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Deck Installation Tips from Your Minneapolis Exterior Design Company

Construction techniques and materials when building and installing a new deck are important considerations according to AMEK Exteriors’ Co-owner Paul Schmidt. Schmidt was recently featured in the From the Expert section of the April/May 2016 edition of Midwest Home magazine.

Paul SchmidtQ. What should I consider when building a new deck?

A: Having a deck is prime real estate when the weather warms up. If your old deck is deteriorating – or if are you thinking of adding a deck to a new home or remodeling project – make sure your deck is designed correctly and built with quality materials to withstand our sometimes harsh Midwest weather elements.

Fortunately, there are some products on the market now that can endure this climate – plus look great – for years to come. While clients request a range of materials, AMEK regularly uses AZEK, a PVC material that resists stains, scratches, and mold, and is available in a wide array of colors. It looks great and requires minimal maintenance.

If you want a beautiful, durable, well-built new deck in Minneapolis, do your research and hire a company that understands how your deck needs to integrate with the house. Every year, we are hired to fix defective decks, windows and doors because of poor installations and safety concerns. Get started with your new deck installation by contacting us today

Minneapolis CotY Award Winner 2015

Owner Paul Schmidt, Field Manager Jim Hansel, Painter Tony Rodriguez, Owner Matt Schmidt

An exterior design and renovation project in Minneapolis recently earned a 2015 Contractor of the Year (CotY) award from the National Association of Remodeling Industry – Minnesota Chapter. The CotY recognizes excellence in remodeling projects.

Led by AMEK owner Paul Schmidt and field manager Jim Hansel CRPM, the exterior design project began with the challenge of doing extensive remediation construction work before beginning the exterior design makeover. Due to the improper installation of a second story in the 1980s, water was trapped inside the walls which caused large-scale rot and mold. Once the removal and repair work was done, the transformation could begin to create a modern appearance with an accent of warmth.

More pictures & information here.

Fall Caulking Worth the Effort – IF Done Correctly

Caulking in the fall as part of your winter preparations can protect your home from long-term, internal damage. While caulking isn’t an activity most homeowners look forward to, it can help seal gaps where water and snow can seep in.  Caulking should be deliberate and done within certain temperature ranges.

“A good caulk job is inexpensive, easy to do, and provides valuable results,” according to Paul Schmidt, one of AMEK’s co-owners who specializes in exterior projects.Window Caulking

If you notice rot or discolored areas under windows or doors, there’s a good chance you have a problem with how the exterior cladding system has been integrated together.  If installed properly, the siding, stucco, or stone/brick should work together with windows and doors to shed water and moisture.  Some of this actually occurs behind the siding or stucco and around windows and doors if flashing is done properly.  When, the water gets trapped, it can deteriorate the studs, sill plates, and insulation between your walls, attic and floors causing structural damage and mold which can impact your family’s health.

Because caulking is part of this integrated system, where and how you caulk is important.

“Contrary to what most people think, caulking should not usually be applied over any horizontal plane such as the top of a window or door – if the flashing is placed correctly at that intersection,” said Paul.  “Caulking should be done at the corners and the sides of windows, doors, chimneys etc. to prevent water from going behind those seams.”

Caulking Correctly Omitted
Caulking Correctly Omitted

Ideally, there should be a slight gap between two surfaces for the caulk to “fit into” to help seal.  “It’s important to have this gap filled with caulk because it helps adjust for the varying expansion and contraction rates of the two abutting surfaces (i.e. brick & siding or vinyl & stucco),” Paul noted.

Here’s some information and tips to help guide you.

  1. For outdoor use, select a caulk that is made out of polyurethane or silicone (not paintable) and the color that best matches – white, tan, black, clear – the area you are caulking.  If you don’t have a good caulking gun, purchase a new one.
  2. Optimum temperatures to do exterior caulking is above 50 degrees
  3. Remove old caulk and clean off residue
  4. Use an utility knife to tip at an angle.
  5. Have a damp towel or rag nearby.
  6. Use tape if desired for clean edges
  7. Caulk vertical surfaces from the top down.
  8. Keep caulking gun at a 45-degree angle when possible.
  9. If you mess up, let it dry a bit until it’s tacky and then remove and retry.

If you decide caulking is out of your realm, consider hiring a company who specializes in caulking or someone who is skilled at it.  “Paying someone is a worthwhile investment rather than ignoring it since water intrusion can cause significant damage” said Paul.  “Caulking isn’t a cure-all either if water has penetrated the home’s exterior envelope repeatedly over time.”

If water intrusion is suspected, consider calling AMEK or a moisture testing company to evaluate your home.  The longer homeowners wait to address the issue, the more significant and extensive the damage can be.

“I’ve worked on homes with damage from several thousand dollars to over a $100,000 because there were breakdowns in how the exterior cladding was integrated,” Paul said.

To learn about how your home’s envelope works, check this link out:

Outside Damage after Winter

Paul SchmidtPaul Schmidt was recently interviewed for the April/May issue of Midwest Home in the From the Expert section:

Q: After this harsh Midwest winter, is there anything I should look for as far as damage to the outside of my home?

A:The exterior components of our home work together as a cohesive shield to protect it against the elements. Water intrusion is a destructive force that can cause damage without ever being noticed. Walk around the exterior, looking for any holes in the “protective shield.” Look for any inconsistencies, including peeling paint, discoloration in caulking, rotted wood, rusted metals, or water stains. The majority of leaks occur at the joints and corners, in windows, doors or expansion points in external walls. A leak that isn’t caught quickly can cause serious damage, soaking into insulation and wood framing, often resulting in serious structural and indoor air quality issues. If you suspect water intrusion, we recommend a comprehensive forensic investigation by trained professionals.

Mold Prevention Advice From Your Minneapolis Construction Defect Company

As a Minneapolis homeowner, you want to ensure your home is protected from damage.  In our previous post we discussed ways to discover if you have mold in your home. In this post,  we will examine steps that can help you with mold prevention.

While it is impossible to completely insure your home won’t have mold growths, there are steps that can reduce your risk for having mold contaminate your house.

Among them:

  • Control your indoor relative humidity. Keeping your home’s relative humidity between 30 and 50 percent can hamper mold growth. Air conditioning and dehumidifiers are common ways to control indoor humidity, which can be measured with affordable humidity meters.
  • Use venting fans in your kitchen and bathrooms. Ensure the fans work properly and are used. You need to also ensure they vent steam to the outdoors and not simply up into an attic or crawlspace.
  • Consider area rugs or washable floor surfaces in risk areas. Wall-to-wall carpeting is an ideal area for mold to grow. Consider not carpeting bathrooms or kitchens. If your carpeting gets wet due to flooding or other long-term water exposure replace it.
  • Keep water from your home’s foundation and from getting behind siding. Make sure your gutters are clear and working properly and that the ground is graded away from your home.
  • Repair any water leaks immediately. If you find a leaking pipe in your home quickly repair it and make sure the area and any items in it are thoroughly dried.
  • Promote good air circulation in your home. Ensure the air in your home circulates by occasionally opening windows and doors to allow fresh air in and occasionally open door to little used rooms in your house.
  • Clean air conditioner drip pans. While running air conditioning helps regulate indoor humidity it also uses drip pans as part of its process. Regularly clean the pan.

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