Exterior Maintenance You Forget Every Year

A piece of slate is sitting on the grass in front of a house, indicating exterior maintenance.

Your home’s exterior envelope — i.e. the roof, the walls and everything else that keeps the outside out and the inside in — doesn’t require constant TLC. The materials that make up the envelope tend to be tougher stuff, build to withstand the wind, precipitation, sunshine and pests of the outside world.

However, just because you don’t need to keep a constant eye on your exterior envelope doesn’t mean you can neglect exterior maintenance indefinitely — trust me, I found out the hard way. Here are a few jobs you need to do just once a year to keep your exterior both functioning and looking great.

Replace Loose or Missing Shingles

Your roof is the largest element of your exterior envelope, but because it is outside your line of sight, you might forget to check it for weaknesses. At least once per year, you should climb onto your roof and look around for signs of wear and tear. Specifically, you should check out your shingles, which are the most likely part of your roof system to get damaged. Any loose or missing shingles should be repaired or replaced ASAP, so no breach occurs to your home’s envelope.

Repair Damaged Siding or Masonry

After your roof, your walls need your attention. When the weather is nice, you should take a trip around the outside of your home, searching your exterior walls for problems like cracks and holes. If you have wooden siding, you should also look for signs of water damage or rot; if you have masonry, crumbling mortar or wide joints are bad news. Any time you encounter potential damage, you should mark it. Then, you or a professional handyperson can repair the problem or replace the portion of wall as necessary.

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Fill Holes and Cracks Around Windows and Doors

Doors and windows are the most common sources of breaches in your exterior envelope. That means you should be especially diligent about checking around these features for signs of damage. Often, cracks or holes form around the casings for windows and doors, and you can patch these relatively easily with caulk. You should also check window and door frames for any issues that may indicate the need for replacement.

Fertilize, Aerate and Overseed Your Lawn

Lawn maintenance tasks like mowing and watering should occur every week, but there are some lawn care chores that occur so infrequently that they’re easy to forget. These include fertilizing, aerating and overseeding your lawn, all of which need to be completed just once per year. Because I hate all forms of yard work, I outsourced these activities to a lawn care service near me — I advise you do the same, so your lawn won’t suffer.

Trim Back Your Trees and Shrubs

Some types of greenery need more frequent pruning, but many of your larger trees and shrubs probably only need trimming once per year or so. Trimming is especially important when your flora is close to your house; branches brushing against your wall and roof can degrade the envelope, and leaf litter and other debris can cause other problems with your home’s efficiency and integrity. For larger trees and shrubs, you might want to hire a professional who has all the requisite safety equipment to handle the job.

Patch Cracks in Hardscaping

You might think that the cracks or holes in your hardscaping are harmless — but you should think again. Over time, even hardscaping like cement driveways and walkways, block walls and patios will degrade unless you take concerted steps to prevent it. Again when the weather is comfortable outside, you should peruse your hardscaping, looking for damage. Then, you should use the appropriate materials to patch holes and cracks, so they don’t get worse over the coming months and years.

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A small plant growing out of a crack in the concrete that requires exterior maintenance.

Fix Cracking or Peeling Paint

Paint is more than decoration for the exterior of your home. In fact, paint seals your home against moisture, insects and other threats, so it is vital that you keep your paint perfect over the years. Usually, harsh sunlight and precipitation will wear paint down; in some climates, weather necessitates repainting the entire exterior every year, but you can probably get away with repainting only portions that look damaged. Cracking, peeling, flaking and fading are all signs that paint needs a touch-up.

Clean Everything

Finally, even when nothing looks broken, you have at least one exterior maintenance chore: cleaning. Dirt alone is more destructive than you might think, which means its critical that you clean your home’s exterior thoroughly at least once per year. Power-washing walls and windows will give a new shine to your home, improving its attractiveness and ensuring that the envelope functions as efficiently as possible. Once you’ve replaced, repaired, patched and cleaned everything outside, you can rest — until next year, when you need to do it all over again.

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