Exterior improvements amp it upBy Damaine Vonada
You only have one chance to make a good first impression. That old saying is true for you as well as for your home.
Pride of ownership motivates many people to improve their home’s curb appeal. “They want a house that immediately looks good when they’re entertaining family and friends,” says Lorin Miller, president of Miller Custom Exteriors in Fredericksburg, Ohio. Other customers want to give their home a fresh, updated appearance.
His company transformed a Queen Anne home from bland to beautiful using colors of russet red, classic blue, charcoal gray and almond. But homeowners want more than a house with a pretty face. Sprucing up the outside also presents an opportunity to say goodbye to chores like painting old siding. “With so many limitations on everyone’s time today, people don’t want to spend their free time maintaining their home’s exterior.”
Because it’s relatively inexpensive and available in numerous colors, finishes and profiles, vinyl siding has been America’s number one exterior cladding for decades. Its quality varies, however, and thin, cheap vinyl siding can eventually sag or lose luster. Miller prefers to use a thick vinyl siding that is impact-resistant and made in extra-long lengths to minimize seams and splices. He also advises homeowners that proper installation is paramount for vinyl siding. Miller says if it’s put on right, it lays straight and flush and won’t blow off.
A roof can enhance or diminish a home. In the 2015 Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors, new roofing ranks highest among exterior projects appealing to home buyers.
Asphalt shingles are the nation’s most common residential roofing material. They can last for years; are available at different price points; and offer design options ranging from traditional three-tab shingles to dimensional shingles to shingles that mimic wood shakes and slate. Miller’s company also has installed hundreds of steel roofs on homes. Metal roofing costs roughly twice as much as asphalt, but “the real payback is how much longer it lasts down the road,” Miller says.
When replacing windows, selecting the frame is mostly a matter of style, according to Miller. The Queen Anne house’s double-hung windows, for example, complement its architecture and have white vinyl frames.
Trading drafty, dilapidated windows for modern, energy-efficient ones not only boosts curb appeal but also makes a house more comfy and reduces power bills. If homeowners can afford it, Miller recommends triple-pane windows. “They’re way more efficient,” he explains, “and help with noise reduction too.”
Wood doors lend sophistication, but because they’re costly and require routine care, many homeowners opt for steel or fiberglass. Generally, steel doors are less expensive and better for painting because of their smooth surface. Fiberglass doors — which can be made with wood-grain textures duplicating mahogany, cherry or oak — look great stained or painted.
Although steel and fiberglass doors are virtually maintenance free and available in a multitude of styles and decorative glass designs, Miller cautions: “You get what you pay for.” Doors with tight-fitting frames, energy-efficient foam cores and glass inserts have higher price tags, but they’ll look nicer, function better and survive longer.