Cool Summer Renovation Ideas Keep Homes Comfortable When the Heat is On

23546249_original(BPT) – Once spring cleanup is done, you may feel ready to tackle some renovation projects this summer. If so, you’re not alone: 62 percent of homeowners plan to undertake a home improvement project this year, according to a Harris poll. Homeowners will renovate to improve their home’s appearance, livability and energy efficiency, the survey found.

It’s possible to make renovations that are stylish and also reduce your energy bill. With temperatures heating up this summer, take on renovations that not only make your home more beautiful, but make it cool and comfortable as well.

Here are a handful of projects that can accomplish those goals:

Replacement Windows

You’re probably aware quality new windows can help your home retain heat in the winter, but did you know they can also keep your home cooler in the summer? By tightening your home’s envelope and reflecting heat, energy-efficient windows can help maintain more even temperatures inside your home. What’s more, because they’re energy-efficient, new windows can help your heating-ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems operate more efficiently.

Air Conditioning

If you live in an older home, you may not have the space you need to install a traditional central HVAC unit with ductwork. Adding ductwork can be costly and troublesome, yet you probably don’t love the look of window air conditioners, either. Duct-free split systems like LG’s Art Cool Line provide plenty of cooling power from wall-mounted units that can be subtle or splashy, depending on your design vision. An outdoor unit works in tandem with up to eight interior units for individual room-by-room temperature control. LG offers three interior Art Cool unit styles, including a customizable picture frame, a flat panel with a modern charcoal mirror finish and a traditional unit in sleek white. All feature a hand-held remote control operation, varying fan speeds, quiet operation and auto operation modes for the utmost in comfort this summer.

Window Treatments

Limiting the amount of sunlight that enters and warms a room is an important way to supplement your home’s cooling units. Summer décor cries out for light, airy window treatments, but you don’t have to give up that bright look to better control sunlight. Window blinds or shades in a slightly darker hue can work well with a lighter looking window treatment while still allowing you to limit sun exposure when you draw them shut. What’s more, cellular shades also have an insulating effect to enhance your windows’ ability to reflect heat in the summer.

Cooler Lighting and Appliances

Electrical appliances and incandescent light bulbs all contribute to the amount of ambient heat in your home. As you’re renovating, replace incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient options that give off far less heat, such as LEDs or CFLs. Most light fixtures are now able to use these cooler bulbs, so replacing them is easy – and can also help reduce your electricity bill since they use about 80 percent less energy than incandescents, according to the Energy Star program. You can also reduce heat output from appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers and dryers by upgrading to more energy-efficient models.

Outdoor Improvements

You can also make outdoor renovation choices that will enhance your home’s beauty and help keep the interior cooler. Strategically plant shade trees to shield windows from the hot sun in summer time. Or, consider adding awnings that will shade windows and doors. For patios and decks, choose materials that reflect heat away from your home and outdoor spaces. Finally, paint siding in a lighter color to help minimize heat absorption.

Summer home renovation projects can be exciting, beautiful and energy efficient when you keep a cool head about your design choices.

4 Ways to Make Your Home Comfortable and Safe for Your Pet

23683274_original(BPT) – For millions of Americans, pets are a member of the family. They provide companionship and countless memories that last a lifetime. Having a pet-friendly home increases the likelihood that these memories will be positive.

These tips can make pet ownership simpler, and create a safer, healthier environment for your four-legged companion.

Pet-friendly flooring

Carpeted flooring can be a challenge for pet owners. Carpet traps unpleasant odors and is difficult to clean. Hardwood, bamboo, laminate and other alternatives – when properly maintained – offer a surface that’s easier to clean, doesn’t trap allergens and doesn’t hide fur or other debris.

Experts like Lumber Liquidators offer a wide selection of flooring options, so you’re sure to find a style and look that will complement your home and is perfect for your pet.

A Space to Call Their Own

Many pets seek shelter when startled by loud noises. Whether it’s the clap of thunder or a boisterous guest, an unexpected noise can send your animal fleeing (or peeing). Having a dedicated space for your pet, be it a mudroom, doorless closet or comfy bed, provides a safe place for your animal during times of stress.

Also, pets need a little down time every once in a while. A cozy nook away from direct sunlight provides a perfect place for them to relax and recharge.

Picking the Best Paint

Even the cleanest of pets can leave marks on your walls. Choosing the right paint can make the difference between a permanent stain and one that’s easily removed. Lower sheens can be difficult to clean, so opt for semi-gloss or satin.

Also, depending on your climate, you may prefer a light or dark paint color. Light colors can help keep your pet cool by reflecting the sun, while darker colors absorb the sun’s heat and can warm the home environment.

Protect Your Curious Pet

Pets are inherently curious. If it’s within reach, chances are it will be investigated with a detective’s attention. Even if the food is safe for pets, the packaging may be harmful. Medications, cleaners and cosmetics should also be kept on high shelves or behind a latched cabinet.

Most pet owners know to keep food and toxins off accessible surfaces, but it’s easy to forget something on a bedside table or the edge of a counter.

Pets require time, attention and love. They will return the favor more naturally in an environment that’s comfortable and safe. Consider these tips for creating a pet-friendly home.

5 Dream Projects for DIYers and the Tools You Need to Get Them Done

22755216_original(BPT) – For many Americans, the longer, warmer days mean an opportunity to roll up their sleeves and get to work on a number of home projects. You may plan to plant some new trees, make a new dining room table or just keep up with the usual list of repairs and maintenance items that come with the change of seasons. But if you’re like many DIYers, you have your heart set on some larger projects.

We’re talking about the projects you spend a lot of time gathering ideas and drawing up plans for. The ones you block off weekends for and plan to take a few days off work in order to complete. If someone asks if you’re being overly ambitious, you may say, “Probably.”

Often, one of the logistical challenges with these dream projects is that they tend to require specialized equipment and tools even the most diehard DIYer doesn’t own. The upside is that it’s easy to rent this equipment at your local rental store.

If you’ve had one of the following dream projects on your radar, here’s a look at some of the specialized equipment that will have you building like a pro.

Be a grill-master on a brick barbecue. There are those who enjoy grilling out and those whose life revolves around grilling. For these grill-masters, nothing expresses their passion like a brick grill or oven. And just as satisfying as cooking on one, is building one. To lay the foundation, a concrete mixer is essential. To lay the bricks, you’ll also want to look for a mortar mixer.

Add value to your property with a fence. Cutting the posts and shaping the tops of the fence boards is fun, but the truly backbreaking part of putting in a fence is digging and driving the posts in. Using a pneumatic post hole digger or a power auger to dig those holes will not only save you time, but will save your back as well.

A deck: The essential DIY project. Many of these dream projects require careful site preparation before any hammer or nail makes an appearance. Building a deck requires lots of space, which means you need to clear a good-sized area and maybe remove a tree or two. Even small-sized shrubs can leave behind an unsightly stump that requires a stump grinder to fully remove.

Nothing says summer like hot days and cold drinks in a gazebo. Even if you pride yourself on being able to drive in a nail with one hammer swing, if you’re building a gazebo, you might want to look into renting a nail gun. Not only does a nail gun offer precise placements and strong holds, it also saves an incredible amount of time, especially when it comes to putting the shingles on the roof.

Luxuriate under a pergola. Dating back to courtyards in renaissance Italy, the pergola has become a stylized source of shade in yards and patios across America. Because they tend to be more decorative than gazebos, they require specialized saws such as a miter saw to create snug joints and a router saw for round edges.

While you would need a few extra garages to store all the tools and machines needed to complete every project you want to do, RentalHQ.com can help you find a nearby place to rent the equipment. You’ll save money, storage space and never have to worry about not having the right tool for the job.

5 Innovations in Homebuilding Everyone is Talking About

23240434_original(BPT) – In the last 10 years, televisions have become flatter, video rental stores have nearly disappeared, and phones have become devices that are more like a computer than a phone.

There’s good reason that when most people think about changes in technology, they tend to think about the digital world. After all, with the news full of reports of driverless cars, it’s easy to forget that some of the most important technological advancements are happening around us in ways we may not be aware of – namely – in our homes.

From drywall to windows to insulation, home building materials have developed in a way that might seem like something from a science fiction movie. But as more homeowners are getting accustomed to living with these comforts, they wonder how they ever did without them. Here are five of the most exciting innovations.

Sound-dampening drywall – Everyone wants to go home to some peace and quiet, but in a busy household with televisions, video games and music playing out of surround-sound systems, it can be hard to find quiet. Some look to noise canceling headphones or sound-muffling curtains, but engineers at CertainTeed Gypsum have discovered that something as simple as the right drywall can do wonders in canceling out noise. Their SilentFX(R) QuickCut noise-reducing drywall puts a blanket over sound energy and significantly blocks the amount of sound carried through walls and ceilings.

A new lease on lumber – Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a material made by gluing together smaller pieces of timber to create large slabs that serve as an alternative to steel and concrete. As strong as steel, and in many ways even more fireproof, CLT allows for contractors to put up incredibly durable buildings incredibly fast. With computer-aided design programs, architects can design a building and send the exact specifications to robotic routers that cut the exact dimensions for each piece so that the entire building can be assembled like a big piece of furniture.

Quartz, an engineering miracle – While granite countertops and marble bathtubs may be at the top of everyone’s list, the cost can be prohibitive. Quartz, which is a name for stone that has been engineered by grinding quartz with resins, polymers and coloring, has emerged as a substitute that outperforms granite and marble, for a fraction of a price. Extremely durable and virtually maintenance free, modern engineered quartz comes in a variety of colors and patterns that mimic the erratic design prized in natural stone.

Air-quality control – People spend a lot of time and money ensuring their home has good air flow. However, most people aren’t aware of the role the right drywall can play in ensuring clean, breathable air. Common household products such as carpet, perfume, hairspray, candles, flooring and more actually give off formaldehyde that affects the quality of the air. As part of the new “smart” generation of drywall, AirRenew(R) with M2Tech(R) technology is a drywall that is not only moisture and mold resistant, but actively removes formaldehyde from the air and converts it into safe inert compounds, contributing to a healthier home environment.

Bio concrete – Though it’s the world’s most common building material, concrete ages quickly. Changes in temperature, the shifting of the earth, weather and chemicals all contribute to the inevitable cracks and deterioration. Several years ago, scientists in the Netherlands developed a kind of concrete that can repair itself by integrating limestone-creating bacteria that “heal” cracks. This process is similar to the way bones heal themselves when broken. The result for home builders is stronger foundations, less seasonal repair and more overall value.

While people may not line up outside a store to get these materials the way they do with the newest phone release, these technologies will have positive effects on people’s daily lives. So if you’re curious about what innovative drywall solutions are available today, visit CertainTeed.com/Silent-FX and CertainTeed.com/CleanTheAir.

4 Ways to Get the Character of Historic Window Architecture in a New House

2(BPT) – History tends to repeat itself.

The saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same” rings true with architectural styles. We have smarter ways of building, and the layouts have evolved with lifestyle changes, but historical and authentic design is only growing in demand.

“Post-war in the mid to late 20th century, many homes began losing that historical European influence due to the need for mass produced, affordable housing,” says Deryl Patterson, an award-winning residential architect and president and founder of Housing Design Matters, Inc. “Fast forward 30 years, and homebuyers began demanding those historical styles again—with the convenience and functionality of a new home.”

“One of the features often overlooked when designing a ‘new old house’ is the window style,” says Mark Montgomery, vice president of marketing for Ply Gem Windows. “Instinctively, people realize the curb appeal of a home is not quite right when the windows do not fit the architectural style, but they can’t point out what’s wrong. Windows are so much more than white rectangles and can really make or break the home’s design.”

For homebuyers who want an authentic older home look, the exterior must be designed in a specific manner, down to every little detail, especially the window architecture. Montgomery advises buyers to consider the color, grilles (decorative pattern that can simulate the look of separated glass panes), operating style and shape for historically-influenced design that complements the home’s style.

To get the look, here are four examples of how history influenced window architecture in home design:

1. French Country: This is a very elegant style, focusing on vertical proportions. Windows are a defining characteristic that should emphasize this. A 3-foot by 6-foot window with a two-over-two window grille pattern is a classic combination. The single vertical mullion (a post that separates two windows) in the window further reinforces its striking proportions.

2. Modern Tuscan: Windows play a vital role in the design. Imagine them as geometric forms, creating interesting patterns across the front of the home. Consider combinations of single hung and fixed glass windows. The windows should be relatively free of grilles – perhaps a simple single vertical or cross pattern – to keep the style fresh. If the budget allows, consider upgrading to a Ply Gem MIRA Series window and using one of the bold, saturated tones, available in nearly 50 different colors.

3. Craftsman Bungalow: This style was developed from the British Arts and Crafts movement and features double-hung or casement windows. In Craftsman-style homes, the exterior trim traditionally contrasts with the window frame color, and the windows include grille patterns that create vertical proportions.

4. Prairie: A bold departure from the typical European-influenced styles, windows in modern Prairie architecture are typically tall casements in warm tones, providing the perfect complement and contrast to the horizontal lines of the style. A Prairie-style grille pattern is essential to complete the look.

To find the window style that best fits your “new old house,” Patterson recommends researching the options.

“One of the best ways to find inspiration is to drive through older, historical neighborhoods. If you don’t live close to such neighborhoods, old travel magazines and history books are also great resources,” she says.

Websites like www.plygem.com also help provide inspiration and take the guesswork out of architectural styling and color selection through historically accurate visual renderings, window design specifications and suggested style and grille patterns.

Top Tips For A Safe Yard

Hurst Photo via ShutterstockOnce winter ends, all your kids will want to do is go outside and soak up the sunshine as they play in the yard. Before they do though, you’ll need to make sure that your yard is perfectly kid-friendly — and that means ensuring that it is a safe place for them to play.

However, kids will likely get into everything. After winter, your yard may be filled with lots of little hidden dangers that will result in cuts, scrapes and bruises — or worse. Here’s a look at how to kid-proof your yard after a long winter.

First, Do Some Serious Cleanup

Wintertime is notorious for causing trees and shrubs to shed branches, and if your yard is close to the road, you may find cans, bottles, bottle caps or even nails hidden in your yard. In addition, trees and shrubs may have branches sticking out where an unsuspecting child can run into them.

This means that the first step to making your yard safe is to clean it. Pick up all the branches and debris that you find, then give the grass a thorough raking to remove dead leaves, and smaller objects like nails, stones and broken glass. Once that is finished, prune trees and shrubs to remove broken branches or branches that are sticking out too far. For the final step, do a thorough search for pipes or wires that may have become exposed during winter. You might not find these immediately, but your kids almost certainly will!

Remove Hazards

If you have a pile of leftover firewood from winter, or even a stack of lumber from a construction project, make sure that it isn’t near your children’s play area. Kids love to climb on piles of firewood and lumber, which puts them at risk for anything from a splinter to a serious fall if the woodpile collapses. Woodpiles also tend to attract all sorts of critters, including rats, mice, spiders and snakes — some of which can be dangerous.

Fix Play Equipment

Winter weather is harsh on outdoor equipment. Wooden playground equipment, for instance, is highly prone to developing splinters — large, long splinters that could require medical attention. Make sure to inspect wooden outdoor equipment, and if necessary, remove large splinters by hand.

The same goes for metal and plastic. Wet winter weather and freeze-thaw cycles can cause rusty edges or shattered plastic. Plastic may need to be replaced, while rusty items can often be repaired by removing the rust and then painting over the affected areas with a quality metal enamel.

Search for Poisonous Plants

Once the greenery starts to grow again, you should most definitely search your yard and garden for any plants that are known to be toxic or poisonous. Even if you keep a perfectly manicured yard all year, some of these plants can invade your lawn through seeds that birds have carried from nearby areas.

Be sure to rid your yard of poison ivy, oak and sumac if they appear. Across the southern half of the United States, you may find a pretty flower known as Datura, which is actually a powerful and deadly hallucinogenic if ingested. In other parts of the United States, you’ll find pokeweed, which is a plant that produces edible-looking berries that are highly poisonous. Familiarize yourself with dangerous plants in your area, and then remove them when you find them.

Use Rubber Mulch in Play Areas

Under swing sets, play equipment, and in or around gardens that your children are likely to play in, be sure to put down mulch as a soft barrier that will prevent your children from getting hurt if they fall. What mulch should you choose? Woodchips are full of splinters and sometimes toxic chemicals, depending on how they were processed. Sawdust and sand can get into the eyes or in the case of sawdust, spark allergies.

If you’re looking for a safe, nontoxic option, try rubber mulch. Schools and playgrounds tend to use rubber mulch because it provides a soft, safe play surface. In addition, several studies, including a study by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2008, proved that rubber mulch was nontoxic and harmless for children.

Once you’ve done all of these things, you can be reasonably certain that your yard will be safe for the kids. However, as previously noted, kids are known for getting into everything, so don’t discount their natural ability to get into trouble even in a perfectly safe yard!


 

 

Author Bio:

Penny Klein is the owner of Perfect Rubber Mulch (perfectrubbermulch.com). She has extensive experience in the industry, understands the best product fit for her clients’ needs, works with customers to guarantee the right amount of product is purchased, and makes certain the delivery process is best in class.

Protect Your New Plumbing System: Just Say No To Drano

spartan-plumbing-blog-postIf you recently purchased a new home, you will obviously want to do everything you can to protect that investment. This goes for the areas of the house you can see as well as those that may not typically be top of mind — such as your plumbing. In order to protect your pipes as effectively as possible, never use a harsh chemical such as Drano. These are just a few of the reasons why, as well as some alternative methods of cleaning your pipes that will keep them as safe as possible.

Why Drano is a No-Go

One of the easiest ways to damage plastic pipes is to use Drano or a similar product. The reason is simple: The chemicals in harsh cleaning agents will quickly start to eat away at them.

If you use these types of products on a regular basis, they can even start to cause metal pipes to corrode. This is especially the case if you have a particularly stubborn clog that does not clear after using Drano, Liquid-Plumbr or something similar. The chemicals will remain in your pipes, slowly eroding them over time. If you have this type of clog, call a professional to have it removed for good.

Toilet Clogs and Drano — A Damaging Combination

A lot of homeowners make the major mistake of trying to use Drano to clear a toilet clog. Even the makers of the product recommend against it, because its caustic chemicals can do a lot of damage. Drano’s oxidation process can clear a clog, but it can also create a great deal of heat inside the toilet bowl. The tougher the clog, the longer the chemical will continue to generate heat. This can lead to a toilet bowl crack that is so severe you will need to replace the entire unit. In some extreme instances, Drano use in a toilet has led to damaging explosions, requiring the replacement of not only the commode but other substantial repairs as well.

Drano could even cause an injury if it fails to clear the clog. Many people have become so frustrated they have tried using a plunger to get rid of an obstruction not thinking about the fact that the caustic chemical is still in their toilet bowl. As a result, water containing Drano can easily splash and burn the skin.

What are Your Options?

You will be much better off using a flange plunger or a toilet auger (also called a drain snake) to try and clear a toilet clog. A flange plunger, which is shaped similar to a bell, is specifically designed for toilets. Stay away from the traditional cup-shaped plunger, because that is made for sinks and other flat surfaces.

A toilet auger is a coil that extends down the toilet to push a clog down the drain so it can be flushed through the sewer line. The drawback to this approach is that most augers from your local hardware store will only go a few feet. If the obstruction is farther down the line, then you will need to call a professional plumber.

If you do not have either a flange plunger or a snake, there are still far better alternatives to Drano. For example, try using dishwashing soap and hot water to clear a clog. Here’s how to do it:

  • First, pour a small amount of dish soap (about a teaspoon should do it) into the toilet bowl and let it sit for approximately 10 minutes.
  • Get a small pot, fill it with water, and put it on the stove to boil. Just make sure it does not come to a complete boil, because that could damage the toilet bowl. Take the pot off the stove just before the water begins to bubble.
  • Pour the hot water into the bowl, making sure it goes in with enough force to loosen the clog. Pouring from about waist-high should do the job.
  • If the obstruction does not clear, let the soap/hot water mix soak for 10-15 minutes. If that doesn’t work, try the process again. If the obstruction still won’t clear, call a plumber.

In some instances, a mixture of baking soda and vinegar can also be effective. Remove some water from the bowl, pour in a half box of baking soda and a bottle of white vinegar on top of that. Let the mixture bubble for 30 minutes and gradually add some hot water. Repeat the process until the drain is gone.

Whatever solution you try, just remember to always steer clear of harsh chemicals. If a clog simply will not dissipate, call a professional to get rid of it for good.


 

Patricia Bonacorda knows from first hand experience the effects of homeowners using Drano. As the President of Spartan Plumbing a plumbing and HVAC company, she has assisted all types of businesses and residential homes since 1964. Spartan is a licensed, bonded and insured business that provides professional plumbing, heating and air conditioning services.

Ready Your Patio for Spring

Iriana Shiyan-ShutterstockSpring is right around the corner, which means everyone is ready to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. Whether you put your patio furniture in storage for the winter or left it outside, you’ll have some work to do to get your outdoor furniture ready for spring. Consider the following tips:

  1. Assess Damage

Between the cold and damp weather, winter can cause a lot of damage to patio furniture — even if it has been in a garage or shed for the winter. Steel may rust, wood can crack and splinter during freeze-thaw cycles, and wicker is especially prone to damage from expanding and contracting. Water and freeze-thaw cycles aren’t the only things that can cause damage, however. Mice or other rodents can chew cushions or wood, and things like sliders on the feet of chairs and tables may have loosened or broken as you put your patio furniture away in the fall. When you bring your furniture out of storage, make sure to assess it for any damage that occurred.

  1. Start Cleaning

Before you start repairing, it is wise to clean your patio furniture. Over the fall, winter and early spring, your furniture may have accumulated not only dust and grime, but potentially mildew and mold spores, too. Use dish detergent mixed with water and a soft cloth to cleanse your furniture. For steel items that are rusty, you can use a wire brush to remove the rust.

  1. Repair or Replace Damaged Pieces

Some things, like a cushion that has been chewed by mice, might not be repairable. Make a list of the things that you can’t fix and plan to replace them later. After that, you can focus on what can be repaired:

  • Once rust is removed from steel, paint over it with primer and apply a finishing coat to prevent further rust.
  • Splintery wood furniture should be sanded smooth. Once you’ve finished sanding, clean the furniture to remove dust and coat the wood with a protectant to keep it from turning gray with age.
  • Cracked wood furniture can be repaired as long as the cracks aren’t so large that they’re affecting the structural stability of the piece. Simply fill the cracks with putty or wood filler. This may take a few applications depending on how much the filler shrinks. Then, sand the filled areas smooth, clear the dust, and apply a finish or protectant as you normally would.
  • Check chair slides and other bits of hardware to make sure that they are intact. If you find broken hardware, remove it and search online or at your local home improvement store for replacements. Depending on the manufacturer of your furniture, you may even need to order parts directly from the manufacturer.
  • Tighten any screws or other fasteners. This is particularly important for metal furniture with moving or adjustable parts, such as the frame that holds your hammock. This step can protect you from an accident later in the spring.
  • Some furniture either folds for storage or has wheels to make it easy to move. Each of these moving parts should be lubricated, not only to make them easier to use, but also to protect the joints from wear. Use a spray lubricant containing Teflon to lubricate joints. Avoid using oil-based lubricants because these can actually make the problem worse since they tend to collect dirt.

It will take some work to get ready for spring — cleaning, repairing and replacing. However, when you’re enjoying springtime flowers and fresh green foliage from the comfort of your patio, you’ll realize that the effort is totally worth it.


 

About the author:

Jessica Kyriakos is Brand Manager of Superior Site Amenities. Jessica has worked in the site furnishing industry for over 15 years and brings her knowledge of the industry to her role with the company. They provide outdoor furniture for your unique space, including grills, picnic tables and more.

Smart Ways to Boost Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

23160632_original(BPT) – You wouldn’t know it with the mild weather we’re having this winter, but spring is fast approaching. Building industry experts say now is an ideal time to carefully consider and prioritize home renovation plans. Most homeowners will opt to address the cosmetic features of a home when completing a renovation project to add comfort and value. However, it’s often what you can’t see that can have the biggest impact.

Before diving into any home renovations, consider the “skeleton” of your home, known as the building envelope, rather than just the cosmetic features such as chrome fixtures or granite countertops. For instance, high efficiency windows are an excellent investment for any home renovation to help drive down excessive energy waste and high utility costs. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests that traditional windows contribute to as much as 10 percent of the total amount of air escaping from a typical home, while improperly sealed doors can contribute a further 11 percent.

Another easy renovation idea to consider is researching and selecting high efficiency, green materials in commonly used rooms, such as bathrooms. Low flush water systems, solar hot water systems and even small-scale geothermal energy systems, as well as Energy Star-rated appliances, can reduce energy consumption and your overall carbon footprint while maintaining a comfortable, enjoyable living space for you and your family.

Investing in an effective insulation solution also can make a noticeable impact on reducing household utility costs. Building experts suggest that homeowners completing a home renovation should be as involved as possible in determining the best insulation type for their home. This means that homeowners should actively research the types of materials available and how well they perform over the long term.

Spray foam insulation, available from Icynene, is growing in popularity among homeowners since it is an energy-efficient insulation material that delivers year-round benefits. Spray foam insulation works well in all types of homes across the country, regardless of climate, to curb air loss and retain the conditioned air within your home to maintain a consistent, even temperature.

Spray foam insulation performs for the life of the property, ensuring that homeowners can enjoy comfortable indoor temperatures all year round without overrunning their heating and cooling equipment and accumulating high heating and cooling costs every month. More information on the effectiveness of spray foam insulation is available online at www.icynene.com.

4 Things to Consider When Choosing Siding

(BPT) – Selecting new siding is one of the most important decisions homeowners face when building new or remodeling an existing home. With sosiding 2 many options – both classic and modern materials – there’s a lot to consider.

Many manufacturers are now combining traditional styles and materials with high-tech finishes, delivering a product homeowners can love for years to come. Among all the options on the market, vinyl siding – with its various styles, textures and colors – remains the most used product. In fact, 2015 marked 21 straight years vinyl siding held the top spot in cladding for new single-family houses, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual home report.

Whether you are building a home or remodeling one, there are four key areas homeowners should account for when determining which siding option meets your needs: durability, design, maintenance and affordability.

Durability

Siding selection is typically a once-in-a-lifetime decision, making durability a key factor for many. Homeowners should look for a siding option that is resistant to every element, including rain, wind and even the sun. Manufacturers now offer siding products with technologies that resist the damaging impact of the sun, preserving color for the lifetime of the home. Options, like Mastic Home Exteriors by Ply Gem SolarDefense, expand exterior home design with darker, on-trend colors that make your home the envy of the neighborhood.

siding 1Design

Perhaps the most-overwhelming decision for most when considering siding options is deciding on a style and color. There are seven primary siding material options available to homeowners – vinyl, metal, wood, brick, fiber cement, stucco, and stone – and countless color and style options within each material type. To guide you in determining what would look best, it is recommended to ask a siding specialist like a contractor, builder or architect for help. They can educate you on color coordination and what would go well with the neighborhood, while still giving personalized options for your home. They will also be able to weigh in on accent pieces like trim and shutters, which can help bring out your style.

“Homeowners are looking for more creative and colorful options,” said Pat Verlodt, president of Color Services & Associates, an organization that identifies color trends and educates consumers and manufacturers about those trends. “Whether you’re looking for a specific panel texture, such as cedar shake or wood clapboard, or a certain period-specific color scheme to align with historical significance, my recommendation is to look at vinyl. It provides the homeowner the freedom to add low-maintenance color and definition that will never be out of style or need painting or refinishing.”

Maintenance

Beyond style and color, homeowners are also seeking siding that is low-maintenance, which reduces or eliminates the cost and personal time expended for proper upkeep. Each siding material type has a different level of care and maintenance required. Vinyl typically requires just soap and water for periodic cleaning. Wood and fiber cement can require repainting every five to seven years. Stucco will need to be repainted and sealed. Brick and stone require re-pointing of mortar. The earlier point about durability plays a part here too, ensuring the option you select is free from potential time-consuming – even costly repairs – due to storm damage such as wind and moisture.

Affordability

Lastly, set a budget. Do your homework on the options and secure estimates, then compare them with your budget. Don’t forget that sometimes investing a little more into the project up front may reduce issues and maintenance costs down the road.

As you look to select new exterior siding, be sure to keep in mind these important factors – durability, design, maintenance and affordability – to make the best choice possible for your home and lifestyle. To get started on siding your house, look to manufacturer websites such as plygem.com for siding choices, as well as home visualizer and color selection tools that help homeowners experiment with different color and textures before making a decision.