Home & Garden

Maintaining Your Home’s Curb Appeal

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The summer months are an excellent time to update your home’s exterior. Experts in our area can help you keep your home looking brand new.

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You’ve probably spent the winter months revamping the inside of your home. Now that nicer weather is finally here, it’s a great time to fix up the outside of your abode.

Your roof, windows, driveway and landscaping look amazing when they’re brand new, and those features can easily make your house stand out. That newness won’t last forever, so it’s important to take the necessary steps to maintain the exterior of your home while dealing with all the weather challenges us Midwesterners face, including rain, hail, falling branches and the unforgiving, bright sun.

Fixing Drafty Windows

If you’re sitting in your living room with your windows closed, but you can still see your curtains moving, it might be time to get new windows.

Windows that are installed and maintained properly will make your home nice and comfortable during the steamy summer months. Windows that aren’t treated carefully can let air in, which can have an adverse effect on your power bill.

Stephen Smith, owner of Advanced Window Systems, in Loves Park, says one way to prevent bothersome drafts from seeping through your windows is to get them caulked, especially at this time of year.

“Make sure you have your windows caulked from the inside and outside to prevent and reduce the chances of moisture and air seeping in,” Smith says. “During the summertime, you’ll get a lot of rain and a lot of condensation because of the outdoor heat that’s mixed with the inside coolness of your air conditioning. Having your windows caulked can help reduce that moisture, which can ruin your woodwork.”

Smith says a lot of people love purchasing wooden windows for their beauty, style and durability. Not to mention, they hold up well in the warmer weather.

One common concern with wooden windows, however, is the maintenance that comes with them. Without proper maintenance, the wood could rot, shrink or swell, Smith says.

If the windows are maintained, meaning they’re constantly cleaned, installed correctly and caulked, they’ll continue to look brand new.

They’ll also last longer. If they’re maintained properly, wooden windows can last more than 15 years, Smith says. But, if the wood gets damaged, the windows may only last 10 years.

“You have to make sure your wood is treated properly and make sure the windows are installed properly,” Smith says.

Another type of window that stands up to the hot temperatures is a fiberglass-framed window. Fiberglass is made from glass fibers, so it’s strong.

“Fiberglass windows tend to be more expensive, but they’re a really good material that stops outside air,” Smith says.

If you’re getting windows installed by professionals, Smith suggests asking plenty of questions, such as how they’re installing the windows and how they’re being prepped.

“Make sure you’re going over the entire install process with them and find out how they’re going about doing everything,” he says. “You want to make sure your windows are installed properly.”

Maintaining Asphalt

If you have an asphalt driveway, the team at Premier Pavement Solutions, in Rockford, will do the maintenance to keep it looking good.

“At this time of year, a lot of people want their driveway sealed,” says Larry Lazzerini, owner of Premier Pavement Solutions. “They want it protected, and they want the cracks filled so it looks nice for the whole summer.”

Asphalt is roughly half of the cost of concrete, and in order for it to look new, it has to be maintained, Lazzerini says.

“Asphalt over the years will last longer if you’re able to maintain it,” he says. “Snow melts off it quick, and that can be quite critical around here. It’s also able to withstand the summer heat.”

Lazzerini suggests sealcoating an established asphalt surface every other year. Otherwise, an untreated surface will crack and crumble at the hands of a brutal winter and the relentless, summertime sun.

“Here in the Midwest, you can’t get away from the damage that happens to the pavements,” he says. “You just have to protect it the best you can on a regular basis.”

Asphalt is installed about two inches thick over level gravel. Once it’s been smoothed over, it’s ready to use. It might be tempting, but Lazzerini suggests refraining from sealcoating your property every year.

“If you seal it too much, you’ll get too much sealer build up,” he says. “It’ll start peeling and it won’t look right. You want to protect it, but you also want it to wear just a little bit.”

The sealer that Lazzerini and his team use comes right from the manufacturer in Streamwood, Ill. Premier Pavement receives about 6,000 gallons at a time.

“It’s made just for us and it’s ready to go when we need it,” he says.

One problem Lazzerini and his team comes across each year is the weather. In order to complete a project, the weather has to be near perfect.

“Our season is typically from the first of May until about Halloween,” he says. “We need ground temperatures to be above 50 degrees and I also need 60 degree nights to keep that heat into the asphalt. Otherwise, you’ll get some premature wear so the asphalt won’t hold, so by the time springtime rolls around, it’ll be gone.”

If it’s maintained properly, you’ll probably get 15 to 20 years out of a good asphalt project, Lazzerini says.

“We’re just trying to get people to maintain their property on a regular basis, so the asphalt will last longer.”

Keeping Up with Your Roof

Your roof is one of the most vulnerable elements of your home. Wind, hail, falling branches, ice and snow can all cause damage to your roof. But so also can time and neglect.

Adam Lask, head of the roofing department at Lask Roofing and Siding in Rockford, says homeowners should be very conscientious about inspecting their roofs on a regular basis, not only after storms or a bad winter, to ensure they are not threatened by other influences.

“One problem is roofs are not always easily accessible,” Lask says. “Depending on how they are designed, it can be difficult and even dangerous for a homeowner to climb up for a closer look.”

Lask says newer roofs, five years old or less, are seldom a concern aside from bad weather.

“We suggest homeowners walk around their house and look for shingles that are curled or missing,” he says. “Missing shingles are a sign that they have loosened from the sealer. With older roofs, that bond can loosen with time. Another important preventative measure is to keep the roof cleaned off.”

Lask says roofs with valleys can trap leaves and other debris, holding water in or channeling it sideways where it can seep under the shingles and damage the wood.

“Trim overhanging branches so they don’t fall and gouge or damage your shingles,” he says. “Then repair or replace any shingles or areas that have been adversely effected as soon as possible to prevent further damage.”

In the case of storm damage, Lask recommends contacting insurance agencies to get professional assessments of any damage.

“Depending on the extent of the damage, an insurance adjuster will either decide it can be successfully repaired, or may suggest the entire roof be replaced,” Lask says. “With a newer roof, a few missing shingles is probably going to result in repair. With a roof that is 20 to 30 years old, depending on the extent of wind or hail damage, it’s likely the entire roof will need to be replaced.”

In conjunction with the roof, gutters are another constant concern for homeowners. Lask says that, unless gutters are kept clean and free of standing water by regularly flushing out downspouts, they can loosen and fall. Water in gutters can back up under the shingles and rot out the roof’s edge, causing the gutter supports to fail.

“As the regional distributer for Gutter Helmet, we highly recommend that homeowners, especially those who are aging or otherwise unable to climb up and clean out gutters spring and fall, install Gutter Helmets,” Lask says. “It isn’t just a matter of keeping gutters clog-free.

Gutter Helmets actually make the entire gutter system more secure and stable due to patented brackets, preventing gutters from falling as easily.”

Lask says there is a strong push to replace older gutters, roofing and siding with products that are not only beautiful and durable, but also maintenance-free or easier to maintain.

“Replacing old wooden siding that needs to be repainted every few years with vinyl siding that never needs painting is a logical step,” Lask adds. “Between our variable Midwest weather and our busy lives, it’s definitely a bonus to invest in products that not only look great, but also save a lot of time and energy.”

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