Winter Home Survival Guide

Winter is finally here and snow is not too far away. Check out these tips to make sure your home pulls through the winter in one piece.

Gutter Cleaning

Ideally, your gutters should be cleaned out in the fall to avoid debris overflow. Before the first heavy snow hits it important to clean debris out of your gutters. When the snow melts it needs to go somewhere. A clean gutter allows the melted snow to flow easily. If your gutter is filled with debris, you risk melted snow and water running behind the gutters and leaking into your walls. Water leaking into your walls can lead to mold growth.

Proper Snow removal

Heavy snow can be overwhelming for a roof, especially when it piles on after many snow storms. It is only logical to try and remove some of that burden by getting rid of some of the snow yourself. However, when removing snow off your roof, it has to be done correctly or else you risk damaging your roof or possibly even hurting yourself.

You want to invest in a snow rake for this, they’re available in most hardware stores. When removing snow, take off a few inches at a time[1]. Don’t dive straight into trying to scrape the roof clean in one go. Remove icicles from the edge of the roof and make sure your gutters are clean. Avoid stepping on the roof if you can. If going on the roof can’t be avoided, hire a professional or always have another person with you as you work.

Attic Insulation to prevent Ice Dams

Before the winter hits its peak make sure your attic is properly insulated. You want it to be comfortable but you don’t want your attic getting too warm either. A really warm attic causes snow to melt at high points on your roof and freezing back up as icicles and ice dams. Ice dams can block your gutters and cause water damage to your home. If your attic is getting warm enough to melt snow in freezing temperatures then you’re probably losing heat and money. It’s important to have a professional take a look at your attic if this is the case.

These are just a few of many ways you can make sure your house makes it through the winter in one piece.

For more home improvement tips, check out our other blog posts.

[1] https://www.mass.gov/service-details/roof-collapse-and-snow-removal-safety-information

Things to consider before you put up holiday lights

It is that time of the year again. Holiday cheer is in the air, it’s the prime time for holiday decorations. But before you hang anything, here are some things to keep in mind.

Invest in LED

While you’re out shopping for holiday lights, search for lights with LED bulbs. They cost a little more up front compared to traditional bulbs but they last longer and save you on your energy bill. LEDs usually have more bulbs on a string than incandescent and they’re also stringed closer together.

Buy the Right Amount

Only the buy as many lights as you will need. Plan ahead, figure out where you’re going to be putting lights. Measure the spaces you plan on putting up lights so you know exactly how many to buy. You don’t want to buy less than you need or too much. Measuring is also important because it lets you know just how many extension cables you need for outdoor lights. You ideally don’t want to plug the lights directly into the outlet.

Powering Up

When buying your lights be sure to differentiate between outdoor and indoor lights. Not all lights are meant to be outdoors. Outdoor lights burn hotter than indoor lights so be sure not to mix the two up. Use ground-fault circuit and closed outlets. Additionally, don’t overload extension cords and outlets. Link a few strings of lights together before plugging into an outlet.  To save energy, don’t leave your lights on all day. If possible invest in lights that come with a timer so you can set how long they stay on for.

Are there any other tips you use when stringing up your holiday lights? Leave them in the comments!

For more home improvement tips, check out our other blog posts!

Home Improvement Projects You Shouldn’t Do Yourself

Everyone loves DIY, sometimes it’s in an effort to save money, sometimes it’s to add a personal touch to home improvement projects. As great as DIYs are, there are some projects you just shouldn’t do yourself. It might cost a bit more to hire a contractor but entrusting your project to professional is a good idea for these projects.

Plumbing Work

Small leaks can turn into big problems when it comes to plumbing. Unless you have the skill set to do it yourself, don’t DIY plumbing projects. Play it on the safe side and hire a professional. The financial risk is not worth it.

Replacing Your Roof

It might be tempting to want to install your new roof yourself but it’s harder than it looks. There are a lot of things that could go wrong. There is a potential for damage to the roof, your home, or even yourself as working on roofs can be dangerous. Attempting patchwork repairs can also lead to bigger problems down the way. To avoid having to spend more money, later on, hire a professional the first time around to make sure everything is done the right way.  DIY roof replacement or repair can also potentially void any warranties you have on your roof.

Knocking Down a Wall

If you’re a fan of home improvement shows it might seem really easy to just knock a wall down to expand a room. However, taking a sledgehammer to your wall may have unforeseen consequences. The wall you plan on taking down maybe a load bearing wall. You risk causing structural damage to your home. It is important that you leave this to a professional who knows what to look for before knocking down any walls.

Replacing your Windows

As tempting as it may be, this is one project you don’t want to DIY. Installing a window requires specialized knowledge, skills, and tools. Unless you’re trained in window installation, attempting to do it yourself might just cost you more in the long run. Doing it wrong means spending more than you initially would have in order to fix your mistakes.

At the end of the day, if it requires a permit, you should probably hire a professional. If you have a project you are thinking of doing such as replacing your windows or roof, click to schedule a consultation here.

Vinyl Siding Benefits

Vinyl siding has become a popular choice for many homes in recent years. This is due to the many benefits and advantages it has over other siding types.  Here are a few of the benefits of a vinyl siding.

Energy Efficient

Vinyl siding is generally an insulated siding. Your home usually comes with insulation in the walls but vinyl siding provides an extra layer of insulation. This extra layer of insulation helps keep your home warm in the winter and cooler in the summer.  It helps make your home be more energy efficient because you lose less energy through the walls.

Durable


Unlike wood and metal siding, vinyl sidings can withstand harsh elements. They are made to be durable and last a long time. Vinyl siding doesn’t rot or corrode and can endure heavy winds and even hail[1]! Depending on who you buy from, you can usually get a lifetime warranty on your vinyl siding. The average vinyl siding on the market can last between 25 – 40 years or more depending on the gauge size[2].

Versatile

In addition to their energy efficiency and durability, vinyl siding comes in a wide range of colors. Love the idea of wood but prefer the quality of vinyl? No worries! You can find vinyl siding designed to look like wood. Some designs are so good, you have to be touching it to realize it’s not wood. There are vinyl siding options for all the different styles and house profiles.

Low Maintenance

Besides a simple cleaning once or twice a year, vinyl siding requires very little maintenance. It doesn’t need to be painted unless you choose to do so. Because it doesn’t rot or corrode, you don’t have to worry about constantly repairing various sections of it. You can go between 30 to 40 years with very little maintenance. Check out these tips on how to take care of your vinyl siding.

Cost Effective

In addition to being low maintenance and durable, vinyl siding is also a low cost product. It’s one of the least expensive siding materials on the market. Depending on your contractor, installation can be fast and inexpensive[3]. Due to its energy efficient insulation, you also save money on your energy bill.

Do you currently have vinyl siding? Are you interested in switching to vinyl siding? Get a FREE estimate and consultation today!

[1] https://www.vinylsiding.org/vsi-resources/why-vinyl-siding/

[2] https://unitedhomeexperts.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-vinyl-siding/

[3] https://www.builddirect.com/learning-center/building-materials/5-advantages-of-vinyl-siding/

Signs it is Time for a New Front Door

Your front door is not only there to look good but to also provide safety for your family. Unfortunately, doors don’t last forever. After a while, they need to be replaced in order to keep providing security and curb appeal. How can you tell when it’s time to replace your main entry door?

Here are some indications that it’s time for a new door.

Hard to close and open

If you have to apply elbow grease in order to open or close your front door, it’s time for a replacement. Your home’s main entry door should open easily and close just as easily. Difficulty opening or closing might result in the expansion of the door material. This is more likely to happen if the door is made of wood or metal. With humidity, wood absorbs moisture and then expands. Difficulty opening might also be because of a problem with the hinges or the door frame.

Worse for Wear

Has your door lost its curb appeal? Doors play an important role in adding to your home’s curb appeal. Dents, scratches, rotting frames and chipped edges lose that curb appeal. An ugly door affects your home’s look. Chips and scratches also leave room for the door to absorb moisture which can lead to rotting.

Drafts

A good door is properly sealed to avoid drafts and leaks that can cost you in energy savings. Do you have to stuff a rag or towel under your door to keep the cold out in the winter? Then it’s time for a new door. If sunlight is streaming in under, over or on the sides of your front door, it might be time for a replacement. Bad seals cause drafts. Drafty doors make it harder to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Does your front door check all three of the boxes? We can help with a quality and elegant door. Get a free estimate on our Stylelite Main Entry Doors. Secure, beautiful and quality doors.

4 Ways You’re Killing Your Home

There are many things a homeowner can do to keep their home healthy and looking good. However, sometimes going overboard with too many changes can hurt rather than improve a home. A healthy home is a happy home.  Here are some things that hurt rather than help your home.

Over sealing & Insulating

In order to avoid drafts and improve energy efficiency, sealing is usually recommended.  However, there is such a thing as over sealing. Too much air sealing and insulation make it hard for your house to breathe properly. There needs to be proper air circulation and ventilation for a healthy home. Better air circulation increases the quality of air in your home and prevents condensation behind planks[1].

Double Shingling

It might seem like a great idea to put new shingles over old ones to save money, but this can be bad for your house. Two layers of shingles weigh down on your rafters and decrease your roof’s lifespan. Doubling your shingles also make it harder to inspect the roof for leaks and also traps more heat. The new roof may also not be laid smoothly and flat if it’s layered on top of old shingles. Save money in the long run and avoid problems by completely removing old shingles before putting on new ones.

Oversized Air conditioner

On the hot summer days, it makes sense to want a bigger AC to cool your home faster. A high power AC uses up a lot of energy while leaving the room feeling clammy. To be sure you’re buying the right sized AC for your home or for a specific room, check the label for the capacity. Clammy rooms put your home at risk of mold. Healthy air circulation can be promoted by airing out your home or room early in the morning or late at night when the air is cooler outside. This allows you to let out clammy stale air and circulate in the fresh air.

Cutting grass too short

Cutting your lawn regularly is needed to get and keep a manicured look but you could be killing your grass if you’re cutting it too low. It makes your grass weaker and makes it easier for weeds and crabgrass to take over your lawn. Cutting grass too low especially on hotter days makes the lawn brown and burn out easily. For a healthier lawn, manicure frequently but change your mower setting to cut a little higher.

[1] https://www.thisoldhouse.com/ideas/youre-killing-your-home-kindness

How to Clean Your Windows

No one likes looking at or through a dirty window. Sometimes cleaning your windows can be a hassle. Either the windows are too hard to open and it’s hard to reach places or they just streak with every attempt to clean them. Here are some helpful tips to make cleaning your windows easier.

Using right Tools

Using the right cleaning tools can be essential to properly clean your windows and avoiding streaks. Some people prefer to use a paper towel, others prefer to use a microfiber cloth.  Different things work for different people, whatever you use just make sure it doesn’t leave lint behind on the glass.

The most common tools used are a strip applicator to scrub the windows with cleaning solution. Follow up with a squeegee to wipe the window clean. Finish up with a damp cloth to wipe off excess water and drips to avoid streaks.

Using the right cleaning products

If you’re cleaning your window and it never seems to get clean, you might be using the wrong products. Vinegar has been praised for being good at cleaning windows without streaks[1]. A mixture of warm water and dish soap has been known to work as well. Sometimes Windex works just as well but you have to make sure you’re using the right tool as to not leave any streaks.

Clean on the Right day

Most people make the mistake of cleaning on a sunny day. We get it, the nicer the day the easier it is to get the motivation to clean. However, when you clean on a sunny day, the water and cleaner dry faster on your windows before you can wipe them away. Your windows will streak easier when cleaned on a hot sunny day. The best day to clean your windows is a cloudy day. Cloudy but not raining.

Clean everything

Sometime when cleaning we make the mistake of cleaning just the glass while ignoring the other parts of the window like the sills and sashes. Make sure to dust and vacuum the frame and sash if needed before you start washing.

Have some window tricks that have helped you clean your windows streak free? Share them with us in the comments!

[1] https://www.greatdayimprovements.com/cleaning-windows-with-vinegar.aspx

Home Improvement for Renters

Home improvement projects for a rental home can be tricky. Especially if you want your security deposit back. However homeowners aren’t just the only ones who can enjoy home improvement projects. Renters can get in on the fun too! These DIY home improvement projects are perfect for the renter looking to personalize their space.

Utilize furniture

Furniture and décor can give character to any space. Take a day or even a weekend to reorganize or replace your furniture. Use furniture that represents your personal style to add color to your space. The right furniture placed properly can give your apartment a professional interior design look on a DIY budget.  If your space is limited you can also use furniture for multiple uses. For example, some ottomans provide great storage space while at the same time being comfortable seating.

Short term wall design

For most renters that can’t paint on the walls, this limits how much you can do to personalize your space. You can overcome this with renter friendly wallpaper. They come in many different colors and styles to decorate your walls to reflect your style. They’re a great way to not have to live with 4 bare walls. When you decide to move, you can just peel it all off and get your deposit back.

Stylish Separators

Need to divide a room for privacy but can’t really build a wall? Invest in a stylish divider. You can separate the living room from the kitchen or even split a bedroom it two. Create two bedrooms from one. Dividers come in various colors and patterns or you can buy a plain black or white one and decorate it yourself.

Mirror Trick

Need a little bit more room but can’t knock down any walls?  Adding a large mirror to a room can help make a room feel bigger. It’s a neat visual trick that helps brighten up a room and make it feel more spacious.

These are just a few of many ways you can make your rented space your own. No nails and hammers needed to revamp your space.

Roof Maintenance

The roof is an essential part of your home that sometimes tends to be forgotten about. Out of sight out of mind right? Unfortunately, you can’t just put a roof on and forget all about it. Regular maintenance and inspections are necessary to make sure your roof is in good shape to ensure longevity. It doesn’t have to be too often, maintenance once or twice a year can make a big difference. You can catch and fix problems before they become an emergency. A healthy roof can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Know Your Roof

First thing is to always know what type of roof you have. Knowing the roofing material gives your foresight into what problems might ensue. Different materials have their benefits and disadvantages, you can read more about what the best roofing material for your home is here. Some roofing materials work better in warmer climates and others in colder climates. Single ply roofs run the risk of open seams. Metal roofs expand and contract and also rust over time.

Roof inspection

Either hire a professional or safely inspect your roof yourself. Don’t just inspect for problems that already exist. Be sure to look for things that might become a problem moving forward. Check for tree debris, insecure drains, wobbly joints, missing shingles, algae, etc.  If you just purchased the house or are planning on purchasing, you want to check to make sure past problems haven’t gone unchecked. Avoid temporary fixes.  Don’t inspect just the outside of the roof. Sometimes the damage culprit may be on the inside. Check indoors for bug infestations or water damage that might compromise the integrity of your roof.

Clear Debris

Broken tree branches, leaves, and animals can all damage your roof. It doesn’t hurt to clear debris off your roof once in a while. Something as normal as snow in the Northeast can cause your roof to collapse. When removing debris and snow make sure to do it carefully so you don’t cause damage to your roof. A snow rake can be used to clear snow off the roof. It never hurts to hire a professional to do it, so you know it’s done properly.

Roof maintenance is very important and should never go overlooked. Make your roof last longer and save money in the long run.

Are there any other things you do to keep your roof healthy? Let us know in the comments.

Hiring the Right Contractor for your Home Improvement Project

Home improvement projects can be overwhelming. One way to make it easier on yourself is by making sure you pick the right contractor for the job. A stranger will be in and out of your house during the course of your project. You want to invest in someone who’s trustworthy and gives peace of mind to you and your family. Here are some things to check for and to be wary of when you’re looking to hire a professional for your home improvement project.

How to find a good contractor:

  • Get referrals from friends and family.
  • Make sure to conduct thorough online research. Read more about vetting a company online.
  • Go in knowing what you want before you start asking for estimates.
  • Do over the phone followed by face to face interviews so you can put a face to the name of the person who’s going to be working in and out of your house.
  • Don’t let price be your only deciding factor, don’t forget that price does not always equal quality.
  • Get everything in writing – pricing, start and finish dates, etc. This makes it easier to follow up and fight a case if worst case scenario your contractor starts the job and disappears before finishing.
  • Verify with the contractor which part of the work they will be doing and which parts a subcontractor will do.
  • Before you make the final payments get receipts for all materials purchased.

Things to Check for:

  • You want to check and make sure your contractor has a license and insured in your state.
  • If you’re getting work done on your walls or pipes, check to make sure your contractor is EPA Lead-Safe
  • Check the references of anyone you interview for the job.
  • Length of the warranty that comes with the job and what the warranty covers in totality.

Things to be wary of:

  • The contractor is unable to give you a demo or actually show you what they’re going to be installing.
  • Your contractor can’t provide you with the written warranty or estimate.
  • The contractor tries to sell you on either the cheapest or the most expensive material without consideration for the quality.
These are a few tips to help you navigate hiring for your home improvement projects. A smooth process is a win for everyone involved.