When to Do It Yourself and When to Call a Pro

When to Do It Yourself and When to Call a Pro

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When should you DIY and when should you leave it a professional?

If the TV programming landscape is any indication, the DIY spirit in our country is alive and well. And it should be. As a country, we tend to be independent and self-sufficient. When it comes to home improvements, however, do-it-yourself may not always be the answer, so it’s important to know when to call in a professional.

The most common projects that I see DIYers attempting are:

  • Painting, both interior and exterior
  • Replacing a front or other entry door
  • Replacing interior trim
  • Installing fencing
  • Installing new flooring
  • Laying down new patio and paver walkways
  • Landscaping
  • Changing lighting fixtures
  • Updating garage and other storage areas
  • Installing new siding

Some of these are simple fixes for even a novice DIY-er, but others can leave you with a big mess, both aesthetically and financially, if something goes awry.

If you’re not sure whether to attempt a project or call an expert, ask yourself these questions:​

1. Have I done a project like this before?
​If you answered yes (and have good memories of the previous attempts!), pursuing this project should be easy. Being comfortable off the bat is obviously helpful—if challenges arise, you will be better equipped to solve them.

2. Do I feel comfortable taking on a new challenge or new type of project?
If it’s a new type of project (or you had a poor experience on a prior attempt), do your research. Plenty of online discussions and YouTube videos will give you the basics on how to proceed, or at least will help you realize you’re not ready. If you need hands-on instruction, bigger home centers and stores will offer workshops for different types of projects that can help get you moving.

3. Do I have a resource to turn to if I have questions?
Having someone to fall back on if you get in over your head is key. Make friends with your local contractor! You never know when you might need some fast help. If I know a friend is in the middle of a DIY project and he comes up on caller ID, I usually answer “Dino’s construction hotline.” I know why they’re calling and I know I can help.

4. Is this going to involve any structural framing? If so, do I have a plan to address potential issues?
No one has x-ray vision. There are all kinds of hidden surprises in the walls, floors and ceilings. If you have a questions, ask first and cut later. Especially if it is anything related to engineered lumber and trusses. Once they are cut, they can lose all weight carrying capacity. Better to go slow and have a pro or engineer look at it first.

5. Will this involve electrical, plumbing or HVAC work?
Back to surprises in the wall. There are many pipes and wires lurking behind walls and flooring so go slow and proceed with caution. If you strike something, don’t just tape it, glue it or wrap it in duct tape. Have a pro look at it and fix it correctly. I can tell you multiple horror stories of electrical and plumbing that I have seen buried in the wall. I know my limits; we do not touch electrical plumbing or HVAC. We hire the pros.

6. Do you have a habit of starting and not completing projects?
I have looked at many projects that were started by the homeowner and never completed. Sometimes life happens. Sometimes we get in over our head. Sometimes we are just better at ripping things apart, then putting them back together. I get it, but it’s still not ideal. Whatever the case, if you have a habit of starting and not finishing, maybe you should hire a pro.

7. How long will the project take? Can I live in the area while work progresses?
I wrote an earlier blog post about living through a remodel project. Having the added pressure of doing the work yourself, while also likely working a separate, full-time job, and living through it can be a real challenge. Weigh the options to see if your time, and quality of life, is worth the money to hire a pro.

8. Do I have all of my supplies?
Most DIYers are evening and weekend warriors. That can lead to needing a critical supply after the home centers and supply houses have closed. Be prepared with all of your supplies ahead of time.

Overall, it really comes down to budget and time. If you‘re on a tight budget and feel comfortable with the project or enjoy the work, then by all means dive right in. Remember, you are still responsible for obtaining all building permits and meeting all building codes. Don’t skip it! The inspector will be able to look at what you plan to do from a safety standpoint and make sure that it is safe to attempt.

Keep in mind: projects rarely go off without some challenges, and never as easily as they show on TV. Have a backup plan and someone you can turn to for advice.

“Dino’s construction hotline, how can I help?”

Source: https://www.plygem.com

What’s Trending in Home Design in 2018?

What’s Trending in Home Design in 2018?

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The biggest home trends spotted at Design & Construction Week 2018.

It’s a huge event. Bursting with the excitement of more than 85,000 attendees and 583,000 square feet of exhibits, the annual Design & Construction Week includes the International Builders’ Show and Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. This means there are aisles upon aisles of breathtaking and eye-catching displays filled with never-before-seen home building products. And, it’s a first chance for home builders, remodelers, and designers to see and touch what’s new and what will be perfect for their clients’ homes in 2018. The place to find out what’s new and next in home design and construction is Design & Construction Week.

It’s also a good place to spot the home trends that will be major themes throughout the year. The trends that are rising to the top are Abstraction, Authenticism, and Restrained Glam. Let’s breakdown each trend and share a few favorite examples.

Home Design Trend #1: Abstraction

The trend of abstract design means basically means that simple shapes are becoming popular. Abstraction is the next generation concept born from minimalism and tiny home living has been popularly talked about and embraced in recent years.

While it’s hard to get a firm number on how many Americans are actually living tiny and have attempted a minimalist lifestyle, many of us have viewed and read the tips from decluttering guru Marie Kondo and 33-item wardrobe creator Courtney Carver. Now that idea of minimalism has led us to getting even more pared down in our homes, and we are trending toward paring down the items that make our homes. The simplicity of design, by using abstract shapes in home building products is having a strong showing right now.

Abstraction is all about simplicity in form and shape.

For art and architecture geeks like me, this design with the red square is a major nod to Mondrian and de Stijl, a style of abstract geometric shapes and bold primary colors. With the 100th anniversary of de Stijl celebrated just last year, combined with our interest in living simply, the abstract style is popping up in new places, like this shower door by Coastal Shower Doors. The Gridscape doors are custom built to fit each opening, and there are glass and other options available.

Thanks to 3D printed technology, The Grid by Kallista Faucets will be an option in the summer of this year. Inspired by de Stijl, this simple grid style will be offered as lighting, towel bars, a robe hook, and a toilet paper holder, all in matte black.

The bold outline of the de Stijl line also is seen in this patio door by Ply Gem. With the minimalist frame, the MaxView Patio Door allows for expansive views with its three‐panel, multi‐slide door system that’s 18 feet wide and 10 feet tall.

Home Design Trend #2: Authenticism

It might not be a word that you’ve heard in home design, but it’s a major trend that has taken deep roots and shows no sign of stopping growth any time soon. Authenticism is the embracing of natural textures and colors. The ‘farmhouse’ look and ‘coastal’ are two kinds of the Authenticism style. With our obsession with all things tech and touchscreen, the need for a home environment that offers natural elements of nature that are so nurturing after trying to keep up with our crazy-hectic modern lifestyle is trending in home building products and design.

The exterior of a home makes a major statement. When using a combination of natural finishes and colors, there’s an inviting warmth that a home can exude. This is part of an Authenticism home, as shown here with Ply Gem’s Engineered Slate and Cedar Roofing shingles, which are designed to look like genuine slate and cedar shake shingles, without the maintenance. The grays of the roof mix with the warmth of the exterior stone and wood details. And these roofing shingles can withstand large hailstones, ultraviolet rays, extreme temperatures, wind loads of up to 190 mph, and have achieved Miami‐Dade wind certification.

Natural textures and styles are influencing interiors through finishes and lighting with modern interpretations of the farmhouse look. Progress Lighting showcased its Cherish chandeliers at this modern farmhouse interior as part of The New American Remodel during the International Builders’ Show. The linen shade with the bronze and brass candle covers provide the touch of nature that pairs well with the wood and earth-tones of the space.

The fireplace is a perfect way to bring Authenticism into your home. The company HEAT & GLO has taken the gas fireplace one step further into an authentic experience. The Phoenix TrueView is a gas fireplace that has the look of a real traditional fireplace but without the glass to separate you from the glow. A TV can be placed just 12 inches above the fireplace, without a mantel. And an optional Bluetooth speaker system is offered. Yes, while we want the feel of authentic experiences, we are all still obsessively attached to our tech options.

Home Design Trend #3: Restrained Glam

Having authentic and minimalist surroundings are helping calm and comfort our over-busy brains, but that doesn’t mean we want to give up the little moments of glamour that make us smile with delight. Yes, there’s still a desire for pops of glamour in our homes. It’s not ostentatious glam, it’s just small refined moments of luxe in and around our homes.

A farmhouse sink isn’t new, and could be considered part of the Authenticism trend, but Elkay is offering this farmhouse sink in gold. It’s a spot of glam in an otherwise visually calm kitchen. This white-with-gold-pops look, sometimes paired with elements of black, is strongly on-trend in kitchens and bathrooms right now. The Stainless Steel Farmhouse sink is offered in rose gold, blue and gold. And the front of the sink is interchangeable, so you can swap out the color depending on your current color obsession.

On the outside it may look like just a regular sleek dishwasher, but on the inside you’ll find the glam. Called the Star-Saphire Dishwasher, it has lighting that can be customized from three shades of blue or white. Yes, Thermador has added a pop of glam in cleaning up after dinner or a party.

If you want a pop of glam on built-ins in your home office, media room, or kitchen, check out the hardware options for pulls and knobs. Glass knobs are a traditional way to add a bit of fun shine to a cabinet, but there are more glam options available using metals and patterns. Wisdom Stone is creating a collection of cabinet hardware inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. The graphic elevated look of these pulls can create a pop of glam in any room.

So what trends are you seeing in home design and construction? I’d love to know. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Source: – Theresa Clement, home designer, color consultant, licensed contractor, author, blogger, and host at MyFixitUpLife.com.

Gray is the New Beige in House Colors

Gray is the New Beige in House Colors

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For homeowners, it can be really difficult staying on top of home design trends. Especially when updating certain aspects of your home only happens once or twice in a lifetime, like your siding or windows. Fortunately, there are a few home design trends that look like they’re here to stay – one of them being gray. A few years ago, nobody had gray in their homes. Outside walls were mostly beige. Now, those that don’t have gray on their homes are jumping on the bandwagon. But this has many homeowners wondering – is it too late? Is gray on the way out?

Most home design experts say no. Gray is the new standard. In particular, neutral gray will be big in 2018. The undertone of this neutral hue is not particularly warm or cool which makes it more versatile. A classic color that will never go out of style. The best part? It works wonderfully all year around. So, how can you stay on top of this color trend and use gray on your home?

Here are three ways you can incorporate gray into your home.

1. Gray Siding
The ultimate way to add gray to your home is with gray siding. Because gray is so versatile it can easily be mix and matched with just about any accent colors and trim you can dream of.

Here are a few gray siding ideas.
Wood accents stand out against this light silver gray siding with white windows.

Blue gray siding is an ideal compliment to this cream stone veneer accent wall.

Black shutters and white windows pop against this dark gray shake siding.

2. Gray Windows
Gray is the new black in window colors. This window color trend has emerged throughout the past few months and is growing quickly in popularity.

What makes gray windows so wonderful? They can be seamlessly integrated into just about any existing home decor and will make your house stand out from the rest of the house in your neighborhood.

Here are a few gray window ideas.
Gray windows stand out against this pale green siding and white trim.


Dark gray windows make a statement next to this light gray siding and cream stone accents.

3. Gray Stone Veneer
Stone veneer is a growing home design trend that isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Stone veneer is easy to customize and gives a vivid pop of color and texture to any space, whether you use it indoors or outdoors.

Here are a few gray stone veneer ideas.
Dark gray stone veneer adds character to this garden.

Gray stone veneer walls add texture and contract to this living room.

Ready to add gray to your home?
Visualize what new gray siding or gray stone veneer will look like on your home with our home design tool. This tool lets you see what colors will look like on your home before you make a commitment. Try a color scheme developed by our design experts, or create a gray color palette that’s all your own. Click here.

Source: https://www.plygem.com

Vinyl Siding Installation Tips

Vinyl Siding Installation Tips

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Vinyl siding is just about the most popular exterior building material in use today. It is used in vast quantities in the remodeling market as people replace old aluminum siding or cover wood siding maintenance nightmares. Over two billion square feet of vinyl siding is produced each year in the USA.

This number is expected to rise significantly because of the arrival of the new solid core siding product. People who were previously turned off by the look of vinyl may be attracted to this product. Rising energy costs will undoubtedly cause more builders to use this siding to make their homes more energy efficient.

Vinyl siding is not too hard to install but it takes a little skill, proper equipment to get you and the product up in the air, and some layout skills. You need to be able to look forward and above you to see how you are going to deal with certain details on the home. You must always be aware of drainage paths and protection of the framing lumber. Water can get behind vinyl siding and it must not be allowed to touch any wood!

Guess what? The number one problem with vinyl siding is improper installation! Over 99 percent of all problems can be traced to installers. Unfortunately, many installers use unskilled laborers to install the product. Or, some builders allow untrained individuals to attach it to walls and gable ends. While it is not a hard product to install, there are many things you need to know if you want a professional installation. Here are several of the most important aspects of installing vinyl siding:

Required Tools

Vinyl siding requires some very basic tools. If you are a DIY’r attempting this project you probably have many. Here is a list of tools that will help you complete the job: Hammer, level, tape measure, chalk line, circular saw with a fine blade (saw blade will be installed backwards on the saw!), utility knife, tin snips, framing square, caulk & gun, drill (optional), cutting/sawing table, ladders and misc. other staging equipment. You will need some specialty tools as well such as a snaplock punch and a nail slot punch. A zip unlock tool may also come in handy.

Surface Preparation is Critical

The surface to which the siding will be applied must be as smooth as possible and solid. Now is the time to seal energy leaks. Caulk all cracks around windows and doors at this time.

If you want to increase the energy efficiency, you may want to install foil faced foam sheathing at this time. This is especially true if you are installing vinyl over an existing brick or wood sided house. If you are installing vinyl on a new home, be sure you have instructed your builder to install foil faced foam sheathing AND an air/water infiltration barrier.

Trim – The Detail Work is First – No Instant Gratification!

Corner posts, J channels, light blocks, dryer vent accessories, front door cornices, arches, etc. are all installed first. The vinyl siding is actually the last thing that is installed. The corner posts, J channels, and other trim pieces have a channel into which the ends of the siding rests. This hides the cut end of siding from view. Why? Vinyl siding is not solid. If you were to look at it sideways, it would be quite unattractive.

If you are working in warm weather, the vinyl siding and trim is very pliable. It will cut readily with a tin snips.

J channel is the trim piece that is used to surround windows and doors on many occasions. It is available in a standard width and often an extra wide width. The extra wide material looks more like real wood trim. I suggest you consider it. There are special ways that the trim must be cut and nailed. Each manufacturer publishes a handy installation guidebook with easy to understand language and illustrations. You must follow the instructions so that rain water does not get behind the siding and trim!

Starter Strip – An Aluminum Accessory

Vinyl siding pieces interlock with one another. You install vinyl siding from the bottom of the structure and finish at the top. The material is blind nailed through slots found at the top of the siding. So how does the first piece of siding keep from flapping in the breeze? You install a pre-bent piece of aluminum starter strip. It must be installed level or parallel with the line you wish to follow as the siding goes up. Remember, the first piece of siding is pulled up tight to the starter strip. Each successive piece of siding is pulled tight to the one below. So, if you goof up the starter strip, all the rest of the siding will be crooked!

Corner Posts

Vinyl siding and trim expands and contracts with changes in temperature. You need to plan for this. The corner posts must be installed 1/4 inch away from the soffit or other horizontal stop point at the top of each corner. Plumb each corner post and drive the first nail in the top of the nailing slots. All nails must be nailed in the top of the slots so that the corner posts ‘hang’ from the nails. Keep the nail head 1/32 inch away from the vinyl. This will allow the vinyl room to expand and contract.

If you need to splice two lengths of corner post together, the upper piece overlaps the lower piece. This allows rain water to shed off just like a shingle roof.

Installing the Siding!

Look at a full panel of siding before you install it. Note the upper and lower corners on the front and back. There are factory made notches. These notches are important. You may find yourself replicating them on a cut piece. These notches allow you to overlap pieces of siding. The siding pieces can move sideways independent of one another because of the notching.

Wind can cause vinyl siding to rattle. The sun and heat can cause vinyl siding to grow or expand. For these reasons, it is VITALLY important that vinyl siding be nailed properly! If you nail too loosely, the vinyl siding will rattle and flap as the wind blows. If you nail it too tightly, then it will bubble and bow on a hot day. The proper nailing is somewhat easy. The vinyl siding flange must be tight against the sheathing. The head of the nail must stop within 1/32 inch before touching the vinyl siding. This space is just less than the thickness of a dime! Make sure you and/or your installer does this part correctly!

Gable End Angles

How do you find these angles? Easy! Slide a full piece of siding so the top corner just touches the angle. Lay a scrap piece of siding against the gable end angle. Trace along the bottom of the siding a line which is parallel to the roof line. This is the line you need to cut to produce the gable end angle. If, after cutting, the piece fits (it should!), then save the outfall and use it as a template for all future cuts.

Installation Booklet

Get the booklet from the manufacturer! It will be a great aid to you.

Source: https://www.askthebuilder.com

How to Pick Quality Vinyl Siding and the Contractor Who Installs it.

How to Pick Quality Vinyl Siding and the Contractor Who Installs it.

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Even if you aren’t sure you want to put vinyl siding on your home, you’ve probably at least considered it. Why? For most homeowners, it means eliminating the hassle and expense of repainting their house every five years or so – or paying someone else to do it. Besides saving work, vinyl siding can save you money. According to Rod Matthews, business manager/siding for Toledo, Ohio-based Owens Corning, vinyl siding costs about 11 percent less than cedar siding, and 26 percent less than aluminum. Expect to pay $160 to $250 per square (100 sq. ft.) for a quality vinyl product installed over rigid insulation. For these reasons, vinyl has become the most popular choice in siding. More than one-third of the exterior cladding installed on new and existing homes is vinyl. The balance is wood, aluminum, steel, brick or stucco. If new siding is in your future, keep these three key considerations in mind when looking at the vinyl option: 1. Vinyl siding isn’t for everyone; you have to like the way it looks on your house. 2. Not all vinyl is created equal; you’ll need to learn how to pick a quality product. 3. You’ll need a competent contractor. Proper installation is at least as important as product quality.

Is Vinyl Siding for You?
Purists sneer at the idea of wrapping houses – particularly older homes that have significant architectural detail – in “plastic.” Other common objections are that vinyl siding can’t hold its color without fading or yellowing, that it buckles in the heat and that it can mask serious problems with moisture in the walls. These were worthy concerns in the past, but vast improvements have been made in vinyl siding since it first appeared. Take a look at some of the new vinyl siding products. Typically they have a low-gloss finish that more closely resembles painted wood. Most manufacturers also offer realistic-looking grain patterns and have improved the look of trim pieces. Fading and yellowing aren’t major concerns with better vinyl siding products, nor is their rigidity if they are correctly installed. If you still aren’t sure you like vinyl, see how it looks on other houses in your area. You’ll know if it’s vinyl by looking at the corners. With vinyl, cap strips on the inside and outside corners cover the edges of the panels; clapboard and shingles usually have mitered edges at the corners or a trim piece installed flush with the siding. Then ask a local realtor how vinyl affects home values in your area. It will probably have a positive effect on most houses. But, John Leeke, a home-restoration consultant in Portland, Maine, warns against installing vinyl on homes in historic neighborhoods. “If there are 10 restored Victorians on a street and one has vinyl siding, the value of the one sided in vinyl will suffer,” he says. That doesn’t mean older houses can’t be sided with vinyl. Manufacturers now offer period patterns, including details like fish-scale shingles that are found on older homes. Again, look at other houses in your area. If others have vinyl siding, it’s far less likely to diminish the value of your home. Another caveat is vinyl’s dubious ability to mask trouble beneath. Painted wood often peels or chips when there’s a problem, but vinyl offers no such clues. Be sure leaks, moisture condensation problems and any structural defects have been addressed before the siding goes on.

Judging Quality Siding
Technically polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the vinyl that’s used in siding includes a number of additives that help it resist fading, protect it against ultraviolet rays and provide dozens of color choices. (The color goes all the way through the material, so it can’t flake off.)

What you see. Vinyl siding comes in textured or smooth panels. Those with a simulated wood grain are meant to imitate rough-sawn wood that’s been stained. Panels are available in horizontal and vertical configurations. Horizontal siding tends to look best on traditional houses, while vertical panels fit well with many contemporary designs. There are also a number of widths. You’ll find 8-in.-wide panels or panels that look like two 5-in. or three 3-in. courses of siding. Panels are complemented by vinyl soffit, window trim and other accessories.

Below the surface. Vinyl siding standards are covered by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard 3679. Any vinyl siding you buy should have this designation on product fact sheets and packaging. This is a minimum standard, however. To pick a product that exceeds the minimum standard, follow these guidelines:

  • Panels should be at least .040 in. thick; .042 to .045 is better. The ASTM standard requires only .035 in.
  • Soffit panels should be about .05 in. thick. Because soffits are suspended horizontally and secured at the edges only, the extra thickness prevents panels from sagging.
  • Look for antiweathering protection – sunlight is deadly to raw vinyl. While the actual ingredients designed to keep vinyl from fading and degrading are proprietary, a common one is titanium oxide. You can also get an idea of a product’s durability by asking the dealer or contractor to explain why and how it will resist weathering.
  • The warranty is another clue to how weather resistant a product is. Few building products come with the long warranties offered by vinyl manufacturers. Fifty years is standard. Some products even come with a lifetime warranty that can be transferred to the next owner of your home. However, some warranties are prorated: The longer the siding lasts, the less the company will pay. Make sure you read the fine print. Some manufacturers only promise to recoat rather than merely replace damaged siding. And most warranties just pay for the product – not the labor for installation.

NAILS THROUGH A SLOT at the top of each vinyl siding panel help hold the siding in place. A space of about 1/32 in. should be left between the nail head and panel to provide space for movement during temperature changes.

Getting a Quality Job

If you were to throw the names of the top 10 vinyl siding companies in a hat and pick one, you would probably end up with quality siding. Do the same with 10 local contractors, and the installation quality would be far less certain. A contractor’s expertise and experience are crucial to a good siding job. The reason is the material itself. Because vinyl expands and contracts so much, even the most expensive siding will buckle and warp if not put on correctly. Experienced contractors take a number of steps to keep this from happening. For example, panels are installed with a 1/4-in. clearance at all openings and stops, such as where a panel butts up against a window or comes to a corner of the house. That clearance is increased to 3/8 in. when siding is installed in temperatures below 32°F. You’ll also see a row of slots at the top of each panel. Your siding contractor should drive his nails through the center of the slots, leaving a small space, about 1/32 in., between the nail head and siding. That allows each panel to move slightly with temperature changes. Because installation is so important, check references of any contractor you’re considering. Request written estimates, then visit past jobs and a current project to give them a thorough once-over. Look for these details:

  • Rigid insulation. It provides a smooth surface for the siding, adds some insulating value and cuts air infiltration. Joints between rigid insulation panels should be taped for maximum energy savings. It’s a small task, but signals quality.
  • Corrosion-resistant nails. Look for aluminum or hot-dipped galvanized nails.
  • Straight courses. Examine both sides of windows and doors. Panels should continue from one side to the next in perfect alignment. If they’re uneven, the job will look sloppy. The same holds true at corners.
  • Detailing around openings. The J-channel that receives the panel ends should be neat and precise. Look for mitered corners and smooth caulking application.
  • A clean job site. Contractors should clean up at the end of each day. Materials and tools should be covered and protected. Debris should be picked up for disposal.

SIDING COURSES (above, left) are checked for level several times during the installation process. The detail shown here is tricky because the wall being sided adjoins the sloping roof of a garage.
PART OF MANY VINYL siding jobs involves capping window frames (middle). Here, a contractor trims a length of coated tin before applying it to a window. Mitered corners are a sign of quality work.
J-CHANNEL IS NAILED IN place around the perimeter of a window (right). The channel holds the edges of siding panels that abut the window, providing a clean, crisp finish to the end of a panel run.

Source: https://www.thisoldhouse.com

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