Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pick the right vinyl siding

When it comes to any home building decisions, most homeowners take aesthetics, durability, and cost into account. Deciding on siding is no different. Vinyl siding comes from many manufacturers with different qualities. After quality of the siding product, the professionalism of the Denver siding company is the next most important, because you want the materials to be installed right, and have the peace of mind in knowing that the company will fix any problems they may cause.

Even within the same vinyl siding company, there is significant variation among products. The most important aspect is panel thickness. Vinyl is a very weather resistant material. It is also flexible, and installing siding that is too thin may result in being able to see the wall underneath poking through. I have also witnessed many instances of Denver vinyl siding being punctured relatively easily. The material survives weather well, but physical wear and tear can destroy vinyl quickly, especially if it is of the thinner variety. Only a tenth of an inch more can make a great difference with vinyl, so ask your Denver vinyl siding company for a cost breakdown for an upgrade. Upgrading the quality or thickness of the material should not cost all that much more overall.

Vinyl siding made by cheap companies sometimes stiffens with age, which can lead to cracks. If you pick a smaller company and a unique color, you may be in for some major problems if the siding gets damages and you want a localized replacement. The probability that the same company is still carrying a matching replacement is not so good. So most siding contractors recommend you pick a trusted company in simple colors and design.

The upside of vinyl siding is that it is very clean. Its flexibility allows the builder a lot of room for creating beauty. The range of choices allows vinyl siding to be used in many different architectural building types. Vinyl is the most sold siding because of its weather durability. Rain, salty air, and snow just run off it, and vinyl never needs painting. In fact, it cannot be painted, because liquids just run off. To clean just wash it down with soapy water annually.

Buying a home with failing siding

Siding is often touted by the manufacturer as lasting forever and being maintenance free. Many homeowners have discovered that this is plainly untrue. Failing siding is a problem because it is hard to know when you need a  fix and when you need a replacement.

Especially in the case of faux wood siding which is made from plywood, many Denver siding companies suggest the removal and replacement of plywood siding. If plywood gets water inside it, the glue holding the wood chips together starts to break down. The water also causes it to swell, further damaging the plywood integrity. Eventually this kind of siding will just crumble. The outside may still be painted and fairly even, but the inside is falling apart. As the structure looses integrity, you may notice the walls bow or pit. From the outside, the color may seem good. From far away, rotting siding looks normal, but as you approach you may notice characteristic warping and uneven surfaces caused by the siding changing shape as it falls apart. The deceptive part is that while the siding still looks serviceable, your home interior could already be sustaining damage.

Damaged siding also damages the home. The point of siding is to protect the interior. Water especially will cause rotting pretty quickly if left on wood framing. Other building materials are not immune. As the water gets in, insulation rots and even HVAC duct work can be damages. Some quality companies that do siding in Denver refuse to install plywood siding because of its failure track record.

Furthermore, some siding companies suggest your replace a new home's siding with Denver vinyl siding. If you are purchasing a home that has plywood siding, you have to realize that you will have to deal with failing siding eventually. Some mortgage companies also know of the problem and will not lend until the siding issues are resolved. If you are getting financing, you may not have a choice on whether or not you need to repair the siding because the building will not pass inspection.

Once you buy a home, your homeowners insurance might be cheaper if you have a strong and low maintenance siding installed. Remember homeowners insurance only pays for natural disasters and acts of god, not poor construction choices.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Window Efficiency Basics

Windows that are certified as efficient by the The National Fenestration Rating Council are proven to reduce energy consumption. Windows with a u-factor of 0.3 or less may qualify for federal tax rebates. This credit will cover 30% of cost for approved windows. If you are ordering replacement windows Denver, the additional cost to make sure the windows meet federal guidelines is only around $15 per window.   These can be ordered straight from the manufacturer with low-e coatings that reflect heat. Strategically place these windows to stop overheating in summer.
Some states have an additional bonus funded by a public charge on utility bills. Oregon's fund is called Energy trust, and will pay $2 per square foot of energy efficient windows when the windows are coupled with other energy saving moves. Qualifying moves include sealing leaks or adding insulation. Oregon averaged a return of $400 per customer per year for meeting energy standards. Other states have trusts that will distribute bonuses from major energy companies to Denver windows contractors. Visit energytrust.org to see an example of these services.

To determine if windows or other energy saving investments should be made, you can run an energy audit on your home. These audits cost around $500 and will result in a prioritized list of actions with ROI figures. High tech infrared imaging can be used to find leaks and the overall heat signature of a property. Color changes in walls indicate poor installation of insulation. Depending on your state, an energy audit may be required to recoup energy rebates. Denver windows also need to be double pane to protect from winter storms.

To go all-out consider triple pane windows. These have really caught on in colder climates, where inert gas fillers make the windows almost as heat resistant as walls. Some triple pane manufacturers claim a U-value of 0.2 or less. The cost of these windows is significantly more than both single and double pane windows. Homes are already being marketed by energy savings caused by windows, especially in Europe. Adds touting Green Leed certification are popular and valuable.

Saving Money on Windows

Calculate the cost-savings from installing new windows. Windows leaks are the primary cost associated with heating or cooling a building, but replacement windows cost a significant amount. To determine if you are using this money in the most effective way, you need to find how much your energy efficient windows will really save.
A new factor to the equation is certain federal tax credits for energy efficient improvements. Replacement windows Denver can earn you up to a $1,500 tax credit, which is almost guaranteed to pay for the windows without accounting for additional energy savings. To make sure your heater is not on all the time from drafts (which will call for a furnace repair service quickly) you need to install air-tight windows. In an age where people are turning off the lights and pinching pennies, it makes not sense to be loosing hundreds or thousands on the utility bill. The first step in a green home is efficient sealant from outside air, which is what Denver windows are for.

To take advantage of these federal tax credits, make sure you build during specified times. Both Colorado state and the federal government have programs that may end soon. Do not be intimidated by new technologies like triple pane windows with low e coatings. These windows are just designed to be sturdy and out preform standard glass panes. Not only do these new windows insulate for extreme temperature changes, they also do a good job at muffling sound. Metal and vinyl windows do not have expected maintenance costs from mold and swelling associated with water damage.

Although windows are a good place to start, any large air leak will also cause major gouging to your energy bill. Sealing leaks around pipes and adding insulation is another way you can try and save money.

For high end custom replacement windows Denver, the payback time may be over 10 years because of the high initial cost. Wood is the best insulator, but it costs more than twice vinyl and aluminum.

Although windows are often given more blame for drafts than they actually cost, single pane windows can create convection currents around the high temperature difference at the glass pane. In the short term, wearing   a sweater is the cheapest alternative, but for home improvement investments take the window installation.

Evolution of the Sash Window

The sash window has been the most common window for residences since the 1800s. They are called sash windows because of the movable panels that hold the glass. These frames are called sashes, and are separated from other movable panels by muntin. Although any window with independent frames is a sash, the term sash window usually refers to glazed panels that open vertically. Horizontal sashes are called Yorkshire light sliding sashes. They have the counterweights hidden in a box case. The oldest known examples of a sash window were found in the 1600's in England. Supposedly the English scientist Robert Hooke created the first counterweight window.

Sash windows are a staple of Victorian houses where the classic arrangement has the panes arranged in two 3x2 sashes which comes out to 6 total panels. In the Edwardian and Georgian eras, English suburban houses were built with standardized windows. These windows are hundreds of years old, so they cannot compete with modern windows in terms of stopping drafts. Even the most well built Victorian window is probably so old that it needs help from a Denver windows company. Luckily these standard sizes are 4 feet across, making a replacement window Denver a snap. Handmade units may have been more beautiful, but can come in any size.
One good thing about the old vertical sash windows is the sashes slide vertically throughout the weatherstripping, giving the window a large maximum ventilation area equal to half the total area. Each sash has its own set of springs and balances that will hold the window open at any point.

The counterweight is a heavy metal, usually cast iron or lead, concealed within the window frame. Modern replacement windows Denver have no counterweight, and their springs are housed within the metal frame. The counterweight is connected to the window by a sash cord. Ancient windows have a chain system which runs through a pulley and spring balance system at the top. Some sash windows can be fully opened on the side on hinges. In the US, these kinds of windows refer to double hung windows that have two independent pane assemblies that move up and down. Single hung designs are the same as double hung, except the top sash is stationary. Some exotic window designs typical of northern church steeples have triple and quadruple hung windows.
The frames are made of sealed softwood. Contact a glazer when trying to convert from a single to double hung design. Although these wooden sash windows are beautiful and historic, they have problems with water. Typically they will become damaged over time by rot, swelling and shrinking. This makes them poor insulators. The sliding mechanisms and counter weight cords can fray and cut. High maintenance is offset by easier cleaning because of the mobility of the sashes. These windows are best when open, not closed.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Replacement vs Construction Windows

Replacement windows are made to fit an existing opening, while construction windows are designed to be built along with the frame. Many custom replacement windows Denver warehouses will have a window that fits your opening. There is not one standard size but dozens. Some available window frames are as small as a foot across to several yards. Wood is the most efficient, by vinyl, aluminum, and clad wood are more durable.

Even replacement windows can be broken down further. For minimal repairs, a sash kits replace an old frame's movable parts and jamb liners. The liners hold the sash for easy movement. This only works in a level, square frame in good condition. A warped window frame will receive no benefit from a sash replacement.

Insert replacements consist of a full frame that fits into your old opening. These ready to install frames make the window a bit smaller than before because it is like an extra frame with new jambs and liners. These replacement windows are sometimes called pocket windows by Denver windows companies.

Full frame replacement windows have a frame that comes complete with jambs and sill. This is the most complete option, and is the only thing to do if the frame is rotten or split. This is hardest kind of Denver windows to install because you must first strip the opening to its rough frame. Every frame will need to be shimmed. The shimming process not only centers the frame within the window opening, it also locks in the  frame in a plumb and level position. When working on the frame, make sure you are careful not to damage any of your air conditioning equipment's ductwork. A good air conditioning services company will work with any window contractor to make sure they do not conflict with each other's work.

Any small cracks or holes can be filled in with weather resistant wood putty. They can be sanded along with the the wood jambs in preparation of finishing through sealant or paint. If the frame is too cracked for putty, a full construction frame is required.

Step by Step Window Replacement

This article covers the tools and main steps required for a window replacement job. The main objects you will need to buy are: a replacement window Denver. It should be of slightly smaller size for easy mounting into the existing frame. You will also need weatherproof wood putty to patch any holes in the window frame. Polyurethane foam should be used to insulate the space around the window, but make sure it is of the minimally expanding variety or you will need to be careful about over-expanding warping the window frame.

Wood shims are used to plumb and level the window and snugly adjust its position in the window opening.Sandpaper smooths the window frame for finishing, whether that be by paint or sealant. Screws are needed to fasten the window to your studs. Insulating foam rods to fill any gaps between caulk and expanding foam.The window may need window stops if the old ones broke. Paint and primer are used to finish the frame.

If your window opening you want to put replacement windows in is still square, you can simply use a construction window from a replacement window Denver company. Vinyl windows are a good choice because vinyl needs minimum maintenance. For the full energy-economy effect, choose a vinyl covered wooden window with low-e insulated glass.

The first step before you can go grab replacement Denver windows is to measure what you are replacing. Use a slightly smaller window measured by the manufacturer's specifications.
Now you are ready for the actual removal. Take out the lifting sash. Then pry off the jamb liners and any trim. Prep the frame for installation by marking and placing all the connecting areas.

Remove the old sash weights. Modern windows have a simpler interior spring mechanism. This will leave an air space that must be filled if our new window is to do its proper insulating job. So next you need to prep and spray in insulating foam, being sure not to spray too much of the expanding substance. Then caulk between all moving parts.

Your next step is the installation of your replacement window.

This involves fastening it loosely in place while you shim the window to fit snugly plumb and level. To finish caulk, prime and paint your window.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Choosing A Denver Siding Company

Sometimes in life, a happy medium can be awfully hard to achieve. We either work too hard or don't work enough; we can't finish our supersized portions, but mere appetizers leave us hungry. Fortunately, when it comes to contractors who specialize in home improvements, there is such a thing as that happy medium: It's called the mid-sized company. As far as siding installation is concerned, choosing the right Denver siding company for the job can make a difference in the overall experience and result.

With so many retail giants offering discounted pricing and options galore, many homeowners are quickly drawn to the name on the store front and the advertising jingle that comes along with it. However, when it comes to siding installation, bigger is certainly not always better. The larger retail chains often come equipped with sales professionals who, on the surface, seem to know their stuff. But, in reality, they have simply memorized a script and perfected their daily sales pitch. Homeowners who choose to go with a bigger name tend to be disappointed by the subsequent lack of service throughout the actual siding installation process.
Another problem with the bigger guys is that they have a tendency to simply subcontract jobs such as siding installation and take a portion of the proceeds for profit. If you go with a larger company, then you run the risk that in many cases, the person who sold you a siding package won't know who will actually be showing up at your home to do the work. The unfortunate result is a Denver siding job that does not meet the homeowner's expectations.

Additionally, while the larger chains might advertise certain discounts, beware of the fine print. Since these retail giants are rarely starved for business, they are also less likely to negotiate a price with customers. Finally, many sales representatives are able to use the size of the business to their advantage, stating that discount requests can only be approved by the big boss. Unfortunately what ends up happening is the client ends up paying too much for their siding installation.

While smaller Denver siding companies might offer certain improvements over the retail giants, they also come with their own set of limitations. Sure, small businesses are known for their down to earth approach to sales and, at times, impeccable customer service. However, the problem with most "mom and pop" siding shops is that they often have too few resources at their disposal. In many cases, the person who schedules installation appointments is the same person who shows up to actually do the work. For this reason, smaller companies sometimes have a difficult time meeting project deadlines and offering convenient scheduling options.

Many medium sized siding companies have the ability to combine the best of both worlds for an ideal customer experience. Most medium-sized companies have enough resources to respond to customer requests and complete projects in a timely fashion. On the other hand, mid-sized companies don't have so many employees that they can't keep proper tabs on their people.

Since mid-sized siding companies tend to have a small number of educated customer representatives, they can offer personalized service without worrying about expending other resources. Medium-sized companies also tend to be the most flexible with pricing because they have more wiggle room than the smaller guys, but less demand than the larger guys. When a sales representative at a mid-sized siding company tells a customer that he needs to discuss pricing with his boss, that boss is usually only a notch or two higher on the flagpole. Finally, medium-sized companies can usually offer a customer discount in exchange for a flexible finish date, which is something that retail giants have little, if not zero, motivation to do.

Of course, not everything in life comes with that perfect happy medium. Fortunately for homeowners, siding companies are a welcome example of being just the right size for a job well done.

Various Types of Siding

The world of siding offers a variety of options for homeowners looking to maximize their property value and curb appeal. When it comes to choosing a material for siding, you'll want to pick something that works in terms of your taste as well as your budget. Each kind of Denver siding comes with its own distinct look and feel, so be sure to review all of the possible choices with your siding contractor before making this important selection. To get you started on the process, here are the types of siding available to homeowners today:

Vinyl Siding
Considered one of the more basic forms of siding, vinyl is one of the most affordable and easily maintainable materials on the market. Vinyl siding is available in a variety of colors and finishes, and its natural insulating properties make it a popular choice among homeowners looking to save some money on heating and cooling costs. On the other hand, vinyl is certainly not the strongest siding material out there. Strong winds and other such weather-related factors can cause vinyl siding panels to buckle, crack, or fly off, making repairs a likely factor down the line. Vinyl also has a way of looking a bit plastic-like, causing some homeowners to immediately cross it off as an option.

Wood Siding
Wood siding is an attractive option for people who happen to truly love the look of natural wood. While it might cost more than vinyl, it is certainly not the most expensive type of siding out there. However, wood comes with one major disadvantage in that it requires a lot of maintenance throughout the years. Wood is just one of those materials that is highly susceptible to weather damage and natural wear and tear. As a result, homeowners need to look at it as an investment that must be preserved with much time and effort.

Fiber Cement Siding
Fiber cement is a composite material that is meant to carry the same look and feel of wood, but without all of that pesky maintenance. Unlike actual wood, fiber cement siding won't warp or disintegrate over time, making it a more solid choice for homeowners looking for minimal hassle. However, homeowners should be advised that fiber cement offers nothing in the way of natural insulation.

Stucco Siding
Stucco is one of the classiest materials on the siding market. Available in both classic cement and a new synthetic form, stucco is a durable material that is relatively easy to maintain. Synthetic stucco is also one of the best insulators on the market, making it easier for homeowners to bear the cost of energy bills over time. On the other hand, stucco is one of the most expensive siding options, making it pretty much unattainable for homeowners on limited budgets.

Stone Siding
Stone siding is the ultimate material for exterior beauty and class. The elegance of stone siding makes it a popular choice among the elite. But with a sizable price tag, it's an option that only a small percentage of homeowners can afford. Additionally, those who opt for stone siding can forget about added insulation. Eye-catching as it may be, stone won't help one bit with energy costs.

Cedar Shake Siding
As one of the most appealing selections on the market, cedar shake siding creates a warm, inviting exterior that homeowners just tend to adore. Cedar shake siding is comprised of small cedar sections that are attached to the home in a shingled arrangement. While it's easy to fall in love with that natural look, the downside of cedar shake is that it does tend to fade over time. It is also a rather costly selection, making it less common than some of its more affordable counterparts.

Now that you're a bit more familiar with the various types siding materials, you should be in a much better position to start narrowing down your choices. Of course, it's one thing to simply describe all these Denver siding options, but it's another to actually see them in person. Before you make your final decision, be sure to take a look at examples of these materials in the form of finished products so that you can truly get a sense of how your home might come to be transformed. With any luck, you'll choose the perfect material for the look you've always wanted to achieve.

Ruben Jeruco is a writer for Yodle, a business directory and online advertising company. Find an extremely informative Guide to Siding or more Home Care articles at the Yodle Consumer Guide, The Yodler.