Regular maintenance and upgrades to your home exterior are one element of “curb appeal” that can greatly enhance the value and desirability of a property.
Your home exterior provides many opportunities for home improvement.
Your property can be broken into two major categories: the home exterior and the surrounding landscape. Within these two major categories there are dozens of subcategories. This article will address the home exterior only. Landscape will be treated in a separate article.
Areas of your home exterior that might trigger maintenance and improvement projects would include:
Whether due to storm damage or normal wear and tear, eventually roofing needs to be replaced. Insurance companies offer a great discount to replace wood shake shingles with a material that is more fire resistant like composition roofing, clay tile or metal. The type and color of roofing materials should be chosen to complement other home exterior materials.
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If you decide to change your roofing material, be certain that your walls are strong enough to bear the weight of the new material. For example, clay tiles are beautiful, durable and fire resistant, but also very heavy. Placing them on a roof without properly reinforcing the walls can cause the entire structure to literally burst apart at the seams. Consult a structural engineer for guidance in changing roofing materials.
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Insulation is considered a part of the home exterior because although it is under the roof and inside the walls, it is not part of the living space. It is an aspect of a building’s construction. Older buildings can almost always benefit from the addition or replacement of insulation. New materials such as radiant barrier, that is sprayed onto the rafters in an attic or the studs in a wall, and recycled paper are economical and very effective insulators.
Insulation can also be used in interior walls and in ceilings between floors as a sound barrier. This is especially useful in creating a “quiet zone” between bedrooms and the public rooms like the living room or den.
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The siding or “skin” of a home exterior is very important in protecting the structure from water, wind and other corrosive elements. Siding materials may include the obvious wood clapboards, brick, stucco, stone or rock. Vinyl or aluminum siding can offer a low maintenance alternative to wood on a home exterior. Changing the siding material can completely alter the appearance of a home exterior.
As a part of the routine maintenance of your home exterior, you should periodically inspect the condition of the siding, looking for loose joints or missing pieces in siding; missing or weak mortar joints in brick, rock or stone; and bubbling, peeling or other signs of weakness in adobe or stucco. These conditions will often be the result of water penetrating the “skin” and should be repaired immediately to prevent water damage to the interior.
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Windows and Doors
The “eyes” of a structure, these openings allow for light, air, people and pets to pass through. Home exterior doors should be solid core, either solid wood, insulation filled fiberglass or steel. Steel doors should be reinforced in the handle and lock areas to prevent the door being pried open with a crowbar or other tool. “Lights”, or windows, in doors should be of multi-paned glass for temperature control. Leaded effects or frosted glass will provide privacy while letting in plenty of natural light.
Windows are the best way to “bring the outdoors in”. They should be multi-paned to provide the best heat/cold barrier. If you have existing single pane windows, storm windows can be added to the home exterior. If you are building a new structure or replacing existing windows, double or triple pane windows are easy to care for and energy efficient.
To increase energy efficiency, low-e (coated) glass or shade screens can be used on home exterior walls that face the sun, especially in the afternoons. These allow the light to pass through, but eliminate glare, heat transfer and UV damage to interiors. You’ll find more information on windows and doors on our Indoor Lighting page.
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For more on how to improve your home’s curb appeal, check out our Landscape section.