Top 3 Signs You’re Ready For A New Deck

It’s spring and it’s time to get out on your deck! It might also be the time when you realize you need a new deck. Safety, functionality and future plans are three main elements in considering a new deck.

Top 3 Signs You Need a New Deck

1. Safety

Safety checks will include looking for rotted boards, weak posts, loose railings & bad ledgers

“Safety is not something to mess around with” according to Paul Schmidt, co owner of AMEK Exteriors.

Inspect deck boards for weak spots.

Having a friend or family member get hurt by falling through a deteriorating deck board or by leaning on a bad railing piece is not worth the trade-off of being proactive. “Being in the remediation business has made us aware of a lot of decks that weren’t built to meet building codes. If you are concerned about your deck, contact us so we can come inspect it for an honest evaluation.” Paul said.

What do you need to look for?
  • Look for boards that are splitting, turning soft & spongy, or shredding
  • Inspect post connections for weakening especially at ground & decking levels
  • Survey all connections on railings for loose or corroded bolts or screws
  • Check the ledger board attached to your house for proper flashing & water drainage
  • Review your city’s building codes – especially if you are planning to sell soon
2. Functionality
AMEK deck, AZEK, Ironwood
This AMEK deck was enlarged for better traffic flow & for easier maintenance by using AZEK & cedar for building materials.

When thinking over the functionality of your deck, consider how the layout of the deck functions while you are using it. A deck that doesn’t function well for your family is a deck that you won’t use. Some quick and simple ways to examine needs are:

  • Evaluate uses – Is there room for someone to be grilling without worrying about scorching someone sitting nearby?
  • Access traffic patterns – If everyone is sitting around the table, is it possible for someone to freely move to a nearby door or stairs?
  • Analyze required maintenance – Does your deck need more maintenance each year?

Perhaps, it’s time to consider other new materials like AZEK to maximize relaxation time and to reduce maintenance demands.

“Our AMEK design team will listen to your needs and evaluate your outdoor space to see how a new layout using low-maintenance options could make your deck even more enjoyable,” Paul notes.

3. Future Plans

What else are you dreaming of? An addition? Moving? It’s important to consider other changes that might impact the deck area like landscaping or an addition to your home.

AMEK deck, Edina, wood
This Edina deck was designed with a separate grilling corner and built-in seating & planters.
  • Hire a remodeler like AMEK if you are thinking about using the same space for a three- or four-season porch or addition or transforming the area below for a patio or outdoor kitchen. Requirements for footings and water run-off would be crucial to the design process.
  • Study cost vs. benefit of repairing existing deck to doing a new deck if you are planning to move within a couple years.

“We know Minnesotans love having outdoor spaces,” said Paul. “It’s all about creating a project that is not only safe, but also that is aesthetically appealing which is something AMEK excels at.”

For a complimentary deck inspection, contact us now to take full advantage of the summer and fall seasons in Minnesota.

Is It Time For A New Roof?

Since the Minneapolis-St. Paul area had a mild winter, it’s a good time to get a head start on your home’s spring checklist like looking over your roof. Once you are on a ladder or a lower roof section, what are some signs you might need a new roof?

New_asphalt_shingle_roof

Signs to look for during a roof inspection

  • Scan for loose or missing shingles. These can be caused by improper nailing methods, missing nails or wind damage.
  • Look for spots of roof buckling. The shingles will appear ‘wavy’ and not flat in spots. Roof buckling is caused by moisture affecting the underlying boards of the roof.
  • Check the ground around your home or in your gutters for shingles or pieces of shingles. An excessive amount may indicate the need for a roof replacement.
  • Watch for large gaps between shingles. As shingles age, they shrink which can cause water and moisture to penetrate under the shingles causing roof damage.
  • Examine shingles for cracks which occur after storms, with aging or with improper ventilation.
  • Survey for curling shingles. Upturned corners on asphalt shingles can typically be seen from a ground-level view of the roof.

Is your roof 20 or more years old?

Even though shingles might have been rated for 30 or 35 years, it doesn’t mean they will last that long. Installation, roof pitch and direction, and home location are all factors.

“Our wide variances in temperature and moisture in the Midwest shorten the lifespan on most shingles,” according to AMEK Exteriors co-owner Paul Schmidt. 

“Our wide variances in temperature and moisture in the Midwest shorten the lifespan on most shingles,” according to AMEK Exteriors co-owner Paul Schmidt. “It’s always a good idea to be doing regular inspections of your roofing materials after 20 years to be watchful of potential problems.”

What about the parts I can’t see?

Well, the parts of your roof that you can’t see can be even more crucial to protecting your home.

Flashing_issue_with_roof_and_siding

“It’s more about what you can’t see than it is about what you can see,” according to Paul who specializes in remediation projects involving construction defects. “ 

“It’s more about what you can’t see than it is about what you can see,” according to Paul who specializes in remediation projects involving construction defects. “ We commonly fix work done by other contractors who did not install proper kickouts and flashing. One of the most common problem areas is where a roof line and siding are integrated.”

Another potential problem is attic spaces that aren’t properly ventilated causing ice dams which can cause water intrusion and shingle damage or causing trapped moisture which leads to deterioration of the walls or roof decking.

Roofing_material_Standing_seam_steel_roof
Steel Roofing on Modern Farmhouse

Types of roofing material

Looking beyond asphalt shingles may have advantages in lifespan or durability in high-wind or high-moisture environments. For more info on roofing material choices, here’s an overview.
AMEK Exteriors is ready to help when it comes to assessing the state of your roof this spring. Contact us today for a free roof inspection.

What does condensation or fogging mean on my windows?

Condensation or fogging on your home’s windows can be worrisome. Winter is a common trigger, but this window condensation issue can happen year-round. Understanding the mechanics of your home and windows can help eliminate or reduce the possible damage caused by chronic condensation.

Window Condensation Causes

There are a variety of factors that can cause condensation and foggy windows.

Ventilation & Airflow 

“Homeowners often don’t realize how important ventilation and airflow are in a home.”  ~ Paul Schmidt

“Homeowners often don’t realize how important ventilation and airflow are in a home,” said AMEK Exteriors co-owner Paul Schmidt. Ventilation throughout the home including the attic and basement are critical to the home’s “well being”. In addition, double-pane and triple-pane windows can minimize condensation issues, but they can still happen because it’s usually not the window itself causing the problem.

Window Condensation AMEK Exteriors Fogging
Example of window condensation. Photo by AMEK Exteriors.

It mostly comes down to moisture levels and air movement. Keeping the balance between air temperature and humidity levels can be challenging. You might see signs that adjustments (throughout the year) need to be made if you are starting to see condensation form on the windows.

Air Temperature Differences

Colder air generally can’t hold as much moisture. Extreme temperature differences can set up a greenhouse effect – below zero temperatures outside with temperatures 70 degrees or warmer on the inside. The air next to the window glass cools down causing it to form water droplets. This is known as the dew point.

Seasonal Changes

Close-up image of window condensation.
Close-up of window condensation forming caused by improper moisture balance. Photo by AMEK Exteriors

Sometimes, condensation is short-term like when the seasons change and you close up the house and turn on the furnace or air conditioner. A new home or one that has had extensive remodeling can have extra moisture as the building materials like concrete, carpet, sheetrock and wood dry out.

Window Rot – Hidden Damage

Condensation that happens regularly and for a lengthy period of time can deteriorate window frames and can cause major rotting around windows and doors which can lead to widespread development of mold and related health impacts plus compromised structural integrity from rotted wood.

“We’ve seen an increase in moisture issues caused by improper installation of windows and improper design of ventilation systems.”  ~ Paul Schmidt

“We’ve seen an increase in moisture issues caused by improper installation of windows and improper design of ventilation systems,” said Paul who specializes in fixing construction defects. “Condensation on your windows might just be your first visible warning sign something isn’t right.”

Window condensation that has started to impact wood window frame. Photo by AMEK Exteriors
Window condensation that has started to impact wood window frame. Photo by AMEK Exteriors

Common remediation repairs can involve removing windows and examining them to see if they can be reused or if new windows are required. In addition, the surrounding wall framing may need to be replaced if it’s rotted. The critical component is using the correct installation techniques when putting the window and wall back together to prevent future issues.

Window Condensation Issues in New Homes

Occasionally, you may experience condensation on windows in your new home. Not to worry. This can be a common problem and caused by:

  • Airtight energy efficiency
  • No or uncalibrated ventilation system
  • Change of seasons
  • New products drying out

Because newer homes are becoming more airtight and energy efficient, there is less airflow through gaps like there used to be. To give your home “an adjustment”, opening a door or window for 15 to 20 minutes occasionally can help equalize the moisture levels and provide some needed fresh air providing the relative humidity outside is less than the relative humidity inside.

“On new homes, it’s really important to integrate a ventilation system into the home’s building envelope.”  ~ Paul Schmidt

“On new homes, it’s really important to integrate a ventilation system into the home’s building envelope, so we install a heat recovery ventilator or a energy recovery ventilator to make sure there is a regular exchange of fresh air and prevent excessive moisture issues like window condensation,” Paul says.

When It’s Time To Replace Your Windows

Another problem can occur when window seals have failed and the condensation is happening between the window panes. This fogging can happen if the windows are old and need to be replaced or if the windows were improperly made or installed. This problem isn’t as detrimental as condensation issues. Windows with this issue may not be as effective and look unsightly. Check to see if the window’s warranty has expired to see if you can get it fixed or replaced. If under warranty, the manufacturer will provide the glass for free, but you have to pay a professional to install it or do it on your own.

Reducing Window Condensation At Home

So what are some situations and how can they be altered to be balanced out to reduce window condensation?

  • Over-active humidifier

    Perhaps, the humidifier is set too high for the capacity of what the air can hold based on the temperature, so try reducing the humidifier setting and see if that helps.

  • Closed blinds or curtains

    Closing curtains or blinds can also disrupt the airflow to the windows causing condensation – leaving a larger gap at the bottom or side of the curtain or blind is all it takes to clear up the problem.

  • Extra guests taking showers

    Having extra people in the house taking showers or doing laundry can be enough to change the humidity level in the house especially in the winter when windows would be closed not allowing some moisture to escape. Turn on the bathroom fan or leave a window open afterward for a couple minutes.

  • Additional cooking

    Same goes with doing additional cooking without the exhaust fan going.

If trying these tactics to clear condensation doesn’t work, It may be time to call the professionals. Contact AMEK Exteriors for further help in identifying causes and solutions to your window condensation challenges.

AMEK Employees Earn Vinyl Siding Installer Certificates

Two AMEK Exteriors’ employees recently received their certified vinyl siding installer certificates from the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI). Jim Hansel and Brent Ficocello attended the course on proper installation techniques for vinyl siding, soffits, and framing and passed the examination in January 2017. Based in Washington DC, VSI is a national organization representing manufacturers of vinyl and other polymeric siding and suppliers in the industry.

AMEK Vinyl Siding Installers in Bloomington
AMEK CEO Andrew Schmidt congratulates Brent Ficocello and Jim Hansel on earning the Vinyl Siding Institute’s Certified Vinyl Siding Installers certficates.

“This certification adds to their credentials making them more valuable to our company and ultimately to our homeowners we serve,” said Andrew Schmidt, co-owner and CEO of AMEK Inc.

Decades of Experience

Brent and Jim both bring decades of experience in the construction industry to AMEK. In his 25 years in the construction business, Jim has worked in all phases of construction and thoroughly understands how important scheduling, proper installation, and communication are to his clients. Jim is also a Certified Remodeling Project Manager (CRPM) with the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and is Lead Certified with the EPA. Brent has been around construction since he was a kid with official jobs starting in 2001. Brent has a solid background in exterior storm restoration as well as new home construction from start to finish. He is extremely knowledgeable about exterior product choices and design options. One of Brent’s strengths is his high client satisfaction ratings.

“A lot of people underestimate how critical it is for siding to be installed and integrated properly with other products like stone, windows and decking,” according to Paul Schmidt, AMEK Co-owner.

“A lot of people underestimate how critical it is for siding to be installed and integrated properly with other products like stone, windows and decking,” according to Paul Schmidt, co-owner and VP of AMEK Exteriors. “That’s why our company regularly provides training and continuing education courses for our employees.”

Preventing Construction Defects

One of the key areas Paul specializes in is fixing construction defects caused by water intrusion due to improper installation techniques used by other construction companies. Water and moisture that enters the wall cavities can cause extensive structural rotting and mold formation.

“AMEK’s goal is protect your investment in your home and your family’s health with very specific installation techniques,” Paul said.

Apex Siding discontinued, James Hardie or LP SmartSide solid choices

Despite its numerous strengths, fiberglass siding from Apex, a product we had recommended and installed, was discontinued in the spring of 2015. There are two other products AMEK Exteriors continues to rank as in the top tier of long-lasting siding with superior appearance. Depending on your requirements and your budget, either choice will be a solid exterior siding decision. Here are some considerations for fiber cement vs. engineered wood.

Fiber cement siding which is created from a wood pulp and Portland cement combination is known for its resistance to rot, pest damage from termites and woodpeckers,and fire plus its longevity. Another feature is the minimal maintenance. Some fiber cement products are offered in a range of pre-finished colors while others can be painted with your own color of choice. Paint lasts much longer – 15 years vs. 5 years – which give homeowners the choice to change the color of the home without the worries of frequent paint jobs.

James Hardie Fiber Cement Lap Siding by AMEK

AMEK Exteriors regularly uses fiber cement products from James Hardie on their projects. James Hardie offers a long warranty on their products. According to Paul Schmidt, co-owner of AMEK Exteriors, “James Hardie is the best in the industry for their commitment to quality and service. They have a 30-year warranty on their products which is outstanding.”

James Hardie Lap Siding integrated with Marvin windows by AMEK

Fiber cement siding installation does need skilled people who have the proper tools and who know how to correctly integrate the siding with windows, roof lines, and foundations. “I appreciate James Hardie because they provide installation guidelines and on-site training for our crews,” said Schmidt. “It’s critical that any siding is installed correctly to prevent future water intrusion issues, so I appreciate the dedication that James Hardie has to making sure that contractors know the proper installation methods.”

The appearance of fiber cement is realistic with possibilities of wood grain, cedar shakes, stucco, brick and stone. There is also a wide range of widths and lengths of boards. These options allow for a myriad of design possibilities giving homeowners custom looks from historical renovations to modern elements.

Another solid option is engineered wood. It’s like wood but with superhero characteristics. Formed out of real wood and resin, engineered wood has the advantages of being stronger and more durable. This strength helps it fend off moisture and pests like woodpeckers and carpenter ants plus isn’t easily impacted by rocks or balls hitting it.

Most engineered wood is easier to install because of the tools required and because of the longer pieces available which reduces the number of seams needed. However, trained installers are still vital to making sure manufacturer’s instructions are followed for seams, flashing, and end pieces.

LP SmartSide Siding installed on a Mendota Heights home by AMEK

LP SmartSide has been incorporated into many AMEK Exteriors projects because of its lasting beautiful curb appeal backed by 50-year limited warranty LP SmartSide is available in a large array of colors and textures with matching trim pieces.

AMEK Exteriors is known for its distinctive exterior design, its construction defect knowledge, and its use of quality materials and craftspeople to give homeowners exceptional projects. In 2016, an AMEK Exteriors’ Minneapolis exterior project was

James Hardie Siding on AMEK’s Award-winning Minneapolis Home

presented the National Contractor of the Year (CotY) Award by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), the Remodeler of Merit Award (ROMA) from the Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC), and the Gold Design Award from the Professional Remodeler Magazine.