Odds & Ends Posts

6 Questions About Insulation You Don’t Have Answers To (yet!)

summerwood insulation
Now that the winter is settling in you want to start thinking about insulating that home studio you spent so much time designing. The crown jewel of your backyard needs protection to keep warmth in and moisture out. The truth is that you will need it whether you leave in a heat summer climate and in cold winters.

We go through this process daily and can assure you that we have the answers you’ve been looking for. With help for our designers early on in the process, you can avoid many pitfalls later. If you’re the do-it-yourself sort, this guide will help you to convince everyone that you knew what you were doing all along.

Do I need to insulate the floor in my cabin?

In short, yes. Even if you are not using your Cabin year round you will want to prevent the moisture from the ground coming up through your floor. Waking up in a warm dry damp free environment is a great way to start your day.
  • The insulation we use is 3 1/2″ and 5 1/2″ styrofoam, with the R-value of 14 & 22 respectively, installed between the floor joists.  
  • Also included in our floor insulation package is a layer of P.T. plywood on the bottom side of the floor framing.  This prevents any unwanted rodents from making their way into the insulation. Its important you take care of this during the construction of the floor when you still have access to the floor framing of your structure. 

How about insulating the ceiling or roof areas?

Its also important to insulate the roof of your building as this will help keep it cool in the summer and warm in the chilly seasons.  Below are  three common options:
  1. Styrofoam insulation that is installed on top of your roof boards does not require venting. When insulating this way its recommended you upgrade to Pine or Cedar roof boards to create a very rustic look inside, leaving the rafters exposed.
  2. The Installation of insulation in-between your roof rafters also requires you to create a clear air way from Soffit to Ridge and will require both Soffit and Ridge vets to be installed.
  3. The most common option is to create attic space by insulating between your ceiling joist and adding roof and gable end vents. This is very similar to how homes are vented and allows for attic storage as well as a nice finished ceiling using our Pine or Cedar interior boards, or even drywall if you wish.
insulation walls

What are my options as far as insulating my walls?

We offer an Enhanced Siding Upgrade package  that is available with  7/16 inch OSB + Homeslicker/Typar or 1/2 inch plywood + Homeslicker/Typar,  this option  goes on the outside of your wall studs and between the studs and the siding. It can be used in conjunction with traditional fiberglass Batts or Sprayfoam insulation.

Does my yoga studio / workshop / pottery studio / bike maintenance shed need to be insulated in a special way? 

Absolutely! If you want to turn your structure into something rather than storage, your building needs to be customized for your specific needs and hobbies. Summerwood buildings can be designed and built to be fully insulated, giving you unlimited options in terms of usage. Try our Custom Design Centre to see more. 
summerwood insulation

What are my options when it comes to heating & cooling? 

If you frequently  use your building year round, installing a wood stove or furnace as well as an air conditioner is a great idea for quick and easy heating & cooling in larger full-size buildings.  However, for your average backyard studio, a small plugin Micro Furnace is more than enough. Some may even choose to install radiant heating in the floor when using a concrete slab.
  • While we do not sell the heating elements that is something best purchased locally to comply with various building codes (if any). We will accommodate a heating element if you tell us how large it’s going to be. If you require a concrete pad to place it on we can customize the floor to accommodate your local bylaws will guide you through this process.
summerwood insulation

How do I insulate my shed if we live in a hot summer climate? 

If you live in areas with very hot summers or very cold winters your building should be insulated the same way. Consider adding insulation to your floor, walls and roof area.  Drywall, or other finishing material of your choice, is a nice way to finish off the interior of your building. This will keep both hot and cold air outside and normalize the internal temperature. 

7 Common Maintenance Tasks Required for the Upkeep of Outdoor Buildings


You can ensure your outdoor building retains its like-new luster for years to come by performing timely maintenance tasks. These important procedures allow you to rectify small issues before they escalate and cause irreparable damage. In fact, you can actively prevent the need for huge overhauls or total structure replacements by completing maintenance tasks on a yearly schedule. Although you will need to inspect your structure for specific areas in need of attention, almost all outbuildings require the seven following tasks performed each year.

Seal Replacement

Exposure to sunlight, rainfall and constant temperature fluctuations take a serious toll on the health of the seals around your outbuilding’s windows and doors. Without these seals, moisture and drafts would easily enter the structure. You can replace the seals quite easily, however, by scraping away the old caulk and applying a new bead. With proper application around window and door gaps, the caulk will provide another year’s worth of protection against the elements.

Hardware Lubrication

The hardware used for your outbuilding, including door locks, hinges and window mechanisms, require regular attention to remain functional through the years. You can use a can of petroleum based lubricant to oil up the moving parts and add a layer of protection against moisture in the air. The lubricant will actively prevent rust from forming and locking the moving parts stubbornly in place.


Siding Restoration

Constant weathering can strip away the sealant or paint from your siding materials. If your siding looks worn or discolored, consider applying a new coat of stain or paint to renew its outer surface. When you refresh this layer, you not only improve the appearance of your outdoor building, you also restore its shield against rain, sunlight, wind and other destructive elements.

Foundation Repair

As the ground settles beneath your outbuilding, cracks may appear in the concrete foundation. Take the time to fill in the cracks as they appear to keep them from going through the entire slab. If the cracks push all the way through the concrete, you may need to have the slab replaced outright to protect your outdoor structure.


Vegetation Control

When the vegetation around your outbuilding starts to grow out of control, it could cause damage to the entire structure. Plants with strong, fast growing branches can actually push through your siding or foundation and split the building materials. Prune or remove the offending plants to keep them from leaving immense destruction in their wake.

Roof Rehabilitation

At the very least, your roof will require a visual inspection to check for damage caused by storms, trees and wildlife. You should take a look at the flashing and shingles to check for wear or damage around the edges. If you find any loose elements, examine the underlayment for rips or tears. Promptly repair all damage to this layer before securing your shingles and flashing back down or your roof may leak when it rains.


Pest Elimination

If you spot just one pest in the vicinity of your outdoor building, you can safely assume there are many more lurking in the shadows. Spiders, field mice, squirrels and even raccoons will start to search for warmer ground as the winter season approaches. Take the time to close up entry points and set traps to protect your outbuilding from potentially costly damage.

Creating a Maintenance Schedule

When you choose to stick to a strict maintenance schedule, you continually rejuvenate your structures, inside and out, to protect your investment for the long term. To ensure you always complete your maintenance procedures on time, write out a yearly task list and hang it on the inside of the door to your outbuilding. Each time you complete the scheduled maintenance, sign and date the paper to check it off your to-do list. Your commitment to timely maintenance will keep your shed looking new far longer than you ever imagined possible.

Understanding Weathering: The Effects of Rain and Shine on Your Outdoor Storage Unit


As you gaze upon the beauty of your outdoor storage unit, you might shudder at the thought of weathering damage impacting its gorgeous finish. Even storage units made from the finest quality, whether it be with premium grade western red cedar or constructed using non-corrosive hardware, rain and sunshine can still wreak havoc on the structure and finish over time. You can avoid undue distress by preparing yourself for this situation ahead of time by learning what to expect as your building materials weather. Furthermore, you may be happy to learn that you can actually rectify the effects of weathering on your outdoor storage unit with a few simple repairs.


Color Changes

Outdoor storage units made with plain western red cedar materials will naturally develop a rich patina over the years. The patina turns the wood from its rich red hue to a beautiful light silvery gray color. Since the patina develops as the wood stain wears off due to weathering, you can actually halt this process by reapplying stain on a routine basis. In addition, once the patina develops, you can sand and stain the wood anytime you wish to instantly renew its former red cedar luster. The stain color you apply will affect the finish hue of the wood, so choose your product wisely. If you need assistance, you can always speak to your Summerwood expert for help.

Sealant Deterioration

The caulk and sealant products placed around the windows and doors will eventually wear away from the constant barrage of sunlight and rain showers. Without the sealant, your storage unit will develop a draft and insects could work their way inside the structure. You can replace the sealant by obtaining a caulk gun and tube of caulk. Make sure to remove the old sealant before attempting to fill the cracks with the new material. To apply the sealant, simply swipe the line of caulk into the crevice between the window or door frame and the siding. Use your finger to smooth out the line of caulk and push it deeper into the gap to create a lasting seal.


Roofing Material Wear

The shingles you place on your roof may start to wear down and develop visible damage after years in the hot sun and heavy rains. Darkly pigmented roofing materials are particularly susceptible to damage from constant sunlight due to their high heat absorption rates. Your black, brown or dark gray shingles could reach a stunning 190 degrees Fahrenheit on hot summer days, which causes the material to become brittle over time. You can easily repair this issue, however, by removing your old roofing materials and replacing them with new ones. As you make these repairs, do not forget to replace the flashing to keep your roof from developing a leak during the next rain shower.

Foundation Degradation

If your outdoor storage unit has a solid concrete foundation, you may need to have cracks in that material repaired from time to time. The structure of concrete materials degrades in response to freeze-thaw cycles, excessive moisture and shifts in the subgrade. You should visually inspect the concrete to locate cracks before they worsen to minimize the number of repairs you will have to perform. If the cracks severely widen or extend all of the way through the concrete material, you may need to have the foundation removed and replaced to fully rectify the problem.


Rectifying Weathering Damage

You can actively protect your outdoor storage unit from weathering effects by performing timely maintenance on the exterior sections of the structure. You may need to replace worn or damaged shingles, re-apply stain to the siding and renew the caulk around the windows to rectify damage caused by weathering. Your professionals at Summerwood can help you understand the right type and amount of materials to buy to repair your outdoor storage structure.

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Feel free to contact the team anytime with your questions and concerns. Visit the website to browse through the available storage structures and use the custom design center to dream up new outbuilding configurations for your property.


Building Permits: What You Need to Know

No, it’s rarely anyone’s favourite part of the design process, but it definitely is a necessary one. Here’s what you need to know about permits and the permitting process, before building!

What is a Building Permit?

A building permit is a document provided to a home or business owner that provides approval for the construction process. It’s basically a proposal, or plan detailing exactly what your building is going to look like and what structural components will be included. The building permit process was designed to ensure that local and safe building standards are maintained by property owners. Building permits not only include the initial application, but periodic inspections throughout the building process to ensure compliance with codes and standards. An inspector may visit your property to conduct a preliminary site inspection before you have started construction. They may also revisit once you have installed your foundation so that it’s easy to determine whether footings or reinforcement have been properly constructed. A framing inspection is also common and usually happens before any drywall goes up, to establish that the walls are properly supported. In providing a permit you are outlining the construction process and manufacturing details, an inspector’s job is to ensure that you and your installer are complying by the original drawings.

A gazebo overlooking the water? A permit will ensure sturdy footings!

A gazebo overlooking the water? A permit will ensure sturdy footings!

How do I Obtain a Permit?

Every city or municipality has a department designed to deal with this process. To find your local building permit office, use your favorite search engine and type in your city, town, or municipality, followed by the phrase “building permits”. If this doesn’t provide the appropriate results, then just search for your city, town or municipality and give the first local Government office you see a call, they’ll be able to direct you to the right department.

It’s imperative to find out what the rules and regulations are in your area before planning or designing anything. Finding this information from your local Government (most is easily accessible online) is important as guidelines differ greatly between regions and even from street to street. Being aware of these laws before proceeding will allow you to make more informed decisions about your structure, and may ultimately save you money. You wouldn’t want to be well into the design process before you realize the width, or height are prohibited on your property. That will mean additional time, planning and therefore money! Avoid the hassle and any mistakes by calling your permit office, first!

Be prepared for a building inspector to visit and ensure your walls are structurally sound.

Be prepared for a building inspector to visit and ensure your walls are structurally sound.

Do I Need a Permit?

Permits are normally only required for structures exceeding 100 square feet, that’s a good rule of thumb. At Summerwood, we recommend that you check with your local permit office to see if there are any unusual requirements for your area before beginning any designing, planning or day dreaming! Depending on your property, there are regulations that may not even occur to you (conservation efforts, etc). Call first, plan second.

In addition, home owners associations often will require their own permits in addition to the standard Government permits – so if you’re part of an association, be sure to check with them before starting your project.

As mentioned, rules can vary greatly from region to region and even from street to street. It may sound like an unnecessary extra step to go through the permitting process, but don’t take the shortcut where safety is concerned.

Modern or traditional, big or small, check with your local building department first!

Modern or traditional, big or small, check with your local building department first!

The Permit Application Process

The permit process can vary quite a bit, depending on the size and complexity of your building. Many considerations are taken into account such as what you’ll be using your building for, how you’ll be finishing it, inside and out, and what elements you will be adding. For example, a basic garden shed may not even require a permit, while a larger home studio, or pool cabana with electrical, or added plumbing will become more involved. The more complicated your structure, the more intricate the permit process becomes.

In most cases, you’ll need to pay for the permit itself, and again, depending on the structure, you will need to submit permit drawings. These are comprehensive structural drawings including elevation and floor plans, as well as information about the materials being used. They are different and more detailed than sample drawings and are usually completed by a licensed engineer. At Summerwood, we have our own engineer on staff, to ease in the permit process and provide drawings specific for your custom structure.

What if it Doesn’t Meet Permit Code?

If it’s a Summerwood structure then there will be no issue with meeting permit code. All Summerwood buildings are designed and built like homes, as such it is rare that an inspector will request any changes. Should a building code in your jurisdiction have certain stipulations, let us know. We will build a structure that meets your needs and requirements, so that it will easily meet any permit code.

If you’re ready to start dreaming, head to the Design Center. Just don’t forget to call your local building department too! Let us know how we can help: 1-866-519-4634

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10 Things You Need To Know Before Staining Your Cedar

Cooper Creek 9ft x 12ft

Cedar is by far our favourite siding material for countless reasons. Although we understand the need and convenience of maintenance free options, when it comes to siding, we simply can’t compete with nature. Western Red Cedar has been our first choice for years due to its durability, ascetic appeal, and environmental sustainability.

At Summerwood, we always recommend that our customers stain their cedar-sided building. So, why do we recommend this to our customers?  Although you can let your cedar weather naturally when used for a deck or a fence, when you’re using it as a siding the idea is to keep the elements out. You want your beautiful custom backyard building to stay that way, and for your belongings to remain safe and dry inside. Staining the cedar is the absolute best way to ensure this, especially in areas that have four-season climates. Since Western Red Cedar naturally lacks pitch and resin, it allows for countless staining options and will accept stain very well if applied correctly. To help you properly stain your newly built outdoor structure, we’ve come up with 10 tips to help you stain your cedar and to keep it looking new for years to come.


10 Tips for staining your cedar


1. Three choices for staining

When it comes to staining your cedar, you have three choices: natural, semi -transparent, and coloured or opaque. Consider whether you want your building to look untouched or add a pop of colour to your yard before choosing.


2. Transparent stains have water-repellent features

Cedar is known to age gracefully to a soft, silver-grey patina, but it’s wise to keep the rich tones of your cedar siding lasting longer. Transparent stains contain no pigment but have water-repellent features that will help to retain natural tones and slow down the natural colour change process. It’s a win-win!


3. Offer up a hint of colour

Semi-transparent stains offer up a hint of colour. They still represent the wood beautifully but give it a little boost. Grains and knots in your wood will be modified, not enough to take away from its natural qualities though!


4. Coloured/Opaque finishes add a little charm

Coloured/opaque finishes allow you to have fun with your finished product. If you want to go for a dramatic look, or maybe add a little extra charm, this may be the way to go. This option isn’t for the indecisive though, so make sure you know exactly what you want!


5. The sooner you treat your cedar, the better

Once you’ve decided on your finish it’s best to get to work quickly. The sooner you treat your cedar, the better. Although cedar is naturally resistant to rot and decay, staining your siding promptly will help in the preventing of deterioration.


6. Wash & wait for it to dry

Prepare your cedar siding by washing it with soapy water to remove any dirt or dust (if any has accumulated). After you have washed it, wait for it to dry before applying any stain to the cedar.


7. Use a thick brush when staining

One of the most thorough methods when staining is to use a thick, natural bristle brush. The brush bristles will distribute the stain evenly onto the wood, as well as helping to reach the undulations on the surface of the cedar. If you are thinking about using a rolling brush.


8. Work in the shade while staining

It is best to apply the stain to the cedar while working the shade. This will allow the stain to sink deeper in the cedar surface. One of the best ways to help them dry properly is to set them on sawhorses, thus keeping them off the grass, soil, and sand, making your task a lot easier.


9. Allow the stain to dry slowly & apply a second coat

Two coats are always recommended when you want to maintain the natural look of Western red cedar. After you have put the first coat on, it is recommended that you wait 6 to 8 hours for it to dry before placing a second coat on.


10. Enjoy!

Bask in the glory of your newly finished cedar building for years to come.


For countless styles and options, cedar is consistently the best choice! Please don’t hesitate to contact the design experts at Summerwood with any questions you may have: 1-866-519-4634.

If you’re ready to design your very own spectacular cedar building, or do some brainstorming, our Design Center will get your creative wheels turning!

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