If it’s hot outside and you feel yourself wilting a little while you delve into your latest home improvement project, you can rest assured that your building materials are feeling the effects of that heat as well.  So when temperatures climb, it pays to take a few special precautions.

ROOFING

Installing roofing materials is a physically demanding chore under any circumstances, and when it’s hot outside, those demands multiply. The wide-open expanse of unprotected roof will take a toll on your body, and it’s very easy to become dehydrated and dizzy in the heat – with possible disastrous results. Start as early in the day as possible, wear a hat, drink water, and get off the roof as soon as you find yourself weakening physically, or when the materials become uncomfortably hot to handle.

The installation of asphalt composition shingles can present one of the biggest challenges when it’s hot out. Heat softens the asphalt, causing the shingles to become limp and easily torn when you handle them. The softness can also allow fasteners to penetrate too deeply and compromise their holding power, so if you’re using an air stapler, you may need to reduce your compressor’s air pressure.

A particular problem with composition shingles is that due to the heat-softening, they become very prone to damage. Kneeling or walking on hot shingles, especially if you have a tendency to dig your toes in to help keep your balance while working, can really chew up the edges of the shingles. This affects their appearance, and can also affect both their life span and even their warranty. Take precautions to place your feet as flat as possible on the shingle, try not to step on the very edge, and avoid sliding your feet or your tools. Here again, start early in the day and get off the roof as soon as you feel the shingles beginning to soften.

FRAMING AND DECKING

Most of today’s lumber is milled from young, second- and third-growth trees. These young trees have widely-spaced growth rings and large, very open cell structures that contain a lot of moisture, making the wood very prone to warping if it dries too quickly.

During hot weather, take precautions to keep framing lumber and decking boards such as cedar covered and, if possible, stored in the shade. Don’t order large amounts of lumber if you won’t be using it right away – it’s better to order only what you think you’ll be able to install within a couple of days. Also, most lumberyards ship their lumber deliveries with metal or plastic bands around them, so leave the bands in place until right before you’re ready to use the lumber.

PAINTING AND DRYWALL

Any construction materials that have liquid ingredients can be prone to problems in the heat. This is particularly true of paints and drywall taping compounds, and you’ll want to take some installation precautions when working with any of these materials.

Exterior painting can be particularly tricky when the thermometer starts getting up there. High heat can cause paint in opened cans to thicken and “skin over,” which occurs when a film of partially dried paint develops on top of the liquid paint underneath. If you are painting with an airless sprayer, set it up in the shade, and keep a cloth loosely draped over the paint bucket. If the paint does skin over, stop painting and remove and discard the skin before continuing – do not try and mix the skin back into the liquid paint.

For paint that is becoming thick, you can thin it out somewhat by following the manufacturer’s instructions for thinning. Do not over-thin the material, and do not use any liquid for thinning that is not approved for the type of paint you’re using.

Another hot weather painting problem is masking take. Standard tan tape will “bake” onto surfaces in the heat, making it very difficult to remove. A better choice would be one of the masking tapes formulated for situations where the tape will be in place for an extended period of time, and even at that, you’ll want to get the tape removed as quickly as possible.

When dry walling, you’ll notice that taping and topping compounds will thicken and dry faster in the heat. This can cause problems with getting a smooth application of joint compound, and can even cause failure of the tape joint. Keep joint compounds in a cool area, and thin them as necessary, again following the manufacturer’s specific instructions.

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