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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How to clean your skylights

By their very nature, skylights are always on prominent display in your home, often right above your breakfast table or even your bed itself. As such, it is vital that you keep up their appearance throughout the year. Some of the common culprits are mildew, grime, acid rain, and even pigeon droppings. If the appearance of your skylights isn’t up to par, it essentially defeats the whole purpose of having them installed in the first place. Thankfully, anyone can clean their own skylights, and it’s quite easy to do so.

Prep Work

Cleaning your skylights is easy, so there isn’t much prep work involved. As skylights are often out of reach, you will need to use a ladder and take the proper safety precautions with that. Furthermore, you should move any furniture in the room so that it does not get in the way. If you are cleaning during the summer, try not to start cleaning until the evening or night time, when it’s much cooler. Remember to always use caution if you are using a ladder or are working on the roof, and ideally you should have someone with you at all times.

Caring for the Frame

The frame, being made from aluminum, is often low maintenance. When you clean the skylight glazing, of course, you will have to wash it, and if there is a painted finish, you should check up on it every now and then to cover up bare spots as needed.

Dealing with the Plastic

Plastic is susceptible to scratching, so you must be careful. Do not use abrasive cleaners or abrasive pads. Use something gentle clean. A weak solution of soap and water should do the trick. Using a soft cloth, gently clean the plastic, and then rinse well with water. Blot it dry, gently again, to prevent water spots. You can protect the plastic with a thin coat of either floor wax or automobile polish. This will help maintain the luster of the plastic.

Cleaning the Glass

For the glass, the same solution of soap or ammonia and water should be enough. However, you can also use commercial glass-cleaning solutions for this. It important to protect the glass from scratches and deterioration, so you should never use any abrasive materials or cleaners at any point when you clean your skylight.

Preventative Maintenance

As with anything, prevention is better than cure. By keeping an eye on your skylight windows throughout the year, you won’t have to make any heavy repairs or have them replaced altogether. By maintaining and cleaning your skylights just once or twice a year, you will be able to enjoy them to the fullest for years to come.

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Why You Should Choose Vinyl Siding


When looking for options in a home renovation or new build, you should think of all your options. When doing so, you can choose the best setup for your needs. For this reason, a homeowner who wants to improve the house should use vinyl siding and here are four reasons why this is true.

Maintenance:

While a homeowner who has a house made of wood will have to paint it, people with vinyl siding do not have to worry about this costly and time-consuming proposition. This is a huge benefit if you are older or simply do not want to spend your life painting the house and keeping things in order. Without a doubt, if you want something that works for a long time, you should consider vinyl siding.

Easy to wash:

Not only can you avoid using paint, but you will not have to work hard to clean your vinyl siding. In fact, the low maintenance factor is a big reason people love vinyl siding. Think about it, when you put this one your house, you will not have to spend a lot of time cleaning it off. In fact, with an inexpensive rag and some dish soap, you can clean your siding in minutes.

Inexpensive:

It is not cheap to build a house. It is expensive to get the materials and put everything together to keep it in order. However, if you use vinyl siding, you can enjoy a nice looking house without breaking the bank. This is a huge reason many love vinyl siding. Simply put, if you want an inexpensive solution, you should consider vinyl siding. With this great value, you can enjoy a nice house without spending too much money or time.

Resell:

Other people will also appreciate a house with vinyl siding. When thinking about this, one should realize retired people, busy families and single people alike do not want to waste their time with wood panels. For this reason, if you install decent vinyl siding, you can help the resell value of your house without much effort. Remember, people will love to walk up to a house and see vinyl siding and you can have an easier time talking them into buying your place.

There are plenty of benefits of vinyl siding. When getting it installed at your house, you can enjoy a host of money-saving and time-saving benefits. At the same time, it is nice to look at, and you can accentuate the rest of your property.

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Sun Roof: Solar Panel Shingles Come Down in Price, Gain in Popularity

Solar shingles are photovoltaic cells designed to look like and integrate with conventional asphalt roof shingles. First commercially available in 2005, solar shingles were much more costly than traditional “bolt-on” photovoltaic panels, and thus were used mainly by those wanting to go solar but maintain a traditional roofline. But more recently solar shingles have become price-competitive with bolt-on panels, and are getting much more popular accordingly. Eco-conscious home and building owners might find solar shingles especially attractive when they are re-shingling anyway since the solar shingles also double as functional, protective and weatherproof roof shingles in their own right.

The biggest name in solar shingles is Dow’s Powerhouse line, which uses cutting edge Copper Indium Gallium Selenide solar cells (aka “thin-film” solar) to turn sunlight into electricity via a supplied inverter box. The Powerhouse shingles generate 12 watts per square foot and are “grid-tied,” meaning they’re designed for structures already connected to the power grid and can send excess power back to the grid. They are wireless, snap together and can be installed by regular roofing contractors just like (or alongside) conventional asphalt shingles (an electrician needs to set up the inverter box).

Dow reports that a typical residential cluster of 350 solar singles on a roof could slash one’s household electric bill by 40-60 percent. Such an installation can cost a homeowner over $20,000, but federal, state and local incentives can bring the cost to half that in some areas. Powerhouse shingles are currently available (from Dow-authorized contractors) in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Washington, D.C.

Another leader in solar shingles is building products manufacturer CertainTeed. The company’s Apollo line of grid-tied monocrystalline solar shingles and roofing tiles offers efficiency similar to larger “bolt-on” photovoltaic arrays at around the same price (and incentives similar to those for Dow may also apply) but with less bulk: Each Apollo tile is less than an inch thick and will integrate with, replace, or lay on top of existing asphalt roof shingles or tiles and generate 12 watts of power per square foot.

CertainTeed says a typical installation will save homeowners 40-70 percent on their electric bills. Their Apollo products are available across the U.S. but the company recommends using one of their authorized roofing contractors to make sure they are installed properly.

Now is an especially good time to go solar—shingles or otherwise—because costs have started to come down and the federal government is still offering 30 percent tax credits with no cap on the purchase of solar electricity equipment. Twenty-seven states and several cities offer additional incentives that can get pricing on solar gear and installations down even lower. For more information check out the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), a free online resource provided by the North Carolina Solar Center and IREC with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Scheer Roody (2013 April 2) Sun Roof: Solar Panel Shingles Come Down in Price, Gain in Popularity. Retrieved on March 4, 2014 from ScientificAmerican.com

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Handmade Stone Veneer – a Great Choice for Inside and Out

Using handmade stone cladding or stone veneer for your home – whether it it’s to enliven an interior feature wall or decorate a fireplace surround, or to enhance the look of your house’s frontage or outdoor living space – is an attractive, flexible and cost-efficient alternative to using natural stone.

Stone cladding is made from reconstituted stone that is cast in molds, and this means that it is far lighter than natural stone. It also makes stone cladding a good deal cheaper to instal. In addition, there are a wide variety of styles and colours of stone cladding on offer, meaning that you can choose a colour, look and style that precisely matches your design concept.

During the stone veneer manufacturing process a base color is mixed and blended into the reconstituted stone, which means the color is an integral part of the finished product. This also means that, like natural stone, color changes or fading are minimal and so exposure to the elements will not significantly alter the appearance of your stone cladding, even after many years. Another advantage is that during the manufacturing process the coloring of your stone cladding can be customized to complement your decor and the overall look of your home.

Stone cladding can be applied to any clean, structurally sound wall or surface, including brick or plastered walls, masonry or cement, plywood, wallboards and paneling. Furthermore, as it is much lighter than natural stone, there is no need for additional foundations or for other structural alterations, meaning that stone cladding is a good deal easier and cheaper to install. Likewise, stone veneer’s light weight also means that it adheres easily to almost any surface, so you can achieve the look you’re after in areas of your home where it might not be possible to use natural stone.

As stone veneer is handcrafted, most patterns and designs will include prefabricated corner pieces so your stone cladding can be easily installed around corners, meaning you can achieve a unified look without color or texture variation. It also means that the installation process is relatively quick and straightforward, as the prefabricated pieces are designed and made to be applied in a specific pattern.

Stone veneer is highly durable and minimal maintenance is required. Washing the stone to remove any dirt or debris occasionally is all that is required. If you are using it indoors, spillages are easily cleaned away and stone cladding doesn’t stain. In addition, stone veneer is non-combustible and so is both an attractive and practical solution for a fireplace surround. It is also extremely resilient, meaning that it can take a good deal of wear and tear, making it ideal for installation in a busy family or living room.

There are many advantages to installing handmade stone veneer – its ease of installation, low maintenance, durability and the wide variety of colors and styles available means that stone cladding will enhance the design and look of your home both inside and out, and at a fraction of the cost of installing natural stone. It’s a great choice for either a new house or a renovation project and can be adapted to suit any kind of design concept or style.

Staff Writer (2012 August 17) Handmade Stone Veneer – A Great Choice Inside And Out Retrieved on January 24, 2014 From cadoganandhall

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All You Need To Know About Chimneys

Taking care of chimneys is very important to keep a fireplace burning brightly and cleanly. With an educated eye and regular cleanings, homeowners can avoid the risk of expensive damage from water, animals or fire.

The top of a chimney is covered with a metal chimney cap. The cap keeps out animals and protects the chimney from the weather. The chimney chase is the part of the chimney that shows above the roof. The inside of the chimney, called the chimney flue, is open space, allowing smoke to flow out. The metal lining helps prevent fires.

The damper is a mechanism inside the entrance of the chimney that opens and closes, controlling the flow of smoke. The fireplace faces the inside of the house. It has a mantel, a face made of brick underneath, and a metal plate called a lintel that supports the face and the mantel bricks. The outer hearth and inner hearth form the “floor” of the firebox, where fires are built when the fireplace is in use. The inside of the firebox is made of fireproof brick. Some fireplaces have an ash pit underneath to collect ashes. The ash pit is usually accessible for cleaning from the outside of the house.

Regular chimney cleaning can prevent most fire hazards. Cleaning is recommended at least once every two years. Fires deposit creosote, a flammable black or brown tar, and soot inside the chimney that must be removed by professional chimney sweeps. Creosote is one of the biggest contributors to home fires involving a chimney or fireplace.

Homeowners can make a visual inspection of the outside of the chimney, the area around the chimney in the attic and inside the house to determine if there is visible structural, animal or water damage. Signs of problems include: cracks in the mortar, water stains, leaning of the chimney or house and peeling paint or wallpaper around the chimney.

When a chimney specialist finishes cleaning the chimney, they will examine the interior with a camera to determine if there is damage. These inspections are vital to make sure there are no gaps where fire can enter or animals living in the chimney.

Chimney repair should be an easy process, but to avoid scams always make sure the chimney specialist is certified. Be sure that they can provide real photographic evidence of the problem and explain the repairs needed. Always get multiple estimates on any repairs being considered. Taking these steps should keep the chimney clean and working optimally for many years.

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Types of Stone Facing

Vinyl and wood siding each have their own benefits, but stone facing is quickly growing in popularity to replace these options. In fact, stone was used for centuries not only as the main structure for the homes but also only on the outside as a facing. Today, facing is available in a wide variety of types, colors, and styles.

Natural stones are one option you can choose. It is often selected because it is not uniform. Patterns, colors, sizes, and shapes all differ from piece to piece. These stones provide a high level of durability. The biggest downfall is in the weight and installation. These stones, in bulk, add a lot of weight to the home’s structure and outer walls. They also take more time to install, mainly because you have to fit the inconsistent pieces together, kind of like a puzzle. The remaining gaps are filled with mortar.

Stone Veneer has many of the same benefits of natural stones. They are also made by nature, but the difference is in the cutting. This particular form of natural stones are much thinner because they are cut in thin slices from the original pieces. Since they are thinner, they weigh a lot less. Veneer stones also have an inconsistent shape and size that must be considered during installation.

Faux brick or stone can also be chosen. These “fake” versions are manufactured to present consumers with a less expensive option without sacrificing the look of real stones. There are several different types available. You could choose versions made of a polyurethane blend that comes in sheets that interlock or line up for easy installation. Other versions involve tinting concrete and pouring it into molds that create sheets. Regardless of which type you choose, they are often made to mimic the natural look.

When you are choosing a facing for your home, it is important to consider your budget and the installation difficulty, especially if you plan on handling the installation on your own. Due to the rising popularity of this facing, the curb appeal and value of your home may increase. It is a good idea, particularly when choosing natural stones, to have a professional come out and inspect your home to make sure it is possible to use the types of stones you have chosen.

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ALTERNATIVE SIDING OPTIONS

Take a closer look at a few alternative siding options, all of which will help ease the burden on your wallet.

For today’s homebuilder there are many siding options that won’t break their budgets. Engineered wood and cultured stone are two, but perhaps the most common low-cost siding option is vinyl.

“One of the biggest siding or exterior cladding system choices now is vinyl,” said John Broniek, manager of builder programs at IBACOS. “It’s very popular, especially for production homes. You have many colors, it’s very durable, low maintenance, which people appreciate.”

For those of you who like the look of wood, vinyl siding is a perfect alternative because it captures the distinctive look of wood — but at a lower cost.

Like vinyl siding, fiber-cement siding is another material that’s becoming more popular with homeowners and builders alike. This new innovation is basically cement board, which can look like regular vinyl or wood siding. The only difference is that it’s made with cement-type material, and when you put it on your house it can last for decades — with little maintenance required. Most manufacturers have at least 50-year warranties, and it’s a durable product that installs as easily as regular siding.

Note: Vinyl and fiber-cement siding can cost up to 25 percent “less” than high-end siding options such as brick, wood and stone.

Low-Cost Siding Drawbacks

Like all siding materials, some of these low-cost alternatives have drawbacks. For example, fiber-cement siding is much heavier than traditional siding options and needs some moisture barrier underneath to ensure its waterproof qualities. Exterior building products aren’t 100 percent watertight. In fact, water will get around them somehow — either through them or around them at windows and doors. This means a secondary line of protection is necessary to protect the building that’s behind it.

A drawback of vinyl siding is that it doesn’t come in as many colors that can be painted on traditional wood.

How Long Will Siding Last?

Regardless of whether you’re using a high-end siding or low-cost alternative to cover your home’s exterior, you’ll want the siding to last as long as possible. The longevity depends upon two things:

The durability of the product.
How well the product is maintained.
Durability is an important quality of exterior building products, but it’s vital to remember that the materials will be exposed to the extent of what Mother Nature can throw at them in terms of wind, rain, sun, rain, snow and more. All exterior building materials will deteriorate over time.

You can make the building product last longer if you maintain it extremely well. Vinyl siding requires little maintenance, but wood siding requires much more. One of the easiest ways to ensure a longer life for your siding is to keep it clean.

With vinyl or stucco siding, cleaning is as simple as using a garden hose to wash it. With high-end options such as wood, you’ll need to have paint or a wood sealant applied by an installation professional or if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you. Once the elements have worn through the out sealant, they’ll have to be replaced.

So after you’ve
chosen a material, make sure that your builder has purchased a siding that has a long-term warranty. And once you’ve moved into your home, remember to clean and repaint or reseal the siding on a regular basis.

DIYNetwork-Alternative Siding Options. Retrieved November 04, 2013 From DIYNetwork.

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Things to Know When Choosing Siding

A good home siding service will carry an ample selection of exterior siding that can fit your budget, design and quality needs. They should be thoroughly knowledgeable about the pros and cons of home siding in your region and know in-depth details about different manufacturers and their products. Professional home siding companies can provide expert consulting to help you achieve the home design you seek with the best home siding choices and estimates.

The cost to side a house can vary drastically and is most heavily influenced by the labor of installation and the type of material used. Beyond that there are future considerations to take in account when determining the costs to side a house. Siding will affect the value of your house which will influence overall tax expenses and also make it more desirable to sell. The cost to side a house should also factor in how much money is saved by not requiring home repair because it helps to protect the foundation, the price of heating and cooling, and the general life of a home.

There are dozens of types of siding that homeowner’s can now choose from. The four most common types include wood, vinyl, cedar impressions and composites.

Wood – easy on the eyes and wallet but has as a shorter lifespan and susceptible to rot and pests.

Vinyl – comes in many colors, and is a low cost solution for material, installation and maintenance.

Cedar Impressions – synthetic polymer material molded to imitate wood shingles.

Composite – most versatile shapes and trims with simple installation.

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