Beware of improvement in stages
Some home improvement sites are encouraging consumers to do their projects in stages – bits and pieces to make things more affordable. While that may stave off a big hit on the pocketbook, it also may lead to issues later. So, plan ahead keeping the following advice in mind.
Colors and styles change for all home products – from windows to cabinets – quicker than the average consumer may realize. This year’s white may not be the same as next year’s white. Next year’s white may lean more towards cream and that means the six windows you replaced with white vinyl trim this year may make the next set of windows with “white” trim look like they are a bit yellow.
If you replace your exterior door today and plan on replacing other household glass next year, what happens if that glass style gets discontinued? You put up a new deck this year and plan on doing the railings, stairs and posts next year – depending on the materials and the weather, they may not look the same color even though you order the same thing.
Cabinet colors and styles change from one year to the next and sometimes as quickly in six months. Part of the reason is a business decision. Sure, that medium oak may be selling like hot cakes in the Midwest, but if the East and West Coasts want natural or a cider tint – say good-bye to medium oak. Door styles are also vulnerable to change.
And remember, as wood ages, it develops a patina. That stunning cherry kitchen will be just a little bit darker next year or even in six months. So deciding to put off adding upper cabinets or those two or three cabinets to transition to the next room may mean a different color or even architectural style. There will always be white cabinets and there will always be wood cabinets. But shades are going to vary and so will styles.
If you are going to do improvements in stages – we recommend picking a whole room or all the windows on one side of the house or the entire exterior door set-up to save yourself the aggravation of a mismatched project.
We are constantly asked by customers - whether they are picking out siding colors or cabinet colors – what is “in.” And really, there’s no easy answer to that, but there’s an easy solution on what official “in” colors to pick.
Several times a year the Pantone colors are announced. Right now the top trending colors are rose quartz and serenity. Serenity is described as a tranquil blue. But this is the Midwest which means we are surrounded by East Coast and West Coast trends and we just sort of hang there in the neutrals. That’s not a bad thing. Trending now in the Midwest are beautiful soft grays for both cabinets and siding. Grays can have a green tint, a blue tint or a red tint so there really is a gray for everyone.
Of course you can’t just call it gray – its elk or pebble or concrete, but it’s still gray. It’s nice on the outside of a home for vinyl or cement board siding or on the inside for cabinets and countertops and it’s pretty timeless. Unless you flip way over to the dusky side of gray, there are awesome accent colors to use for shutters and/or trim on the outside and to go with cabinet colors.
Still strong and it always will be is beige – also known as taupe, portabella, seal, iced coffee and hazelnut. Beige can be a warm brown or beige can go redder or lighter and it has lots of accent options. .
But if neutral is not your cup of tea, both the siding and cabinet companies are offering some strong color options like Maritime Blue, Buttercup Yellow or Cardinal Red. You can give yourself the best of both worlds by pairing neutrals with bold accents. Think yellow shutters with blue siding or a red accent wall or island in the kitchen.
What we really try to stress to customers is – YOU are living with the cabinets or siding or trim or shingles. Get something YOU want. Don’t settle for something that might be a neutral if you’ve always had your heart set on a kitchen island of red cabinets or Buttercup yellow shutters. The next owner of that home can change if they like – or perhaps they will buy it simply because they’ve had their heart set on Buttercup yellow shutters. So browse the showrooms at our locations and look at your color options – we’ll help you color your world.
If you are dreaming of spending summer and fall on a great deck – there are a few things to consider before you launch yourself into the realm of outdoor living and entertaining.
First, where is the deck going? Is it going to be in the sun all the time, partial sun or in the shade? How big will your deck be? Next, what’s your budget? Decks can be built from wood (treated lumber) or from composite, PVC or vinyl boards.
Wood is the most economical, but there’s a maintenance factor involved. Wood decks need to be washed and stained – depending on how much use and sun they are getting – it may have to be every year. At least every five years they have to be stripped, sanded and re-stained. If you don’t maintain a wood deck, it will fade to a silvery gray and crack, splinter and warp.
There are tropical hardwoods to use as decking boards, but they are expensive, hard to stain and because they are so hard, there may be additional installation costs. Hardwoods don’t take kindly to fasteners. If you are screwing or nailing the boards together, you will need to drill pilot holes first.
There is no question composite or vinyl decking boards cost more than red cedar or redwood, sometimes three to four times as much. The wood look vinyl or composite boards look like wood and they come in lots of colors. If you’ve been dreaming about a curved multi-tiered deck – you’re going to need to go with vinyl and hire a good installer.
Vinyl boards are heated and curved, either on site or ordered that way and they can give you that contemporary look. If curved boards are still your desire, you better find someone who knows their way around a deck installation if you plan to have the boards curved on site.
Look for some texture on the vinyl boards because dew or light rain on untextured boards makes for a slippery situation. And just as with natural wood, consider where the deck is going to go when you are picking a color for your vinyl or composite deck. Dark composite boards will hold the heat so your entertainment area might not be very comfortable after hours of direct sun.
With any type of deck, the accessories are numerous. From railing with glass which keep the view unobstructed to solar post caps that glow at night, your accessories can make your deck a great place to entertain, but they also should be included in your initial budget considerations.
If you are considering a small deck or a multi-tiered glamorous beauty that wraps around the house, it’s worth it to look for a professional to design your deck. Or you could try your hand at some of the programs on the websites of the decking companies.
If you don't know where to start, you can get guidance from our professionals at Marling Lumber and HomeWorks.
Windows come in dozens of styles; however, the two basic categories are wood or vinyl. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Both are energy efficient – the big differences are cost and maintenance.
Wood windows look great when they are put in, but they need periodic maintenance to keep up that look. Exposed wood will swell, rot and decay so wood windows need to be painted or stained regularly.
Vinyl windows are cleaned with soap and water and they never require painting or sealing.
Wood windows can cost two to three times what vinyl windows cost, but they have a higher re-sale value. They give an aesthetically pleasing, finished look to a residence and there are dozen of custom options, too. With wood windows you can vary the color, style, grille, hardware and the configuration.
Vinyl windows are relatively plain. There are vinyl windows being manufactured in wood-grain looks, but on close inspection, you can still tell you’ve got a vinyl window manufactured in a wood-grain look, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but something the consumer needs to keep in mind.
Vinyl windows are great for modern homes. They have a clean, symmetrical look that goes great with a clean design. Wood windows compliment older homes and historic homes. They can be ordered to fit into those quirky spaces that older homes have near foundations or by attics and dormers.
You can use cladding to defer some maintenance of wood windows. Cladding is vinyl or aluminum applied to the outside of the windows to sheet moisture away from the wooden frame. It forms a seal, but if that seal is broken, moisture can leak in and then the frame will rot.
If done correctly it can prolong the life of the window without maintenance. One thing to remember about cladding is it prevents outside moisture from damaging the frame. If you have a window that has constant condensation inside that sits on the frame – such as certain kitchen or bathroom windows – cladding on the outside won’t prevent damage.
Wood or vinyl aside, measuring and ordering windows in general is complicated. Windows are rated for certain areas of the country. Do you want UV protection and how much? Do you want sound rated windows? Do you want hurricane rated? Since windows are a costly investment, we recommend you get help from professionals for picking and measuring your windows.
Future blog posts will go through specific kinds of windows and their different applications.
Windows, doors, cabinets – they all take weeks to get. If you want a new kitchen before the holidays, it should be designed and ordered now.
Oh sure you are thinking, that can’t be right – in those DIY shows it takes three days and sometimes less to get those projects done.
Well, those DIY shows are good because they introduce the public to new materials, new colors and new ways to lay out a room. But, watch the next one a little closer. See
how green the lawn is in the first couple of minutes and no one is wearing a coat?
Then later in the show, people look a little more bundled up and finally, when the happy couple walks into the house – there’s snow on the ground and they are wearing
parkas. What you need to remember is that cabinets, doors and windows – especially cabinets and doors, are not mass produced.
A certain amount of cabinets are ordered and the line gets fired up in Indiana or South Dakota and your cabinets are being created. There’s a cabinet frame most of the
time and hinges and doors and certain colors and maybe a glaze or some other treatment and three weeks have slipped by. Then they wait until there’s enough product to
fill a truck and get it shipped.
Three to six weeks later your cabinets are here – and now you have to make sure your contractor has time to install them.
And what about those stunning exterior doors? Different colors on the inside and outside, different lock set ups, different sizes, one side lite or two? How about a
transom? Add an ornate design in the caning, a little wrought iron decoration and your door shows up four to six weeks after you ordered it. You don’t want it snowing on
the install day.
When you are planning a project, get a realistic timeline in your mind and understand there may be things along the way that we can’t control and neither can you. The
factory is in the middle of no where and it closed for two days because they had electrical problems, the truck driver miscalculated the weather and the diesel froze, one
cabinet is missing and its getting put on the next truck, all the orders were on one computer drive and it crashed and it will take a week to restore the data at the
Yes, all these things have happened and each of them delayed someone’s project that needed to get done. Plan with a realistic timeline in mind – and then add a week for
things you can’t control.
You’ve got to put a new roof on your house and now you’ve discovered it’s not as simple as picking out a shingle from three or four options. There are new colors, new styles – should I get metal roofing and what are the advantages or disadvantages of all these things? Questions and more questions.
Luckily, there is a lot of technology out there that you can take advantage of to help educate yourself and even get design help.
First, let’s think about regular shingles. There are a couple of big shingle companies with lots of options, GAF, Certainteed and Tamko - http://www.tamko.com/ to name three. Each of them has an option to enter your zip code when looking at shingles on their websites. Use it. Shingles are rated for parts of the country and only sold in parts of the country. Don’t fall in love with a color or shingle style you aren’t going to be able to get or use.
Certainteed - http://www.certainteed.com/ - has a color visualizer on its website to look at the shingles on a house similar to yours. Tamko goes one step further and lets you download an I-pad App to do some of your own creating with colors and styles.
Check out GAF’s DIY Roofing Center on their website - http://www.gaf.com/ . There’s something called a Roofing Wizard that lets you change the color of the shingles on a house to see what they look like and their Virtual Home Remodeler lets you change brick and trim styles.
Decra - http://decra.com/ is one of the bigger steel roofing companies. Steel roofing doesn’t just come in big sheets anymore. You can get it in shingles, shakes, tile looks, and architectural styles – there are steel roofing options for any type of building.
Use the knowledge your roofing salesperson has to offer. One shingle might look like another, but he or she can point out the subtle differences like more black material to give it a darker look when it’s all together on a roof or a little bit of red or green you might want use as an accent.
A little bit of research on the internet coupled with some sales person expertise and you should be ready to make your roofing decision.