Repairing Moisture Damage

Moisture damage on a stair rail that is unprotected from the weather and is installed in a shady location on a wooded lot..

New moisture-resistant materials are gaining acceptance. Exterior details on your house such as railings and trim can be the site of persistent moisture damage, due to exposure to extreme weather or sunlight conditions, often compounded by improper application of coatings. Over the past decade, many alternative materials have become available which are moisture-resistant, ranging from composites of wood and synthetic to 100% synthetic materials. Acceptance of these non-wood materials by neighborhood associations (which have typically opposed the use of synthetic materials) has increased, due to their improved appearance and the obvious economy they represent.

Finding a knowledgeable and experienced contractor matters. HSH, a trusted resource for moisture damage repair, has helped owners successfully make the case to neighborhood associations for the use of new, aesthetically similar but low-maintenance materials. Even when traditional wood is ultimately the material of choice, HSH can greatly extend the life of the repair by correctly diagnosing leaks and moisture infiltration patterns; identifying the appropriate fix; then insuring that the appropriate protective coatings are applied to the new components. Typical examples of shortcuts made during the original construction include the failure of many builders to back prime trim components or to adequately coat cuts in pressure-treated materials used in decks and porches.

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Old Deck Made New in Time for Gorgeous Fall Weather

After several years, many uncovered decks show signs of deterioration from the exposure to the elements, yet much of the structure is still good. This homeowner requested a deck replacement, and asked HSH to add some new features which greatly expanded its functionality. Although we were able to retain the original framing, keeping the budget lower and eliminating unnecessary waste, the extent of the weather damage necessitated complete demolition and replacement of the steps, the decking itself, and the railing. This restoration project gave the homeowner the opportunity to add two greatly needed features: a bench seat with storage, and a permanent hinged access door to the under-deck storage area. At the homeowner’s request, the bench seat was contiguous with, and formed part of, the deck railing itself. The area inside the seat makes a great storage area for outdoor living accessories all season long, handy for use yet sheltered from extremes of temperature and weather conditions. The under-deck area, while attractively screened and contained with white lattice panels, is also accessible through a hinged door, which can be locked for additional security. In the moderate Southeastern Virginia climate, uncovered decks are useable almost 365 days a year, and are a popular feature with homebuyers, for whom the attractiveness of outdoor entertaining areas can be a major factor in the decision to purchase.

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Moisture Intrusion Can Rot Your Porch From the Roof Down

AFTER: Shown here with its porch fully restored, using waterproof columns and roof material, the home’s appearance satisfies POA replacement requirements.

After the porch ceiling was removed, trapped rainwater cascaded down, and significant concealed damage was revealed.

Although an inadequate roof proved to be the source of the problem, signs of moisture intrusion on the porch ceiling were relatively minor.

Builders and homeowners know that moisture damage is the enemy of all structures, in that it will rot all wooden components, causing decay and in the process making a property even more susceptible to termite damage. As a result, over the past decade many wooden components and features, such as porch ceilings and exterior trim, have been replaced and/or covered during construction with moisture-proof materials such as vinyl. However, homeowners must beware: unless there is proper protection from moisture intrusion, vinyl can simply mask the process of decay. Worst of all, frequently an entire structure will experience significant detrioration before evidence of decay becomes apparent.

This was the case with the handsome brick home pictured here. The Owners had noticed that during storms the porch ceiling appeared to leak, and the porch columns, made of wood, were showing signs of deterioration. However, as is apparent in the photo above, the porch ceiling showed only minor signs of decay. The Owners’ original request was to replace the wooden columns with columns made of a waterproof material, and to replace the porch roof, which they rightly suspected was the source of the problem. The original builder had specified a roof of rubber membrane, which, although a popular feature ten years ago, has since proven to be a problem in many residential applications.

A new roof, made of Duradek®, a walkable and waterproof material intended for use in residential as well as commercial applications; and two new waterproof, polymer columns (PolyClassic® by Turncraft®), were recommended by HSH and approved by the Owners. Both matched the original design of the house and met the Property Owners Association’s standards for replacement. HSH, after helping the Owners secure the requisite POA approval, carefully removed the rotten ceiling and other structural members (revealing the extent of the water damage, which was significant) and ultimately replaced the entirety of the existing porch structure. Only then was it safe for a new roof to be applied by our roofing subcontractor. After the roof installation was complete, HSH completed the painting; installed a new vinyl-clad railing system on top of the roof; and re-installed the iron stair rail. Our “After” photo shows the house after the porch replacement, with the structure of the porch fully restored and protected against future problems, and the appearance of the home virtually identical to the original.

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Re-Configuring Existing Space Yields Exciting Updates to York County Rancher

The floor plan of this York County rancher was re-configured to create a light-filled space with perfect flow for entertaining as well as day-to-day comfort. The wall between the kitchen and dining room was reframed, replacing a door with a pass-thru, but retaining access between the two rooms. This allowed for much-needed additional counter space in the kitchen. Two other walls, between the kitchen and den, and the den and living room, were removed, allowing the space to be re-imagined as a great room, divided from the kitchen only by an attractive granite-topped peninsula with barstools. With a view of the fireplace and the television, the bar is perfect for entertaining or just relaxing before dinner. The addition of recessed lighting, gleaming hardwood floors, dark wood cabinets, rich earth-tone ceramic flooring and backsplash, and warm granite countertops gives new excitement to an old space.

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A Gorgeous New Look for an Old Kitchen

A new look and new functionality were possible for this house in Seaford, Virginia, with relatively few changes to the existing plan.

By incorporating space from a nearby backdoor entry, a new cooking wall was added. Loads of cabinets add storage where none existed before; a built-in desk allows the cooks to enjoy the new space any time during the day as well as providing a great spot to consult recipe books. The snazzy new tile backsplash blends beautifully with the new ceramic floor and new granite countertops, bringing this kitchen from mid-20th to 21st century; while traditional white cabinets maintain its period charm.

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An Unused Attic Becomes a Jewel of a Nursery!

Take a look at the “before” and “after” photos of this nursery for a little girl created from an unused attic space in a Cape Cod-style home.
Working within the original footprint of the house, these homeowners were able to expand its functionality with high-quality space, giving them an immediate payoff on their investment.
After we determined that adequate headroom and egress (for fire safety) were obtainable, a creative design could be developed; that and superior craftsmanship led to decorator showroom results! Skylights and a pendant provide plenty of light and built-in shelves fit nicely with the step-down from the hall level.

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What Do You Need to Make Your Home More Inviting This Holiday Season?

A built-in makes the most of storage in the dining room of this Craftsman-style house, and provides a great background for holiday buffets!

Have you been dreaming of enjoying a new kitchen or bathroom during the holidays? We may still have space in our schedule for your project. Call us and we will let you know what to expect–and we will work with you to establish the best schedule (now or later) for your planned home improvements! Kitchens, bathrooms–a jewel of a nursery!–let the photos of some of our past projects tell you about our commitment to craftsmanship. Call us today about how we can help you! 757.273.8292.

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