Homeowners who want to protect the exteriors of their homes should take steps before bad weather starts the deterioration process.

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Q: While our weather is less extreme than other areas, Northwest homes still get a beating throughout the year. What can we do to better protect our exteriors?

A: Homeowners who want to protect the exteriors of their homes should start before weather starts the deterioration process (aka now rather than later). Begin by walking around your house — not casually, but really looking at it from the gutters to the downspouts and in the corners. Note exactly what type of damage has occurred throughout the year. The three major enemies of your home’s exterior are mold-mildew, dirt and bare wood.
Most homes that have been painted within the last three years shouldn’t be showing severe signs of mold and mildew. This is because mildewcide is added to most paints produced for Pacific Northwest homes. Mildewcide keeps mildew and mold down, but note that mildewcide loses its effectiveness after about three years, meaning the exterior of your house is no longer protected.

Don’t worry: There is something you can do, and it is simple. Just apply a one-part-bleach, three-parts-water solution; wait 15 minutes; then pressure clean your house. Use a standard two-gallon household pump sprayer to apply. Attempt to do this on a drier, warmer day if possible. I suggest doing this every three years. This also gets off the second enemy of your house’s exterior, dirt, which helps feed mold and mildew.

If you don’t want to spray yourself, hire a professional pressure-washing service. The pros can clean off walkways and sometimes take care of the mold and mildew on your roof.

The next thing to look for are spots on your house that have bare wood exposed. Bare wood can lead to rotting of the wood surface. How do you combat this? Again, wait for a dry day and buy some primer — waterborne or oil-based options both work great. Waterborne primer (water wash-up) can be applied when it’s a bit damp out; just make sure the wood is dry. Oil-based primer must be applied during dry weather.

Other winter maintenance checklist items:

  • Remove screens from windows
  • Replace screen door with winter storm door
  • Clean gutters and downspouts
  • Check the roof for damage, and repair where necessary
  • Check and fortify insulation around doors and windows
  • Prune shrubs and trees away from the house
  • In extreme cold, cover your outside faucets with insulated faucet covers
  • Do a visual of inspection of hazards, wind damage and water damage, and make repairs ASAP
  • Make sure your homeowner insurance is up to date and reflects any changes you make.

Protecting your exterior investment can provide you with two or three more years before painting becomes necessary and helps prevent damage to wood surfaces, especially if your house is in a heavily-wooded area.

No matter where in the Pacific Northwest you live, know that your investment is worth the time you take to perform fall and winter maintenance. If done correctly, this maintenance will protect your investment for years to come.

Darylene Dennon is the CEO Solid Energy Inc., which is a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBA). HomeWork is the group’s weekly column. If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members, write to homework@mbaks.com.