Exploring The History and Future of Window Construction

5 Siding Options That Require Minimal Maintenance

Posted by on Mar 14, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 5 Siding Options That Require Minimal Maintenance

Choosing the right siding for your home can really make it stand out from the crowd. However, different types of siding require different levels of maintenance. If you prefer low-maintenance options, check out these five siding options that require minimal maintenance to keep your home’s exterior looking great. Vinyl Siding Vinyl fences, vinyl decks: vinyl seems to be popping up everywhere as a low-maintenance option, and you can even get vinyl siding. Vinyl siding requires little maintenance to keep it looking fresh because you don’t have to worry about rot or bugs. Plus, you never have to paint the vinyl. However, if you do get sick of the color and want to paint, you may have a difficult time because vinyl is difficult to paint. You’ll need to routinely clean any dirt and debris that gathers on the vinyl siding, and even common household cleaners like Lysol can help, but avoid harsh cleaning products (bleach, chlorine, etc.) and scrubbers. Cost: $0.65 to $2.00 per square foot. Life: 20 to 30 years. Fiber Cement Siding Fiber cement siding is created from sand, cement and cellulose fibers. The boards come in many styles (horizontal lap boards, shingles, vertical board-and-batt, etc.) and they can be pressed to mimic the look of wood. Luckily, however, fiber cement siding requires a lot less work than wood. The fiber cement is extremely durable and doesn’t shrink or expend as the weather changes. The paint lasts a long time, so you won’t need to apply a recoat as often. Like vinyl, the material resists rot and bugs. You simply need to routinely clean it with a pressure washer. Cost: $1.25 to $2.00 per square foot. Life: 35 to 50 years. Aluminum Siding Aluminum siding is another option that requires little work. Unlike vinyl, it can be repainted, and the paint can fade or chip, so you’ll probably need to freshen the coat during its lifetime. However, aluminum is a special metal because it doesn’t rust when exposed to the elements like other metals. Therefore, if the paint does get chipped or scratched, you can take your time in repairing it. As with fiber cement siding, you can clean aluminum siding by using a pressure washer to remove any dirt. Cost: $2.50 to $5.00 per square foot. Life: 20 to 30 years. Stucco To create stucco siding, cement, lime and silica are applied to wood or metal. Stucco is particularly good at increasing energy efficiency by keeping the house cooler during the summer and warmer during the winter, but it can also dampen sound. Stucco is durable and fire resistant. When dirt appears, you can remove it with a pressure washer, but holes may develop in the stucco. Holes need to be treated quickly, so moisture doesn’t cause extensive damage. You can repair small holes yourself with a stucco repair kit, but call a professional for bigger holes. Cost: $6.00 to $9.00 per square foot. Life: 50 years or more. Brick and Stone Siding When cleaning your brick or stone siding, use a garden hose or pressure washer to spray away the dirt. However, if you have brick or stone veneers, don’t use a pressure washer, because the power may be too strong and cause damage.  In moist, shady areas, moss can grow on the siding. To...

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Dog Proofing Your Sliding Glass Door

Posted by on Dec 18, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Dog Proofing Your Sliding Glass Door

If you have a large or excitable dog, there is potential for your sliding glass door and the accompanying screen door to be easily broken, scratched, or ruined. There are a few things you can do though to help protect your sliding glass and screen door and make it more pet-friendly. 1. Install a protective layer over glass surfaces. The first step to minimizing dog damage is to place a guard over top of the glass panels of your sliding door. These are like a tinting film, except instead of darkening your class, they remain clear and protect the glass from scratches. Large dogs or dogs that need to scratch at the door to be let outside will end up permanently scratching your glass. Over time, the scratches will weaken the door and make it more susceptible to breaking. The protective film can be replaced once it is marked up, leaving the glass below unscathed. If you are installing a new door, talk to the supplier about having the protective layer placed on the door before the door is installed in your home.  2. Train your dog not to jump on the door. Some dogs jump or throw their weight against doors in order to get someone to open the door and let them out. With large breeds, like a St. Bernard or full-sized Labrador, the weight of the dog can actually cause the glass in the door to shatter, especially with daily repeated blows. Hurricane and shatter-proof glass can help withstand the force of large, jumping dog, but the only fail-safe way to protect your door is to choose strong glass AND teach your dog different behavior.  Your dog should not be rewarded for jumping against the door. Scolding the dog but letting him out will still teach him that the door gets opened when he jumps. Instead, you need to show your dog that jumping is not needed, which means you need to open the door before he resorts to jumping. Beat your dog to the door when he needs to go out, showing him that approaching the door yields the same results as jumping. Be there for your dog (such as after a potty trip) to open the door for him when he returns from the outside. Reward the correct behavior with scratching the ears or a small treat. If your dog forgets and resorts to jumping, make contact with the door uncomfortable by jerking the door out from under his paws or by spraying him gently with cool water, as negative reinforcement is sometimes needed.  3. Choose re-enforced screen options. Dogs can shred screens easily with their powerful and excited front paws. Door companies now market screens that are pet-friendly—they are much stronger and do not break as easily. You can even replace flimsy screens yourself. However, teaching your dog how to behave at the screen door is still needed, as screens can still weaken over time.  4. Install a dog door. Modern dog doors do not have to be the flap version of decades past. Doors can be customized to your dog’s size. They can also be insulated and open and close automatically behind your dog so they don’t allow heat or cold air to escape, affecting your utility bill. When you install your...

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Washing Windows: A Guide For Keeping Windows Sparkling Clean

Posted by on Oct 13, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Washing Windows: A Guide For Keeping Windows Sparkling Clean

Hiring a professional window cleaning service to clean those difficult-to-reach windows can bring new life to your home and eliminate the need to dangle from that upstairs window as you clean them by hand. But, windows won’t stay clean forever. You still need to know how to clean your windows effectively so you can keep those windows in common areas of the home sparkling clean between professional cleanings. Cleaners There are a wide variety of window cleaners on the market that claim to provide streak-free window cleaning. If you don’t have any objections to commercial cleaners, go ahead and buy the one you prefer. Look for one with ammonia as this is the most effective ingredient in most glass cleaners. If you prefer a more natural cleaner, or just want to save money, there are a number of homemade window cleaning recipes you can try. Vinegar and Water: Vinegar cuts grease and grime and rinses away soil to leave your windows streak-free. Don’t worry about the odor as it dissipates quickly, leaving the area smelling fresh and clean. You will need white distilled vinegar for window cleaning. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and use it to clean your windows. Lemon Juice: Lemon juice also cuts grease and grime and can be used as a window cleaner. Mix one tablespoon of lemon juice to a quart of warm water and pour it into a spray bottle. Shake the bottle to mix the solution and use as you would use commercial glass cleaner. Borax: Heavily soiled windows require a little more work. Try mixing four tablespoons of borax (you can find it in the laundry aisle) with a quart of warm water. Use the solution to scrub away stubborn dirt or fingerprints. Rinse the window with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water to remove traces of borax and rinse away grime. Combination: If you aren’t opposed to adding a little rubbing alcohol to your window cleaner, give this one a try. Mix 1/2-cup of both white vinegar and rubbing alcohol with a quart of hot water. Add two tablespoons of cornstarch and mix well. Washing the Window Many people prefer to put their window cleaner in a spray bottle and spray it on the window and wiping it away with paper towels or a soft cloth. This is a convenient method and works well for quick touch ups. However, filling a bowl or bucket with the solution and saturating a rag to wash the windows may be more effective for cleaning heavily soiled windows. It is a little messier, but may produce better results, depending on the degree of soil on the windows. Drying the Window After washing the windows, you will need to remove the water so your windows dry streak-free and smudge-free. These are several options for removing the water from the window. Newspapers: Many old timers swear by using crumpled newspapers to dry the windows, claiming it leaves them streak-free and sparkling clean. Two advantages of using newspapers to clean the windows are that they do not produce lint and are very absorbent.  Because ink will not stick to glass, there are no worries about the ink staining the window, but it will get on your hands. Paper Towels: If you are...

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Tips For Preparing To Insulate Your Attic

Posted by on Aug 24, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tips For Preparing To Insulate Your Attic

Since heat rises, your home’s attic is prime real estate for heat loss and cold air leaks. That’s why it’s important your attic be appropriately insulated. Whether you’ve just purchased the house or you’ve neglected to maintain the insulation in the attic, a weekend project with an insulation contractor to protect your attic may be beneficial. If you’re new to insulation, you may not be familiar with the best practices of insulating to ensure you get the most from the job. Here’s a look at what you should know about the process. Start By Sealing Things Up You aren’t going to get the most benefit from your attic’s insulation if you don’t deal with all of the gaps that cause air leaks first. In fact, sealing your attic against leaks is the best place to start when it comes to insulating things. Sometimes, detecting those air leaks is best done by an insulation contractor. They have a machine that’s called a blower door. It simulates a sustained surrounding wind so vulnerable areas are easy to spot. There are a few common trouble spots to check. The attic hatch or door – Cover the attic-side of the door or hatch with a layer of insulation, then place weather stripping along the edges of the door and the frame. Pull-Down Attic Stairs – Apply weather stripping to the edges of the pull-down stairs. This will help to create a seal around the stairs when they’re folded flush to the ceiling. Then, add an insulated cover over the pull-down door. Make sure the cover is either hinged or easily removed so you can gain access to the attic when you need it. Exhaust Fans – Place air ducts on the fan to exhaust the fans outside. Run the duct work to the outside, and seal it well around the point where the ductwork meets the fan. Make sure the edges of the fan are sealed well where those edges come in contact with the drywall. This prevents air from seeping past the fan into your attic. Recessed Lighting – You’ll want to have an insulation specialist seal your recessed lighting. There are some strict regulations to consider when it comes to sealing lights, because you don’t want to risk starting a fire. All of your insulation material should stay at least a few inches away from any recessed lighting because of the fire hazard. Interior Wall Joints – Where the interior walls meet the attic floor, you’ll also want to make sure there’s a good seal. Apply a long-life caulking material around all of those seams to keep everything secure. Plumbing Vent Stacks – The best option for sealing around your plumbing vent stacks is expanding foam. Spray the expanding foam in the gap where the vent stacks exit the attic so that no air can pass beyond the vent. Ensure Ventilation Before you insulate the attic, you need to make sure you’ve got sufficient ventilation. Otherwise, the air will be stale and it may even harbor moisture, which can lead to mold and mildew. Here are a few things to consider when you’re checking for ventilation. Install a few ventilation chutes along the walls where the attic meets the edge of the house. Then, make sure your soffit vents are clear....

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Keeping In The Clear: 3 Car Window Cleaning Tips

Posted by on Jul 9, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Keeping In The Clear: 3 Car Window Cleaning Tips

How many windows does your car have? It sounds like a stupid question, right? But you are probably not sure. The average car has eight individual windows, including the front and rear windshields and side windows. Although these windows may not have many moving parts (note: power window malfunctions rank near the top of common auto repair needs), your windows need maintenance just like every other part of your car. These 3 window maintenance tips will help you keep in the clear this summer: Tip # 1: Ditch the Household Cleaners Many consumers believe that all glass cleaners are designed to clean all types of glass. This assumption certainly is not true for auto glass cleaners. Ammonia, the main ingredient of most glass cleaners, should never come near your car’s windows. Not only can the fumes be noxious, creating potential respiratory dangers in a hot cramped car, but ammonia can dry out the plastic seals that keep your windows firmly in place. Additionally, applying ammonia-based cleaners to tinted windows can cause severe cracking, peeling, and “purpling”. It can also nullify any potential factory warranties protecting your window tinting. Possibly the best, and certainly the cheapest, car window cleaning solution is purified or distilled water. Spraying a few squirts of mineral-free water on your windows will keep your windows streak-free and clear. The key to preventing streaks from forming is to make sure that you wipe up the water in the same direction and make sure that all water is wiped up before it has the chance to dry on the window. Tip # 2: Go Micro Car windows can get a lot of wear and tear. This creates a dilemma, not only do you need to remove the accumulated detritus on your windows, but you must do so gently enough to avoid scratching or scuffing them in the process. Paper towels: With more automakers making the switch from tempered glass to laminated safety glass, it’s important remember that keeping your windows clean can take a toll on your windows. To avoid scratches and scuffing you should use fabric-based towels over their more often used paper brethren. Micro Fiber: Your best drying and wiping solution is using two micro fiber towels. One towel should be used for scrubbing and mopping up the washing concoction you apply to your windows. This towel should be relatively large, thick, and feature more pronounced ridges. Once you’ve scrubbed your windows and mopped up any excess fluid on the windows, you should use a second micro fiber towel to finish the job. This towel can be thinner, smaller, and feature less pronounced ridges. Tip # 3: Spritz Up Your Wiper Fluid Summer driving can blot out the otherwise clear view you see through your windshield. Torrential down pours, dust storms, hail, and swarms of bugs can coat your windshield with gunk that can overwhelm your windshield wipers. Wiper fluid: Although wiper fluid might seem pretty low tech, the blue concoction you glug into your wiper fluid reserve may boast many claims: anti-freezing, de-icing, bug-removing, ect. Many of these claims, however, might be little more than marketing gimmicks. Wiper Fluid 2.0: You can create a better wiper fluid with a simple spritzing of household products stored in your workshop or kitchen cupboard. Begin with the least...

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How To Keep Condensation From Forming In New Double Paned Windows

Posted by on Mar 12, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

If you want to reduce energy loss in the home, then it may be wise to replace your windows. A simple window replacement can save you over $450 a year. Your savings will be highest if you choose the most insulated windows, and double paned varieties are often considered the best. Double paned windows feature two layers of glass, and insulating air or argon sits in between the glass. The windows can last a long time, but condensation can build in between the two glass panes. You should prevent this from happening to make sure your windows stay in great condition for as long as possible. Dehumidify Your Home Condensation will often build within double paned windows, because humidity in the home is allowed to remain high. As humidity builds, the moist air comes into contact with the cold window surface and the air cools suddenly. The moisture is then pulled out of the air and water droplets form on the window pane. This same type of condensation can occur inside the window, and water can also seep between the panes through small gaps in the frame. You can easily prevent window condensation by making sure that indoor humidity is controlled. Monitoring humidity is the first step in controlling it, so purchase a hygrometer that will calculate the relative humidity in your home. If this device indicates that home humidity is above 50%, then you are likely to have a window condensation issue. Levels should be lowered to between 25% and 40%. Low home humidity is considered best once outside temperatures drop close to or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Choosing a Dehumidifier The easiest way to lower the humidity in your home is to purchase a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier is a device that forces humid air over cold metal coils. Water condenses on the coils and the fluid drops into a collection bucket. The appliances are extremely efficient in removing water from the air, but you need to make sure to purchase the right sized unit for your home.   Dehumidifiers are rated based on the number of pints that can be released from the air in one day. If you have a very humid or large home, then it is best to find a device that can remove between 50 and 70 pints in 24 hours. If your house is moderately damp or small, then a dehumidifier that can remove 30 to 50 pints a day is a good choice. Use Silica Desiccants The window frames that encase your double pane windows will be lined with silica desiccants. These small pellets help to absorb the moisture from the air that may enter the space between the double pane windows. The silica material also keeps water from around the frame from increasing the humidity inside the window.   If excessive water sits around the window or if pressure causes openings to form in the window frame, then the gel may not be capable of removing all the moisture. Condensation can then form. You can help draw moisture away from the windows by placing your own packets of silica gel near your windows. Making Silica Packets To make silica gel packets, purchase a large container of silica pellets from your local home store. Place about one-quarter cup of the pellets in a silk, nylon, or cheesecloth bag....

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