Updating that 1970’s door

As we look forward to four months of cold weather, short days, and general dreariness, this might be a good time to pour yourself another spiked eggnog, grab a spot on the sofa, and evaluate your home’s décor.

Where to start will always be a challenge, so let’s begin with the interior doors, a home component that usually gets done once, then forgotten. Interior doors are also fixtures that were often done relatively cheaply, and even more so if your home was one of a series of cookie cutter-styled units built back in the big housing development years of the 1970s.

So, with your feet up, and already half in the bag by 11 a.m. during this blissful holiday week, what are we looking at?

Are the doors essentially plain mahogany slabs, either clear-coated, stained, or perhaps over time have been painted white, with that slight hint of woodgrain peering through?

Or, are they of the six-panel, white, woodgrain variety— a pattern that has been serving homebuilders for years, and a style I remember fondly from my years in the building supply business as a summer student (in other words, it’s been a while).

As you continue to scan the room, is the style and colour scheme of your living room somewhat reminiscent of the Brady Bunch TV series? Is there a bright orange beanbag chair in the corner? When you tumble out of the sofa, is your fall broken by shag carpeting? And, are you still kicking yourself for having lost money by having invested in sea monkeys? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then it’s time to have Scotty beam you out of the 70s.

Again, starting with the interior doors, you’ll essentially have two options. One, you can replace the door slabs only, or two, new slabs can be ordered pre-hung in their own frames. Only replacing the slab may seem like the simplest solution, and it might be, with this strategy causing less collateral damage, due to the wall, existing jamb, and casing, remaining basically untouched.

However, ‘door only’ replacement will in fact require a more heightened skillset. Fitting a perfectly new, rectangular door in a space that’s 50 years old, and probably not so square, will be a frustrating task, most likely requiring the use of an electric planer and belt-sander in order to form this door into the desired shape.

Plus, if it’s your goal to save the existing hinges, the task of having to mortise the hinge placement on your new slab is never an easy cut. Then there’s the job of having to cut the hole for the door knob, a relatively easy procedure, unless you screw it up of course, leaving you with another item to toss in next spring’s lawn sale.

Regarding the hinge placement on a new slab door, do-it-yourselfers will be pleased to know there now exists a no-mortise hinge, or no-space hinge, which saves the installer having to painstakingly cut out the required hinge depth on a new jamb. Instead, the no-mortise hinge allows the installer to simply flush-mount the hinge on both the door and the jamb, saving a lot of time and headache.

Pre-hung doors require four basic tools, them being a cordless drill, a chop saw (to miter the casings), a pneumatic nail gun (or simply a hammer), a level, and one pre-hung door installation hardware kit per unit.

With the old frame removed, the levelling of your pre-hung unit will be extremely straightforward, requiring the installer to simply confirm things are level before screwing the jamb in position.

What style of door should homeowners be considering?

Look to choose a door with a smooth finish, having two-to-five raised panels, with simple bevelling.

What else?

Be sure to measure the width, height, and door thickness, of your existing slab before ordering. Back in the day, 78-inch doors, as opposed to today’s 80-inch high slabs, were quite common.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

Items you could put in their nail pouch

The task of Christmas gifting doesn’t have to be such a challenge if you choose to follow one simple guideline: “make it a practical gift.”

Keep it simple, where the stress of Christmas shopping can effectively be avoided by sticking to a combination of three gift categories, them being beer, cheese, and hardware.

The handy-person combo, consisting of a leather nail pouch, along with a local craft beer (or Tims card) in the right-side pocket, new tape measure in the middle, and block of cheddar cheese in the left pocket, is always a winner, and a classic first option.

Or, consider the carpenters’ travel bucket, comprised of one utility pail, containing a six pack of domestic ale, Tims card, work gloves, safety glasses, and a bag of St. Albert cheese curds.

Essentially, duct-taping together a Heineken, multi-bit screwdriver, and a 500-gram container of cottage cheese, or any beverage, tool, and cheese combination thereof, will reward you with a twinkle in the recipient’s eyes, and a heartwarming smile that’ll stretch from ear to ear.

Two things to note.

One, the age of the recipient will need to be factored in when choosing the beverage/tool/cheese combo. Those persons not yet of legal drinking status will have to be satisfied with an age-appropriate beverage ranging anywhere from root beer to a Red Bull, while toddlers might be better served by the chocolate milk/large Lego block/Havarti cheese combo.

And two, although terms such as “a traveller,” and “one for the road,” have been used in reference to alcoholic beverages, driving or working while under the influence is definitely not recommended.

Next, although the term nail pouch basically describes what a handyperson would put around his or her waist before commencing a task, the more appropriate term these days is carpenter’s apron, essentially because the unit in question is no longer a simple pouch, and instead has a number of pouches, or storage divisions, and because it’s rarely filled with loose nails, due to the trade having moved to air tools, which use nails in either a strip or coil format.

Not to sway too far from tradition, but instead of hanging a sock, which doesn’t do so well to safely contain drill bits and circular saw blades, one might want to consider hanging a carpenter’s apron from the fireplace mantel, filling it every Christmas Eve with a few handyperson necessities.

What types of hardware items might be included in your handyperson gift apron?

Most handypersons waste time looking for the little things, like a decent pair of work gloves, sharp utility knife, or No. 2 driver bit that isn’t too badly worn and will still hold a screw.

Tight fitting, polyester-type work gloves have especially come a long way from the cowhide relics of years past. Available in both winter and summer styles, they’ll be a very welcomed relief for your handyperson.

Utility knives? Most handypersons buy themselves the snap-off blade models because they’re cheap and convenient. Regardless, do them the favour of gifting them a quality knife with a retractable blade. The blades on a retractable knife stay sharper longer, and are safer to use.

On the subject of safety, you can never have too many pairs of safety eye goggles hanging around, and, don’t forget the ears, where every handyperson should have a quality pair of earmuffs, or headphone-type ear protection, hanging close by the lawnmower and whipper snipper.

Next, jig-saw blades, drill bits, and circular saw blades, are regular-type items that get used well past their peak of sharpness. Check the existing shop blades for style, size, and tooth count, as a reference before purchasing.

Other good and always handy carpenter-apron stuffers?

Foam sanding blocks, paint brushes, roller refills, paintable caulking, pint of joint compound, all things the handyperson in your home might need in a pinch, and will be scrambling to find. Otherwise, stop by your local building supply dealer for more ideas.

Merry Christmas.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

Think of your everyday siding

Today we’re going to be talking about fibre cement, composite, and vinyl siding, discussing the big three in preferred home siding choices.

Why do these products occupy the top three positions? Because they all satisfy what most homeowners desire in a siding— that being relative good looks, low maintenance, and low cost, or somewhat coincidentally, the same qualities one might look for in a mate if you’re a balding, middle-aged fellow who’s had little luck cruising the dating sites.

Are these sidings to be viewed as somewhat lesser than? Absolutely not.

They may not carry the same prestige as stone or brick, but when you consider price and longevity, they’re definitely the homeowner’s best value.

What about real wood siding?

Choosing real wood siding is like dating a member of the Kardashian family— essentially, beauty with an extreme price tag, along with a tonne of maintenance.

Why choose a fibre cement siding?

The grain of a fibre cement plank has been designed to duplicate cedar, which results in a look and texture that is very familiar, and quite traditional. Plus, it’s a 90 per cent sand and concrete mix, which essentially makes it fireproof and extremely durable in extreme-weather conditions, carrying a 50-year warranty.

At three pounds per square foot of coverage, fibre cement is the heaviest of the big three, and just feels solid to the touch, which will be comforting for the homeowner.

Cons to fibre cement?

Although the homeowner will love the elements of weight and rigidity, your contractor is going to hate you for it, which may result in a few more complaints, a few more hired hands, and two extra Tims runs per day.

Fibre cement installs like a wood product, using trim planks (also made of concrete) around windows and doors, as well as for outside corners, instead of J-trims and other pre-bent support moldings.

Last thing to know about fibre cement, it’s a painted product (15-year warranty), which of course means you may have to paint it again one day.

Composite sidings are products such as Canexel or Goodstyle, and are a mixture of wood fibres and various bonding agents. The raison d’être, and/or selling feature of these two composites is they provide the homeowner with a product that looks and feels like wood, without all the headaches of a real wood siding, including warping, cracking, or rot.

Essentially, Kardashian looks without having to escort them through a day of shopping for makeup, getting their hair styled, and trying on yoga wear.

Available in a variety of both solid and stained colours, composite sidings come with a similar warranty to fibre cement— 15 years on the finish, and up to 50 years on the product itself.

Why choose a composite product?

It’s the closest thing to real wood in both texture and stain. Because composites are basically real wood products that have simply been shredded up and re-glued back together again, they cut, nail, and are an easy carry, just like wood. As a result, composites are a very install-friendly product.

Composite wood sidings can be installed in a manner similar to wood, using matching trim boards for around windows and for use on the corners, followed by a bead of caulking along the seams and joints, in true ‘old school’ wood-siding mode.

Or, for a cleaner look, and what would be my recommendation, is to forgo the caulking and instead use the appropriate J-trims and joiner clip-type moldings.

Next, vinyl siding.

Definitely the least expensive option of the three, except for the heavier shingle, accent type of profiles, vinyl siding wins hands down as the best value product in home building.

Essentially, for under a buck per square foot, you’ll be investing in a siding that’ll require basically zero maintenance, and will last forever, or until which time the olive-green colour you chose in the mid-80s drives you mad.

Vinyl siding foe? Only one: a back deck barbecue in close proximity.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

A siding we will go

Conrad Hofmeister, a siding installer with Trend Home Improvement, uses a hammer to nail vinyl siding to a house while standing on a platform near 98 Street and 79 Avenue on Monday July 6, 2015 in Grande Prairie, Alta. ALEXA HUFFMAN/GRANDE PRAIRIE DAILY HERALD-TRIBUNE/POSTMEDIA NETWORK

Today we’re going to be reviewing the more popular home sidings, including fibre cement, composite wood, and of course vinyl siding.

Brick and stone sidings won’t be discussed because they’re permanent siding options, basically lasting forever, or until which time the home succumbs to some natural disaster, or due to its favourable location, gets bulldozed into the earth by an international buyer intent on building some modern monstrosity.

On the other hand, most non-structural residential sidings have lifespans, generally providing 20 to 40 years of protection.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned steel siding as being the future of siding, which it is, albeit at a somewhat premium price of $6 to $10 per square foot.

Otherwise, let’s just say we’re narrowing our siding choices down to those products that fall into the affordable, good value, Brendan Gallagher (Montreal Canadiens, crash the net and accept the consequences) type of category.

Next week we’ll feature foam and papier-mâché sidings, in our Mike Babcock (Leafs coach) series, covering overpriced, lousy return on investment types of products.

Ranging in price from $1 to $3.50 per square foot, vinyl, fibre cement, and composite wood sidings are your best value because they are of a good enough quality to usually outlast their warranty periods, which can be anywhere from 25 to 50 years. Yet, they’re inexpensive enough to trash if after 20 years you’re simply bored with your home’s colour scheme, or need to remove the siding if your new strategy is to boost the insulation value of the home’s exterior walls.

As discussed a few weeks ago, if you’re looking to re-side your home, or are building a new home, wrapping the exterior of the home with a ridged insulation foam board is an excellent first step to greatly improving the home’s energy efficiency.

Modestly priced sidings, regardless of their great value, sometimes get a bad rap from the brick and stone people, who question why anybody would choose a siding that would theoretically allow the home to be penetrated by a sharp object, or even some mildly significant force. And, this would be a legitimate concern, if we lived our lives with the daily fear of being attacked by time-travelling troupes of barbarians from the 12th century, looking to pillage our homes of our copper wine goblets and gold candlestick holders.

But those occurrences are rare.

We’ve lived in an old stone home in the past. We essentially roasted in the summer, and froze in the winter, with the thought or our exterior walls being able to withstand the force of a cannon ball offering little peace of mind.

For most homeowners, choosing between a fibre cement plank, composite board, or vinyl siding, is mostly done on appearance, or colour selection, with each product having its own particular traits. On the one hand, they all look like wood, but then not quite; and, they all have their own series of support products to ensure a clean finish.

The support products, such as J-trims, starter strips, outside corners, and the various caps and venting mechanisms, are all key to your siding’s longevity. So, be sure to follow the exact installation procedures of your chosen siding.

The connectors used between the planks of a composite siding may not be the first choice of an installer who prides themselves on being an expert with a caulking gun.

Regardless, caulking changes colour within a year and might last five or six years. The appropriate connector molding may cost a buck per piece, but will last 25 years. So, make the enlightened choice.

Fibre cement differs from vinyl and composite in that it’s fireproof, abuse resistant, and can handle extremely high winds and inclement weather. However, fibre cement is not a coastline siding, and will decay in salty air.

Does this mean we can’t have a cement siding if we own a hot tub, or salt-based pool cleaner? No, it takes an ocean of salt to cause issues.

Next week, more on sidings.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

Looking into the future of residential siding

Taking a look at steel siding. Photo on Tuesday, November 19, 2019, in Cornwall, Ont. Todd Hambleton/Cornwall Standard-Freeholder/Postmedia Network TODD HAMBLETON / TODD HAMBLETON/STANDARD-FREEHOLDER

I have seen the future of residential siding, and it is variegated steel.

Variegated simply means the panels display a series of mixed, streaked colors, meant to duplicate the natural grain patterns of stained wood.

The steel part of the deal represents absolute quality, and a standard of precision that provides for a siding that is as perfect as it gets. Essentially, the siding people have combined two things most home owners appreciate, the warmth and look of stained wood, along with a maintenance free, precisely machined product that is steel.

Installed horizontally, the ‘Distinction’ steel siding (manufactured by the Gentek Co.) is available in a variety of colors, and carries a distinguished, somewhat formal look that resembles the look of cedar, or perhaps a Brazilian hardwood.

Pattern and texture? Unlike some of today’s vinyl or steel sidings that have a raised woodgrain pattern, and traditional lap siding design, the ‘Distinction’ has a smooth finish, and relatively plain shiplap design which style dates back to the days when Toronto last won the Stanley Cup.

How long ago was that? Well, the team was then owned by Harold Ballard (deceased), the coach of the day was Punch Imlach (again…deceased), and the team’s budding young star was Dave Keon (not deceased, but  age 79, and hopeful  to see another Stanley Cup parade down Yonge Street).

So, we’re talking an old, dated siding profile. As a result, combining the look of old, along with the perfect lines and texture of steel, makes for a very unique and beautiful siding.

What style of home is best served by variegated steel siding? Because steel siding is somewhat becoming the go-to product for architects and home designers, contemporary and modern styles of homes are seeing a lot of this product.

However, a home doesn’t need to be a collection of geometric shapes in order to merit steel siding, with any style from a bungalow to a country farm house having the potential to be greatly enhanced by this stained wood look.

Decorating, or product combination limitations? Only one, gingerbread moldings. So, if you’re hopes are to build a fairy tale type home that replicates a roof made of cakes and candy, with window panes of clear sugar, and enough gingerbread type moldings and ornate spindling to attract every Hansel and Gretel in the neighborhood, then I might avoid adding steel siding to the mix.

Otherwise, variegated steel siding will work great on its own, or look especially impressive when combined with a brick or a natural stone siding.

Cost? Variegated steel sidings sell for about $6.50 per square foot, which is well below the cost of stone, and about equal to the price of brick.

However, it is double the price of a composite wood or cement board siding. But, with a 30-year warranty on the finish, which is double that of a painted composite or cement board, and 40-year warranty on the galvanized substrate, what might seem as an elevated price at first glance is indeed a good value.

If a variegated steel siding, regardless of value, still seems higher in price than what you were hoping to spend on the re-siding of your home, there’s always variegated vinyl siding.

Why “variegated”? Because most people like the look of real stained wood, but until most recently, have had to accept what was being offered in the composite or PVC siding industry, which was a solid color series of sidings.

However, now you’ll find a variegated PVC vinyl product like Mitten’s Sentry Rustic Panel series, which offers a terrific mixed color panel in both a horizontal Dutchlap, and board n’ batten type of pattern.

Cost? About $2.50 per square foot. Warranty? 50 years. Wind resistance? 290 km/h, which makes it capable of surviving a category 5 Hurricane. The variegated PVC product may not have the rigidity or formal look of steel siding, but for overall value, it’s a tough product to beat.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

Thinking of a steel roof?

DEREK RUTTAN/ The London Free Press /Postmedia Network

Upon being asked to relay my thoughts on whether investing in a steel roof is a good thing, I decided to secure an opinion straight from the horse’s mouth, well, actually, Jim Hoarce’s mouth, one of our longtime local professional steel roofers.

“So Jim” I inquired, “after installing steel roofs for the last 30 years, would you recommend steel roofing to the average homeowner?” To which Jim answered, “If the customer is prepared to pay for the proper underlay materials, follow the recommended installation procedures, and use only approved flashings, gaskets, and snow stop brackets, then steel can make for an excellent roof”.

OK, sounds pretty simple, all a homeowner has to do is ensure his roofer follows the installation instructions.

Unfortunately, its human nature not to follow instructions. We purchased a high chair for my grandson recently, and it was my goal to not have to read the instructions, after all, I was looking at maybe 20 parts.

Now, I understand there’s a reason why my chosen profession is in retail, and not engineering, but 20 parts?

Regardless, after 2-3 minutes of assembly frustration, I searched and found the instruction sheets at the bottom of the box. Thankfully, they came with pictured diagrams, which were essential in successfully assembling this unit in under 15 minutes.

Conversely, when an amateur, or your cousin’s buddy, is on your roof, and there’s a cool wind, and it’s getting late, or almost time for a Tim’s run, what are the chances this fellow’s going to take the time to read the instructions should he be faced with an installation dilemma?

Or, might he just plant a few more screws around the issue, and be done with it? According to Jim, the number of calls he receives each year from homeowners asking him to come over and repair, or find the leak, on a roof that was installed by somebody else, indicates how often steel roofs are not installed as per instruction.

A steel roof is great, until it leaks.

Therefore, choose only an accredited steel roofing professional. Next, start with a 5/8” plywood sheeting underlay. Because steel roof sheeting is screwed in position, Jim strongly suggests the heavier 5/8” plywood, as opposed to ½” sheeting, commonly used for asphalt shingles.

A 5/8” plywood offers superior rigidity, and better accepts a screw. Should steel roofing be installed over existing asphalt shingles, thereby saving the dumping fees? Or, can steel be installed over a boarded roof that’s been stripped of its shingles? What about strapping an existing asphalt roof with 1×4 spruce?

No, no, and no.

People regard steel roofing as being relatively lightweight, which it is if you’re handling one 10 ft. sheet at a time. However, stack ten of these sheets together, and steel gets heavy real fast.

So, steel is relatively lightweight when compared to asphalt, but it’s not that light, and if layered upon existing roofing, will provide an unnecessary burden on your trusses.

Plus, an asphalt shingle base is too spongy, which may cause the steel screws to loosen over time. When screws loosen, water gets in.

Boarded roofs and 1×4 strapping underlays are strategies of the past. Why? Because they lack the stability of plywood, with these planks shrinking and warping over time, loosening the screws.

On top of the 5/8” plywood Jim recommends either a UDL50 Titanium underlay, or Lastobond, high heat rubber membrane (similar to an ice and water shield), offering an essential second line of defense.

Next, Jim’s two final recommendations are simple.

One, buy heavy. Heavier gages of steel lay straighter, dent less easily, and just look better.

Two, decapitation is real. Not that the heads of unsuspecting homeowners are found in our snowbanks every February, but snow and ice sliding down a steel roof can be a very destructive weapon. So, invest in heavy duty snow stop brackets. The little polar blocks will do little to stop a weighted avalanche of snow and ice.

Thanks Jim. Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

Covering up

Man in a blue shirt does window installation. Model Released GALITSKAYA / GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Week three regarding file  No. 921, titled Meltdown, has us wrapping up the case of cold enticing hot, involving home owner Jack Frosty Snow and his bid to make his drafty home more comfortable for Barb Ma Barker, his new partner.

So far, the suggested plan of attack for making this 1970’s home more energy efficient has been pretty rudimentary, including the sealing of the more notable cracks and areas of air infiltration, and beefing up the attics insulation levels to today’s standards.

However, the next step in making this 50-year-old home more energy efficient, and more Barb appealing, is going to involve a more serious evaluation of Frosty’s situation.

On the one hand, continuing on a course to real home efficiency will involve new windows, ridged foam insulation, and new siding, a pretty significant overhaul requiring a whole lot of time, effort, and of course money.

On the other hand, Barb is a wonderful lady, owns her own swimsuit business, fills a bikini in the same manner sand pours into an hour glass, and to top it off, Barb’s a Habs fan. In other words, this lady’s a keeper.

So, with the decision to move forward likely, Jack is looking for a plan of action. Albeit a costly renovation, replacing the windows and exterior siding within the same time period is as effective a one-two renovation punch as you can get.

The curb value of the home receives a significant bump up, and the homeowner gets an excellent return on their investment.

The suggested course of action will be as follows; step one, choose a style of window, be it casement, guillotine, or slider, and the exterior door models, measure the openings, then place the order.

Because we’ll be increasing the exterior wall thickness, the window jamb depth will need to be ordered accordingly.

The windows and doors may take up to six weeks to arrive, which will allow the renovators to move forward with the balance of the renovation, starting with the removal of the existing vinyl siding.

Because the home is of standard two by four construction, the present thermal value of these walls is R-12. Before installing a new siding, we’re recommending Frosty and Bard consider wrapping the home with a two-inch rigid polyiso insulation board, which will add another R-13 of thermal value to the walls, effectively transporting this home into the 21st century, insulation wise anyway.

With a proposed R-60 attic, and R-25 walls, along with new, energy efficient windows, Frosty and Ma will be able to heat this 1200 square foot bungalow with a Bic lighter.

Due to this home being covered in siding it was the perfect subject for receiving a ridged foam wrap.

Brick or stone homes could be wrapped with foam, but you would be of course forfeiting a relatively expensive siding for a vinyl or composite alternative, which may devaluating the home, and affect its curb appeal.

Can homes be insulated from the interior? Yes, but the cost and inconvenience will be an issue, since the exterior wall electrical outlets will all have to be adjusted, with these same exterior walls having to be refinished with drywall.

The nice thing about insulating the exterior is that you get to live comfortably in your home, relatively speaking, while the renovation is taking place. With the existing siding removed, the home will be covered with a 2 inch ridged foam board, then sealed with a house wrap, which effectively cuts off any chance of drafts, and protects the ridged foam from the elements should the siding not be readily available.

Next, the home will be strapped with one by three spruce in preparation for the siding. The one by three strapping is a good idea, providing an air space for moisture to drain or evaporate, should any rain makes its way past the siding.

Composite and cement sidings will especially benefit from this spacing strategy. With this last bit of information rounding up our energy saving recommendations, case No. 921 was closed.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

Maximizing that attic breeze

Caulking a continuous ridge vent. TINABELLE / GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

File No. 989 has us examining the case of a Mr. Victor MacLaren, aka “ventilation Vic,” due to Mr. MacLaren operating his own heating and cooling company.

What’s of interest to Vic, and a general rule of thumb that guides his professional manner and lifestyle, are the benefits of air flow. Vic drives a convertible in the summer, cranks down the windows when driving in the winter, always installs a supplementary fan or venting mechanism when installing his ductwork, and wears a kilt most days, in true Scottish fashion, having foregone the use of underwear since the turn of the century.

So, be it lifestyle, mechanics, or personal hygiene, the chances of condensation or moisture affecting the comfort levels in Mr. MacLaren’s life are truly minimal.

Which brings us to Victor’s latest challenge: putting a new asphalt roof on a recently purchased 100-year-old home. The home presently has two layers of shingles installed over a boarded roof.

So, the immediate strategy would be to remove both layers of shingles, replace any deteriorated planks, and then cover the entire roof with 3/8-inch plywood sheeting.

The next challenge will be how to solve the lack of attic ventilation.

Why worry about ventilation when roofing issues have seemingly been fine over the past 100 years?

Well, by looking a little closer, we find things with the home haven’t been so fine. First, the shingles have been in a curled-up state for almost a decade, which luckily up to this point hasn’t led to any severe leakage issues. Plus, the plaster on the ceiling is soft and cracked in several areas.

Upon inspection of the attic, signs of black mould and rot can be found on the underside of the roof planking.

The aged asphalt shingles might not be allowing any significant amounts of rain or snow melt to pass through, but the condensation resulting from warm attic air meeting a cold roof plank is creating a shower of water dripping down on the insulation, with this moisture further infiltrating the plastered ceiling.

Solving attic moisture issues means creating an atmosphere where the air temperature inside the attic matches that of the outside. This can be achieved by naturally encouraging air to draft in and out of the attic.

Where to start?

First we measure the attic space, which is basically the home’s width x the length, or in the case of this standard 30’x40’ stone home, about 1,200 square feet.

The exhaust venting in this case can be satisfied by two No. 303 Maxivents (the popular chimney-like structures), five No. 65 slant-back vents, or 30 feet of ridge-cap venting.

I like the Maxivent option for two reasons. One, it means fewer holes and less cutting for the roofer. With fewer holes, the chance of leakage is minimized. And two, of the three options, the Maxivent is the most efficient mechanism to draw air out of your attic.

Air intake is usually done through the soffit. However in Mr. MacLaren’s case, the soffit area on his century home is sealed with beautiful wood planking, with decorative corbels placed at every four feet along the perimeter of the roof.

Due to the lack of soffit, the previous owner had installed a series of three-inch-round vents in between the corbels, a poor substitute which clearly wasn’t performing the task of drawing outside air into the attic.

So, we know how air is moving out of the attic, but how are we to effectively draw air into the attic, without of course taking the drastic measure of removing those century old corbels and installing regular soffit panels?

The suggested solution will involve installing four Vmax intake vents (two per side) on the lower edge of the roofline. The Vmax vents effectively replace the need for soffit, and are part of the Maxivent series of products, working in perfect co-ordination with the two Maxi No. 303s situated near the peak of the roof.

With those options presented, file No. 989 was closed.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

Making your shingles last

What can a homeowner do to have their asphalt shingles last at least long enough to see their children through college, thereby avoiding the financial double whammy of tuition and having to pay for three pallets of roofing products?

Let’s start with the installer.

Besides getting references from their previous customers and your local building supply centre, look for a few minimum standards, like someone who has his own vehicle, and a trailer for handling scrapped materials. Plus, their pickup should have permanent lettering on the door, prominently displaying the company name or logo.

Avoid the guy whose accreditation required him properly levelling one of those 12”x18” magnetic mats on the driver’s side door. These guys are most easily recognized by a “Frank’s Roofing-free estimates” type of mat, stuck to the door panel of a vehicle that looks like it just escaped the wrecking yard cruncher.

Upon inspection of this fellow’s vehicle, it wouldn’t be surprising to find other magnetic-mat specialties, such as “Frank’s Pizza Delivery,”, or “Frank’s no-leak plumbing,” which to his credit, demonstrates a work ethic and versatility, but may be further proof of this fellow’s homeschooled level of accreditation.

Next, today’s Fiberglas shingles require stability, which means following a pretty straight forward set of directives regarding shingle installation, shingle underlayment, and attic ventilation.

Installation?

There are basically two ways or manner of pose, regarding asphalt shingles. One is the regular four-nail per tab installation, where four nails are placed at the top of the shingle tab, with the bottom of the tab being held down by means of a sticky glue-strip (found under each shingle) that gets engaged by heat generated from the sun. The second method is the six-nail-per-tab/plastic cement installation strategy, used in high wind areas, or during cold-weather (below 0 C) installations.

Windy areas generate dust, with this dust getting underneath the shingle tabs as they’re being installed, adhering to sticky glue-strips. When the sticky strips get covered with dust, the shingle tabs forfeit the bottom sticking mechanism that prevents them from lifting up. Other than dust, cold temperatures will also prevent the sticky strips from properly engaging. The six top nails, as opposed to four, and the dabs of plastic cement placed under each shingle tab, are just extra insurance against shingle lift.

So, if looking out your window has you seeing open field, or river. Or, the frost on the window is preventing you from seeing clearly outdoors regardless, you would be wise to request installation manner No. 2 from your roofer.

Next, shingle underlayment.

Although the installation procedures for Fiberglas shingles do permit you to install your shingles over an existing shingle roof (to a max of three layers) and/or over a boarded roof of 1×6 planks, these are not good ideas.

An average roof requires about 60 bundles of shingles, which weighs about 4,200 pounds, equivalent to one 1986 Pontiac Parisienne, or the combined weight of the Montreal Canadiens playing personnel.

Your home requires one layer of shingles, with every layer underneath unnecessarily burdening your trusses with the equivalent of one automobile parked on your roof. So, removing your old shingles may cost you a few hundred bucks in dumping fees, but it’ll lessen the stress load on your trusses, allow you to fix or remedy any roof underlay issues, and make for a better install overall.

Boarded roofs were popular about 40-50 years ago when contractors were forming their own foundations with 1×6 spruce, then removing these planks once the cement dried and installing them on the roof, an efficient use of materials which worked fine as an underlay for the very flexible, organic (paper felt based) shingles of the day.
However, today’s fiberglass shingles are much more rigid, especially during the colder months, and will better survive the test of time if installed over plywood.

So, if you own a plank roof, be sure to install a 3/8-inch spruce plywood over the planking.

Next week: ventilating your attic.

Good Building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

How to stain in the great outdoors

Steve Maxwell applying deck stain as part of his ongoing deck trials. Many deck finishes don’t work, no matter how well you prepare the surface first. Photo credit: Robert Maxwell JPG, CO

Staining your treated lumber deck need not be so ominous a task, and can generally be accomplished in three steps.

One: pick up the necessary preparation and finishing materials.

Two: print out a clear list of instructions regarding the proper use and disposal of said products.

And three” load your golf clubs into the trunk, double check the cooler to confirm all sandwiches, snacks, and alcoholic beverages are in order, then kiss your wife goodbye and let her know the teenager you’ve hired to do the job should be arriving shortly.

Three easy steps, and that’s it.

Why hire a young person to do this task? Because when done properly, staining a deck doesn’t do an aging lower back, knees, and shoulders any favours. And two, the odds of failure, including/but not limited to, peeling, crackling, and early wear or product deterioration in our temperature zone, fall somewhere between likely and guaranteed.

So, you might as well get a decent game of golf out of the day, strategically positioning this kid as the fall guy.

Why don’t deck stains last as long as advertised? Because the homeowners fail to follow procedure.

Basic procedure No. 1: timing. Because exterior staining puts you at the mercy of the elements, you’ve got to choose your two- to three-hour staining window wisely. Basically, you’ll need to avoid early mornings (dew on the planks), too late in the evening (dew, cooler temperatures), full sun (stain will dry too quickly), too cold (stain will freeze before absorption), or eminent rain in the next 48 hours.

As a result, success will be had while staining on a semi-cloudy day, between the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with expected temperatures between 18 C and 26 C, with of course little chance of rain.

Unfortunately, achieving this sequence of temperature and climate would have you moving to Fayetteville, Tenn., or somewhere in the central U.S. With that being unlikely, we time our staining the best we can.

Basic procedure No. 2: clean the deck surface the week beforehand. Best results will come from either scrubbing the decking planks with a soap and water solution, or using a deck-cleaning product, which can be applied with a spray-type canister. The deck cleaner is a convenient choice because the solution need simply sit on the decking planks for about 15 minutes before rinsing. In both cases, the soap solutions should be rinsed off with a garden hose.

In an age where emotions relating to impatience and immediate satisfaction are as common as adding cream and sugar to a coffee, pressure washers are an attractive alternative to rinsing.

However, a pressure washer is simply too much tool, and would be akin to calling the SWAT team in to break up a disturbance between two toddlers at the Tots n’ Tubbies Daycare. A tool that was basically designed to clean barnacles off a ship’s hull should not be used on treated pine and spruce softwoods. Pressure washing will result in clean, but your decks surface will be permanently etched (which will attract dirt and mould), and be left saturated with water, requiring at least a week of dry weather to cure.

Besides a simple clear finish, stains come in either semi-transparent, or opaque finishes. A semi-transparent stain is like an interior stain, in that it highlights the wood grain as it provides colour. However, and like an interior piece of furniture about to receive a stain, the decking planks should be sanded. Sanding the decking planks beforehand opens the pores of the wood, and allows the stain to effectively penetrate the decking, creating a more beautiful and lasting finish.

Opaque stains are like a paint, in that they provide a solid colour that hides the wood grain. However, opaque stains differ from paints in that they aren’t as slippery to walk on, and can be applied directly to a clean deck without the need to sand.

Application tidbit: apply the stain with a roller, then back-brush the stain into the wood.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard