from turning into a huge repair problem/bill. Finding a small leak and repairing it can go a long way in extending the life of your roof and minimizing the amount you spend on repairing your roof.

According to most roofing materials manufacturers the average asphalt shingle roof is designed to last about 15 years. However, how much you spend on repairs and calling roofers out to fix your roof will be dependent on your roof maintenance schedule. Do yourself a favor. Minimize or eliminate the repair bills and extend the life of your roof by regularly inspecting it and maintaining a regular roof maintenance schedule. It’s not unheard of for some homeowners to get as much as 25 to 30 years out of an asphalt shingle roof with minimal repair bills and it’s most likely due to some regular and routine roof maintenance!

Installing a Roof can be Tricky

Consider Hiring a Roof Contractor

Just as certain as the coming of rain, so is the certainty of every homeowner eventually needing the services of a roof contractor. A residential general contractor may be qualified to install most common types of a roof system. However, the services of a specialized roofing contractor may be necessary for difficult applications such as built up roofing on a flat roof.

Every new building construction project and many renovation projects involve installing a new roof system of some kind, with many roofing material choices and applications to consider. Some of the most common roofing materials are asphalt roof shingles, cedar shingles, or cedar shakes.

Roofing Systems are Complex

Pitched shingled roofs are the most common type roof; shingles are only part of a complex roof system. For added protection against leakage, metal flashing is strategically placed at the roof’s most vulnerable points. Places such as valleys, vents, chimneys, edges, dormers, and at any other point where a structural element penetrates the roof surface.

Installing a Roof can be Tricky

Many homeowners opt to install roof shingles themselves. However, proper installation of metal flashing can be tricky, and working on a high, slanted surface holds risks. A reliable roof contractor will be proficient at the task and know how to complete work safely.

Beneath the shingles and flashing lies the complex support system that ties the roof in with the rest of the house structure. Rafters or roof trusses are designed for the desired pitch (degree of roof slope) and load bearing specifications.

Roofing materials add considerable weight to any type roof, and in some geographical locations heavy snow loads must be taken into consideration. Plywood or OSB sheeting is installed over the rafter or truss joists, and then covered with asphalt/felt sheathing as a water barrier.

Rafter or truss joist ends are trimmed at the eaves using a fascia board, and along edges using a rake board. Normally, the under side of the resulting eaves are closed in with soffits.

Roof vents on the roof top work in conjunction with venting in the soffit; providing adequate ventilation to avoid overheating and moisture build-up in the attic and roof system. This helps to avoid premature deterioration of the roof system.

Various Roof Systems to Choose From

Determining which roof is right for you has many considerations; including style, color, durability, cost, and ease of installation.

Asphalt roof shingles are the most common choice. They are available in many different colors, are relatively easy to install, and are relatively affordable in cost. They require little or no maintenance when new, but begin to crack and curl over time. Repairs are relatively easy to perform. The average life span of asphalt shingles is 15 to 20 years; high-quality shingles provides improved weather and fire resistance, and can last up to 35 years.

Cedar shingles or cedar shakes are popular choices, but are significantly more expensive than asphalt shingles. Cedar shingles can last more than 20 years; properly installed and maintained, cedar shakes have a life span of 50 years or more. Left untreated, both have a poor fire rating; they will warp, split, rot, and weather. Therefore, periodic treatment with a product made for that purpose is recommended. Cedar shingles and shakes are neither difficult to repair or replace.

A metal roof is becoming an increasingly popular choice. There are several types of metal roofing such as terne (tin/steel alloy), copper, aluminum, galvanized steel, and vinyl-clad steel.

Some vinyl-clad steel manufacturers tout a life span of nearly 100 years; traditional painted aluminum or steel may last 35 years; terne lasting up to 50 years. Another modern “upper end” choice is a copper roof for both durability and appearance.

A metal roof must be flashed and fastened with the same type metal to avoid electrolytic action and subsequent corrosion. Metal roofing is relatively expensive, but the life span of some choices can be well worth the investment

Roof tile such as roof slate, concrete roof tile or clay roof tile has the longest life span of any roofing material; it will last for the life of the house, requires little maintenance, and is absolutely fire proof. However, an occasional cracked, broken, or chipped tile can be difficult to repair. If not attended to promptly and accurately, damage to existing roof system components beneath can result. Tile is heavy, has limited color choices, and is quite expensive.

Built up roofing or “hot roof” is the most difficult to install. Hiring an experienced contractor is a must to completely waterproof flat or slightly pitched roofs. Built up roofing is fabricated on the roof itself, by laminating layers of special felt with heated asphalt, followed by a gravel topping. This is an expensive choice in roofing. Life span is relatively short; 5 to 20 years. The more layers, the longer the life expectancy.

Rolled roofing is constructed from the same type material as asphalt shingles and is relatively inexpensive. It is simply rolled out in overlapping layers and fastened in place. It has a short life span of 5 to 15 years, and is used primarily as a quick fix.

Find a Reliable Contractor

While many do-it-yourself homeowners might opt to install metal or shingle roofs by themselves, it might be wise to enlist the services of a reliable roof contractor. Installing and repairing roof systems can be tricky; any undetected leakage can wreak havoc with the roof system support structure, not to mention the building itself.

A roofing contractor will not only know what type roof materials will best suit your needs, and how to properly install the roof for peak performance and longevity. He or she may also have access to suppliers that offer reduced rates to repeat-customer contractors.

When looking for a roofing contractor for your project, one good source is the Internet. You can post your project absolutely free with no obligation at HandyAmerican.com. With our easy-to-use tools, putting your project up for online bidding is a snap.

Reliable roof contractor members in your area are ready to provide competitive bids for your project. To give you the best service, at the best price found anywhere. And best of all – a great new roofing system for your home!

Click here to post your roofing project online at Handy American.com; it’s easy, it’s fast, and it’s free! Best yet, it makes your project visible to hundreds of contractors in your area; each reliable and skilled, ready to bid competitively on your project!