Monthly archive - February 2013

Where Does The Wind Go?

Where Does The Wind Go?

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It’s been a few windy days out here in Queens and the damage being done might be ignored. As much as precipitation might have the upper hand in terms of what can be done to your Westchester home, big gusts of wind can do similar long-term damage that will have you paying an arm and a leg down the road for roof repair or, worse yet, total roof replacement. There are ways to avoid this or, at the very least, make the damage more manageable, but first it’s good to understand how strong winds hurt your roofing.

Usually, shingles are simply nailed to the top of the roof and layered to create a seal to protect from water damage. Now, when high-speed wind gusts hit your roof, they not only does it loosen the shingles placement, but also break that seal. A single, strong gust of wind can lift a loose shingle off the roof completely. So, after any major storms or weeks with high wind velocities, it’s not such a bad idea to check your shingles to make sure they are solidly in place.

As a concerned Westchester homeowner, it would not be wise to simply take roof damage as a minor concern, such as weeds or crab grass or a squeaky door hinge. The roof on a home is like a shield against water and once that shield is broken, the amount of damage that can be done is frankly tremendous. If there is even one shingle loose, then the rain, snow or hail has an access point into the home, and if you know anything about home repair, you know that water is often public enemy number one when it comes to home damage. Water can travel throughout the roof area and cause rotting and a leak, and often the rot or the leak will be on the other side of the home from the entry point.

When wind damage is added to other home or weather factors (clogged gutters, winter mix etc.) that are common in Westchester, it can be the perfect storm for a genuine home repair emergency. Wind damage plus water pooling gives liquid ample opportunity to access the weakness in the roof. In fact, in these cases, a rainstorm is preferable to pooling. Whereas the water only has time to enter until it hits the gutter during a storm, pooling allows the water to take its time and really do a number to your roof.

If wind damage is caught early or only minor in scope, all that really needs to be done is shingle replacement, which is relatively inexpensive. Left unchecked, however, wind damage can cause havoc with the entire roof structure and you may need to do an entire overhaul, which could put a hurt on your bank account, whether it’s you doing the work or a contractor. And if you’re going at it DIY style, why give your back that sort of grief when you could just simply check the shingles and replace a few on occasion.

It doesn’t take much time to survey your roof after high-velocity winds or a rainstorm and this simple act can end up saving big money in the long run. Be vigilant and attentive and you might just find yourself in a constant windfall.

How Many Coats of Paint Does It Take?

How Many Coats of Paint Does It Take?

In many cases, the wish to find a personal, creative color scheme for your Westchester home dissolves within minutes of entering the paint aisle. What finish? What shade? How many coats?! It can be exhausting and it’s easy enough to just throw your arms in the air and say “Lets just go with off-white!” No hit against off-white (its popular for a reason), but with a little knowledge, picking the color to match your dream interior is easy as pie.

In most cases, it is the focus on color and neglect of finish that throws many Westchester homeowners. Paints come in a variety of colors, sure, but they also come with different finishes and other elements that create a unique look. Matte paint, for instance, is the most common type of paint, which gives no shine or sheen when dried. It’s a relatively cheap choice but matte paint also requires at least two coats of painting and damage is often highly visible. Matte enamel is a good alternative, as it rarely requires touch-ups.

Gloss paint is also popular, boasting a finish that provides a high shine, but it similarly requires two or more coats and fails to hide damage. There’s also semi-gloss, which is more common on trim than walls because it offers a hard finish and is easy to clean. On the other hand, satin gives a finish that’s lands somewhere between matte and gloss and only requires one coat. It provides a low, soft sheen and is easy to clean.  Eggshell finish has a muted shine, but without the satin smoothness.


Even before you get to painting, however, a coat or two of primer will likely be required before you dip your brush in some color. If you don’t have the time or inclination to paint the same room four times, however, look for paints with built-in primers, which will likely only require two coats total. And when locating your chosen color, take a closer look and examine the color’s undertones. The undertones of your color will help guide you to a more clear, streamlined color scheme in your home and rooms.

Every color has a mass tone and an undertone. The mass tone is the color your eyes pick up first. Undertones are visible only when placed next to other, similar colors; the differentiation will bring out the undertones lurking below the surface color. You’ll suddenly see small, surprising differences between the seemingly near-interchangeable colors. If you’re looking at neutral colors, place your neutral swatch next to a pure color (red, yellow, green, blue, etc.). If your neutral has a specific undertone, a pure swatch of the opposite color will bring it to light. Now, your Westchester home colors will express everything that is you, not just your frustration and exhaustion.

Let’s Talk About Lumber

Let’s Talk About Lumber

For Westchester homeowners looking to get more into the DIY lifestyle, lumber is a material that provides a myriad of uses and can offer a major gateway into understanding how one can build on one’s own terms. Knowing what you want to build and what you want to do with your lumber, however, is only the beginning, as there are several types of popular lumber that can be used for many different projects. One type of lumber is good for small Westchester home jobs, while others are better for big jobs, and it’s important to know the difference.

Western lumber is perhaps the most well known, used for most general building projects and framing, and there are some 15-20 commercially important species of Western softwood. Douglas fir and Hem fir tend to be the most popular and can be classified in three terms: high-quality appearance, general-purpose board or radius-edged patio decking. When looking for western lumber, make sure the brand you purchase has the logo of the Western Wood Products Association (WWPA), which has excellent quality standards and a thorough, check process. Lumber with “WWPA Rules” stamped on it, however, merely indicates the lumber has been graded according to the WWPA rules, but not inspected.

Redwood has two major grades: heartwood and sapwood. Either comes in a variety of grades including a fine finish or a rougher, less attractive finish. Heartwood fends off termites and decay naturally, making it an obvious choice for projects involved in nature or underground. Sapwood, on the other hand, should not be used in contact with the ground, but is good for many Westchester home projects. Architectural redwood is, of course, the strongest redwood, often kiln-dried and used for structural and finish applications. Lastly, garden redwood comprises lower grades and is used commonly for decks, fences, and, you guessed it, gardens.

Less prominent but highly valuable is southern pine. It boasts high strength, resistance to wear and is perfect for projects that require fasteners be used with wood. Southern pine is graded 1-4: 1 has the highest quality and best appearance, 2 has tight knots but usually has no holes, 3 is serviceable sheathing, and more popular than other grades, and 4 contains usable portions of 24 inches long. Then there’s treated lumber, which is resistant to weather, termites and fungus. ACQ and copper azole are the current popular chemicals used to treat lumber, which is used in outdoor consumer projects (decks, etc.). Treated wood isn’t waterproof, but is decay-proof, and comes largely from ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, Hem-fir and southern yellow pine. Be certain to wear respiratory protection when cutting it.

Finally, there is pine shelving, Pieces of pine shelving measure about 1-inch thick and at varying widths and lengths. Shelving is a favorite for those doing touch ups in garages or basements; it’s sometimes referred to as simply “garage shelving.” Consumer-grade pieces measure up to 12 feet long but most consumer sales will come in at 4 and 6-foot lengths. It’s the most economical wood, which is where a beginner would most likely want to start, but now that you have some idea about lumber, you can start anywhere you like, really.