Maintaining the exterior of your home can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be. When the list seems endless, it can be hard to know what to prioritise, which is why we asked our NZCB builders which exterior home maintenance to focus on this summer.

When you’re sorting your list of home maintenance to tick off this summer, there is one thing which should be at the very top of the list – washing your home. All our builders agree it is the first step to extending the life of your paintwork, which is the first barrier to moisture entering your home. Washing removes dust and helps you spot any areas which may need fixing.

NZCB Member Richard Poff of RTP Builders in Canterbury says it doesn’t matter if your home is clad in timber weatherboard, fibre cement board or a plaster finish, it needs a wash.

“If the top layer is paint, it needs to be washed down at least once a year.  In fact, most manufacturers won’t back a guarantee unless you do.  If looked after, most exterior paint will last eight to 12 years.  Some environments are harsher than others (sea-spray, for example), but all need to be washed down, especially up near the soffit where it seldom gets rain-washed,” he says.

But don’t pull out your water blaster just yet. Richard recommends a hose and brush, as it’s easier to spot any areas which may need maintenance. NZCB Member Dave Whitehead of Lifebuilt Construction in Auckland agrees that water-blasting can be tricky.

“Be careful if water blasting your home that you don’t jet water up under the flashings  and soffit as the water may get into the structure. Homes are designed to have the water predominantly coming from the sky.”

As you wash your house, have a good look at it. NZCB Member Mike Craig, of MC Builders in Waikanae, advises to check for blistering paint and unusual staining.

“Always deal with problems sooner rather than later. If you have a weatherboard home in timber, it’s better to paint sooner than wait till you see paint cracking or blistering.”

NZCB Member Dan Gallagher of Gallagher Trade Building in Timaru agrees to take action quickly. “If you leave it too long to fix, rot gets in and when you finally get round to painting them, it costs you twice as much.”

Richard and Mike both say it’s important to keep your gutters clear.

“Clear all debris, dirt and plant-life out of your gutters,” Richard says. “If left, this will lead to blockages when least expected. In metal spouting, it will hasten early rusting.”

If you’re washing aluminium joinery, Richard recommends a soft brush.

“Add some car wash liquid soap to the mix – this is formulated to look after paint on your other (sometimes) prized possession, so is also good for looking after the paint/powder-coat finish on the aluminium joinery and house.”

He also recommends using a soft brush for your deck and steps as water-blasting can damage soft materials such as pine.

You should also clear any dirt, plants and debris away from the base of your home, Richard says. “This will help with allowing the house to ‘breathe’.  Non-paved areas next to the house should be a good 200mm below the base of the cladding.”

Mike recommends treating any moss on the roof, checking the screws and nails are in good condition and not rusted, and trimming any trees nearing your home to at least 300mm away.

“Tree branches that are closer than a metre to roof can make it easy access for rats to enter roof space, so keep them trimmed back.”

And once you’ve done all that, you can sit back, relax and crack a cold one, because you’ll have earned it!