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Everything You Need to Know About Rotting Wood

We recently started a project removing all the rotting wood from a 32 unit complex in Vancouver. Given that we live in a very damp climate it’s important to inspect buildings for wood rot every 6-12 months. This a significant part of a building’s maintenance plan as rotting wood often goes unnoticed and can be hard to spot unless you are specifically looking for it.

Deteriorating wood has a tendency to rapidly spread if unattended which can be very dangerous to the structural strength of a building and can also reduce the buildings energy efficiency.

How it Happens

When water sits on any unprotected wood surface for a long period of time the moisture creates an environment for fungi to grow and the fibers in the wood to deteriorate and rot. Typically wood rot will begin to occur when the water/moisture content of the wood is anywhere above 20%.

It’s important to catch rot early! Keep your eye out for these common causes of moisture leading to rotten wood:

  • Leaky plumbing and poor drainage

  • Foundation cracks

  • Finish grades that slope toward the foundation

  • Improperly installed, damaged or corroded flashing

  • Water leaking in through a damaged roof

  • Water sitting under the building

  • Not enough ventilation

  • Greenery against the building which holds moisture

  • Bad drainpipes that keep wood wet

  • Poorly placed lawn sprinklers

  • Neglected wood

  • Untreated wood that’s in constant contact with damp concrete, soil or masonry

How to Spot it

Sometimes rot may be easily visible and other times it may take some investigating to find. Right off the bat, if the wood is soft, brittle or crumbly it likely has rot. Other common signs are cracked, peeling and blistering paint and wood that is damp, discoloured or green with algae.

Wood can easily be tested for rot by probing with a screwdriver, wood with interior rot will feel soft and sound hollow when tapped. If your screwdriver can easily poke into the wood, it more than likely has rot.

There are three common types of wood rot to look for:

  1. Brown Rot – With brown rot, wood typically shrinks and turns brown in color, it cracks and separates into cube size pieces and becomes very weak and easy to crumble. This type of rot is also commonly referred to as dry-rot as it deprives the wood of it’s nutrients which creates a dry powdery appearance.

  2. White Rot – As the name implies, this type of rot will turn wood white or yellowish and will make it feel and appear moist, soft and spongy and is commonly seen in hardwoods.

  3. Soft Rot – This type of rot is rare and less aggressive than white and brown rot. Soft-rot fungi creates cavities and cracking inside the wood and sometimes causes discolouration similar to brown rot.

Keep these common places at the top of your check list when checking for wood rot:

  • Wooden window frames

  • Outer door thresholds, door frames, jams and trims

  • Outdoor decks – specifically the stairs and areas connected to the house

  • Roofs and seals around chimneys

  • Discoloured fascia below the roof line

  • Corroded flashing

  • Base of toilets, sinks and bathtub corners

  • Floors around water heater, washing machine and dish washer

How to Prevent it

A building’s exterior is exposed to weather (and a lot of wet weather here in Vancouver!) year-round. Many building owners don’t realize how important exterior paint is to protecting wood from water damage. Any small crack in paint and wood can allow water and moisture to fill the wood causing rot.

The number one way to avoid rot from happening is by regularly painting and staining exposed wood and sealing its joints and knots.  Find out more about our painting, staining and sealing services here.

Other common ways to prevent water damage leading to wood rot include:

  • Using wood that is properly treated with a good preservative, especially near the ground.

  • Installing proper grading to prevent water from seeping under your building.

  • Keeping roof overhangs, downspouts and gutters clean and in good condition so that rainwater doesn’t overflow onto wood foundation and siding.

  • Keeping wood siding and untreated wood within 12 inches above the ground and keep leaf and dirt debris away from the building’s base.

  • Keeping exterior wood sealed with a coat of paint and caulk any cracks or joints on the surfaces.

  • Making sure the soil around the building slopes away from the walls to avoid water puddling

  • Using dehumidifiers and fans in bathrooms and kitchens to reduce water moisture and keep nearby wood elements dry

BEFORE

AFTER

How to Remove

If you discover rotting wood around your building the first thing you want to do is find the location or cause of the moisture and repair or remove it right away. Rot isn’t something that should be ignored! Fungus is fast to spread and removing it early will end up saving you money in the long run.

If your building has rot give us a call. Our qualified team is here to assist you with projects of any size and budget. Contact Jonathan at 604-876-3305 ex. 111 or jonathan@prostar.ca for a free consolation or if you have any questions or concerns about rot in your building.

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Knowing When it’s Time to Renovate your Restaurant

We regularly provide restaurants such as Earl’s, McDonald’s and Red Robin with restoration and interior renovation services so we understand the unique concerns and challenges faced in the restaurant industry.

Frequent upgrades are essential not only to remain relevant by attracting new clientele and keeping existing customers interested, but also to maintain and improve functionality for an efficient operation. Our experienced team frequently works with restaurant owners, managers and corporate head offices to complete restaurant renovation projects of any size and budget.

 

Is it time to renovate?

Here are the top reasons you should consider renovating your restaurant:

Outdated Design and Décor
Surprisingly, one of the top factors that influence customer satisfaction is the interior design of a restaurant. Unattractive and outdated décor schemes can leave a bad first impression on guests and can also effect their perception of customer service and of the quality of the food being served. Keeping your restaurant’s décor up to date is an essential part of keeping customers satisfied and returning.

 

Health Risks
Probably the most important reason to consider a restaurant renovation is to prevent health risks and hazards such as asbestos and mold. Asbestos is commonly found in the insulation of older buildings and is especially dangerous as exposure can lead to fatal illnesses including lung cancer and pneumoconiosis. Mold is also a common threat in kitchens due to their high humidity and moisture levels.

 

 

Ambiance and Comfort
A restaurant needs to be a relaxing and pleasant space for its patrons. Old and damaged furniture, lack of intimate dining space and poor layout can create uncomfortable dining experiences. Simple things like paint colour, lighting and fixtures can significantly impact a restaurants ambiance and the overall comfort of its clientele.  People dine out to enjoy themselves, if your customers aren’t at ease when they visit your restaurant it’s time to renovate.

Functionality of Space
The location of restaurant elements such as the seating area, hostess stand, circulation spaces, kitchen and bar all contribute to the efficiency of a restaurant. If servers can’t quickly get to the kitchen or if POS stations aren’t easily accessible this will highly effect the service flow and timing. When deciding if a restaurant renovation is necessary always consider the functionality of your space, is your restaurant functioning at it’s highest level?

 

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How to Choose an Exterior Colour for your Strata or Commercial Building

Colour makes a strong first impression. Painting the exterior of a commercial building or multi-family home is a big commitment, one that needs to please owners and tenants for years to come. Here are some things to consider before starting your next exterior painting project.

The Other Exterior Elements

An easy starting point, when choosing an exterior paint colour, is to look at the existing colours of the building that won’t be changing. Features like brick, slate, stonework and roofing shingles will likely remain the same, unless you are doing a complete exterior renovation. Take these elements into consideration when choosing your exterior colours and use them as a resource to pull colour shades from. It is important to choose colours that tie in with these elements in a complimentary way. Paying attention to the buildings undertones will help determine if you should choose warmer shades, like beige and brown or cooler tones like white, blue, grey or black.

The Surrounding Property

When deciding on an exterior paint colour, take a look at the surround property of the building and pay attention to the building to property size ratio. A good rule of thumb is that darker colours tend to make a building look smaller while lighter colours tend to make it appear larger. If the building is on a small lot, painting it white or a lighter colour will make it appear large and the lot appear small. Choosing a darker colour will make the building appear smaller but more substantial.

The Surrounding Climate

Climate is also an important factor to consider when choosing exterior colours. If a building gets an abundance of sun throughout the day, the appearance of the paint will be affected. Stick to brighter colours when sun exposure is high as the sun tends to wash out the colour of the paint.  Lighter shades are also great for windowsills as it reflects the sun’s heat and light inside. If your building is in an area with lots of trees, shade or rain (hello Vancouver!) choose colours that compliment these surroundings, but keep in mind that shade will darken the appearance of paint colours even further.

The Surrounding Neighborhood

Pay attention to the neighboring homes and buildings in your surrounding area. Take a look around the neighborhood to get a feel of the general colours and trends that are prevalent. Choose a palette that compliments and blends in with the area as visitors and future buyers may be put off if your building stands out from those around it. Also, make sure to check your strata rules and/or the association bylaws of the surrounding neighborhood to see if there are any rules or regulations in place that dictate exterior paint colours.

Choose Three Shades

Normally an exterior paint scheme consists of three elements: the main colour, the accent colour (used on doors, shutters and other small areas) and the trim colour (used around windows, door casings, railing and other trim work). Ideally the trim colour should contrast against the main colour. If your main colour is a darker shade, choose a white or lighter complimentary shade. If using a light main colour, consider having a dark trim to make a crisp and dramatic statement. Accent colours are allowed to be a little bolder but be careful not to go too overboard – if choosing a bright colour like red or yellow for the front door, stay away from using the same colour again on the shutters, gables or gates.

Don’t Forget to Test the Colour!

Never rely on paint swatches alone! Paint colours can drastically change from the way they appear on a swatch. Always buy a small sample of paint and test it on a less obvious part of the building first. Look at the colour from different angles, distances, and at different times of the day to really get a feel of the true colour and make sure you are happy with it.

Stuck for ideas? Most large paint brands offer pre-selected colour palettes that take the guesswork out of choosing exterior colour schemes.

For a free painting or renovations estimate contact us at 604-876-3305 ex. 111 or at jonathan@prostar.ca