RISMEDIA, May 9, 2011-Feel like cheating? Forget what the inside of your home looks like for just a bit and focus on outside enhancements during May's National Home Improvement Month.
"The exterior of your home makes a lasting and daily impression on your friends and family, along with your neighbors," says Mark Clement, professional contractor and host of MyFixItUpLife home improvement radio show. "While the weather is good, my advice is to get outside and fix up problem areas, work on the landscaping and invest in products that make your home's exterior not only look great, but work great. Then, once the weather gets too hot during the summer months you can re-focus on interior home improvement projects."
Clement-who is in the middle of an ongoing renovation of his 100-year-old home in Pennsylvania-recommends assessing your needs and then diving in on projects. "On the exterior of the home there are three big, critical areas I recommend people evaluate every year-the roof, the windows and the entry door. Those are key areas because, along with being focal points of the home, they help protect a house from severe weather. And, if you have problems with older windows, doors or roofing tiles, you're looking at higher energy bills and growing problems that can affect your wallet long-term."
When it comes time to focus on improvements for these vital areas of the home, Clement offers these recommendations:
1. Check yearly (from a ladder or from a neighbor's home with binoculars) to determine the condition of your roof. 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.
2. Don't forget to check the sides of your roof. The southern exposure weathers significantly faster than the other sides of the roof, so make sure to carefully examine this one. Also, shallower pitches weather faster than steeper pitches. So again, if your roof has a shallow pitch-like a shed dormer-make certain you can clearly see it to get a true indication of the condition of your roof.
3. If you're in the market for a new roof, investigate polymer roofing tiles as a good option. These impact-resistant slate and shake tiles are man-made in a wide variety of colors. Some tiles have a 50-year limited warranty and are ideal for all types of weather conditions, including hurricanes and hail.
4. Since the installation of a new roof exceeds the capabilities of most homeowners, make sure to research and hire a professional roofer. Check to make sure your roofer is insured, licensed and certified. Ask for a written job estimate and references along with warranty information for both the roof you select and his installation services.
1. If you can see light around your main entry door from the inside, the door is hard to close or lock, or the door itself is warped, it's time to consider a new door.
2. Even if you can't see light, air may be moving through gaps in the weather stripping at a surprising rate. On a very cold or hot day, hold the back of your hand an inch or so away from the bottom and perimeter of your door. If you can feel air moving or a significant cold spot, that's a signal your existing door could benefit from better sealing.
3. Determine what role you would like an entry door to play on your home's exterior. Do you want it to be a focal point with a splash of color? Is it important that you have decorative glass in the door system? Will you need vented sidelites to allow more light and air into your home? Search the web for "Door Designer" and "My Saved Door" online tools to help visualize how a new door will look on your home.
4. Think about the weather conditions your home's door faces along with your energy bills. If either run to the extreme, consider replacing your entryway with a high-performance fiberglass door (which has four times more insulation than wood doors).
1. Evaluate the functionality and decorative appeal of your current windows. If you have condensation between glass panes, the windows are hard to open or close, your energy bills are soaring or if there are drafts coming in around the window units, then it's time to seriously consider replacement windows.
2. Vinyl framed windows are the category of windows with the highest growth rate in the country. Why? These frames are extremely energy-efficient and 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.
3. Investigate your window options and stick with a national manufacturer that can stand behind a long-term warranty. For his renovation project, Clement selected Simonton vinyl windows. The award-winning company impressed him with its 65-year history and return-on-investment with their quality ENERGY STAR
4. Remember that a thermally-efficient window is sealed tightest when it's locked. So, to keep your energy bills lowers, don't just close your windows, make sure to lock them.
1. If you have the opportunity to replace your entry door or windows, make sure to finish off the job with stylish window and door trim. Lightweight and easy to install, weather-resistant synthetic mouldings, shutters and entryway surrounds from Fypon are a definite do-it-yourself project for any homeowner.
2. Take an eagle's eye look at your home. Most houses have louvers placed high above the attic or garage space to allow ventilation in those areas. And, most houses have wooden louvers that can rot with time. Replacing louvers with insect-resistant and rot-resistant synthetic louvers can improve the home's appearance and functionality.
3. Wrap it up. Clement recommends that if you have unsightly porch posts you can easily transform them into showpiece parts of your home by using Column Wrap Kits. The decorative synthetic pieces can be installed in less than 15 minutes around existing structural posts and columns to give an upgraded look to any home.
For more home improvement tips, visit www.myfixituplife.com. Established by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), National Home Improvement Month focuses on enhancements that can be made throughout the home. For details and more information, visit www.nari.org.
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