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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"Top Down" Tips for National Home Improvement Month

Looking for kick-start ideas to get you motivated for May’s National Home Improvement Month? According to Mark Clement, a professional contractor and host of MyFixitUpLife home improvement radio show, start by looking “from the top down” on your home to determine what exterior projects should be tackled first.

Clement, who is currently renovating his own 100-year-old home in Pennsylvania, reminds homeowners that eventually all building products in a home need to be replaced. “Our doors, windows and roof were really shot after decades of continual exposure to the elements,” says Clement. “When I decided to replace these important features of our home, I went with the most advanced products available on the marketplace --- vinyl home windows, a fiberglass door, PVC trim and a polymer slate roof. Now I won’t have to worry about replacing these products for many more decades to come!”

According to Clement, there is a “must do” list of six exterior home features that homeowners should review every year during National Home Improvement Month. “If you get in the practice of evaluating these six items each May, then you’ll always make sure you’re staying on top of your home’s needs and keeping it looking great.”

The “top down” list recommended by Clement includes:

Item #1Check the roof. Using either a ladder or binoculars from across the street, look for problem areas, such as missing or broken shingles, along with roofing tiles that may be “flapping” in the wind. These are all indications that a new roof may be in your future. If that’s the case, research the newer products on the market, such as polymer shake and slate roofing tiles. These impact-resistant tiles are man-made in a wide variety of colors. Some roofing tiles, like those from DaVinci Roofscapes® that Clement chose for his home, are fire- and hail-resistant. They also have a 50-year limited warranty.

Item #2Clean and assess the home’s siding. Environmentally-friendly detergents, scrubbing and/or pressure-washing all work well for many homes to remove dirt and algae that can grow on siding. Remember never to pressure-wash trim pieces, windows or their screens. The extreme high pressure could crack or destroy the caulking around the units. While cleaning the siding, make sure to check for changes in the exterior from the previous year and be alert to buckling, warping, peeling paint or insect damage that may need to be fixed.

Item #3Check on the gutters. Don’t underestimate the importance of the gutter system on the home. Each year homeowners should check to make sure their gutters are clean, unclogged, securely attached to the home and remain sloped for proper drainage. Plus, make sure the water running off the roof doesn’t cause damage to the building structure, landscaping or property below the roof.

Item #4Evaluate the windows. If you find that the windows in your home don’t operate easily, there’s air leaking in or out of the units, or there’s condensation between the glass panes, it may be time to seriously consider replacement windows.

Vinyl framed windows have the highest growth rate in the country due to their energy-efficiency, aesthetic appeal and durability. Some of the best have fusion-welded corners and multi-chambered construction. Plus, maintenance hassles are so low you’ll forget the horrors of rotting frames, scraping and repainting that come with wood windows. For his renovation project, Clement selected vinyl home windows from Simonton Windows. The award-winning company impressed him with its strong product warranty, 65+ year history, selection of exterior frame color options and return-on-investment with their ENERGY STAR® qualified windows.

Item #5Spend time with your doors. If you can see light around a door from the inside, your door is hard to close or lock, or the door itself is warped, it’s time to consider a new door. Even if you can’t see light, air may be moving through gaps in the weather stripping at a surprising rate.

Think about the weather conditions that your home’s doors face along with your energy bills. If either run to the extreme, consider replacing an inefficient entryway with a high-performance fiberglass door (which can have up to four times more insulation value than wood doors). Clement added a Therma-Tru fiberglass door to his home with a decorative glass doorlite to update the look of his home while gaining energy-efficiency savings.

Item #6 – Look at your home’s accessory features. Spend time with your shutters, trim and louvers to see if they’re rotting or deteriorating. Check the bottoms and tops of columns and near the joints in crown and other mouldings for water spots, decay or peeling paint to see if they’re deteriorating in any way. They may also be suffering from termites, insect infestations or warping. When it’s time to replace these items, select low-maintenance urethane or PVC products from Fypon. The lightweight pieces are easy to install, add instant curb appeal to your home and extremely durable with their weather-resistant features.

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