|Vinyl siding and urethane pilasters, pediments and crossheads combine to create a home exterior that requires minimal maintenance.|
Hectic schedules, long work hours and business travel leave little time for homeowners to keep up with the regular maintenance needed to care for a home. During the past several decades an abundance of products have been introduced that are designed to reduce the hassles and time-consuming efforts needed to keep a home in top shape.
"The evolution of low maintenance products is one of the greatest achievements in the building products industry," according to Don Zeman, host of the home improvement radio show, Homefront with Don Zeman.
"From the introduction of vinyl window frames that never need painting to porch rail systems that don't rot, decay or attract termites, everyone wins with low maintenance products," says Zeman, who was a contractor and builder for 25 years before starting his nationally syndicated show. "Homeowners find that the labor and money saved with low maintenance products allow them more free time to enjoy their homes."
According to a survey of customer preferences conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, low maintenance figures prominently into building product purchase decisions. In the report What 21st Century Home Buyers Want, low maintenance ranked as the second-highest reason for selecting wall materials for the front exterior of the home and the primary reason for choosing wall materials for the other three sides of the home. In the survey, low maintenance brick and vinyl sidings were the most requested choices for siding.
"Two key things have occurred that make homeowners more conscious of low maintenance materials," says Zeman, whose News from the Homefront television segments are seen nationwide. "First, the quality and variety of products in this category continue to increase each year. Second, the free time homeowners have available to spend on home maintenance continues to decrease so they're constantly seeking out ways to create an easy-care home."
From his vantage point of reviewing thousands of products and projects each year, Zeman offers 10 ways homeowners can make their homes easier to maintain.
Project one. Accessorize the exterior of a home with durable urethane products. Easy-care shutters, window and door trim pieces, louvers and balustrade systems resist warping, weather damage and insect infestations. Products like PVC bead boards that can be used for porch ceilings, are longer-lasting than wood products because they don't absorb moisture and are weather resistant.
Project two. Tired having to paint or stain decks time and time again? Try composite decking. Made from plastic and wood fibers, this low maintenance product installs and cuts like wood, but resists rot and insects. There's no painting or staining required and in many cases fasteners are hidden. The investment in composite decking pays back during the resale of a home. and during all those weekends you're not forced to strip and reseal a wood deck.
Project three. When it's time to reside a house, invest in vinyl siding with insulator boards behind them to create the most energy efficient and low maintenance exterior possible. According to the Vinyl Siding Institute, there are a wide variety of vinyl siding textures and colors available, including woodgrain replications.
Project four. Forget about hanging shades or blinds in areas of the home where privacy is desired. Instead, install obscure acrylic block windows that guarantee privacy. Both the blocks and vinyl frames are easy to maintain with mild soap and water. Acrylic block windows come in operable casement and awning styles along with large, fixed picture windows that are ideal for use in the bathroom.
Project five. When ordering windows for a house make sure to request the tilt-in sash option. This feature eliminates the need to clean the outside of windows by standing on a ladder because the tilt-in feature works to quickly and easily clean the glass from the inside of the house.
Project six. Add decorative style and maintenance ease to a house with fiberglass columns. Available in both round and square profiles, the columns are insect, weather and decay resistant so they can be used both for interior and exterior applications. Versatile and elegant, columns are load-bearing and can be accented with decorative capitals and bases.
Project seven. Install moisture resistant urethane mouldings and decorative millwork in extremely humid areas of the home, such as bathrooms and kitchens. No matter how much steam is produced from showers or cooking, these products won't warp like wood mouldings.
Project eight. Replace existing windows with low-maintenance vinyl framed windows. Easy to clean with mild detergent and water, windows with vinyl frames never have peeling paint that needs to be stripped and replaced. As a bonus, vinyl is an excellent insulator, so vinyl-framed windows are extremely energy efficient.
Project nine. Invest in a solid-surface countertop for the kitchen. This man-made material can have the look and feel of stone or marble while offering the advantage of needing only soap and water for cleanup. Most solid-surface countertops are seamless and resist stains, chemicals and scratches. Color and style options are almost limitless and there are no veneers to chip, crack, peel or wear out.
Project 10. Save time and effort every time the shower is used by installing an acrylic block shower surround. The easy-care blocks don't require squeegeeing after every shower to remain clean and are also attractive. As an added benefit, the obscure blocks provide privacy in the shower while adding a stylish look to the bathroom.