Attaching things to a house (VERY basic DIY)

I’ve always been apartment-bound, so there was never cause to permanently attach things to the side of a house. Now that we’re out in the sticks, I occasionally find myself wanting to put things on the outer walls or roof (this season’s mini-project is a time-lapse camera on the roof to capture the gardens).

While I doubt it’s rocket surgery, I figure it’s safer to ask first. If I just wack away with hammer and nails, am I looking for problems? Will my roof start leaking? What kind of nails do I want to get? Am I at all safe thinking that the entire outside (walls, roof) has plywood underneath or do I need to find a stud? What about electrical lines or plumbing? Could I be setting myself up for a comical video by choosing locations at random?

The answers to your questions very much depend on what your house is made of and how it’s designed. Whacking a nail into wooden weatherboards probably won’t cause too many problems, but you wouldn’t want to try it with stucco or one of the monolithic cladding systems most houses seem to use these days.

For your camera idea (cool idea by the way), is there a chimney or aerial you can lash your camera onto? Personally I’d try and avoid putting any holes in the roof if at all possible.

Brick house? Does it have to be the roof?

Just go halfway into the brick with a hammer-drill at your decided location, and use a tapcon or two to affix it.

If you want to be really safe from leaks, super, unnecessary safe, use mason’s calk around the screws. Will require cleanup to remove the screws.

Right off the bat, if you’re attaching a camera to the roof, if possible I’d suggest attaching it to the soffit (eve). Plenty of structure, no leakage problems and the chance of hitting something is virtually nil. Also, your camera will be protected from the elements under the eve.

And, if possible, affix the camera to a bracket. Only the bracket has to stay on the wall, so it can be taken down during winter, hurricanes, etc.

This is a quick snap of the centre of the gardens—there is a lot more on either side so I figure the higher and further back I go the better view-wise. This picture is about five years old, so a lot of detail has been added.

This is the camera we’re looking at. Between it’s automated settings and software to turn individual pics into a movie, we really like it. If anyone has a different suggestion, we’re all ears … er, eyes. I don’t mind spending up to two or three hundred if it’s worth it—worth it by quality of pictures/lens (particularly if it’s a more specialized wide-angle) and remote storage. The Wingscape camera takes an SD card which means climbing up to it every couple weeks or so depending, and being careful not to change the angle/position when doing so.

What are ‘weatherboards’ or ‘monolithic cladding’? No brick, not even on the chimney.

I’m stunned you’re not familiar with Kiwi building terminology:

Weatherboards - long planks of wood laid horizontally make up the outer cladding of the house like this. Nowadays the planks aren’t necessarily wooden.

Monolithic cladding - various modern systems which clad the house with large panels of manufactured fibreboard stuff like this. Some of these are so flimsy you can damage them with a tennis ball.

Ah, that’s the confusion. I’m only familiar with Chinese Gooseberry building terminology.

Both your links seem to go to a Google image search of ‘weatherboards’. This search seems to be what you’re talking about. Neither, though, seem to have been used on our house. I didn’t see it under construction, but other similar houses (similar enough to suggest it’s the same builder) are like giant Tinker Toys, then covered in lots of wood sheets, then Tyvek paper (to make mailing easier?) then glorious plastic siding.

Yeah sorry about the second link. You don’t want to be putting holes in your Tyvek paper, it’s the main water barrier in your walls.

Very, very glad I asked the question.
So, if I do end up wanting to mount things on the roof (and there are other projects in the works; Mrs. Devil bough me a set of Polk outdoor speakers…), then what? Get some rare-earth magnets and sandwich the brackets on? Superglue?
Leave well enough alone?

You have a chimney? Can you attach a bracket to the chimney somehow? Would that be a workable position for the camera?

I’d be leaning towards metal straps wrapped around the chimney if t’were me.

I try to avoid adding any more holes to my house. It has enough already.
ETA: for the speakers, definitely go for the soffit/eaves.

Don’t put holes in the roof, to do it right is way more work then you want to deal with.

I wouldn’t want to put holes in the plastic siding for the same reason.

I would try and mount any brackets you need, either under the eaves or to the fascia board. Under the eaves would be the best, most new stick frame construction is made to vent air out from under the eaves. Are your eaves wood, or vinyl?

Duct tape.

Most houses aren’t built to have things attached to them. Generally, you want to attach something to the house which you can attach things to. So if you want to put hooks on a wall, you would attach a heavy board to the wall with lag bolts or nails into framing members. For a brick wall you’d want to do the same, attaching a board to the bricks with anchors, and then adding attachments to the board. For a roof, best bet is don’t attach anything. If there are fascia boards at the end of the eaves (usually where gutters are attached) you can attach there, or add some strong under the eave that you can attach an extension to. If you have chimney or vent pipe already coming through the roofing, you can often attach things to those with band clamps. With shingles you can make some attachments by sliding a board or piece of metal under the loose end of the shingles and nail or screw in to the subroofing or rafters. But whenever you attach things to the roof, there’s a decent chance of a leak starting.

Most houses have something semi solid under the skin. My roof has 3/8’’ plywood under the asphalt shingles supported by 2’‘x6’’ rafters I think on 24’’ centers. I would try to figure out where there is a rafter and nail or screw into it. Cover the head with clear or matching silicone caulk.

The walls of some houses have a thin layer of plywood or OSB which will hold light loads. Some have nothing but vinyl siding, Tyvek, and Styrofoam. Note, Tyve
k stops air infiltration. However sided, the siding is expected to shed water, weather boarding. My house was built in 1970. It had Masonite planks over Celotex brand fiber board. Only slightly more solid than the Styrofoam ones.

Inside the house you have 1/2’’ dry wall over the studs. Expansion anchors or special screws will hold a certain amount. Inside or out, serious loads call for locating a stud. And yes, failure to guess where the pipes and wires are can lead to comic videos. Vertically they tend to be in between studs. When possible, horizontal runs are in the attic or below the floor. Under kitchen and bath windows are likely spots. I think code calls for metal plates to protect them. Don’t count on it.

Don’t use superglue, use PL. Superglue is for smaller stuff like a mug handle, and doesn’t do well with sun/rain/temperature change. PL could (hypothetically) bond a small car to a ceiling, and is not shy of weather at all.

Another way, would be to get a small piece of wood for mounting. Use small/finishing nails that protrude JUST through the wood enough to hold it to the house, but not enough to penetrate through the siding material/fascia. Use a good bead of pl on the back of the wood, nail it in and let it set. A few small holes, surrounded by PL won’t be any risk of leaking at all. Once the adhesive has cured, you can do anything you want to the piece of wood without putting the house at risk.

I am assuming the camera is pretty light, four 3/8" screws in a 1/2" piece of wood would probably be plenty. If you need more “meat” you could use a 1X4, or even a 2x4.

Head to the hardware store, to the lumber section, ask if they ave any “off-cuts” (pieces cut off and left over from other customers.) A lot of the time they will let you have a piece or two free.

Painted the same color as the house, one would hardly notice it.

You should try to stay away from putting it directly on the roof if at all possible, it would take a lot of work to properly affix something to the roof without having to finagle with the shingling.

BEAUTIFUL garden, by the way. When’s the next party, and can I come?

I second this. As a precaution, NEVER count on code.