1. When caring for a brick exterior keep it clean. Mould can permanently change the surface colour of brick over time. Use a stiff (not wire) brush. Apply one cup bleach to four cups water and rinse.
2. If efflorescence (white salt residue) is present scrub it with a brush. Do not use liquid cleaners or water because they will dissolve and soak into the brick.
3. When the brick is clean, apply a sealer or paint the bricks using waterproof paint. Be sure the brick is dry before applying either paint or sealer.
4. To remedy paint stains on brick, spray the brick with a hose. Mix a solution of two pounds of trisodium phosphate (TSP) or a strong detergent, apply, allow it to soak in, and then scrub with a stiff nylon-bristle brush (don't use a wire brush). For resistant spots, repeat several times. If scrubbing with this solution doesn't work, apply a water-base paint stripper (test on an inconspicuous area first).
5. To replace a damaged brick begin by putting on eye protection and heavy-duty gloves. Use a cold chisel and heavy hammer to break apart the damaged brick. Tip: If you are removing several bricks, then start at the top and work down. As an alternative, use a power drill and masonry-cutting wheel to score the old bricks before cutting them out with a chisel. Be very careful not to damage surrounding bricks. Once the brick pieces are removed, chisel out any old mortar, and clean the joints of loose mortar with a brush and vacuum. Rinse.
6. Stucco is a great material. If you have it installed correctly, it will very likely outlast you. The key is to choose the material that suits your tastes. Make sure you install it so that water (which will invariably get behind the stucco) can get out before it damages the wood framing of your home.
7. To give stucco a fresh look, clean it with a garden hose and sprayer filled with a very dilute solution of TSP. Be sure to rinse off the mixture thoroughly.
8. Fix very small cracks in stucco by filling them with a high-quality caulk, preferably one that can be painted over. Use your fingers to press it and a damp cloth to clean up excess.
9. Deal with wider movement cracks by calling for professional repair that may include raking the cracks and filling them with a urethane sealant system or other treatment. Movement cracks and other serious problems, such as loose framing, cannot be cured by patches and paint.
10. If aluminium siding is dented, use a flat finish to help hide the damage.
11. If you have vinyl siding, don't choose a dark paint colour. Dark colours absorb more heat from the sun and can cause vinyl siding panels to buckle.
12. If aluminium siding has oxidized, you will need to remove the white residue carefully with steel wool or sandpaper, then give the surface a thorough cleaning. Do not try this on vinyl siding because it will cause deep, irreparable scratches.
13. Be careful when choosing siding. Many inexpensive brands do not offer enough pure vinyl to prevent cracking or lack the key elements needed to prevent fading. A high-quality vinyl siding offers a superior underlay system and resists peeling, cracking, waving, fading, and high winds. When quality siding starts looking dull just clean it with a little soap and water to restore it to like-new condition.
14. Protect wood siding with paint, stain or two coats of water-repellent preservatives. Reapply every three years. Tip: When water stops beading and rolling off the wall, it is time for a fresh coat. Tip: Use rust-resistant screws on warped boards to hold them against the house.
15. Relatively new exterior finishes include brick and stone veneer. These include thin bricks or stones or cultured synthetic masonry materials (half an inch to four inches thick). These products are very durable, fireproof and solid. Hose off annually. The disadvantage is installation is costly.
Solutions, is compiled from various sources: ehow.com, essortment.com, homerepair.about.com, hometips.com, bhg.com, doityourself.com, askthebuilder.com, affordable-windows.com. Similar information may be found elsewhere.
Reena Nerbas is the author of the national bestseller, Household Solutions & Substitutions. She can be heard biweekly on the CBC radio show Up To Speed.