5 top tips for exterior maintenance

A gutter clogged with winter leaves

A gutter clogged with winter leaves - Credit: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos

How to maintain your outside space during the colder months


No one wants a home with a leaky roof, so keep an eye on your roof for signs of it leaking – if you can see some or all of the roof from the ground, you may be able to spot any problems. Troubleshooting can be easier from inside the loft – being able to see daylight isn’t a good sign! It’s not unusual for roof tiles or slates to have broken, slipped or been blown off, and other parts of the roof can cause leaks and damp too, including defective flashing, guttering and chimneys. You’ll likely need a roofer to put the problem right.


Old roofs often don’t have roofing felt, so they’re more prone to leaks. Patching up an old roof can be expensive, but a new roof is often advisable, especially with winter on its way. As well as new roof tiles or slates, you’ll get new battens (for them to sit on), roofing felt and insulation (if the current insulation doesn’t comply with building regulations), which should make the loft and rooms below warmer and drier. Different roof tiles or slates can also help to transform appearance.


Leaves falling from the trees cause many problems, including blocking gutters and making paths slippery. Often neighbouring trees are the culprit, so cut them back to the boundary while the weather’s still nice. The new Fiskars PowerGear(TM)X Telescopic Tree Pruner UPX86 (RRP £122.99, fiskars.co.uk) is ideal, as it extends up to six metres, and has an adjustable 230 degree cutting head, so you can cut back tall branches up to 32 millimetres thick from the ground. For thicker branches, you’ll need a chainsaw – the new Stihl MSA 120 C-BQ chainsaw (RRP £249, stihl.co.uk) is compact, cordless and very user friendly for DIYers.

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Leaves are the main cause of blocked gutters, but you can find all kinds of things in them. If water is dripping or falling sharply from one place when it’s raining, or is still dripping after the rain’s stopped, this is usually where the blockage or faulty seal is. To stop gutters getting blocked consider gutter guards, which block debris but allow rainwater through.


External woodwork needs protection during winter. Chipped and flaking paint leads to wood rot, but even painted wood can be rotten. Wet rot is usually easy to remedy with the right products – use Ronseal Wet Rot Wood Hardener (£9.99 for 500ml, Screwfix) to harden the soft, rotten wood, and then Ronseal High Performance Wood Filler (£11.39 for 550g, Screwfix), which sets really fast. If it’s cold and damp, a water-based wood paint like Dulux Trade Weathershield Quick Dry Exterior Gloss (£45.63 for 2.5ltr, B&Q) will dry quickly, but an oil-based one like Dulux Trade Weathershield Exterior High Gloss (£34.74 for 2.5ltr, B&Q), although slower drying, offers tough, long-lasting protection