A New Way To Think About Your Wheel Chair Accessible Home Improvements

A New Way To Think About Your Wheel Chair Accessible Home Improvements

Your home should be a place in which all of your family members and friends can relax. If you or someone else in your family needs special home accommodations for a wheelchair, you may need to remodel to make your home more comfortable. It is possible to make your home accessible while also maintaining your design and style preferences. The Americans with Disabilities Act offers guidance for people to make their homes more accessible. Here are some ways that you can modify your home to make it easier for people who have disabilities.

Entryways

It can be hard to enter a home for a person who uses a wheelchair. For most people in wheelchairs, the first barrier that they face are steps leading up to the front door. A way to solve this issue is to install a wheelchair ramp. It is a good idea to choose a professional to install your ramp in order to make certain that it is done correctly and is safe.

Doorways

Doorways may present additional barriers to people who use wheelchairs. All of your doors should be wide enough for wheelchairs to easily roll through. The ADA suggests that people might want to have doorways ranging from 32 inches to 48 inches wide. Choosing levers instead of knobs will make it easier for people to open the doors. A terrific option is to install pocket sliding doors because they keep the doorways free from barriers.

Bathrooms

The first rooms that people commonly choose to remodel are bathrooms. The ADA recommends that bathrooms have a turning radius of 5 feet to accommodate wheelchairs. Roll-in showers with flat bottoms should be installed. Shower grab bars should also be installed as they are important for ensuring safety in the bathroom. There are many different grab bar styles that you can choose. You’ll want to install them at lower heights for good accessibility. Non-slip surface materials are important, and your toilet and sink are important as well. Try to keep your sink open, and choose a toilet that is between 17 to 19 inches tall.

Kitchens

Making the utilities in your kitchen accessible is one of the biggest challenges. Like bathrooms, kitchens should have a turning radius of 5 feet, making U-shaped kitchens optimal. Appliances and countertops need to be lower so that the kitchen is barrier-free. There should be plenty of clearance under the countertops and the sink for legs and feet.
In your kitchen, the smallest details can make the biggest difference. For example, cabinet pulls and slow-close drawers can make your kitchen much easier to use for people who have disabilities.

Other areas

In addition to all of the areas that we have already discussed, there are some others that you shouldn’t forget, including the following:

  • Closets may need to be changed to make them accessible by
  • lowering rods and installing pocket doors
  • Large furniture that blocks access in hallways should be removed
  • Smooth, durable flooring should be installed.
  • Paths to entryways should be smooth.
  • Light switches, thermostats and outlets should be reachable.

While it may seem like a daunting task, creating an accessible home may be accomplished so that all of your family and friends are able to enjoy it. By making some modifications, you can create the welcoming environment you desire. To schedule a consultation about remodeling your home, contact us today.

Why Are My Windows Hard to Open & Close?

Why are my windows so hard to open

When windows are new, they glide open and closed with little effort, but over time, their operation can become more difficult–especially if they have not received proper upkeep and maintenance.

Many people never give their windows a second of thought until they are not working properly. Cleaning and lubrication of moving parts are a vital part of keeping your windows operating smoothly and easily most of the time. However, there are a handful of issues that can make your windows difficult to open, even with routine cleaning and maintenance.

In the sections below, we’ll discuss common issues that can make the most popular types of windows in use today difficult to open.

Single & Double Hung Windows

Single and double hung windows are most often difficult to open due to a buildup of dirt, dust, and debris over time. As the buildup worsens, friction increases, making the windows very difficult to open and close.

Since this is the most likely cause, start by cleaning the window frames and spray with a non-silicone, solvent-free lubricant. Open and close the window several times to work the lubricant in.

If the window is still difficult to open and close after doing this, your problem is likely associated with a spring that is too tight. Adjusting (or replacing if necessary) the spring should return the sash to its normal operation.

Awning & Casement Windows

Awning and casement windows have more points of failure than single and double hung windows, so the cause for these windows being hard to open and close can be a variety of things.

The best place to start is to remove the sash from your awning or casement windows. The method for doing this can vary depending on the window brand, so consult the instruction manual for your particular windows for more information on how to do this properly.

After you have successfully removed the sash, check for stripped or loose screws. If you find any, this is likely the cause of your problem.

If the problem continues after replacing stripped or loose screws, or if you do not have any, lubricate the hinges with a silicone or dry Teflon spray lube. Work the lubricant into the hinges by opening and closing the windows several times.

If you are still having issues after trying the two methods above, it is likely that you have a malfunctioning operator. Contact your window manufacturer for replacement parts or a local window repair company for repair services.

Sliding Windows

Sliding windows are simple windows, relying on rollers and a sliding track. They are the easiest type of windows to open and close–often requiring just a push of the finger. If they become difficult to open, the problem most likely lies with the roller system.

First, clean the roller system and track with a simple soap and water solution. In many cases, this will solve the problem, but if it does not, lubricating the rolling system should solve the problem.

If the problem continues, your rollers are bad. Contact your window manufacturer to buy replacement rollers or contact a local window repair company.

Staff Writer (2014 November) Why Are My Windows Hard to Open & Close? Retrieved on November 17, 2014 from Quality Windows and Doors

How Much Will That Patio or Deck Cost?

From piers to patio pavers, there’s a lot that goes into pricing your suburban oasis.

If you’re a homeowner with nothing special outside your back door, you’ve probably felt the pang of patio or deck envy. You go to a friend’s house, and he has an incredible layout in his backyard. Someone is grilling, and friends and family are lounging in comfortable chairs on the patio. Everyone’s laughing and having fun, and you remember your own place and think: I want this.

So how much does a patio or deck cost? And what should you know before building one? Here are some basic blueprints to go over before you get too deep into daydreaming and planning.

A low-frills patio or deck is pretty cheap. Everyone’s definition of cheap is different, but decks can be had for as low as $1,000, according to Jessica Piha, a spokeswoman for Porch.com, a website that helps homeowners find the right contractor. But the average deck costs $8,300, Piha says.

And how much is a cheap patio? The cost to install a 200-square-foot concrete patio is about $740 to $840 on average, according to HomeWyse.com, an online reference for home projects.

But here’s why you probably won’t buy a cheap patio. If you’re pining over someone’s patio, you presumably don’t want a concrete slab. You probably want something like attractive patio pavers (flat stones) or rocks to tread upon.

Home improvement chain stores sell the patio pavers for around a buck and upward. If you need, say, 800 inexpensive patio pavers for a 200-square-foot patio, that will generally equate to the price of a concrete patio. Not too bad, until you factor in the price of hiring someone to put them in the ground and any other extras your patio might need.

HomeWyse.com places the average cost of a 230-square-foot patio that uses patio stones from about $2,850 to $3,540. Want flagstone instead? Expect to pay between $3,530 and $4,440.

Don’t go too cheap on the deck. If you install a cheap patio, someone could stumble on a loose rock, but at least you’re unlikely to have any guests taken away in an ambulance.

As Marc Barnes puts it, “No one ever fell off a patio, no patio has ever collapsed under the weight of guests and no one has ever turned a turkey fryer onto a patio and set their house afire.”

Barnes works in public relations, and it isn’t surprising he feels this way. One of his clients is on “team patio.” He represents Pine Hall Brick Company, which makes brick veneers as well as pavers for patios, driveways and other hardscapes.

His point underscores why you want someone competent building your deck. Even if it isn’t made of wood but, say, plastic lumber or a wood-plastic composite, and you aren’t worried about your deck suddenly catching on fire, it will still be at least several feet, and maybe a lot of feet, off the ground.

“A contractor who is proud they do only ‘code-quality work’ is proud they do the minimum allowed by law,” says John Mease, who owns John Mease Home Inspections in Roswell, Georgia. He warns that you’ll need a building permit to have a deck installed. It’s also a project you want to wade into very carefully, he adds.

“Different areas have different requirements,” Mease says. “if you just moved from the Northwest to the Southeast, do not build your new deck like you did back home. There’s a reason there are different requirements for different climates.”

For instance, if you live in a cold climate, you might find that the pier is required to extend below the frost line of the house so that a frost heave doesn’t occur. For those who don’t speak deck, a pier is a component that supports a deck, and a frost heave happens when ice causes your soil to swell during freezing conditions.

Of course, if you don’t know what a pier is or a joist (boards that offer support to the deck), you should hire someone to build your deck rather than doing it yourself. Mease recommends looking at your neighbors’ decks, and when you find your favorite, ask who constructed it – then give the builder a call.

Duane Draughon, a design specialist at VizX Design Studios, an outdoor living and home improvement design firm in Naperville, Illinois, says loose regulations in cities and communities have hurt his industry. “Getting a patio and a deck has become very easy to obtain nowadays … too easy,” he says.

He adds: “With any and every company installing patios, the design and quality has become very poor, which could be regressing property values and consumer trust.”

It’s the extras that kill your wallet. “Most of the time, it isn’t just the patio or deck homeowners want,” Draughon says. Extras include “the fire pit or fireplace, the outdoor kitchen or bar … the pergola, water features and all that good stuff,” he says.

How much can that cost? According to the service Mr. Handyman, here are a few price ranges homeowners can expect to pay for patio and deck features:

  • Landscaping: $4 to $19 per square foot
  • Patio warmer: $150 to $400
  • Fire pit: $500 to $5,000
  • Concrete stamping: $10 to $15 per square foot
  • Seating for your guests: $500 to $1,500

Not planning could be a deathblow to your wallet, too. You don’t want to build a patio or deck and then realize that while it’s safe, it’s not very functional. So when designing your backyard retreat, Barnes suggests first building a mock patio. (You could also do the same for the deck you’re envisioning.)

“Arrange your patio furniture, grill, children’s toys in your yard as if you already have a patio,” Barnes suggests. “Put everything in this space that you can envision having on your patio. Then, using a garden hose or spray paint on the grass, outline this area. This is how large your patio should be. Keep in mind that square or rectangular patios are more formal. Patios with curved sides are less so. “

A contractor or another professional should offer their own input as well, in case you’ve missed something.

For instance, Adam Green, president and principle engineer at Crosstown Engineering, a firm with offices in Tampa Bay, Florida, and the Dallas-Forth Worth area, points out that “the barbecue is typically the worst-placed item on a deck. Remember, the gas line needs to run to the ideal barbecue location, not the other way around.”

He adds that you might want to consider sun exposure. If you burn easily or too much heat isn’t your thing, you’ll want to make sure you have some shade – but probably not so much that your deck and patio are constantly covered.

But it’s worth the money and time to get it right, right? A new or revamped patio or deck could increase your home’s resale value and also enhance your household’s quality of life.

That last part is particularly important, especially if you and your family will get ample use out of a deck or patio. Because to do this right, you want to end up with a special place to waste a lot of time – without having wasted a lot of money.

Williams Geoff (2014 June 30) How Much Will That Patio or Deck Cost? Retrieved on July 3, 2014 from usnews.com

How to bring more natural light into your home

The indoor environment of a home or business can really be benefited if the building increases its use of natural lighting. Natural lighting is the utilization of the Sun’s light to provide illumination in a building over the use of electrical lights. There are many psychological and physical benefits to natural lighting. One is that using natural light will reduce home and building energy bills thanks to the building using less electrical lighting. Second, natural lighting is physically beneficial to the human body. The human eye reacts negatively to artificial light, while natural lightning relaxes the human eye. The human body also reacts positively to natural lightning by producing Vitamin D from the light’s contact with the skin and improving a person’s brain chemistry. This can help a person feel better physically and help their mind focus better. Finally, natural lightning is more aesthetically pleasing. Psychologically, people are more attracted to natural lightning than an artificial light source. With that mind, here are ways to bring more natural lightning into a home.

Glass On the Door

The doors that are across the home can have everything from small to large glass windows on them. This is especially useful for the front and back door of a home. By having glass placed on the door, some natural lightning can come into the area. Such an aesthetic choice can really help to add extra light to a home or building beyond the windows.

Transoms and Sidelights

Many homeowners may not want to have the main door to have glass on them. To keep that aesthetic and personal choice, many architects helped develop transoms and sidelights. Transoms are horizontal glass frames that are laid across the top of the door. Sidelights are vertical glass frames that are laid on the left and right sides of a door. With this design, the door will not have glass on it, but there will be windows on top or to the sides of the door. This will help bring in light near the door entrances of the home.

Patio Door and Light

If the homeowner has a patio, there are a number of door options that can be put in that will saturate the house with natural lightning. A Sliding door, garden door, and terrace door employ full door-size glass windows that will let it an incredible amount of light into the room connecting to the patio.

Add Style to the Glass

Direct natural lightning is great, but often many homeowners may become bored by just simple sunlight entering the house. That is why they may not invest in many custom windows or glass across the home. If, however, the homeowner purchases and uses decorative glass across parts of the home, then not only will natural lightning come in, it will come in with lively colors and textures reflected across the home.

Picture Windows

Picture windows, also known as fixed windows, are none opening windows that can be installed across a house. They are built to supply a window to look outside and to have well-lit grill or cam option to hold decorations and other items to improve the interior décor. In addition, these picture windows will allow natural light to come into the house.

Homeowners that want to lighten up their property can utilize a number of strategies to take in natural lighting. With different window and glass display options, its important to consult the experts over at TriCounty Exteriors. Our work over the last two decades has given our team the best insights to utilizing natural lighting for any type of home. We can help any homeowner with window replacement, windowm placement, and door options that can enhance a home’s natural lighting. Contact us today at www.tricountyexteriors.com.

The Best Time to Renovate the Outside of Your Home

While it may be tempting to prepare for home renovation after the last snow has melted, there really is no “best” time to get started. The truth is, renovation and preventative maintenance begins as easily as a quick walk around the home exterior. You can complete this task at any time during the year, and you should really perform a walk-around examination a few times per year. Remember, problems that you catch early can be far less expensive to fix than a problem that sits and spreads!

To begin the process, you need to identify which areas of the house you want to renovate. You may have an idea already, but take some time to systematically examine the house. Bring a notepad and briefly jot down any issues as you see them. It’s important not to forget any problems you identify!

Start by really taking in the big picture. Stand as far back from your house as you need to easily see the entire structure. Take a look at the general shape of the house and make sure that all of the lines look straight and clean. For example, chimneys should be vertical and not leaning, shingles should be neatly lined with none missing, and windowsills should not be sagging. See if anything stands out. If possible, repeat this step for every side of the house. This is really the best time to check for roof deterioration; it may be difficult to see once you move closer to the home.

After you’ve checked the whole house from afar, it’s time to move in. Check to see if there are any holes or cracks in the siding and that windows and doors are well sealed. Check joints and corners and see if any will require repairs. Dents, scratches, scrapes, and holes should be especially apparent close up. Make note of which areas need serious attention and which just need a coat of touch up paint.

The entire process shouldn’t take much time, but you will probably end up with a list of items that need attention. Be sure not to let problems sit unattended! Remember that preventative maintenance can keep a small problem from becoming a disaster. Be sure to check out www.tricountyexteriors.com as your regional experts on exterior home maintenance. We can work together to make sure that your home is in great conditions long into the future!

How to Clean and Care for Your Home’s Siding

With a bit of preventative maintenance, your home’s siding could be trouble-free for 50 years or more. And that means you won’t have to replace siding as often.
Cleaning siding removes the dirt and mildew that shortens the life of siding. A clean house protects your investment, too. Some real estate appraisers say good curb appeal can add 5%-10% to the value of your house.

Cleaning All Types of Siding

All types of siding benefit from an annual cleaning to remove grit, grime, and mildew. Cleaning an average-sized house may take you and a friend every bit of a weekend. Here’s how to do it:

1. Start with a bucket of warm, soapy water. Mix 1/2 cup trisodium phosphate (TSP, available at grocery stores, hardware stores, and home improvement centers) with 1 gallon of water.

2. Divide your siding into 10-foot sections. Scrub each section using a soft-bristled brush attached to a long handle. Work from bottom to top to avoid streaking, and rinse often. (For two-story homes, you’ll be using a ladder, so keep safety foremost.)

What’s a Professional Cleaning Cost?

If you don’t have the time — or the inclination — you can have your house professionally cleaned for $300-$500. A professional team will use a power washer and take less than a day.

You can rent a power washer to do the job yourself for about $75/day, but beware if you don’t have experience with the tool. Power washers can strip paint, gouge softwoods, loosen caulk, and eat through mortar. Also, the tool can force water under horizontal lap joints, resulting in moisture accumulating behind the siding.

A siding professional has the expertise to prevent water penetration at joints, seams around windows and doors, and electrical fixtures.

Inspecting Siding for Damage

All siding: Siding is vulnerable to water infiltration where it butts against windows, doors, and corner moldings. Look for caulk that has cracked due to age or has pulled away from adjacent surfaces, leaving gaps. Reapply a color-matched exterior caulk during dry days with temperatures in excess of 65 degrees for maximum adhesion.

Wood siding: Check for chipped or peeling paint, and cracked boards and trim.

Stucco: Be on the lookout for cracks and chips.

Brick: Look for crumbling mortar joints.

You’ll want to repair any defects before cleaning. The sooner you make repairs, the better you protect your house from moisture infiltration that can lead to dry rot and mold forming inside your walls.

Repairing Wood, Vinyl, and Fiber-Cement Siding

Repairs to wood, vinyl, and fiber-cement siding require the expertise to remove the damaged siding while leaving surrounding siding intact. Unless you have the skills, hire a professional carpenter or siding contractor. Expect to pay $200-$300 to replace one or two damaged siding panels or pieces of wood clapboard.

Repairing Brick and Mortar

Crumbling and loose mortar should be removed with a cold chisel and repaired with fresh mortar — a process called repointing. An experienced do-it-yourselfer can repoint mortar joints between bricks, but the process is time-consuming. Depending on the size of the mortar joints (thinner joints are more difficult), a masonry professional will repoint brick siding for $5-$20/sq. ft.

Efflorescence — the powdery white residue that sometimes appears on brick and stone surfaces — is the result of soluble salts in the masonry or grout being leached out by moisture, probably indicating the masonry and grout was never sealed correctly.

Remove efflorescence by scrubbing it with water and white vinegar mixed in a 50/50 solution and a stiff bristle brush. As soon as the surface is clear and dry, seal it with a quality masonry sealer to prevent further leaching.

Persistent efflorescence may indicate a moisture problem behind the masonry. Consult a professional building or masonry contractor.

Repairing Stucco

Seal cracks and small holes with color-matched exterior acrylic caulk. Try pressing sand into the surface of wet caulk to match the texture of the surrounding stucco. Paint the repair to match.

To repair larger holes and cracks, you may want to call in a pro who’s familiar with stucco work. A professional charges $200-$1,000 for a repair job, depending on the size of the damage. Repainting the patch to match your siding will be up to you.

Removing Mildew

Stubborn, black spotty stains are probably mildew. Dab the area with a little diluted bleach — if the black disappears, it’s mildew. Clean the area with a solution of one part bleach to four parts water. Wear eye protection and protect plants from splashes. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Riha John (2014 January) How to Clean and Care for Your Home’s Siding. Retrieved on June 2, 2014 from houselogic.com

 

A new Roof May Be Cheaper than Roof Repair in the Long Term

The roof is one of the most vital parts of a home, providing protection from the elements. If the roof is damaged, this is not a repair that homeowners can afford to postpone. A leaky roof, for example, can cause untold damage throughout the home. If roof leak repair is not done promptly, the problems will only get worse. When considering any type of roof repair, the option of replacing the whole roof should be considered. In some cases, this is the more sensible and economical course of action. While repairing a roof will cost less in the short run than replacing it, this may not be the case when you consider the long term.

When to Repair a Roof

If a roof is basically in good condition, but has a small area of damage, repairs make sense. The cost will depend on the extent of the damage, and can run anywhere from a few dollars to fill some gaps to over $1,000 to repair a major leak. Repairs will often be covered by your home insurance policy. On the other hand, if the roof is old or worn out, insurance may not cover the repairs. Homeowners are expected to perform regular maintenance on their homes, and this includes replacing the roof when this becomes necessary.

When to Replace a Roof

There are certain signs that it’s time to get a new roof.

  • Roof is Nearing the End of its Expected Lifespan -Whether a roof is constructed with natural slate, asphalt shingles, metal or another material, it’s expected to last for a certain number of years. Beyond this point, spending money on repairs may not be the best option.
  • Recurring Problems -If roof leak repair is needed on a regular basis, this is a sign that the roof may need replacing.
  • Damage is Widespread -If multiple areas of the roof are damaged, it may be more economical to replace the entire roof.
  • Shingles are cracked or Fall Off Easily -When shingles show signs of serious wear, roof repair may be a futile endeavor.

Although the cost of a new roof can range anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000, depending on the type of materials used, there are definite benefits to replacing a roof rather than repairing it. For example, homeowners enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the roof construction is solid and they won’t have to worry about it for many years.

For homeowners that want to increase the value of their homes, a new roof is one of the best ways to do this. Even for those who plan to live in their homes for a long time, there is a dramatic improvement of curb appeal with a new roof. The decision whether to repair or replace a roof must be made carefully. It’s best, however, for homeowners to consider all of the options and think about the long term advantages of a new roof.

Contact TriCounty Exteriors for your free consultation today!

Types of exterior siding

Hot sun, bitter cold, rain and snow — your home’s exterior is under constant barrage from the elements. Choosing the most appropriate exterior siding for your environment is crucial. Siding can be durable and tough without being ugly. Modern siding materials feature both longevity and looks for this key aspect of your dwelling. There are numerous factors that determine which type of siding is best, including eco-friendliness, maintenance requirements and price.

VINYL SIDING

Durable and tough, available in countless colors and styles, vinyl siding is a highly popular material that maintains shape and retains color despite extreme weather. If the home has pre-existing siding, a vinyl installation can retrofit over it. Depending on the brand, this siding has a lifetime guarantee that is transferable. Vinyl is easy to install and lasts more than 30 years.

METAL SIDING

Steel or aluminum siding is becoming somewhat “old-fashioned.” Modern installations are fireproof, dent-resistant, bug-proof, and require zero maintenance. Metal siding can endure 50 years or longer. Dents in this type of siding are somewhat difficult to remedy.

FIBER-CEMENT SIDING

Portland cement, wood fibers, sand and clay are mixed together to create this type of siding. Fiber-cement is weather-resistant, fire-resistant, bug-proof, low-maintenance and extremely durable. This type of material can be molded to look like stucco, wood or masonry; it does not require painting yet can easily be repainted if desired. Fiber-cement typically lasts 30 years or more.

WOOD SIDING

There are various grades and selections of wood for siding. An expensive grade with a semi-transparent finish will show wood’s desirable natural beauty. If the siding will be painted, a cheaper grade of wood is acceptable. This type of material is easy to cut, easy to install, and can last centuries. However, wood can require frequent re-finishing and repainting.

BRICK SIDING

Also known as masonry, brick siding is highly aesthetic and therefore quite popular. Masonry is extremely durable, but can deteriorate slightly at the joints (mortar-filled gaps in between each brick). A dwelling surrounded by masonry veneer can be markedly cooler during hot weather compared to other types of siding.

A choice of the right exterior siding material entails numerous variables. With so many options to consider, you would be wise to consult a contractor like the professionals at Tri-County Exterior. Siding contractors and siding manufacturers are good sources of information and documentation.

Vinyl Siding vs. Fiber Cement: Which Is Right for Your Home?

Photo: Vinyl Siding Institute

Choosing the cladding material for the exterior of your home involves the careful evaluation of several factors. Of course, there’s the look. Cedar shake shingles will create a different look than aluminum siding, which will look different than painted wood planks. But there are also other factors to consider. First is the durability of the material. Second is the amount of maintenance your siding will require to keep it looking fresh and tidy. Third is the cost. And finally, consider the siding’s energy efficiency and eco-friendliness, and how well it will insulate your home from both heat and cold.

Two of the more popular siding choices for today’s homes are vinyl and fiber cement. To figure out which siding might be right for you, read this quick guide to each material’s characteristics and qualities.

BASICS
Fiber-cement siding is made from a mix of wood pulp and Portland cement that’s formed into long boards or shingles. It’s attached to your home directly with nails.

Vinyl siding is made primarily from PVC, a rigid plastic material, and is securely affixed to your home’s exterior in a manner that allows it to expand and contract with changing temperatures. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, vinyl is the number-one exterior wall material—and has been for 20 years.

Cedar-Discovery-HandSpltWeb1-298x300 Hand-Split Cedar Vinyl Siding
Hand-split cedar vinyl siding. Photo: Vinyl Siding Institute

LOOK
Both fiber-cement and vinyl siding have come a long way from their origins. It’s possible to buy fiber-cement boards as half-round, staggered, or square shingles as well as in long plank boards. It can be painted or stained, which means you can make it any color you’d like, and it’s also now possible to buy prepainted fiber cement siding in a range of colors so that you can eliminate this step.

Vinyl siding offers a much greater variety of decorative options, from maintaining the appearance of an historic home to creating a clean and modern facade. In fact, no other siding option offers such a range of styles and colors. Available are not only the shingle and plank looks of fiber-cement siding, but also a variety of panel designs including clapboard, board and batten, and Dutch lap. Among the most popular vinyl siding products are those with a grain-finished surface that mimics real wood, or those that look like cedar shake shingles. Certain vinyl siding panels can even be hung vertically for a unique and eye-catching look.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY
On their own, both vinyl and fiber-cement siding are relatively thin products that aren’t particularly good insulators, although they are both effective at keeping the elements away from your home.

Where vinyl siding takes the lead is that it is available in an insulated version in which there is a layer of foam adhered between the siding and the walls of your home. This type of vinyl siding increases the insulating ability, or R-value, of the walls by blanketing the house’s studs, which are poor insulators and a source of heat loss through a process known as thermal bridging. Insulated siding also helps keep your house cool in summer by preventing the sun’s heat from toasting the walls of your house.

In addition to the energy benefits you can get for your home from vinyl siding, it’s also a lightweight product. This means that it doesn’t take as much fuel to move the siding from its manufacturing facilities to your house, which ups the material’s eco-friendly factor.

CTcedarimpressionssterlinggrayWeb12-300x189 Vinyl shake siding. Photo: Vinyl Siding Institute

DURABILITY
Compared with wood, both vinyl siding and fiber cement are very durable exterior cladding options. Vinyl siding, however, edges out its heavier cousin because fiber cement has been known to absorb water, which can cause it—and the walls of your home underneath—to rot.

Because of vinyl siding’s flexibility, it’s also virtually impervious to chips and cracks. That’s not the case for fiber cement, which is so rigid that it can easily crack both during the installation process and after it’s hanging on your home.

Vinyl siding, including insulated siding, is the only exterior cladding with a product certification program administered by an independent, accredited quality-control agency that ensures products and colors meet or exceed the industry standard for performance.

MAINTENANCE
Here’s where vinyl siding pulls way ahead of fiber cement. When fiber cement is installed, it needs to be caulked and painted (unless you opt for the prepainted version), unlike vinyl siding, which needs no additional work before or after installation. Over the long haul, you’ll need to paint fiber-cement siding periodically because it will fade due to the demands of Mother Nature. Likewise, you’ll need to ensure that the caulking in the joints maintains its integrity to avoid water intrusion.

Vinyl siding, on the other hand, needs little more than a periodic spray cleaning with your garden hose and some soapy water to retain its vibrant look.

Hal-round-6Web13-300x300Half-Round Vinyl Siding
Half-round vinyl siding. Photo: Vinyl Siding Institute

COST
According to the RSMeans 2014 Residential Cost Data report, the installed cost of vinyl siding is, on average, $201 per 100 square feet, while fiber cement totals $300 for the same area. The installation costs alone for vinyl are also lower, at an average of $104 versus $124.

In addition to saving on the initial cost of purchasing and installing vinyl siding, you’ll also save money over the lifetime of owning your home as it needs no painting or recaulking, unlike fiber cement. Plus, if you choose to use insulated vinyl siding, you’ll save additional money on your heating and cooling costs.

Finally, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2013–14 Cost vs. Value Report, vinyl siding and insulated siding will recoup more than 78 percent of their installed cost when it comes time to sell your house—a house whose siding will likely look just as good when you sell as the day you put it up!

Franco Michael (2014 May) Vinyl Siding vs. Fiber Cement: Which Is Right for Your Home? Retrieved on May 6, 2014 From Bobvila.com

 

Spring cleaning tips: It’s easy to keep vinyl siding looking new

Just as your car gets dirty, so does your home’s siding. The good news is that if your home has vinyl siding, it’s almost as easy to clean as your car.

Imagine, with nothing more than a hose and water, mild soap and a long-handled soft bristle brush, you can keep your home looking its best.

Vinyl siding is the exterior cladding that demands the least amount of time and resources to maintain. And for time-starved homeowners, that’s one less thing to worry about.

Compare that to other exteriors:

•Brick requires re-pointing of mortar.

•Fiber cement siding requires periodic painting and caulking.

•Wood siding requires frequent painting and staining.

•Stucco requires painting and sealing.

Cleanings steps

First, mix the cleaning solution in a large bucket. Four gallons of water and ¼ cup of dish soap should do the trick.

Start at the top, and work your way down to prevent streaks; hose off a section to remove any loose debris, then wet your brush in the cleaning solution and scrub the siding.

Be sure to rinse away the soapy water before it dries, or it will leave marks on the siding.

Small spots of mold and mildew can be cleaned with common cleaners such as Fantastik or Windex.

Have stains? Try a solution of 30 percent vinegar and 70 percent water.

Be sure to spot check any general or stain-specific cleaner before using it on a large section of siding. After removing the stain, rinse thoroughly with water. Do not use cleaners containing organic solvents, undiluted chlorine bleach, liquid grease remover, nail polish remover or furniture polish or cleaners. They can affect the surface of the siding.

If using a pressure washer, be sure to keep the stream at eye level and pointed straight at the siding, not at an angle. That way, you won’t drive water in behind the siding, which could cause mold to develop. Also, use caution when using a pressure washer around openings like windows, doors and plumbing connections.

Take note that some manufacturers don’t want pressure washers used on their products at all. Others allow them, but have limitations on the amount of pressure and the cleaners that can be used.

Staff writer (2014 April 6) Spring cleaning tips: It’s easy to keep vinyl siding looking new. Retrieved on April 17, 2014 from telegram.com

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