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Enhance Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Vinyl Double Hung Window
By Gates Dearen

What homeowner wouldn’t want his or her house to look its best?

While the term “curb appeal” is generally related to the real estate industry, the concept is a good one to think about even if you aren’t selling (or buying) a home. If it’s been a while since you took a good, objective look at the exterior of your home, now is a great time to assess your home’s appearance, especially in terms of cleanliness, maintenance, and design. We’ll discuss all of these aspects, including paying special attention to your windows and doors. Going through these simple steps can help you determine if it’s time to replace any of your windows and doors; there comes a point when they can’t be fixed, or are otherwise outdated and/or inefficient, and need to be replaced. It can be hard sometimes to look at your house objectively, after all, you see it every day, so taking a picture and examining it in detail will help you spot problems you may miss with the naked eye.

Cleanliness
When you look at your home from the street, or from a distance (if your home isn’t visible from the street), what’s your overall impression? Do your windows sparkle? Are your window frames and doorframes clean and intact? Is your entryway free of clutter and debris? The first step to improving the appearance of your home is to wipe off the windows and doors, including the surrounding areas, and sweep the entry area and walkways. Next take a good look at the windows and doors themselves. If you have older windows and doors, keeping them clean can be a greater challenge. While the newer types of frames require only a quick rinse with a hose, and maybe a gentle wipe-down, older frames – especially wooden ones – tend to attract dirt and are more difficult to keep clean. If the frames are chipped or exceedingly dirty, you might also need to apply a new coat of paint. Never use a pressure washer on or around windows; it’s unnecessary and could break the windows.

Maintenance
Silicone caulk can be used as a basic sealant ...
Once you’ve cleaned and tidied up your home’s exterior, it’s time to do a maintenance check. (For a more detailed discussion of this topic, see our previous article, “Window Maintenance 101: 3 Ways to Keep Your Windows Looking and Functioning Their Best”.) If you have a painted entry door, make sure that the paint doesn’t show signs of weathering. Repainting is a quick task that can add a high-quality look to your door and really freshen things up. Don’t be shy about changing colors; a bright or contrasting color can make your door “pop”. Next, check the weather stripping and caulk around your entry door and all of your windows to make sure they are in good repair. If the weather stripping is damaged, you should replace it or have it replaced by a professional. If you have gaps in the caulk between the wall and the window casing, or around the doorframe, you can fill them yourself. Remember to apply caulk sparingly with a steady hand. (If you aren’t experienced at applying caulk, practice on a piece of newspaper before working around your frames. The small amount of caulk you’ll use to do this is worth not having to remove it from your frames if you get off-track.)

Remember too that maintenance isn’t just about appearance. Are your windows and doors keeping the hot air out and cold air in, and vice versa? If not, no amount of maintenance is going to help. It’s time to replace your windows and/or doors. (For more information on this topic, read our earlier article, “How Do You Check for a Leaky House?”)

Design
Vitrail roccella 8
The style of your windows and doors is limited only by your imagination. A new entry door with an etched glass or stained-glass panel lets you express yourself while also providing improved security. In addition to the many styles of doors available, add to your unique look with shiny new hardware. Locksets come in many styles and finishes, so they can help you put the perfect finishing touch on your door. Windows, too, come in many styles, including custom types for special needs – or for a special look. Do you have an odd-shaped space in your home that could use more light, or an angled wall that could benefit from a replacement window, perhaps in a new design? Consider a custom window. You’ll find yourself using that wasted space more than ever before! If it’s been awhile since you updated your windows, you may be surprised at not only the number of choices when it comes to design, but also the many recent technologies that greatly improve functionality and energy efficiency. From argon gas between panes to low-emissivity coatings that increase efficiency to better locks that offer ease of use, new windows will not just improve the look of your home. They will enhance your quality of life.

Keeping your home looking its best is easy; it just takes a little bit of time and effort. If you follow the above steps, your home will be the envy of the neighborhood. You’ll reap the rewards of an attractive home and, if you update your windows and doors, better energy efficiency and improved security.

In this article we’ve given three steps to making your home look its best. We discussed the importance of keeping your house, especially your windows and doors, clean and in good repair, and talked about ways you can add distinctive style to your house, improving its curb appeal.

If you would like to receive an official factory authorized 30% discount coupon for your next window replacement purchase, print out this article with the coupon on it  and bring it with you when visiting HomeRite.

Gates Dearen is the co-owner of HomeRite Windows and Doors in Jacksonville, Florida. Owners Gates Dearen and Richard Walden have been serving the building products industry in Florida for over 25 years. We know the products, the industry, the market and what adds great value to a home.  Our approach is a little different.  We strive to match the homeowner with the right windows for their home and budget. Home improvements can be a hassle.  We’re here to make life easier with first-rate, energy efficient products; affordable prices; strong warranties and expert, award-winning installers that provide excellent service while respecting your home as if it were their own. 

Put the Latest Glass Technologies to Work for You!

By Gates Dearen

NFRC LabelOver the past decade, window and door glass has improved immensely. This is especially important in Florida, where intense sunlight can pour though older types of glass, resulting in lost energy efficiency as well as faded carpets, window treatments, and furniture. As you shop for new windows, you may wonder what the information on the stickers means, and why it’s important. From Low-e to SHGC to U-factor and R-value to VT, we’ll explain it all so you can be a more knowledgeable consumer.

Low-e
The “e” is short for emissivity, specifically thermal emissivity.  Low-emissivity windows and doors cause heat to be reflected off, rather than allowing it to collect and “seep through,” or “be emitted” into the home. Perhaps an easier way to think of this is to consider a surface that has a high emissivity factor, like asphalt. If you’ve ever stepped on to a parking lot in Florida in August, you’ve felt the effects of high emissivity. The asphalt absorbs and emits heat at a ratio .90 to .10. In other words, 90% of the heat directed at the asphalt is absorbed and emitted, and only 10% is reflected. You certainly wouldn’t want the glass in your home’s windows and doors to have that level of emissivity. But plain, uncoated glass has an even higher level of emissivity than asphalt: .93. This is why Low-e is such an important factor in choosing your new windows and doors.

Visible Light
SHGC
Solar heat-gain coefficient (SHGC) is a measurement of the amount of solar radiation that can pass through a window or door glass. There isn’t an overall standard for what’s best. Houses in geographic areas that experience more cold weather would be best outfitted with windows and doors with a higher SHGC, .30 to .60, to maximize the radiant heat from the sun. The reverse is also true. Homeowners in hot climates should look for windows and doors with lower SHGC values, under .27, to keep air conditioning costs down.

U-factor and R-value
The U-factor and R-value are similar, but U-factor measures the insulating properties of windows while R-value measures the insulating properties of other building materials like those used in constructing walls, floors, etc. The U-factor is one of the measurements used by The National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC) to determine the energy efficiency of windows and door glass. In determining the U-factor, the energy efficiency of the entire window is taken into account, including glazing, frame, and spacers. Sometimes U-factor is measured only at the center of the glass, taking into account only the glazing and the specific properties of the glass itself, exclusive of the frame and spacers. This measurement is called “center-of-glass U-factor”. For best energy efficiency, the center-of-glass U-factor should be lower than the overall U-factor, but in either case, for optimum efficiency, the U-factor should be under .30. Many double-paned windows achieve a U-factor of .27 or below, which is best in warmer climates.


VT
Visible transmittance (VT) refers to the ability of windows and door glass to allow outdoor light to pass through. In the past, desirable sunlight gains were accompanied by undesirable (in the South, at least) heat gains. In other words, older types of glass were incapable of lettin
g in light without letting in radiant heat. With the latest glazing technologies, as well as the increased use of double-pane windows, glass can have a high VT while keeping a low SHGC. This is a big deal for homeowners in sunny, hot climates. It translates into energy savings, less fading of carpets and furniture, and greater quality of life. If you leave your house in the summer to go to work, you can turn down the air conditioner while you’re out, knowing that it won’t take long to cool it when you return. This isn’t the case if you have “leaky” windows and doors.

A few other things to check for
Look for this logo when considering your new r...
In addition to the information above, it’s important to look for the Energy Star symbol, given by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to products that meet high standards for energy efficiency. Here are the criteria for a product to qualify for the Energy Star certification, from www.energystar.gov:

·         Product categories must contribute significant energy savings nationwide.
·         Qualified products must deliver the features and performance demanded by consumers, in          addition to increased energy efficiency.
·         If the qualified product costs more than a conventional, less-efficient counterpart, purchasers will recover their investment in increased energy efficiency through utility bill savings within a reasonable period of time.
·         Energy efficiency can be achieved through broadly available, non-proprietary technologies offered by more than one manufacturer.
·         Product energy consumption and performance can be measured and verified with testing.
·         Labeling can effectively differentiate products and be visible for purchasers.

Another agency that reviews and rates products is The National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC), a nonprofit organization that tests windows and doors, among other building materials, and assigns a rating. The NFRC doesn’t make recommendations of what to buy. Their purpose is to provide information and let consumers know that a product performs as the manufacturer claims.

While the information above will help you to understand terminology, your best bet is always to choose a reputable windows and doors professional. He or she can guide you in your choice of the products that will work best for your home. Look for customer reviews and testimonials as well as before and after pictures. If you do your research on the product(s) and the vendor, you’ll likely reap the greatest rewards from your new windows and doors.


If you would like to receive an official factory authorized 30% discount coupon for your next window replacement purchase, print out this article with the coupon on it  and bring it with you when visiting HomeRite.

THE AUTHOR:  Gates Dearen is the co-owner of HomeRite Windows and Doors in Jacksonville, Florida. Owners Dearen and Richard Walden have been serving the building products industry in Florida for over 25 years. They know the products, the industry, the market and what adds great value to a home. Their approach is a somewhat different than others. They strive to match the homeowner with the right windows and doors for their home and budget. They know that home improvements projects can be a hassle. They strive to make the process pleasant with first-rate, energy efficient products; affordable prices; and expert, award-winning installers that employ the best practices and respect your home as if it were their own. 

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