Because we are in the home improvement business we often forget how much we know about our services and how little many homeowners know. I recently had a question from a roofing customer that I thought was interesting.  She asked, “how come some ridge vents are installed all the way to the edge of the roof while others are not?”  See the ridge vent photo below to see what she meant.

2 ridge vents


The answer is strictly one of aesthetics.  The venting in the roof should never be cut all the way to the edge but that doesn’t mean you can’t install the vent cap all the way to the edge.  We cut the vent in the roof decking (sheathing) to within a foot or 2 of the edge and always install Shingle Vent 2 right to the edge because most people think it’s a cleaner look.

If you are considering a roofing, siding or window or painting project we always provide a free, no-pressure estimate.  Request one here.


Many people are unaware of all the window styles available to homeowners.  Read a description of each below as well as a Typical Application.

Window Styles

OutlineNameDescriptionTypical Applications
AwningWindows that are hinged at the top that swing out for ventilation.Bathrooms, Combine w/Large windows
single- or double-hung
Single/Double HungA window with two sashes where one or both sashes slide vertically.Bedrooms, Family Rooms, Kitchens, Dens
Horizontal Slider or Rolling window
Horizontal Slider or Rolling windowA window with two sashes where one or both sashes slide horizontally.Bedrooms, Family Rooms, Kitchens, Dens, Combinations
CasementA window or windows hinged on one side that open as far as 90 degrees to the building using a crank.Bathrooms, Bedrooms, Living Rooms, Combine w/Large windows
Direct-Set GeometricsThese are fixed windows. Since they have no moving parts, they can be tailored to meet just about any desired geometric shape.Entry Ways, Living Rooms, Combine w/Large windows
Circle Top
Circle TopAs the name describes, these windows typically have a flat bottom and a circular or arched top. These are typically used in combination with another window or door.Entry Ways, Living Rooms, Combine with doors or large windows


Examples of Combinations

Angled Bay
Angled BayA single large, fixed center window with 2 windows at 30, 45, or 90 degrees to the building. Side windows are typically vertical sliders or casement.
BowFour or more windows configured to form a radius. Typically made of either vertical sliders or casement windows.
Picture Combination
Picture CombinationA single large, fixed center window with 2 adjacent side windows. Side windows may be either horizontal or vertical sliders or casement.
2-WideTwo vertical slider windows installed side-by-side. This is a basic building block for a “wall of windows”.
3-Wide with transoms
3-Wide with transomsThree vertical slider windows installed side-by-side with awnings or fixed transoms across the tops.
2-Wide with transom
2-Wide with transomTwo casement windows installed side-by-side with an awning or fixed transom across the tops.
CathedralTwo casement windows with a half cloverleaf top circle
Three wide with awnings
Three wide with awningsThree fixed windows with awnings on the bottom.

By now you’ve heard about the Federal Tax Credit for 30%

off energy efficient improvements for up to $1500.  The question is do you know how to maximize it?

Here is a quick check list to help you make sure you do not miss out on the tax credit for windows and doors:

  • Does the window or door being installed qualify for the tax credit?
  • Can the installer order the materials before December 31st 2010?
  • Are there any other incentives from the manufacturer or dealer/installer?

1. Does the window or door qualify for the tax credit?

Be careful, In many cases you’ll find the answer is NO. Verify that the the U-factor and SHGC is less than or equal to .30. In other cases you’ll find the manufacturer has used easy and low-quality measures to increase the insulating value of the window or door in order to get it to a point of meeting the federal standards for U-value and SHGC. Such methods include filling air space with foam, adding extra layers of dark Low-E, and adding cheap weatherstripping.  An excellent question to ask the dealer or installer is “Did the product being installed meet the Tax Credit qualifications before the qualifications even existed?” Obtain a detailed scope of work for the products being used, and ask how you can receive verification from the manufacturer of their products compliance with the Tax Credit standards.

2.  Can the installer order the materials before December 31st 2010

We anticipate a unprecedented volume of window orders over the final 4 months of 2010.  This means many companies’ installation capacity will be overwhelmed and order will get overlooked.  Make sure you have verification that the windows or doors will be ordered before December 31st.

3.  Are there any other incentives from the manufacturer or dealer / installer?

Since many of the large manufacturers are trying to cash in on the rush of window and door orders, they are passing on additional incentives to the dealers, contractors, and installers.  Make sure you understand all the discounts that are available and when they expire.  As always, make sure any details discussed are in writing.

These 3 things should help you maximize your tax credit.  Feel free to contact us here with any specific questions.

location_epdmWhen it comes to roof leaks in New England, flatter roofs generally have more problems.  Flatter roofs on areas such as porches, dormers, additions, and commercial buildings deal with slower drainage, more water pooling, and more wind-driven rain issues.  All of these can lead to roof leakage and serious damage.

We are constantly asked by home and business owners, what we recommend for lower slope roofs in our service area (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Southern New  Hampshire).  The answer is almost exclusively EPDM Rubber Roofing systems such as those made by RPI® or Genflex®.  EPDM is designed not to easily deteriorate.  It withstands damage from ozone, UV, heat, frost, and other environmental factors that typically have a damaging effect on flat roof products such as rolled asphalt, tar, and sheet metal.

Besides being very resistant to the elements, the major benefit of rubber roofing is the ability to minimize seams.  EPDM comes in various different sizes that can be installed on all types of roof surfaces.  Wherever seams are necessary, as long as they are properly sealed, they will perform as good as the rest of the membrane.

If you are having issues with a low-pitch roof area, or are concerned about it Contact Us to give you a no pressure estimate.

Check out our Rubber Roofing Section for more info about our low-slope roofing systems.

Hopkinton MA Sign According to Money Magazine the small town of Hopkinton, MA is one of the top 100 places to live  in the United States.  Hopkinton is an area we complete a whole lot of projects. Hopkinton is a  neighboring town of Ashland where our office is located.  Over the years we’ve met hundreds of  home and business owners in Hopkinton and had the privilege of completing various projects of  all scales.  Most famous as the starting spot for the Boston Marathon, Hopkinton is a quiet, but  accessible community nicely located near the junction of 495 and the Mass Pike. Some notable  projects United has had the privilege to work on are roof replacement and painting at the Korean  Presbyterian Church (formerly First Congregational Church of Hopkinton) right across from the Hopkinton Common and Marathon starting line. We’ve recently installed dozens of new windows at the old High School building on Main Street near the top of the hill.

We’ve added some photos and descriptions of various roofing projects we’ve been involved in to this new page on our website:

We also recently added a page dedicated to the MetroWest region in general.  We complete a lot of roofing projects in the Metrowest area.  Check some of them out here:

roof_knowledge_09Commission wind, hail and ice add up to about 32% of the insurance claims made by    homeowners.  This number is especially staggering since many sections of the U.S. don’t    see frequent hail storms, and other sections don’t have climates that produce ice dams.      Add another 14.3% for water damage and it’s clear that a majority of home insurance        claims are caused by weather and climate factors.



Property Peril
Fire 33.1%
Wind Damage 18.3%
Water Damage 14.3%
Hail Damage 11.6%
Theft 3.6%
Freezing 2.0%
Lightning 2.0%
Other Property Losses 9.6%

The most commonly damaged areas of homes are the roof, siding, foundation, windows, and gutters.  As you would expect the exterior shell of your home is the first layer of protection against the elements.  When the strength of Mother Nature overpowers the durability of your home everyone loses.  You have to pay expensive insurance premiums and rarely get the proper amount of coverage to restore your home to proper working condition.

It’s more important then ever to have the following:

A properly functioning roofing system with hurricane force wind nailing, sufficient amounts of ice and water shield and flashing, and high grade shingles properly installed.

Well maintained and properly installed siding that is wind resistant and durable enough to take the impact of flying debris.

Windows that have a high DP rating, meaning they can withstand the force of high winds and the impact of debris.

Luxury Roof Thumbnail Roofers in Massachusetts have their work cut out for them.  Every season presents it’s own weather  conditions that make it difficult to keep a leak proof roof.  Here are 4 of the essential things that all  responsible roofing contractor in massachusetts will provide without question.

 #1:  Don’t skimp on High Quality Ice and Water Shield:

Ice Dams are a big problem in New England.  Most roofers will install some amount  of low-  grade ice and water shield.  But the questions are:  How much ice and water shield are they using?    And what quality is it? We recommend using a minimum of 6 ft. Certainteed WinterGuard from the eaves, and 3 feet from the gable ends. A full 3 ft. roll should be used in all valleys. We do this on all our roofing replacements in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.


#2: Use a quality shingle with a substantial weight per square (100 square ft.):

That durability and longevity of a roofing shingle is primarily determined by the amount of asphalt and aggregate it’s made from.  More material means more weight, so the heavier a shingle is the better quality it is (in general).  Many of the roofing shingles that are sold on the shelves of the big box stores aren’t even labeled with a weight per square.  Stay away from these roofing products.  Landmark Architectural shingles range between 250-340 lbs per square.  There are even shingles available that weigh more than 400 lbs. per square.

 #3: Make sure your gutters are clean and functioning properly:

Most winter roof leaks in Massachusetts are due to ice build up in the gutters and on the roof which can often be caused by leaf filled gutters that cannot drain properly.  However, even a new, clean gutter can get ice damming.  If you have an ice damn problem, consider installing deicing lines as a temporary solution, but also contact a roofing installer to repair or replace your roof.

 #4: Care:

The bottom line is even experienced roofing installers in MA will leave you with issues if they don’t put the proper effort and care into installing your roof. At first glance there may not be a noticeable difference between a properly installed roof and a poorly installed roof because so much of what determines the quality and durability of a roof is underneath the shingle.

These are just a few of the necessary steps to having a long-lasting leak proof roof.  Contact us today if you’d like to discuss a roof replacement project.

Replacement Contractor LogoI was recently asked by Jim Cory from Replacement Contractor Magazine to comment on the growth of fiber cement siding in New England, specifically Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.  Here’s the article:

High Fiber

by Jim Cory

Demand for fiber cement set to grow at twice the rate of the replacement siding marketBy Jim Cory

Bob Birner, vice president of Amazing Siding, a home improvement company headquartered in Houston, calls Texas “the Holy Land” of fiber-cement siding. Five years ago, he estimates, 5% of the company’s siding jobs were fiber cement. Now, he says, “it’s the majority of our siding business.” Amazing Siding, with branches in other states as well, also sells an acrylic siding product and composite windows.

Onward and Upward

A report on the U.S. siding market issued earlier this year by the Freedonia Group suggests that by 2017 fiber-cement sales will increase to $2.065 million, with a 14% market share, and use of fiber-cement siding “will expand 7.7% annually” in improvement and repair applications. Up to now, much of that growth has been regional, focused in the South and Southwest. Freedonia suggests stronger future growth in the Northeast and Midwest. Peter Martino, marketing manager and project consultant for United Home Experts, in Boston, says that before his company took on the product in 2002, it was “rare” to see a fiber-cement replacement job in Massa­-chusetts. But, he says, in the last three or four years, “it’s become increasingly widespread as a siding option.” So widespread that United Home Experts, on its website, estimates that fiber-cement siding “is approaching a market share of 10% in Massachusetts and other parts of New England.”

Slow Market

This year the overall siding market is slower, and contractors have noticed that consumers who have money to invest in the exterior of their home prefer to spend those dollars on windows or a new roof. At Weatherguard Systems, a Wisconsin company that sells gutter protection, windows, and siding, 2009 has been a lean year in the siding department. “We’ve done one job in vinyl and five or six in fiber cement,” company president Jared Murray says. Residential siding customers, Murray has noticed, are those who have “saved and want to upgrade.” Last year siding jobs at the company were 60% vinyl, 40% fiber cement.

In the past, home improvement companies tended to offer consumers one product or another. Today many companies carry several products, an arrangement that Birner compares to auto dealerships that carry products from multiple manufacturers. Exterior Home Improvement, in Indianapolis, for instance, offers insulated-vinyl, fiber-cement, or a wood-vinyl composite siding. For companies with fiber cement as a core product, quality installation is the appeal. At United Home Experts, where 80% of jobs are fiber cement, reps show prospects pictures of the company’s fiber-cement jobs versus the less-than-stellar installs of others.

Birner guesses that 5% to 7% of Amazing Siding’s fiber-cement projects in Houston involve rescuing botched do-it-yourself projects. Typically, the homeowner starts, then realizes what’s involved and calls Birner’s company to come over and begin again from scratch.

Central Mass Fall Worcester Home Show
October 23rd – 25th, 2009
DCU Center
Worcester, MA
Friday Oct 23rd 5:00pm to 9:00pm
Saturday Oct 24th 10:00am to 8:00pm
Sunday Oct 25th 11:00am to 5:00pm
Fall Rhode Island Home Show

Here we’ll have 2 booths.  One booth will display Fiber Cement siding products, and the other booth will display all our services including roofing, siding, windows, and painting.  This show draws people from all over Central New England including Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and of course Worcester.

If you are considering talking to us about an upcoming project around your home.  Don’t wait for the show! Contact us today for a no pressure estimate.  Our schedule will most likely be full until at least Thanksgiving. We’ll save you the cost of admission, and a busy day at the DCU center.  Contact us today!

0010FederbeforeOver the past couple of years a few companies have popped up in new England that claim  to offer some sort of lifetime paint product.  They say, “Never paint your home again!”  or something catchy like that.

Sounds like a great idea right? But is it too good to be true? You may think the verdict is  still out but if we had to put our money on 1 side or the other we would play all our chips  on the side of “too good to be true.”

As exterior renovation experts in New England we see our fair share of houses. How well  paint holds up has as much, if not more, to do with the surface to which the paint coating is applied as it does with the paint product itself.  These types of “lifetime” paint products may work well on masonry that is not designed to breath, and they may even hold up in southern climates with more consistent air temperatures and moisture climate, but wood siding in New England is a completely different substrate. Wood siding in this climate has a tendency to swell and contract a significant amount in varying temperatures. Unless these “permanent” coatings have the exact expansion factor as the substrate they will most certainly fail. In this New England climate the temperature on the outside of buildings is far lower than on the inside of buildings the majority of the year. That means as the air tries to find equilibrium; warm, moist air is constantly escaping from the exterior wall of the house or building. Unless these “lifetime” paint coatings have a substantial perm rating (meaning they pass moisture easily), which they do not, the wet air will not escape properly.  One of two things will happen. Either the air with significant moisture content will remain in the wall causing rot and mold. Or the moisture will force the paint off the surface as it tries to escape. Sure the paint will last forever, but it will be in your garden and mulch beds, not adhering to the wood siding on your walls.

If you still are not convinced that these types of products are too good to be true, just ask the company recommending them to show you one of their projects that was painted in this region of the country 8 or 10 years ago. I promise you that they will not show you one.  And even if they do, I’m sure you will not be willing to pay 2-3 times the cost of a regular paint job for the results you see.

If you are considering this type of product for your home, we’ll be happy to discuss it with you and offer other painting orsiding replacement options that you’ll be much happier with.