Do-It-Yourself Vinyl Eavestrough

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This year I decided that the eaves on my house needed some attention. They had bends, kinks, and cracks which just couldn’t be ignored any longer. I thought about hiring a contractor to take care of it, but then I thought what a wonderful opportunity to try out the DIY Vinyl Eavestrough I have been seeing around the hardware stores. It would be a fun project for me and &Family to tackle, and we may even save a few bucks.

So, after a little research online, it was off to the hardware store. The instructions I had found made it sound pretty easy, all the pieces just lock together and hang from clips which get screwed into the fascia. We played around in the eaves section trying to figure out which of the vinyl pieces went with what. There are a few different systems, and a few different sizes. BE CAREFUL! We had to go back a couple days later, because different sized hangers had been mixed into the same box and we hadn’t noticed while counting them out.

The first thing you’ll notice, is that the price of the eavestrough is really low. Then you’ll discover that each hanger is going to cost you $3-5 or more. And finally, the downspout attachments get up around $15. A little quick math and you’ll probably find that the contractor is starting to look good.

We take our materials home and get ready to start the back of the house. I rip down the old eaves with extreme prejudice, and a little too much glee, then the kids get all the soffets and fascia cleaned up and repainted.

&Family have become quite the painters&Family finally getting to the end of the soffets.

My research told me that we wanted a drop of 1/8″ for every 10′ of eave, so we figured out our drop, marked each end of the house and ran a chalk line. We then had to screw all the hanger clips in place. The website said every 24″, but those clips are expensive so I was hoping to get away with every 30″. (This turned out to be a bad idea – on the front of the house I went back to 24″) As we put the hanger clips up, we were also assembling the eavestrough. End caps were installed, they just pop on, then the hangers were slid into place. The hangers must be slid onto the eavestrough from an open end. Then it was a simple matter to line the hangers up with the clips and snap it into place.

The second piece of eavestrough connected to the first with a two-piece coupler. One piece outside, the other inside, and then lock together when you have the two eavestrough sections lined up. The coupler is pre-caulked and seems to form a good seal.

At the downspout location we screwed the downspout adapter directly to the fascia and the eavestrough simply slid into one end of it. There are marks inside which are labeled with temperatures. You want to place it so that the end of the trough is lined up with the approximate temperature at that time. These placement marks allow for proper contraction/expansion of the vinyl as the seasons change.

The downspout was pretty simple. Clips are screwed into the wall, and downpipe pieces are cut and attached with elbows to get the shape required.

All-in-all it was a pretty easy system to work with. But there are problems which I didn’t discover until later.

Problems, Mistakes and Warnings:
1) Cost: This may be an affordable method if someone was putting eaves on a doghouse or shed, but for use on your house I would strongly advise hiring the contractor. It’ll actually end up cheaper in the end.
2) Lack of proper instructions: I didn’t see anything at the store, the staff were of no help (who really expects them to be?), only a few little blog pages like this one to try and gleen info from.
3) Clip Spacing: This is critical – no more than 24″. Vinyl is very flexible, and when the trough fills up with water the wider gaps between the hangers allows the side to bow out and spill the water. In one instance it bowed enough to pop free of the clips.
4) Downspouts: The pieces are just held together by a screw, just like with metal downspouts. Be very aware of screw placement. It will catch every little leaf if it is in the wrong place. I suggest putting the screw on top of any slanted pieces.
5) Downspout elbows: They have an arrow on them which point in to direction of water flow. Pay attention to them.
6) Clogging: They will clog on the smallest things. Definitely plan on using the gutter guards – which I should note, are very expensive and you’ll need a lot of them to actually cover your eaves.
7) Pitch: The angle they suggest is simply not steep enough. With 60′ across my house we dropped 3/4″ from end to end at the back of the house. Along with using too few hangers, we end up with water standing in the trough after a rain. I increased it slight for the front, up to 1″ drop, used enough clips, and the eavestrough completely drains.

And my biggest complaint and the Most Important when planning:
8) Drip Edges: The original drip edge on your roof is probably set almost flush with the fascia. This is because metal eavestrough is nailed directly to the fascia leaving no gap between. The Vinyl Eavstrough has a clip and hanger behind the actual trough. This means that there is a 3/4″ gap and when it rains the water will run off the drip edge and straight to the ground behind the eavestrough. To fix this I had to install a second drip edge about an inch further out on top of the first, while still making sure to be under the roofing tiles. Not an easy job, and even more cost.

Overall Opinion: It is easy to work with. It performs the job I believe it was intended for. It should only be used for very small projects where hiring a contractor is just too expensive. On bigger jobs, like your house, it is far cheaper, faster, easier, and longer lasting to hire the contractor and install metal eaves. So put it on your shed, it’s a great weekend project. Don’t put it on anything bigger unless you have a lot of money to burn.

Update: We lived with the wide clip spacing on the back of the house long enough. During long slow rains there was little problem, but we don’t seem to get those anymore. Over the past year it has only seemed to rain heavily for shorter periods of time. This resulted in beautiful waterfalls pour down beside the house wherever the eaves decided to flex and spill. We couldn’t take it any more, so this past weekend we ripped the eaves down and added clips in between the existing ones. That means we now have clips every 18″. While it hasn’t been tested by torrential downpours yet, we can already see that the eave is straighter than before – much less sag. We are hoping for much better performance when mother nature decides to start soaking us again.

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Our First Home Show

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On Saturday and Sunday past (April 30 / May 1, 2011) B.Howe & Family was represented at the Binbrook Craft and Home Show. It was our first foray into the world of Craft Shows and from our point of view it was a success.

Most venders enter into a show with the hope of making enough sales to cover their costs plus a little extra.  Unfortunately, the attendance at this show was very low and most of the venders were unable to break even.  We did get to hear many theories as to why attendance was so bad, which gave us an interesting look into the minds of the veterans. There was also plenty of time to wander through the other displays and see the different ways people show their products, and to be able to talk to them as a peer rather than a customer.  We picked up many hints and tips about how the shows work and change, and which shows can be good or bad.

Our focus for this show was to gather reactions and opinions with regards to our own products.  We wanted to show them to people who were not concerned with sparing our feelings, and had different tastes than ours.  This show was to be a sort of product testing ground for us.  Of course we already had our own opinions about what people would think, which items they would be drawn to, and which items they would barely notice.  We couldn’t have been more wrong.

As you can see from the photos our display consisted of the cedar chess set, framed by the birdhouses on either side, and the whirlwinds hanging above.  We placed a couple of the camp chairs behind and a table beyond that where we had our sign, brochures, album, etc.  A last minute addition was the rug tiles, which paid for themselves the first day by sparing our backs and legs from standing on concrete for 6 hours.

So here are some of the conclusions we were able to draw from the weekend:

  • The chess table stole the show.  So much so that a few people walked away without seeing the other items at all.  It generated the most comments and discussions, and we are extremely pleased with the response to it.
  • The birdhouses drew some attention. People seemed to like the utilitarian style, commenting equally on the fact that they will fit into almost any yard and that they are a blank palette for kids to decorate.
  • We thought the whirlwinds would grab a lot of attention, however only a few people commented on them. The comments were all positive, however we feel that there weren’t enough to lend a confident impression.
  • The camp chairs went largely unnoticed, and we believe this is our own fault.  We did not have them tagged or labelled so visitors to the booth may have simply thought they were there for us to sit on.  We will be addressing this if we do another show.

So with that we have to label this show a success.  We learned a lot about the show process, and about our own products.  We have some ideas to further or better the existing line of products,and ideas for new items in new directions.  Thanks to everyone at the show who had the time to answer our questions and offer advice, and a special thanks to all the shows visitors for offering your comments and opinions.

Craft Fairs – a Beginners Look

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If you have been following our posts, then you’ll be aware that we looked into showing our products at a large trade show a little while ago.  That didn’t pan out, simply because we weren’t ready to take that kind of a leap yet.  Well, if good things come to those who wait, then perhaps we will do well with this new plan.  Last week the opportunity arose to rent some floorspace at the Binbrook Home and Garden Show put on by the Binbrook Agricultural Society each year.

We decided that we should try again, at least give it a chance, and a few emails and phone calls later we had enough information for us to make an educated decision.  We booked the booth.  Compared to the previous attempt, this was easy, low risk, inexpensive, and just an all around friendly option.  Here is what we found made up our minds for us:

Easy to Understand Application Process

  • We only had to deal with one email address,  and one phone number.  We weren’t required to contact one person about electrical, another about signage, another about tables, yet another about carpets.
  • The application form was simple.  A one page application consisting of contact information, product type,  and display requirements.  There was a spot to request electricity, and table rental was part of the final cost calculation.
  • Only one payment to make.  After we figured out the space cost, and table rental fees, we only had to write one cheque.

Affordable

  • Where the large trade show was going to costs us several hundred dollars for the cheapest booth in the worst location, this show is giving us a central booth in a good traffic area with a table for less than $100.
  • It’s closer to home than the larger show, so we don’t have to factor in the costs of a hotel room for a weekend.
  • The shows insurance covers the vendors, so we did not have to get our own.
  • We won’t be surrounded by $10,000 displays, so we can keep our own display simple and within our means.

Friendly

  • Leading up to our signing for the booth, we only had to deal with two people.  One very nice woman who we had email and phone conversations with, and her daughter.  That was it.
  • It is a long running show, in a small town, and from what we can tell it attempts to maintain the neighbourly feel that you don’t find in the more corporate shows.
  • Binbrook is a satelite town of Hamilton, and there is a good chance that it will draw a customer group out of the city.
  • This venue showcases local craftsmen and businesses in the fields of home and garden design and decor.  A good chance for us to discover how we fit into the scheme of things.

We will be spending the next couple of weeks getting ready for the show.  The brochures are ready, business cards are on their way, and soon the signs will be made and the products packed. We’ve worked out a tentative display floor plan, and lists of the things we still need to acquire.  It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s even a little scary.

If you find yourself in the the Binbrook area on April 30th, or May 1st, please stop by the Binbrook Fairgrounds and see us at our booth.  We’d love to hear what you think.